Saturday, 29 January 2011

Back at it

Thankfully, my twingy knee sorted itself out in the course of the week and, bizarrely, walking/running only seemed to help. A 7km walk/run on both Monday and Tuesday including some hills and then a 'proper' 11km run on Wednesday were no problem at all which was quite a relief. Although the weather was very cold, no more snow has fallen which left the ground firm and excellent to run onOn Thursday, I made the 3 hr round trip down to Thuir near Perpignan for my appointment with my most excellent osteopath, Sebastian Roles. He declared that my right knee showed no signs of ligament damage and that I would be OK to hop back onto the bike again - hurrah! Whilst I was there, he gave my right leg a general going over and successfully released some very tight muscles. I have been instructed to work on strengthening my VMO (Vastus Medialis Obliquus aka the muscles that run up the inside of the leg just above the knee) in order to counterbalance my very strong lateral muscles. I am back on track again!

Whilst I was down in the Languedoc, it seemed silly not to stock up on wine, so I popped into the Cave des Vignerons in Estagel which sells many of the delicious Côtes d'Agly wines and spent a little bit more than I had intended on some gorgeous reds and a few bottles of my favourite aperitif, Muscat de Rivesaltes and also a Rivesaltes Tuilé which I have not tried before. After yesterday evening's sampling, I can confirm that is very scrummy!

Yesterday, I was quite excited about jumping back on the roadie after 2 weeks off. It is now equipped with my new Charge ladle saddle, my cleats have been properly adjusted and I have new Gore Bikewear long pants so I was ready to rock and roll. The first 30kms was a joy, I was riding strong and had no niggles or pains at all. Fantastic! But then the headwind kicked in. I say headwind but it seemed to be coming from all directions and, being a dinky lady, it almost brought me to a halt on a couple of occasions. Hard, hard going, despite Andy's efforts to shield me. I was exhausted when we eventually made it home. Full stats on the usual site. But my knee was fine which was the important thing. So the proper training starts here. Bring it on!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Still here

Yes, I know, it has been a week since I last blogged. A whole week, but I have nothing of great interest to report. Thanks to a twingy knee resulting most probably from misaligned cleats on my road bike shoes (now corrected!), activity has been confined to gentle walks with the pooch. I have an appointment with the osteopath down near Perpignan on Thursday for a general opinion on the state of my lower body and for an update on the stretches that will keep me supple. I have a list of trail races and road bike sportives that I intend to enter so need to stay injury-free this year! On other matters, year end accounts and other essential work matters have been taking priority. Rock n roll!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A pootle up an 'ill

From tomorrow, I am away for a couple of days so with the gloriously warm weather continuing, I was keen to get out today. Mont Fourcat (2000m) was the target. From a distance, we could see that a few patches of snow remained up at that altitude which we didn't think would present us with a problem in our trail running shoes

We parked up in the hamlet of Frémis at 1000m and picked up the GR du Tour du Massif de Tabe which led us on excellent leafy tracks, steadily climbing for 4kms through woodland until it popped out below Mont FourcatWe had a great view over to Foix in the valley way below.... in the other direction, over to the Mont d'Olmes ski centre which was looking rather bare!and the cabane de Coulobre stood out against the distant landscape
But the going got steep, the snow patches were actually frozen solid and we hadn't taken our microspikes. Just 100m or so below the summit of Fourcat, I chickened out, more concerned about the impending tricky descent than reaching the top! So we had a brief lunch break in the wonderfully warm sun before turning around and heading back down. We were soon back on the gently inclined tracks and enjoyed a lovely run back to Frémis. But what a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. My only concern has been an occasional twinging pain which I think originates from the base of the vastus medialis muscle of my right knee. I have a feeling it could be related to my biking and the position of my cleats but some fiddling about needs to take place to know for sure. Hmm, there's always something!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Oh, what to wear!

Following out little outing on Monday, the weather turned and midweek was dark, wet, grey - very 'UK-like' - bleurgh. Indoor passtimes again prevailed and apathy threatened to take hold. But come Thursday, the blue skies had pushed the clouds away and a kick up the backside was needed to break the apathy. There are still some paths and tracks in our immediate area that I have not yet explored so I made up what proved to be a cracking little 10km circuit from the house. I was feeling strong and managed to run at a good pace along the final track home without discomfort. Full stats on the usual site.

Then on Friday we hopped onto the roadies for a good-paced 63km/570m+ circuit from the house. It was forecast to be even sunnier. But how chilly would it be whilst riding along? What would the ambient temperature be? There is nothing worse than being too cold on the bike, so we opted for winter tights, a windproof jacket and full-fingered gloves. I very quickly regretted that decision as we headed up out of Belesta to the Col de la Babourade. I was baking! It felt like summer in the warm sun. Not what I had expected at all - I would have been better off in my 3/4 length less insulating pants! But we pushed on, enjoying the quiet roads and made good time, returning home in a little over 2 1/2 hours. Again, my energy levels were good and everything was working well. Full stats again on the usual site. However, my Altura winter tights are henceforth relegated to the 'only in emergencies' cupboard as they are constantly moving when I ride and leave me pretty uncomfortable which is not what you need on a decent ride! I am hoping that the DHB winter tights that I have just ordered, combined with my Charge Ladle saddle will solve all my discomfort problems and enable me to ride for much longer distances in future.

Today, the warmth has continued and temperatures have been up into the high teens - very spring-like. Tomorrow, more of the same. Lovely!

Monday, 10 January 2011

A little excursion

Well, after my last post on Thursday regarding lack of energy, things didn't get any better over the weekend. I was going to go out for a roadie ride with Andy on Saturday, but, 5 minutes down the road, I was in such discomfort from my sit bones for some reason that I had no choice but to turn back! So, instead of a bike ride, I thought I would have a run with the pooch in the Puivert area. I had a nice 14km circuit planned out, mainly on the flat, but just 3kms in, I was already struggling. It was just too much like hard work! It shouldn't be like this, with every stride a struggle! What's going on? I did the only sensible thing and turned around to head back to the car, dispirited, frustrated and just a tad pissed off at my patheticness. Still, both the pooch and I had had a mini stretch of the legs, which is better than sitting on your bum, isn't it!

The weather yesterday was dire so we had a work day. But today the blue skies returned. Andy and I headed up to Comus on the Plateau de Sault and picked up the track that would eventually lead us up to the Talc mines of Luzenac. The initial 2.7km of track is a gradual descent but it was treacherously icey which prevented us from breaking out of a rather hesitant walk. But on the long steady ascent up the track to the Mines de Luzenac we enjoyed a rather more amendable layer of fresh powder which made the going easier. After 8.5kms, the landscape opened out and the Pic de Soularac loomed in front of us.... beautiful!After a bite to eat, we turned around to retrace our steps and had an enjoyable trot back down.

The thin layer of powder on the track was an animal tracker's dream. We saw fresh wild boar and small deer tracks and also some very large prints (double Taff's pawprint size) which had us puzzled. But we think it was probably just a very large dog whose footsteps we were following?We had covered 17kms/739m+ and had been out for 2hrs 45m by the time we arrived back at the car. And I felt OK. Thank goodness :-)

This evening, at 19.01 local time, we watched the international space station zip across the clear skies. It's always an impressive site and a pleasure to see.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Missing energy

Although I had a great run on Sunday it actually took more out of me than I realised. I felt tired and washed out on Monday and Tuesday and had to confine any exercise to taking the pooch for a couple of short walks. Yesterday, Pat invited me to join her, Kev and Ced for a roadie ride. Recently, when riding with Pat, it has been a fairly leisurely affair, so I was looking forward to a relaxed stretch of the legs and to reaquainting myself with my road bike which hasn't seen any action for a few weeks.

I could tell within the first 15 minutes that my energy was still lacking. It all felt too much like hard work! The fact that Pat was on fire and riding like a demon just exacerbated my feeling of patheticness. Still, I made it round the 65km circuit in 2 hr 39 min which was not a bad pace, looking at past rides. Stats on the usual site.

I arrived home and collapsed in a heap, fighting the almost overwhelming desire to close my eyes and sleep. But I got some dinner inside me which helped to restore my faultering system. Needless to say, I slept like a log.

Today, a lovely leisurely 10km walk with the pooch
On the final few kilometers which took me along one of the ridges of the 'Plantaurel', there were lovely views back down to Lavelanet
and to Pic de Saint Barthelemy in the distance
The final little descent was a veritable slippery mudfest that almost saw me bottom sliding down the steep path! But some strategically placed saplings saved the day. All in all, a nice circuit that it would be nice to run one day soon.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

First run of the year

And it was a good one! Around here, it is generally mudsville underfoot. The paths are not pleasant to run on and I have not been inspired to get out to stretch the legs. However, I remembered this morning that the Plateau de Sault has a fantastic network of forest tracks and hardpack trails and I fancied having another crack at the Trail de Pays de Sault circuit that I ran back in June 2009. On that occasion, I finished the race in a fair amount of discomfort thanks to my tight glutes and ITBs. But this time was a different story. I had a cracking run on great tracks and trails and felt strong from the outset - despite stopping a couple of times to check the route, I still finished the 15km circuit in exactly the same time as I did 18 months ago and without the pain! With some fuelling and no stops, I could get down to 1 hr 30 m, I am sure. 2011 is going to be a good year, I can feel it in me bones. Full stats on the usual site

Oh.... and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you!