Having just returned from a Summer trip to the French Alps, the mule is back on the shelf, resting and planning the next trip already.
To take in the magnitude of the alps requires strong neck muscles.
No matter how high we went, there was always something to gaze up to and cause the head to tilt back. At one point I thought I was back in the dentist chair - "wider, wider, just a little wider"
There is also a lot of time spent looking down. It's a stiff climb when you're looking down on a roof of a chalet that's only 500m away as the crow flies, yet 1000 feet below you.
Perspective of far and near become blurred, awareness of time on the feet drifts away. Once back indoors and reviewing the routes, laughing loudly at the fact that covering a 10km loop took the same time as the last marathon back home.
Jayne and I were very lucky to catch a booking space at Chalet Chez Robert, in Les Eucherts, La Rosiere. Josie and Xavier, themselves Madmule participants when they visit the UK, were exceptional hosts. The chalet is an amazing "home from home" located at 1850m above sea level, with the best bed EVER! It's always going to be a good week when the hosts have left home made Banana bread and cherry jam to tuck into!Not to mention a fridge full of stores and beer. :-0
Jayne and I had asked Josie to book us into the local trail race, Trail de la Rosiere. With the options of 15, 22 or 40km, we, thankfully, opted for the 15km distance. Less thankful, and stupidly, it was the morning after our arrival.
The organisation of this event is an example for all UK race organisers to emulate. Passionate, enthusiastic, professional, fun, inclusive and worth every penny of entry fee. A race isn't just what the individual makes it, otherwise I would never pay for racing and just go and run the routes. A race should be an EVENT. Something that the organisers go hand and foot to make a special day for their clients who are paying. When the race is on, the individuals make it their space, yet either side of that effort, a race day is complete by the manner in which the organisers host and draw out the best in spirit and celebration of human emotion. OOpha, moving on...... :-/
The tour de France finished in La Rosiere whilst we were there. Whilst the thousands were mingling by the finish, Jayne and I were 1km away in Les Eucherts, standing by the Sky Team Logistics caravan on the off chance we would bump into some team members.
Everyday we managed to tackle a route of 6-12 miles, hiking, rewarded with stunning views of the lower level glaciers, green meadows full of butterflies and countless flora, marmots, birds of prey, 1 Ibex, nighttime lightning storms, great food and not least, the magnified air of silence.
Off the cycle and onto the trails, this adventure brought to light the following observations to take forward in my coaching and personal running exploits. Please don't take everything literally that follows....
* time: the clock, the pace, the necessity to keeping in line with it or register awareness of it.... it is of no value or benefit in the hills or any endurance adventures. Moving from A to B became an exercise in remembering what I had seen instead of how fast or what pace I had done it in. A brilliant reminder, that unless my job was to be a runner, then i am in play, and to play is to enjoy.
* seek adventures that create doubt in ones ability and/or place uncertainty in the outcome. With all the tech it is fantastic that outcomes can be predicted, plan of training can be executed to small margins. As a trainer, the training plans are the easiest aspect of the job, tweaking along the way with the clients feedback. The hardest part of the job, albeit I find the most fulfilment from, is to coach people to cope with the unknowns and accept that until the adventure/ event is taken will they know what they want to get out of life next.
*something that I have practiced many times before and this trip reinforced.... never forget to stop and smell the roses.
We had a memorable time. With good fortune I will make the ballot for next years ultra trail de Mont Blanc, regardless of which, Jayne and I will be returning for the Trail da La Rossiere 40km routes next year. Interested in joining us?