Week 1 – Aude, France

Things had not really gone to plan.  The plan is actually twofold.  Ben Nevis, including hills, and Loch Ness Marathon, comprising distance.  Before leaving England I’d crunched something on the sole of my left foot, leaving severe bruising around the ankle and much pain even to walk.

Bienvenue:  And so, for me and my girlfriend – returning after a catalogue of mishaps and injuries – the first run out in France was a gentle, recovery effort.  We managed a 10k around the west shore of Lac Montbel, in humid air and overcast skies.  I instantly recognised my proposed schedule may have been a little ambitious.  Still, 50mins of running and no adverse effects.  Beer and wine as rehydration.

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The Timber Road to China:  controversial chat in the village surrounded the construction of a tarmac road, by a Chinese comapny, up into nearby conifer woodland.  This partly followed a permissivefootpath so on Day 2 hill reps were slotted in, and I laced up my Brooks Glycerin 13s, kindly provided by Run4It to support my #LNM2015 challenge.

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Beyond the old chapel of Saint Cecile the road immediately rose to the heavens.  The early morning dew and damp burned into the air.  The smell of fresh pine filled my lungs as I heaved for oxygen.  From Rivel the new road climbed a staggering 1000 feet in just over a mile.  I ran to the road end, where presumably the main timber logging will occur, then returned back halfway.  One more ‘mini’ rep with some shade and jaw-dropping mountain views, before descending home to enjoy coffee and croissants.

Little Luxury at Luxaut:  A third run in as many days wasn’t really planned, but I agreed to keep Rose company on a wee trail run before visitors arrived.  The weather was belting hot, the trail was without air and very humid.  I enjoyed stretching out the legs after the previous day hills, but running mid-afternoon should be left to mad dogs and them English-folk.  Still, the trails, small hamlets and elevated views were enjoyable.  Not sure I could’ve managed any quicker and was pleased to only total 3.5 miles, including almost 400 feet of ascent.

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All Tracks Lead To Mouche: the trail shoes on, waist pack filled with water and I set out to conquer a tough, local trail – over 1200 feet of rocky climb in just over a mile.  I started out very steady, trying to settle at a comfortable 11 min/ mile pace.  I largely ran the whole climb, stopping only to gulp some water and prevent several face falls, over jagged limestone.

With sweat leaking down my face I crested over the summit,descended beyond a small hamlet then returned back up to the top.  I detoured from the rocky ascent, choosing instead to find a tarmac track and downhill road back to Rivel.

7miles/ 1800 feet ascent (saw not a peep)

Thunderstruck Duathlon: Rose and I decided to scale the east side of Lac Montbel then enjoy a refreshing soak in the freshwater lake.  We each ran at our differing paces, and separately tackled the undulating, out-and-back trail route.

The route was well signposted and included some technical tree roots and muddy bridleways.  Still, I really struggled under the overcast skies and in the humid air, limping back to the car at a sluggisg 9 min/ mile pace.

No sooner had we got into the water and the darkening skies released a heavy downpour that made a beautiful effect on the still lake surface.  No the best place to be as a thunderstorm approaches.  Briefly refreshed, we departed for home.

Week 2 to follow….

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