Sunday, 28 April 2013

20 km de Lausanne

I paid a flying visit to Lausanne this weekend, trying to take in all the mayor sights, whilst running a twenty kilometer race. But what sounded like a brilliant plan some weeks ago, turned out to be a tough endurance test. Thanks to the relentless rain.

Let me start by telling you that until yesterday, I had not run twenty kilometers ever before in my life. So, I was more than a little apprehensive on the train that took me and my fellow sufferers K., T. and S. down to Lausanne. They foolishly let themselves being talked in to doing this race. By mid March I told them I was booking a hotel and they would have to confirm that they were coming, within a couple of days. They all did. Bless them. That was of course long before we knew it was going to rain and rain and rain and the outside temperature would not get above 5 degrees celcius.
Anyway it was still dry on arriving in Lausanne around three 'o clock. And still dry when we it all went pear shaped. The first drops were hitting the tarmac as we were send on a wild goose hunt round a rather nondescript athletic stadium in search for our free t-shirts, some available toilets and a place to leave our bags. We of course crossed the invisible line from German Switzerland into French Switzerland a couple of hours ago and boy did we know it.
There is no signage what so ever and allthough my American friend K. speaks fluent French noone seems to be able to give us adequate directions to any of the above mentioned pre race necessities. Left to our own devices we eventually manage to find two rather obscure toilets and a little shelter in which to cut our specially bought huge American bin liners in a bid to keep warm and dry.
We also manage to locate a nice heated building with ample toilets, only to be told that those toilets are reserved for the sponsors of the race. It is at this point, just being send out in the driving rain again, that we decide that instead of waiting around for our 18.25 allocated start, we should run with the first group at 18.10. My hands are going numb. If I am going to run at all, then I need to start moving as quickly as possible.
Of course I loose sight of my lovely friends K. and S. within the first couple of hundred meters. Never mind, they are very experienced long distance runners. No way I was ever going to keep up with them.
My poor Ozzie friend T. suffers with an awful stitch and rather bad stomach cramps straight from the start. She and I keep overtaking each other during the race. And every time I see her the cramps seem to have gotten a little bit worse. Even so, she manages to finish the race in a good time. She is one though woman.
After about a kilometer or so into the race I feel the blood returning to my fingers. The running is quickly heating up my body and I start to notice my surroundings for the first time. We are running along a nice tree lined boulevard, bordering Lausanne's beautiful lake. This could be such a nice place to enjoy a quiet sunset. Instead I have to make do with my imagination and a swishing bin liner.
Soon we start to climb. And alltough I dreaded this climb, it is not nearly as bad as I imagined it. The fact that K., S., T. and I scaled our local mountains, running through snow and ice, surely proofs to have been adequate preparation. I am not going fast and it probably is not a pretty sight, but I manage to keep going up without stopping. Victory!
And allthough it is rather a long uphill trek, the fact that we run through beautifully laid out parks and along Parisian like boulevards, more than makes up for the relentless climb. It also helps that there are some flat bits to recover. A balcony full of yelling students, beers in hand, barbeque going at full blast, cheers me up no end.
At the top we are rewarded by a marvellous church. The winding, cobllestoned, narrow streets around it are a welcome distraction from the fact that I am still running. Luckily it also turns out to be an exellent place to window shop and once dry and warm again it turns out we all saw at least one pretty dress or a pair of killer heels that we would like to go and purchase.
From kilometer fourteen onwards the route starts to descend towards the lake again. My right hip hurts, as well as my left knee, I am soaking wet and getting really cold. By this time the elite runners are probably allready boarding the train to go home and I have been passed by at least fifteen thousand fast runners, but hey, guess what, I am still moving.
I manage to finish my race,  in just under two hours. Unbelievable. After the finish, with only a medal to keep me warm and dry, trying to get my bearings, I luckily bump in to my Ozzie friend T. again. Shivering and to wet to laugh about it, we manage to make our way back to the barely covered area where we left our bags. Our experienced friends K. and S., make us strip off outside (!)  and put on some dry clothes. They need to help me to unzip my jacket, because my hands are to numb to manipulate any fastenings. I do not think I will try and climb Mount Everest in the near future.
A good twenty minutes walking through the still pouring rain, we reach the little Malaysian restaurant that we booked for our celebrational dinner. Instead of the prosecco that we fantasised about on the way down, we drink tea to get warm again. And one by one we disappear into the tiny toilet cubicle to get changed. Oh to be dry again. Utter bliss. Our wonderful friend M., who recently moved from our part of Switzerland to Geneva, joins us for dinner. How wonderful to catch up and hear about her new and exiting life.
By Sunday morning all we can do is laugh. We did it. We came out at the other side of the very cold and wet tunnel. We are even going to do it again. Next year. When it no doubt will be warm and sunny.