So, we (as in me and my small furry travelling companion) are on our way at last.
The last 36 hours or so have been busy. Yesterday was completely given over to taking part in the Southern Masters League Final at Ashford. It’s the event I rate for quality and competitiveness above all Masters track and field events in the UK save for the BMAF National Championships. My club has qualified for the Final pretty much every year of the competition’s 25+ year history. Basically, the Final brings together in a full-on day of competition the eight top Club Masters Athletics squads in the south of England. When team manager of my mob, I was proud to lead them to win the match twice -last time being in 2012 – and gutted in 2011 when we lost by one single match point. I feel equally gutted for my successor as manager, Les Roberts, because history repeated itself yesterday, and Southampton AC beat us by just one point. For me, it’s had me wondering what might have happened if my dip finish in the 100m had been more effective, or if I’d not nearly fluffed our last relay baton change. Others too, I expect. But that’s sport, and great sport it was too.
Those things aside, on a personal level, the match was good. I ran my fastest 200m of 2013, a forgettably slow 100m, and a fast sprint relay leg (though the less said about baton changing, the better). What was strange was that the 200 was into a headwind, while the 100 had a tailwind. That will perhaps sound unusual to anyone who doesn’t know the track at Ashford! I got through the day without injury or additional niggles, though I’m sore and tired now. Competitive season over for 2013. I guess it went pretty much to the optimistic version of “the plan”. Thank you to all who helped that happen.
At dawn today, we were off down to the Channel Tunnel and over to France by the time civilization was having breakfast, on the first leg of the Big Trip. The first part of the journey was directly into the rising sun, and emblematic of my hopes for the next few weeks! To be honest, it was always going to be a “make it up as you go along” day today, because our destination was only three hours direct drive away, and we had much longer to kill. I’d programmed the GPS with a couple of waypoints. One of these was “Avesnes”. What I’d not checked properly was which “Avesnes” I’d picked, and yes, we were miles into deep rural French countryside before it dawned on me it was the wrong one of, as I found out later, several. Nonetheless, we got to see some fine country, and drive some brilliant, quiet roads, and we turned a 180 mile journey to Reims into one of over 245 miles!
Part of me doesn’t think a big trip like this has properly begun until I’ve tasted the first Pelforth Brune, the signature beer of northern France. Well, I have now, twice, as it happens, so I’ll write any typos and grammatical errors off to “6.5%” and start planning tomorrow.