Thursday, 21 March 2013

Running

The circumference of the Swiss Aegeri lake is almost fourteen kilometres. I know this, because today I ran all around it. Now, all I want to do, is lie down, eat chocolate and gloat.

My Dutch friend S. is leading the way. Much more than a runner than I am, she has rounded the lake a couple of times before. So far, I always managed to come up with some excuse. Not today though. My friend sets a pretty fast pace, leaving me completely out of breath. Luckily she does most of the talking and is nice enough not to be offended by the occasional grunt from my end of our conversation.
Making it sound as if she needs a bit of a break, S. suggests after seven kilometers, that we need to slow down a bit. Just in time. Taking in the beautiful mountain scenery whilst at the same time trying to ignore our stiffening muscles, we make it back to the car in an hour and twentysix minutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.
I wasn't always a runner. In fact, until six or so years ago I was completely and utterly convinced that I couldn't run. Yes I could hike a fair distance, cycle all day if I had to and even skate more than twenty kilometres, but running, really was a bridge too far. Until my English friend P. accepted a bet. If she could train up to run ten kilometres, the man she loved agreed to learn Spanish. 
All he did of course, was taking himself off to a lovely language course in sunny Spain, whereas she and I battled the elements two times a week, for months on end. It came as a lovely surprise though that we, in fact, could run, as long as we did it very, very slowly.
We ran the Manchester 10 K twice. The first time at such a leisurely pace, that two guys in shark suits could easily overtake us. The next and last time though we ran our ten kilometres in under an hour!
Optimistic and very convinced that I was never going to stop running,  I moved to Italy. There, the runner in me only lasted for about six weeks. The heat, the obnoxious mosquito's and the rather forlorn looking public parks quickly took all the fun out of any running.  During the three years that I lived in lovely Bologna, I never made it past a weekly yoga class.
But then I arrived in Switzerland. Green, spacious, clean aired Switzerland. Before I had even unpacked my boxes, I had joined a ladies running group. Allthough the American and Scandinavian group members were so much fitter than I was and had mostly come to gripps with running up mountains, I stuck with it. Most of the times I would fall behind within the first ten minutes of a run, but I just wouldn't led them beat me.
I started running on my own, as well as with the group and found that I was never lonely in the woods and fields a stones throw away from my house. Scores of upbeat Nordic walking elderly Swiss and majestic snow capped peaks kept me company. Time and again.
Will I keep running back in the Netherlands do I wonder. With the upcoming move back home I have started to take stock of the things that I like about my Swiss life. Running is definitely on the list of things I want to keep. But will I find an equally nice and motivating group of running friends? And will I be as keen to get myself out of the door in flat, unassuming Holland as I am here in wonderful Switzerland? Only time will tell. I will keep you posted!