For the third year in a row we headed for a week of relaxation in the sun in the south of France. Heading to the Provence region we take the short flight from Southampton to Avignon. The villa itself is located near to the town of Vaison la Romaine about a 90min drive from the airport.
With such an idyllic location ideally suited for cycling it’s also perfect for a few training runs; and with only a few weeks to the Richmond Half Marathon this was no time for a week off. Arriving on the Saturday, I’d planned out a longish run for the Sunday morning, heading out before breakfast to avoid some of the heat. I’d decided to explore Crestet, a small village nestled on the hillside overlooking the valley in which the villa sits, roughly an 11mile round loop. As usual I started too fast speeding though the first 5km at a pace much too quick for a steady long run. Fortunately my enthusiasm was quickly tempered by the steep winding road leading up to old church at the top of the village. The view from the top was certainly worth all the effort though…
The observant of you will notice Mt Ventoux in the above picture. Famous for its appearance during the Tour de France its a magnet to cyclists keen to test themselves on the climb to the top. Not being the best on a bike; for the past two years I’ve attempted the assent on foot. The top sits at 1,912m above sea level,with the route from the town of Bedoin climbing 1,617m over 21.8km. The road is unrelenting with the winding route climbing up through the tree line before emerging onto the bare lunar like summit often accompanied by the gusty mistral winds. It’s fair to say that for my first assent the mountain beat me. Starting too late in the morning as the temperature heated up and the slope steepened, my legs finally gave way about 9miles up. I struggled to the top about 10mins short of the 3 hour mark. Last year I was better prepared and more aware of the challenge. Not that it was easy but I knocked a good 10mins off the previous time reaching the top in 2:39 (a whole hour slower than my HM PB!). I’d already decided that there wouldn’t be a third attempt this year. Although a massive achievement it’s not something I enjoy. I also seem to manage to pick up an injury shortly after returning, not something I was keen on with the upcoming Richmond HM and Dopey training. Still as Meatloaf sang ‘two out of three ain’t bad’. I think I’ll leave it to the cyclists.
My usual run round the local area is a 7.5 mile loop through Entrechaux taking in a few cheeky climbs in the first half before circling back to the villa. The Monday brought a shortened version, with a 5 mile recovery run with John, before an interval session on the Wednesday morning. Mercifully the speed sections falling after I’d completed the climbs.
Friday started with a ‘Junior Park Run’ as Jack and Cerys accompanied John, Rachel and myself for a pre-breakfast 2km jog. Still time for one more Entrechaux loop to finish the week.
One week till Richmond Half so time to taper this week.