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running the sculpture trail

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As previously mentioned, I've got a 10k coming up.  The majority of my "training" runs have been on flat pavement, so last weekend I decided I should probably at least pretend to acclimatise a bit.

I decided to pop over to the Forest of Deand and run the Sculpture Trail.  I could have made a route out of any amount of fire roads, but chose this route because it's signposted, I know it well, and it has two newish artworks I hadn't seen yet (which I could use as a convenient excuse to stop and get my breath back!)

One thing I had forgotten is that it starts with a steep slope up to where Place used to be.  Not the nicest, especially given that the first km or two of any of my runs is very much "urgh I hate running why I am doing this I might just stop and give up". So that went well - but I plodded on and eventually things improved.

The first of the new-ish sculptures you reach is "Yasasin".  I'm not really sure how to describe it. An abstract arrangement of white wood? A weird climbing frame?

yasasin

The other new installation made a lot more sense to me.  Called "Coal Measure Giants", it's inspired by the mining history of the area. 

coal measure giants

If I'd had more energy I might have thought about sprinting the 300m between the two parts of it, but nope.  Did I mention how I'd forgotten what hills are like to run up?

The sculpture trail itself comes in at about 8.5km.  I then did a couple of laps of Beechenhurst car park to bring the distance up to 10km, and also to try and improve my average pace.  Moving time: 1:05.  Total time: 1:10.  Feeling fairly confident about my race now.  Maybe it won't be sub-1hr, but it should be somewhere close. Fingers crossed.

April

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Where did April go?  It seems to have been one of those months where I feel I haven't done anything interesting, but I have been busy generally doing stuff.

Isn't it great having light evenings again?  And nice weather at weekends for long dog walks with pub lunches.  I'm not quite so keen on the yellow fields, as they tend to signify the start of sneezing season - I'm a couple of weeks into this year's pile of antihistamines, with the worst incident so far being on a National Express coach last weekend.  Bit random.

yellow fields

At some point during my usual winter SAD/laziness/apathy, I entered a few events to give myself something to focus on:

That idea has sort of worked.  I'm back into a running routine, though it's not quite the twice a week I was intending.  Maybe 3 times a fortnight.  My road bike has been cleaned and ridden a few times, and it has a shiny new road bike friend in the garage so I'm looking forward to a lot more of that (am I jealous that it wasn't me getting a new bike? maaaaybe)

Speaking of bikes and light evenings... Can't beat a bit of golden hour during a two hour after work ride. mmm

sunset over fields in Elmore

Bring it on, May.

Serre Chevalier

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This winter, I seem to have mostly been skiing. Eighteen days on the snow!  That's a week in Les Deux Alpes in December, La Plagne in February, and finally Serre Chevalier in March.  Good thing I got a large payrise when I changed jobs last summer...

For once our resort choice wasn't just down to "found a cheap late deal to somewhere with enough snow". I've been to the area in summer (kayaking, three times), it gets good reviews as a reasonably quiet resort with a high treeline, and Briancon is the sort of place that might be nice to live in for a bit if we ever figure out the logistics.  Oh, plus they'd had a big dump of the white stuff the week before ;)

blue sky, fluffy clouds, and soft snow
pretty clouds

We stayed in Villeneuve, with Pinewood chalets.  I would definitely recommend checking them out if you fancy a holiday in Serre Che (winter or summer), because we had such a good week :) OK so the building is an ugly concrete box, the dining room ceiling is bright orange and you don't get the luxury of a hot tub or sauna - but you do get a very warm welcome, good food, and entertainment at a very affordable price.  We were about a 10-15 minute walk from the lifts, or a 2 minute walk to the shuttle bus.  Which - for added novelty value - is actually a little road train.  Choo choo!

I knew from past experience that March skiing would most likely be nice and sunny, but it turned out to be a lot warmer than I'd expected.  The runs down to the towns were rather slushy and everything was getting quite chopped up by mid afternoon, especially the green and blue runs.  Reds and blacks seemed to hold up better, being less well used.  Suffice to say I've had a lot more practise at moguls... It's very much a love/hate relationship at this point.

Serre Chevalier lived up to its reputation of being quiet.  Obviously weren't there at peak season, but even so there were very few queues for lifts - and we lasted until Friday lunchtime before coming across someone skiing around with music blaring from their backpack (why do people do this?!)

There are quite a few old slow lifts (including the two seater Cibout lift, which is a bit of a shame because the runs off it are lovely), and also several steep long drags which we decided to avoid.  I'm sure I'd have survived on my skis, but Jon was not keen with his snowboard.

Speaking of which...

Snowboard taster session

I spent two hours of my Tuesday afternoon trying to learn to snowboard.  There's no proper photographic evidence so you'll have to take my word when I say it didn't exactly go well, especially to start with!  Once I'd got over the whole "this is the most unnatural feeling ever" thing it did get slightly better.  By... continue reading »