Friday, January 6, 2012

"Ça chauffe" au sud de la France!

It seems to be a running joke with orienteers that we always stop off at home just long enough to get most of the stink out of our o-clothing before throwing it all back in a suitcase again and heading off to the next competition or training. I took this to a new level when I got back to St Etienne from my vacation frolicing almost exactly 12hrs before le Pole's planned departure for a training camp in the south of France. All I had time to do was dig my New Year's party dress out of my bag and throw in a couple clean jersey's and my bathing suit (hehe no just kidding, it's not quite that warm down here).

After a short 4.5hrs of driving (it seemed to be interminably long for the French but they have obviously never attempted the infamous weekend where you drive 12hrs one way just to run 3 races in 2 days and then drive back) and a couple training breaks we arrived in the cute little village of Nant where we would be staying for the next 5 days.

The program is a tough one; all that really happens is that you wake up in the morning, you eat, then train, then eat again, take a much needed siesta, go out training again, freeze your bum off in the bus while waiting for night to fall, venture out into the dark for the third training of the day, come back to the accommodation to eat, and then straight to bed to recuperate for tomorrow's training. Usually I really enjoy these training camps because I feel really hardcore putting all those hours of orienteering on attackpoint, but 2012 threw me a bit of a curveball in the form of a gastro intestinal sickness thingymadooer. I made it through the first training on Wednesday with the hope that maybe it was just something I ate that didn't go down well, but when all I could force down was a meager plate of plain pasta I chose to be the smart/wimpy athlete and crawled into bed to sleep away the afternoon.

The next morning I took enough Paracetemol to keep my head from spinning - I know, I know, everyone says that you should never train when you're sick, but I wasn't about to waste away in bed while everyone else was out training on super beautiful and technical terrain. I was going to crawl if I had to! - and hopped into the bus ready to experience this marvelous terrain... too bad the weather decided to turn into 110km/h winds and really cold rain.

We ran a Finnish relay which is a team of a girl and guy who each do two loops. It actually would've been pretty cool if my legs hadn't felt completely drained, if we hadn't had to hide behind bushes so as not to be blown away, and if I had been able to concentrate enough to not get completely lost. I did, however, eventually find all my controls! Although, good thing Celestin started his last loop before I got back because I was out there for awhile.

Here's a picture that I took of the type of terrain we were running through, followed by the map excerpt of the area. Not so much of a piece of cake, eh?

I won't go into detail about the afternoon training but let's just say that it wasn't the most enjoyable hour of my life... in a weak moment afterwards I had even convinced myself that I should head back to St Etienne with other injured athletes. Thank goodness Olivier, the coach, managed to bring me around even if was just to toodle around on the maps to get in the technical aspect of the trainings.

And toodling I did! It's amazing what a little sunshine and an amazing map can do to your health! There was one section that they called the labyrinth ...

... and getting through it involved scaling cliffs, crawling through tunnels of dark green, and fighting off the minotaur to get to the control ;) While the others were busy getting lost while doing intervals in the tricky terrain, I was kept busy getting lost while jogging around and capturing the beautiful scenery.

And as the 4th day of our training camp comes to a close we still have a sprint distance in Millau to look forward to, followed by a middle and long. Even though I still feel like a new born Bambi when I run, there's still a chance that I could pull out some good runs this weekend. As my dad always tells me... it's not over until the fat lady sings!

And as a side note I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy 2012!.. with good health and lots of quality training hours to come!


  1. Great post - thanks Emily! That terrain looks fabulous!

  2. Nice write-up, Emily. That sounds like a great training camp (well, maybe the rain and high winds count as "memorable" if not great). Best wishes for good health and good training!

  3. I can't believe those maps - I think they'd have to be at 1:2000 for us masters...!
    Best wishes for continued success in 2012!