As always I was determined to keep racing as best I could and with a decent problem free run at Lampton a few weeks before I discovered a little 10k race just down the road from the in-laws house in France. I thought there’s plenty of time to train when on holiday so was confident that I would be in top shape leading up to this. However my preparation could not have been worse or better which ever way you look at it. The week before the race was spent in a beautiful French Gite in the Loire Valley with 35 degree heat. This resulted in long lazy days eating French patisserie and doing next to nothing including a 10 day break with no runs…ooopps. Well it’s the holidays!
With race day upon me the whole family rocked up to be introduced to the completely alien (to them) world of running. This was, as all French races are, superbly organised and the local clubs were out in force including some friendly faces I had met at Easter from the ‘Escapade de Malestroit’ running club.
Setting off from the village sports field a grey day broke into baking sunshine. As always I charged off at top speed for the first mile until I realised I was going far too fast and it wasn’t a park run. Turning the first corner the view opened up to reveal the stunning rolling wooded hills of Southern Brittany. I was still setting myself too fast a pace at 6.5 min miles and needed to slow down. We crossed through the little hamlet of Rochefort to the cheers of the locals. Clearly this race was a big event in the calendar of the sleepiest corner of France. Then I turned onto a rough farm track. With maize fields on either side there was no shade therefore cover from increasing sunshine was non existent. The heat was energy sapping and crippling. I was noticeably slowing as I came onto the road to head back to the village for the first lap of this 2 lap course. I continued to slow as these rolling little rises on the course seemed like mountains in 28 degree heat. I needed to pull myself together and get into some sort of regular pace.
A quick loop through the village, past the bar with the tantalising cold beers outside and up the hill to the start point. Then past my own two personal cheer leaders who had spent the morning making a “GO Daddy GO!” poster, I continued for lap two. This was clearly going to be slower as I found my rhythm at about 8 min miles. But still the heat was agonising and however many cups of water went over my head it wasn’t going to help and I just turned my thoughts to finishing. Continuing to slow I was pleased to be nearly finished, rounding the village square for the second time. Climbing the last hill I tried to find shade wherever I could. But the hill just seemed to go on forever until I finally entered the sports field to finish in a somewhat disappointing 50.40 far behind some super fit veterans who made up most of the competitors. Well it was a start and simply made me realise fewer Croissants and more running equals better results next year. Time to eat a crepe and have a cake. Training starts again tomorrow.