Running and Summer. Two things that really should go together.
I did the hard miles in winter. I ran in snow, hard frost and torrential rain in January and February so the chance to run in a vest, with the sun on my shoulders should motivate me to get out there as much as I can.
But this summer is busy, busy, busy and making time for running has not been a priority. I have three children under 10 and straight after breaking up from school we headed for France.
We had three great days schlepping around the streets of Paris – climbing the Eiffel Tower, marvelling at the unique weirdness of the Pompidou Centre and Stravinsky Square and soaking up the classic beauty of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sacre Couer. At the end of each day all I felt up to was collapsing with a well-earned beer at the our campsite in the Bois de Boulogne (that’s my wife and I, the children had Syrop).
Then we headed south to Monsegur near Bergerac for a week of sunshine. We had the most amazing, secluded gite and the weather constantly hovered between 28C and 33C.
I managed two runs – both in the blazing heat of midday. I know what they say about Mad Dogs and Englishmen but I was always required for morning pool fun with my boys or frog-spotting with my daughter and, to be honest, those activities were so much fun for all of us that I just didn’t want to stop.
So it was in blazing heat that I headed out and I loved it. The feel of raw, powerful sunshine beating down on my shoulders and arms was intoxicating and running past field after field of sunflowers a sight I will never forget.
Despite the heat (and the fact that we were in a hilly area), it wasn’t hard to keep up the speed. Perhaps hot weather on my aging joints and muscles helped or perhaps it was all psychological but I fair buzzed along for both one-hour runs.
We also spent a day at Pilat Dune – the largest sand dune in Europe. It was surprisingly stunning – a mountain of sand forcing its way between a forest and the ocean. I challenged my son to run up it and he managed a good effort of about half way before his six-year-old legs rebelled (for which I shall remain grateful because I too was suffering).
Running down the dune was something else. The freedom to take off the brakes and hurtle without real fear of injury was incredible.
When I got back I managed two of Oxford Triathlon Club’s regular Bike And Run Time Trials (Handicapped Duathlons) and competed in the Salty Sea Dog Triathlon in Boscombe while on a long weekend break with the family and friends. Plenty of speed in my running but not much substance.
And now I am in Stockholm. Not holiday this time but the World Water Week conference - a global meeting of minds intent on addressing the water challenge in one way or another. If I’m lucky I’ll squeeze in a couple of early morning runs but doubt I’ll get about seven miles.
I have just eight weeks until Abingdon Marathon so I am starting to feel considerably undercooked. Good job I marked this up as a base for the main event of the London Marathon in 2016.