Thursday, 10 March 2016

Chamonix Ramblings

At some point I need to work out how to update my blog page, because this has stopped being about my 'year of suffering', and will now just be random ramblings about current adventures/ climbing/ triathlon...  Anyway...

It’s being an interesting first month in Chamonix; a very stark contrast to the 60-70hr weeks I’ve been working in Paeds A&E over the last 6 months.  I’ve always been very career-orientated, and after what seems like a constant treadmill of GCSEs > A-levels > Med School > Foundation training > Specialty training, I finally felt that I needed to take some time out.  I’m almost halfway through my Emergency Medicine training, and am very fortunate to have been allowed to take 6 months off and have a job to return to in August.

This couldn’t have come at a better time, especially with the stress of junior doctor contract imposition; the imposition was announced the day after we arrived in Chamonix; I sat in the corridor (the only place we can connect to Wi-Fi) and cried.  Who knows what the contract really means, especially for people like me on time-out from training, but for now I’m focussed on enjoying this time out, and will deal with the consequences when I get back.

Clearly I’ve been enjoying Chamonix too much, because I’m now poorly with laryngitis; I suspect 24 days in a row of playing in the snow (plus swimming and turbo-training) has pushed me too far; I really will learn the importance of rest one day soon!!

Car loaded and ready to roll...
So we arrived in Chamonix to heavy rain, and doubts about winter; the valley looked very black!  Fortunately though, we woke in the morning to fresh snow.  The morning was spent moving into our apartment after a night on Heather’s sofa, before quickly getting out to play with an afternoon of snow at Les Houches.  This included my first foray into off-piste, complete with tree-crashes!

We’ve quickly settled into Chamonix-life, with an incredibly social group of ex-pats.   Since arriving my skiing has improved no-end (although I am by no-means a good skier, and am scared by anything remotely steep!).  You just can’t beat a day of blue skis and powder!  With a head for numbers and rotas, my last rota continues to roll through my head; “you’d be working nights now if you were still in the UK…” Certainly I know where I’d rather be!

Italian coffee in Courmayeur... Mmmmm!
Highlights since being out here include a day ski-touring with Heather and Rosie, doing the Col du Cicle, and finally plucking up the courage to ski the Vallee Blanche and realising I shouldn’t have been so scared (I do have a rather irrational fear of crevasses and the snow arĂȘte down from the Midi).

Skiing with the parent-in-laws (Mel & Ian)
Girls go tour! (Photo- H Flo)

Nervous on the snow arete :S

Loving some powder on the VB

So that's what I've been so scared about... meh!
I also found out in mid-February that I have qualified for the British age-group team for the long-distance European Championships this summer in Poland (eeek!).  I just scrapped onto the team with a qualifying time of 118% (the cut-off is 120%).  Fortunately I’ve joined the swimming pool, and am managing to swim 3-4 times a week, as well as getting on my turbo 2-3 times a week until the snow goes.  I figure skinning up-hill with have to do instead of running for now.  My main aim in Poland is not to finish last in my age group!  Thankfully, I have Grafman in May (middle-distance), followed by Ironman France in June to help me feel a bit more race-ready, before flying off to Poland in July for the biggie!

Beautiful sunset colours.

Today is day 3.5 of rest for me (the few ski runs I attempted on Monday had me spluttering and crying in pain), and I’m finally starting to feel a bit better.  Outside the skies are blue, the sun is shining, and I can see para-gliders drifting down to land.  I'm dying to be better and be back outside playing!  I haven’t yet gotten bored of walking around the valley with my head angled upwards, gazing up at the surrounding mountains.  I feel very privileged to be able to call the valley my home, for now at least!  What a relief to have finally stepped off the medical treadmill for a while!

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