You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


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Back On My Feet Again

I apologise as I completely forgot to let you know how the BCN Tour du Canton went. For those who missed my previous post: as part of a fitness incentive I decided to sign myself up for a series of 6 races ranging from just over 9 to just under 12 kilometres.

I am proud to say that I completed 5 out of 6 of the race “stages” in the top third of my category. Considering I started training 8 weeks before the first race after not having run regularly for over 5 years I am very happy with my results. I did opt out of one race due to the fact it was E’s birthday. We took her out for a big girl birthday dinner with my mum who was visiting for the week. I had a lovely evening and managed to miss out on the most muddy stage of the tour and not feel an ounce of guilt about it.

The races took part every Wednesday evening over a period of 6 weeks meaning you had one week to recover between races. It sounds horrifying but I found that I actually gained stamina and strength as the races went on. In fact the week where I missed a race really threw me for the following race.

I must say the supporters who lined the route were really amazing and I saw some pretty outstanding sites. Let me share some of my pictures. I afraid some are a bit blurred as I was still running but really did not want to miss the photo opportunity.

The first week the race was 9.310 km starting at Planeyse, Colombier with a 210m elevation. You can see the exciting 3D animation of the course here.

1 colombier

Planeyse

It was nice an sunny on arrival but as the race went on the sky clouded and we made it in just before the thunderstorm started. Some of the slower runners were not as lucky. The race was beautiful  as we ran through the wine yards of the Domain de Chambleau. It was also tough running down the winery’s driveway and my friend and I jokingly discussed stopping off for an aperitif with the staff who were out with a bottle of wine cheering us on.

1 chambleau domaine

Chambleau

It was good as I really paced myself but perhaps I went a bit too slowly at the start as I crossed the finish line with plenty of energy despite looking like a beetroot because of my final sprint.

2 Chézard-Saint-Martin

Chézard-Saint-Martin

Week 2 saw us heading up into the countryside to Chézard-Saint-Martin. This race was more a straight uphill and then downhill run with an elevation of 290m. It was 10.360 km with the peak at 5km once you reached that point you knew it was pretty much easy going but from looking at the race animation. I missed one little peak before the final descent which was in fact at the 6km mark so I struggled with motivation  at that last climb before the downhill started! I wasn’t the only one and at the peak I saw many people collapsed around the place with strains or other issues. One thing I love abut running is that runners look out for other runners and anyone I saw in trouble was begin taken care of. Luckily the weather was cool and so the run downhill afterwards was a lovely recovery towards the finish line. Unluckily the weather had been pretty damp the days before the race and the final kilometre was a mud bath and most the people crossing the line were covered! My trainers went straight in the wash when I got home.

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel

Les Ponts-de-Martel

Our third race was up in the Ponts-de-Martel and one of the longest races at 11.314 km. It had an elevation of 197 m which by this stage wasn’t so bad but the main demotivating factor was the fact that the course looped round in a figure of eight so you had a glimpse of the end while you still had half the course to go.

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel countryside

Les Ponts-de-Martel

I loved it though because one of my favourite supporters was there complete with Alphorn to motivate us onwards. Sorry about the blur but I was trying desperately to keep up with a pacesetter for that race and I din’t want to lose him!

3. Les Ponts-de-Martel alphorn

I also saw this extremely house up there which I thought was brilliant. Swiss nationalism is very strong which I do actually love as I think us Brits have pretty much lost it and its a shame not to feel proud of your country.3. Les Ponts-de-Martel swiss house

Once again we finished just in time before a major hail storm hit. As the hail calmed slightly I legged it for the bus for the long journey back home.

4. La Chaux-de-Fonds

La Chaux-de-Fonds

Race 4 in La Chaux-de-Fonds I unfortunately missed as I explained. The weather forecast said snow, rain and freezing temperatures but my friend took part and sent me this picture saying how lucky they had been and despite the cold they got off lightly. It was, however, a complete killer of a race as they had to change the course last minute as there was so much mud and it ended up being not far off 12km with an elevation of 256 m.

5. Couvet

Couvet – Centre Sportif

I was back for Couvet in the Val-de-Travers the next week. It was a scorcher of a day starting off by the Sports centre. The final sprint of the race would be around the running track but firstly we had to get around the 9.560 km course in the heat. By this stage 245 m didn’t sound like that much of an climb but the temperatures changed everything. Firstly I was knackered: E had been sleeping a maximum of 5 hours a night that week and then my hayfever kicked in. Gah! I started struggling to breath and realised if I was going o finish this race it would be slowly and not in a great time. I therefore took my time up on the climbs preferring to walk them and run the downhill bits. The good thing about this was that I had time to really look around and take in the beauty of the place.

5. Couvet fields

5. Couvet hill

Once again there were some fabulous supporters to keep us going!

5. Couvet supporters

I made it across the line. It wasn’t pretty but I don’t think it was a good race for most people. There were ambulances everywhere. People had been collapsing along the course from dehydration and many passed out just after making to the end. I don’t know if it was just because of the heat or because it was a shorter race more inexperienced people turned up but it was carnage.

The final week in Neuchâtel town I was determined to do better. It was my home stretch and I knew that plenty of friends and family would be about to watch. When I arrived I spent a good while warming up properly.It was a lovely day but not too warm. Perfect.

6. Neuchatel swans

 

Just before the race kicked off they even had a stage with two ladies doing a warm up routine down by the lake so I joined in and bounced along to the music with everyone else.

6. Neuchâtel lake

Neuchâtel

The Neuchâtel lap was tough at 11.204 km and with the biggest climb yet of 345m from lakeside up past the train station, into the forest and back down again via Hauterive. The climb was tough but I kept moving only grinding to a stop when the line of runners bottlenecked into the forest. The forest trail was great as I know it well. The shade from the trees keeps you cool and it was soft underfoot. The final kilometre was tough though as I had given all I had to give in the uphill climb at the start. Friends who saw me thought i was limping as I reached the end although I was unaware. All I wanted to do was to get there! I high fives the kids I ran past for the final 100m and then it was over.

I was sad to reach the end. I really enjoyed my rather extreme reinitiating into the running world and remembered how much I used to enjoy my runs. Running is addictive. Every time you complete a goal you want to do more; push yourself toward the next challenge. First thing I did was to get a treadmill. I am now training 6 or 7 days a week and have put myself in for the London Marathon lottery with a few charities. Its easy enough to find the time to train if I do it first thing while M is napping. E comes to “workout” with me and we put a cartoon on the TV.

I love that running gives you extra energy and I love the fact that it allows me to eat cake.

Keep your fingers crossed for me for London but if I don’t get a spot I’ll sign up for a local one instead.


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Touring Neuchâtel and Diet

While I am relatively well integrated over here I’m constantly looking at new ways of making friends and discovering Neuchâtel. The BCN Tour du Canton is something I have wanted to do for a while now and this year I’m going to do it!

bcn tour 2014

Let me fill you in: the BCN Tour is a series of 6 races between 9.3km and 11.4km run all over the canton of Neuchâtel on Wednesday evenings during April and May. Anyone can take part, for a small fee, with categories for 9 year olds all the way up to the over 60s. You can choose to run or there is also the Walking Tour (which starts a bit earlier in the evening so it doesn’t get dark). There are also a few shorter races for kids as young as 5.

Before now it simply wasn’t practical for me to do it. I was based in Lausanne, then in Lucerne and when I finally moved to Neuchâtel I fell pregnant. This is really the first time I can do the races so when a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in doing it with her I jumped at the chance.

I have run before and completed a few 10k races but I am not very quick. I get around a 10k in under an hour (or I did back then) but that was when I was at University and I was a overweight and less fit despite the running.  Since having the children I have found weight loss much easier. Maybe it was the breastfeeding or the fact since my first started walking I haven’t been able to sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time. Working out with a personal trainer has also definitely helped. I had one back in 2006 over the summer and managed to shed a few kilos and keep them off.  After the birth of E I started looking for a new one over here to shed my baby pounds. We have one session a week which is enough to keep me healthy.

While I am fit I haven’t run properly since before the kids so I am a little concerned as my friend’s father is a running legend here. He is over 60 and still runs faster than most the 30 year olds I know. I have no idea on her level but we are going to be training together starting this weekend.

So, yes you’ve probably figured it out by now, there is an ulterior motive: I am also currently dieting. I stopped dieting officially last time I reached this weight in October as it was cutting my milk supply. Slowly a couple of kilos crept back on over the winter months but I have managed to lose them again over the past 3 weeks since stopping breastfeeding. I’m looking forward to the extra exercise calories – that should give me extra motivation to train!

Ok, so I hear you say, you aren’t overweight and you seem in reasonable shape; why are you pushing yourself to do all these mad things? Well… because:

  1. I’m stubborn and I like to complete a challenge.
  2. It seems like fun!
  3. I get to meet new people.
  4. I’d like to have a body at some point in my adult life, in peak condition, that functions as it should.

I feel like with all my eating issues, in my teens and at Uni, my poor body got pretty abused. I was so hung up on how “awful” I thought I looked I never saw how amazing my body actually was before my yoyo dieting behaviours weakened it.

Also, before you worry, I am doing this sensibly. Before I agreed to do the races I did a test 10k which was fine and I have a trainer who monitors me. My trainer has also actually calculated my goal weight based on my ideal weight worked out from body fat percentages (I hate callipers!). What is more I do actually love my body now for what it did carrying and growing my two munchkins.

The races increase in difficulty as you go through them but it seems doable. Below you can see the race statistics that they publish on the website:

races

The gradual increase in difficulty should mean that I improve my stamina as we go through them and become a better runner.

I am very excited and I plan to keep a photo diary of my races and thus take you on the tour with me. Hopefully we can all discover Neuchâtel together!

Check out the official BCN Tour Facebook page here.