We just spent another restful and happy Christmas with my niece Flora and her partner Felix Köhler, chez ma soeur in the shadow of Mont Bouquet near Uzès in the Gard (find them on Instagram @floracolledge and @felix_koehler_duathlete respectively for more pictures of punishment and reward).
I enjoy my sporting life vicariously through their accomplishments of which I am inordinately proud: she is an ever-accelerating triathlete with an increasing number of notches in her belt; he is the current European Duathlon champion. He was out of sorts on the day of the world championship in 2017 having come off his bike at 90 kph 10 days before, onto a road of sharp gravel. This, as he said, disrupted his training schedule a bit, or I might have been writing something else here.
What I can't quite wrap my head around is the enthusiasm that is given to the relentless training schedules they both endure. On Christmas Day, for instance, Flora's remote trainer (remote in the sense that he was lounging on an Australian beach when he emailed her her daily grind) was required to do a mere 3 hours on the indoor bike: the resistance was high, but not from Flora, just from the infernal machine to which her bike was tethered. Felix had completed a 12k run before elevenses, adopting a pattern of timed fast/slow repetitions of varying lengths (they both eat like horses too, grazing at every opportunity), and would go on to do another 18 just for kicks before dinner.
What they don't often get is a chance to train together, so these shots are for them.
So what do racehorses do on Christmas Day? They eat too much of course!