About a year ago in an attempt to make some connections in Melbourne, I joined the Crosbie Crew, a horde of enthusiastic runners led by a guy named Tim Crosbie. A bunch of them had just finished an epic trail run and for the first couple of weeks, that was all they talked about. The Two Bays. I felt like I had missed out on the run of the century. It also seemed kind of crazy, to do a long trail run like that in the middle of the hot Australian summer. Continue reading
Last year’s 20km had people suffering from heat stroke. This year, it was hypothermia. Nothing like a little variety to keep those race organizers on their toes. Continue reading
I know! It’s totally insane! I haven’t even run a marathon yet!
We keep running mountain trail races during which I’m thinking Oh my God I’m going to die! And then we get home and eat a ton of pistachios and I think Wow that was really great, we should find another one of these to run.
Do you think pistachios could be hallucinogenic? Continue reading
So Marc turned 50. It was a big event chez nous, with a huge, fantastic party to which he invited everyone he could possibly imagine inviting. The weather cooperated beautifully, and a good time was had by all.
I may have mentioned before that in celebration of this watershed (yes, that’s a hydrology term) year, we’re going all out and running our aging butts off all around the mountains of Switzerland. Well, the French-speaking part, anyway. What that means is that for the first time in many, many years, we’re actually in fairly decent running shape. Marc, in particular, is in the best shape he’s been in since the 1990s. He doesn’t look anywhere near 50. But then again, at 30, he still looked like he was about 15. Continue reading
Saturday after our epic Bettmeralp adventure, Marc and I climb in the car and head up to the lac du Joux, in the Jura mountains. It’s the hottest day of the summer (so far), with 33˚ temperatures down in Lausanne. The 24-km race around the lake starts at 2:15 pm, so we’ll be running smack in the highest heat of the day. But over in the US, the entire country is sweltering in 90+ temperatures, so I refuse to feel sorry for myself. In comparison, this is nothing. Continue reading
Saturday afternoon, 16:07. Marc and I sit back and relax in the regional train from Lausanne to Brig. I pull out the food – apples, bananas, pistachios, and some crazy-good seed nut bars I’ve made from this recipe. I thought they’d be good recovery food for the trip back.
After three trips to the bathroom at the back of the car, it’s clear he’s well-hydrated. Soon the seed-nut bars are gone. We talk about the upcoming race. Marc knows what he’s in for because he ran it in the summer of 2003. I’m nervous because although I didn’t run it in 2003 (the boys had a soccer tournament), I can nonetheless do the calculations – altitude plus distance – and it doesn’t look easy. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
I feel like I’m ready. Last week’s race, the Trail de L’Absinthe, went pretty well. I’m feeling strong and confident. What’s a couple thousand meters more in altitude? So I’m going to have to climb more than 1000 meters? Big deal! Bring it on!
Hah! If I only knew…
I was heading to the checkout at the Coop last week when I ran into a woman I know from my years with the University symphony. She’s a runner, and we are both friends with Monica, who is also a runner.
I asked if she’d done the 20km. Trop de monde, she said. Too many people. (There were 19,000 of us.) She and Monica had run 26 kilometers up and down the gorges du Nozon instead, because they were going to have to miss the Montée du Nozon race in the gorge on Saturday. Montée? I said. That sounds interesting…
I just got back from running the Morat-Fribourg race – 17.17 km over bucolic Swiss countryside from the charming walled town of Morat (Murten in Swiss German) to Fribourg. The race has historical roots; it supposedly retraces the steps of a courier who was spreading the news that Charles the Bold had been defeated in a nearby battle. This was back in 1476. The runner carried a branch from a linden tree. Like so many runners to follow him, he collapsed on arrival. They planted a linden tree to mark the event.
I’m not going to get into Swiss history here because I would definitely be out of my depth. Who the heck was Charles the Bold and what was he doing in Switzerland? I’d just reveal my ignorance. (Wait, didn’t I just do that?) The race, however, is very popular. There are people who have run Morat-Fribourg every year without fail for most of their adult lives. This was number two for me.
The defining feature of this race is its altitude profile. (If you look at the link, notice all the first-aid stations…) It can be summed up in two words: bad-ass hills. The race finishes on a brutal uphill. This year I ran it in my New Balance minimalist trail shoes that have recently become my number-one preferred footwear. I was a little nervous about this because the race is run entirely on pavement. Up to now, most of my runs in the minimalist shoes have been at least partly on trails. (They’re trail shoes).
They were fine. Perfect. My feet feel great. My left calf muscle is a little sore, but it was 17.17 km, a lot of uphill. I suppose that’s to be expected. I’m sure a couple of beers and some chocolate will take care of it.
But that’s not the news. The news is that for the last 10k of the race, I ran alongside a woman who was wearing Tarahumara-style sandals!! Universes are truly aligning here. This cannot be a coincidence.
Let’s backtrack for a minute to the pre-race milling about in the starting area and the port-a-potty lines. I spent a lot of time looking at other people’s feet. NO ONE was wearing anything other than bonafide, cushioned, stablilized, run-of-the-mill running shoes. No one but me, that is. So imagine my surprise when a pair of huarache-type sandals edged into my peripheral vision on a hill at about 6 miles. WOW! She wasn’t wearing lycra, either. All of a sudden, the race got a lot more interesting.
We had the same basic pace, that is to say, strong on the ups and lame on the downs – without all that cushioning you don’t tend to overstride and slap your feet down so much doing downhill. Even though we were both running along in our own little zones, I loved every minute – I’d found a kindred spirit. Her form, which unfortunately I got a good look at as she pulled away from me on the last hill, was impeccable. I tried to imitate it, even as I was internally empathizing with the poor courier and his linden branch, and worrying about my own imminent collapse.
I didn’t collapse after all, and as I caught up with her in the finish chute I congratulated her on her footwear. She pointed mine out, too. She said she’d tried to find shoes like mine in Switzerland, unsuccessfully. I told her I’d gotten them in the US, and she raved about all the great possibilities in footwear that could be had across the pond. We basked for a moment in our mutual admiration. She asked me if I’d read Born to Run. Does the bear shit in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic? Then we went our separate ways.
The only other person I saw wearing anything alternative was a man walking barefoot across the finish line, way at the back of the pack. But he was carrying his shoes and his feet had some really nasty-looking blisters on them, so I don’t think the barefoot part had been planned ahead of time. He didn’t look too happy.
On a brief, last barefoot note – last week I walked barefoot all the way from the nasty gnarly trail I photographed for my barefoot blog post to our house the other day (maybe 2km). I just had a sudden desire to go barefoot. It was painful, but great. I like feeling the ground without an intermediary. One of the commenters on my Running and Rambling post obviously lives near me because he recommended a path that I know well. That’s my next step, to run/walk that trail barefoot. I’ve survived Morat-Fribourg, so I’ll do it next week and keep you posted!