Tick tock, tick tock... we're no longer thinking in terms of how many months until we leave, we're barely even thinking in weeks any more, we now only have 17 DAYS until we leave for Kathmandu and only 30 DAYS until we run the world's highest marathon! Time has passed so fast, I can't believe how close we are to actually being there.
I'm so excited that I've just bought myself a she-wee in case I can't contain myself (and to stop Sam from offering to lend me hers, eewww).
Training has almost reached it's hardest point, with long weekend runs averaging at about 30km interspersed with various cross-training sessions such as bike rides, swimming, weights, shorter but faster runs and a bit of altitude acclimatisation (more about that later in the week). We've only really got two more weekends left until we leave, so we're packing in the kilometres while we can.
Sam, Helen and I set off this weekend with a vague notion of heading from Chamonix centre up towards the Col de Montets and back, noodling around on the various routes either side of the valley to make up the distance.
Cool weather and a bit of rain has left the trails nice and soft underfoot, making them my favourite kind of springy running surface. We had a nice surprise on the climb up to Lavancher when a young deer stepped out of the woods just a few metres in front of us, casually sauntered across the path and disappeared into the undergrowth on the other side. Either he didn't see us, or didn't feel threatened by us as he seemed completely unconcerned by our presence.
As we headed up the valley past Argentiere the skies cleared and the sun came out, beautiful views stretching out in front and behind us. We reached the Col des Montets in about an hour and a half, where we paused for a little stretch and the obligatory photo shoot beside the road sign - if only to prove to our friends on Facebook that we did actually go for a run today.
By this point Helen's sore hip was niggling and rather than force it she decided to make a gentle return back down the valley to Chamonix. During the course of the past few months we've all suffered various set-backs caused by injuries or illness, thankfully none of them serious, but enough to make us appreciate the value of rest and recuperation. The hip was back on form by the following day, so she did the right thing and will be fine by the time we leave.
Sam and I carried on to Le Buet and then decided that on such a beautiful day it would be a crime not to continue to Vallorcine, the descent down to which is one of my favourite parts of the valley and always reminds me of the Marathon du Mont Blanc when the village is packed with cheering people and you can scoff some cheese before heading up the first steep climb (the cheese board is an essential part of every French marathon, naturally).
We came back on the other side of the valley, passing through Argentiere village and crossing over to the Petit Balcon Sud. Our first snake sighting of the summer prompted an unexpected sprint session - I much preferred the deer.
Sam likes to read a lot about race recovery, nutrition, training techniques, etc and I often look to her for advice and guidance. Which is why there is a photo of me sitting in the glacial waters of the River Arve looking very uncomfortable; cold is a completely insufficient word for this experience. However, it did freshen up the old pins and I can report that there was no stiffness or aching the next day. I still think she does it just for a laugh though...
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