The curse of the black cockerel!

gallo nero

 

It was wonderful taking a long holiday and getting away, not only from work, but also from every sense of daily routine – and yes, that includes running and training programmes as well! We spent two weeks driving back from our wedding in Greece as a mini-honeymoon and we made the best of it. The highlights were the days we spent casually driving around the country roads of Chianti, looking out for the signs of the Gallo Nero (the black cockerel that is the sign of the Chianti Classico wine region) stopping now in a tiny village, now in a hidden away 11th century castle, but all the time sampling (and buying copious amounts of) the local wine, cheeses and charcuterie…

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Our travels continued in very much that vain to the village of Luz-St-Sauveur in the French Pyrenees, where, momentarily growing tired of the rich food and easy living I thought I’d slip my running shoes on (which had up to that point hid in horror and embarrassment in the depths of my luggage) and set out for a gently 8km (5m) jog. Having had previous experience of running around Luz, I set out on what I concluded would be the flattest route and kept to the roads, as the trails were muddy from the heavy rain of the past few days.

Luz run (map)

It was a lovely run, and once again I reflected on how much I’d enjoy spending some time in the area on a running holiday (it’s already a popular ski resort and as it sits between the Col du Turmalet and Hautacam on the Tour de France, very popular with cyclists)…

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Although I think that was in hindsight, or at best during the middle downhill section of my run… Because “the flattest route in the mountains” involved an average incline of 3.8% with some very interesting hills and a long (2.4km), hot and painful climb back into the village!

And I can tell you that at every step along the way, I felt the weight of every mouthful of pancetta, every salame so carelessly consumed and each of the innumerable glasses of wine that had filled our days and nights! And above it all, I could imagine the black cockerel standing on the hilltops and looking down at me making my weary way along the country lanes and up the hills with more than a hint of irony in his small eye…

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Although, truth be told, after the first shock to the system of the steeper, shorter hills at the beginning of the run, the downhill section allowed me to recover, to remember what motions are involved in this “running” thing and regroup in order to face the final hill with some pretence of dignity, running up it at a reasonably steady pace. I even (briefly) considered going out for a repeat the following day, but… sounder council prevailed, and I decided to take a rest day instead!

Dash keeping thoughts of black cockerels away...

Dash keeping thoughts of black cockerels at bay…

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