Does everyone get depressed when they return from holidays or is it just me? Two glorious weeks spent in the Languedoc area of South of France and I am ready to just pack in this whole “living in a big city” business. I won’t bore you too much with the details of the holiday, after all this isn’t a travel blog, but I will say this – you need to put this area on your list! We stayed in a small village of Ferrals-Les-Corbieres (sort of between Carcassone and Narbonne) and really got a taste of the good life. Weather was hot, food a bit hit-and-miss but the wine was glorious. Lots of history from pre-historic caves to cathar castles – we need to go back as there was so much we didn’t have time to do!
Anyway, moving on from the happy memories before I start blubbering on my keyboard. One thing I have to say, which isn’t what I would expect from a holiday, is that I have returned home exhausted. I feel like I need to sleep a couple of days. The main reason for this, I think, is that I did a heck of a lot of running and in order to beat the heat I got up at 6am most mornings. On my holiday. Still dare call me a jogger? My usual runs were about 15-16km (I didn’t do any shorter runs than that) but I managed to fit in a few 22km ones too. And the running route – oh my god! I wish I had some pictures but I stubbornly refuse to stop and unplug my phone to do this so you’ll have to imagine it to yourself.
Right, so picture this: It is about 6.15am and you step into the warm morning. The sun isn’t up yet but the dawn is light enough – it is only a matter of time before the first actual rays make their appearance. You start by running through a small town, past a boulangerie which is already open and the smell of freshly baked bread is everywhere. A few small tractors (by small I mean small – these things are really narrow as they have to fit between the vines) “put-put” their way to various vineyards. First you will have to run on the road a bit and hope that you win the game of “chicken” the French seemingly like to play – they are not to keen to be sharing their roads with a runner. But after about 1.5km you turn off the road onto a small, poorly covered (and in places, rubble/sand) road that leads you to the middle of nowhere. All you can see are endless rows of vines and pine covered hills. You feel like you are alone on the planet except for the birds of prey circling above you (waiting for you to die probably), the rabbits in the vines and the various butterflies and insects. You run and you run, wishing for the sun to come up slower as even the early warmth is too much; the sun is so strong. And then, suddenly there is a crash from the shrubbery and something huge jumps onto the path in front of you! There were reports of a lynx having been spotted (I want to say “in the area” but I don’t speak French so all I know is that it was somewhere in France) and for a moment you can’t breathe. Oh, it’s not a lynx! It’s a wild boar! And then another one! You tell yourself to stay as still as possible as these creatures can be very vicious but luckily they just cross the road and run onto the vines on the other sides. You can finally breath again, which is great as you can’t help but laugh – your runner’s version of being still was still jogging in place (never stop). The path takes you past various paths turning off the road and you could easily make a different route every time. Or get lost like another guest at the gite did when he tried to follow my instructions.. Nearly killed the poor man.. There are abandoned stone buildings here and there, somewhat spooky. And then you climb up a hill which feels like it never ends. The ascent so far has been so gradual you haven’t even noticed it but when you reach the top of this hill you realise how high you are – you can see around you for miles and miles. The mountains fade into the horizon and you can just spot the profile of an ancient volcano over there. There is a layer of mist in the valley, over the river but the sun will soon burn this out. You can’t stop, time to start running down. Before you get back into town however, you take a barely visible path which takes you up onto another two hills – this is what can safely be called trail running – and then brings you back to the beginning of the vines run. And you do it again. Just you, the wildlife and the occasional tractor.
So safe to say my runs in London have since been rather uninspiring; even if one of them was in the pouring, torrential rain and rumbling thunder.
* le sigh*
Anyway, I ran over 152km over the two weeks and I wish I had done more…