Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Mixing it up

It's been busy busy here over the past 2 weeks. Things are progressing as they should with the house, the buyers having signed the compromis de vente, which is reassuring for us. The search for a new home continues, but nothing has yet jumped out at me as being 'the right' property. But we have time. Patience is required!

Meanwhile, apart from a couple of days when we had cold temperatures and some rain which left snow on the higher mountains above 1800m, the weather has been relatively dry. We managed to give the roadies an airing, with a 70km/900m+ very undulating circuit from Saint-Girons which proved to be much harder work than it should have been. I think I need to eat more! Here is the profile;
It took me a couple of days to recover from that exertion, but the legs felt well enough to have a quick trot down the Chemin des Diligences in Massat three days later and we clocked 24 minutes on the 4.7km circuit, which wasn't bad considering it wasn't totally flat and also pretty slippy underfoot. It was good to push the speed a bit for a change.

But then, I decided to see how the old pins felt if I ran solidly for 20kms, on the level, on hardpack. It's not something I have ever really done before, as my longer runs are offroad and generally tend to include a variety of ups and downs which means constant changes in the stride and pace which gives certain muscles a rest. I chose the voie verte (disused railway line) from Saint-Girons for the outing and managed to clock 1h53m for the run. The unchanging stride and the hardpack surface, however, took their toll and various bits of me were complaining by the time I got back to the car. But it was a good exercise to test my endurance and no real damage was done. It was once again good to push the speed on this distance.

Last Thursday we decided to give the mountain bikes an outing on the 40km/1000m+ forest track circuit on the other side of the Col de Peguere. The last time we tackled it was back in November 2007 when it was one monumental effort - we ended up pushing our bikes for the last ascent and it took us over 3h30m to complete the circuit! Last week it was a very different story. We cruised the circuit, easily managing the initial sustained ascent and subsequent shorter hill sections. I was however a tad concerned when we arrived at a notice advising us that the track up ahead was closed to the public because of forestry work! We had done 30kms by that point and turning around to retrace our steps simply wasn't an option!!! Fortunately, we were allowed through to continue on our way, much to my relief. We were back at the car within 2h45m - we had flown! The best bit is that the legs felt absolutely fine, a million miles from how they felt 4 years ago. We have come a long way fitness-wise since then. Full stats on the usual site.

Rest and lots of food was called for over the next couple of days, as I was competing in a trail race in the Languedoc on Sunday. All of the races that I have done to date have included sustained sections of steep ascent and plenty of runnable descents. This race was different. It was the Trail du Boer in Moussan, just to the north of Narbonne. This was 23kms, with 500m of ascent, on paths and tracks amongst the vineyards and 'garrigue' (scrubland) of the Corbière - a lovely part of the Languedoc and just 10 minutes from where my friends' Iz and Nick run their guest house at which I stayed. Anyway, easy peasey, I thought, no problem, I should cruise the circuit. Wrong! It was a cruelly undulating circuit, not dissimilar to the roadie circuit from Saint-Girons profile (see above), which really took it out of the legs. OK, so doing the long VTT circuit 3 days before wouldn't have helped.... in fact it was probably a pretty daft thing to do so close to the event.  Despite doing a good warm up and constantly fuelling as I ran, it felt like I was going backwards and everybody was overtaking me. That said, in hindsight, I covered the first very undulating 10kms in 58 mins which really isn't too shabby! I think I was actually pushing myself harder than I appreciated. The final 5kms were excruciatingly painful as my ITBs started to seize up. I made it back in 2h34mins which was in the top 2/3rds of the field of 233 runners. Here is the profile.
I was exhausted and aching all over. But I had done it. Full stats on the usual site. Time for a shower at Iz and Nick's before I tackled the 2 1/2hr drive home, safely loaded up with wine that I had bought on the way through. Two day's later and I am now able to walk down the stairs relatively pain free and the legs are recovering. Let's just call the race 'good training'! The next target is a 29km race at the end of January. That'll be interesting.

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