It was clear early in the week that there was going to be no long run today. 30C forecast for today - I can't run in that! So I was going to have to do something else with my day off, preferably involving exertion! I haven't been going to the mountains as often as I did last year, partly because I'm a bit wary of going on my own. My husband hates it when I go alone - and he does have a point, I do seem to trip over non-existent objects at regular intervals when I'm out. But the route I chose today is one I know really well, where there are always loads of hikers - and it's always cooler in the Alps. And I really do pay more attention when I'm on my own, or can set my own pace so I don't get so tired (that tends to be when I trip).
So with a rucksack full of provisions and lots of water I took the train south. I love mountains, they give me the same kick as running. I love challenging this old body of mine, I love the views and I love the tired feeling at the end of a sun-drenched day. Sometimes a view can give me goose-bumps of pleasure. This time I wanted to test how much my fitness has improved. As I said I know the route well, it involves a slow and steady climb of about an hour which has seemed relentless in the past. And right at the end is the worst bit, where it gets even steeper just when your legs are really aching and your knees are shaky from exertion. Last time I did it at Christmas with my family who were over from England. I noticed a huge improvement in fitness even then - what was I going to be like today? The signpost came - 1 hour to the top. Uphill all the way, it hardly ever even flattens out and off I set. I marched for 30 mins non-stop and was well past half way by the time I gave myself a break. 30 mins was acceptable, that's what Laura expected of me. And then the rest in just 15 mins and there I was, 500 metres higher than when I set off. In fact I felt so good I continued up to the summit, about another 100m, which I normally don't do (see the 3rd picture - which doesn't do it justice!). On the way back down I spontaneously chose another - unknown - route to a different town. Ooh it was steep, washed out and full of scree. I could see myself landing on my bottom here. I scrabbled from tree to tree, trying to pick out stones on the path which were not going to suddenly give way to gravity and take me lurching down with them. Behind me I could hear a group of lads who seemed to have no problems, but fortunately they were too far back to see me - I could just hear them coming rapidly closer! Then things evened out, the path widened and I picked up the pace. In fact I even broke into a gentle jog a couple of times - just for the fun of it (not really to be recommended in hiking boots!). I got to my little town after 3 and a half hours of solid hiking through woods, across fields, on roads and tracks. My app said I'd done 17k, but that seems a bit much. Whatever, I really loved it and have posted a few photos to show why!