Spring is moving along so fast now, I can hardly keep pace - new developments every day. Standing at a bus stop the other evening, I suddenly noticed that the row of trees opposite was full of white blossom. When did that happen? - I'm sure it wasn't there the day before! A weeping willow I pass on my way to work is misting over with green, and magnolias have suddenly burst into flower, while the little strip of woodland by Allmend is full of wood anemones. (If I have time, I make a little detour that way on my way to work to admire them while they last.) A magpie keeps flying past our balcony carrying half a small tree, so they must be nesting nearby, and yesterday I spotted a sparrow similarly occupied. I LOVE this time of year. Just a shame that work is so full-on at the moment, I don't have much time to get out and enjoy it properly. Be that as it may........... it pays the bills.
My return to fitness is progressing, albeit a bit sporadically. No objections from the foot the day after the Zell walk, so I went out for another 5km amble in the woods, and 2 days after that (March 22nd - coincidentally my 'runniversary', my 21st), felt ready to give running another try. Trotted over to the school track (the shortest way, via Imfang and the ice rink) with the idea of doing a few rounds and seeing how it went. I wasn't planning on doing 5 kms, let alone the usual format of making each km faster than the previous one, but that's how it ended up. I was going to stop at 3, but felt okay, so kept going. 6:29, 6:24, 6:11, 6:09, 5:47 - quite pleased with that, especially the last one. Home along the lake; 9.21 kms altogether, in 1:06:41.
Easter 'holiday': free days Good Friday (a Catholic holiday), Easter Sunday, and the following Tuesday. All of these were gloomy and to some extent rainy. Performances on the Saturday and Easter Monday......... both of which were beautiful and sunny! - why does this always happen?! So no chance to get away, we just had to make the most of what we had. Not feeling particularly enthusiastic, I set out in the drizzle on Friday with maybe 6 or 7 kms in mind, but ended up with 9, in 1hr 16. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected to, the air felt so fresh and clean, the woods full of damp, earthy smells, and the scent of woodsmoke where families were optimistically grilling despite the rain. Only when it began to come down more heavily did I decide to head for home.
The Saturday turned out SO beautiful, it seemed criminal to waste it, performance or no performance, so we decided to chance a walk. I found just the thing in a book an elderly neighbour had passed on to us recently - the 23 part 'Gotthard Route' from Basel to Chiasso. It actually passes through Luzern, but the shortest etappe goes from Olten to Zofingen in - according to the book - 3 1/4 hours. Throwing a few things into a rucksack, we got the train to Olten (55 minutes) and set off. After walking up various roads out of the town, we were in the woods, where we managed to take an unplanned detour - not the best of starts! (I hate having the constraints of a time limit breathing down my neck in this way, it makes me very nervous, knowing we can't afford to get lost.) But we were soon back on track, and being fast walkers, had made up the lost time by the time we reached our first target, a pair of castles perched on adjoining hilltops: Säli Schlössli, a pinnacled and turreted 19th century fantasy, replacing a much older one; and the massive ruins of Alt-Wartburg, dating from the 12th century. The first is now a restaurant, but after a cursory visit to the terrace to look at the view, we regretfully passed on that and moved on to the other. This was too impressive to miss, so we took a few minutes to climb up to it and sit on top of the walls, eating a quick snack. (One small apple and some water - all we had with us!) Onward, through more woodland, generally well-signposted; and being up on a ridge, we had an overview of where we were, and where we were heading. Emerging from the woods at Bad Lauterbach, we were confronted with an old hotel/restaurant which had evidently once been a health spa, and had a very alluring terrace. (Can you see where this is going?!) Quick consultation of watch.......... yes, we can spare 20 minutes. Half an hour at a push. So J. ordered a salad, I a soup, plus a bottle of 'Most' (apple juice - the alcolholic version), and this, plus all the bread, was our belated lunch. I envied a group of cyclists relaxing at a neighbouring table with a huge plateful of chips - no time constraints for them. (Or for most normal people on Easter Saturday.) I would have loved to have stayed longer on the sunny terrace, but time was ticking. As we left, I saw that two horseriders had arrived, their horses tied up at their table - a quirkily mixed clientele. Our route now took us down through fields towards the valley, where we crossed the motorway on a noisy bridge, and along the margin of more woodland to Zofingen. This is an attractive little town, much under-appreciated. I had been here before, about 20 years ago, to spectate at a race, the 'Zofinger Stadtlauf.' This was in the days when I was still new to running, I think I had only done the Luzerner Stadtlauf and a 5k race at Aarau, and had come to check this out to see whether it might be something I could do next time. (I think it was about 6 or 7 kms.) I had a lovely evening, watching and applauding - I particularly enjoyed the cheery burst of 'Light Cavalry' every time the winners got up on the rostrum - and decided that yes, this would be a very suitable event for me. The men's winner, incidentally, was a guy from Manchester! - he was just here on a visit, heard about the race by chance, entered it at the last minute......... and won. There never was a 'next time', though - the Zofinger Stadtlauf went out of existence after that year. Until now. I notice that it has recently been resurrected, though now even shorter, about 5k - a distance I try to avoid these days! (though I make an exception for parkrun.) There is a good reason to go back to Zofingen, though - on the way to the station, I noticed a signpost to a Roman mosaic. (Those Romans got everywhere!) As I am fascinated by all things Roman, this I must see - possibly at the start of the next section of the Gotthard Route, from Zofingen to Sursee, when we do it. Just missed a train, which was unfortunate; 40 minutes till the next; but still enough time to make it home, shower, change, put together a quick sandwich, and get myself to the theatre in time for my make-up appointment and the evening's performance. And I didn't waste the 40 minutes - I used it to enjoy the beer I'd promised myself, courtesy of the station buffet and its outdoor tables and chairs. I can say we made the most of our day. 13.2 kms, and 2 hrs 45 of walking time - we beat the 'official' time as usual.
Can't remember what I did on Sunday - nothing very exciting, then. Monday was another lovely day, but well and truly ruined by having an afternoon performance in the middle of it. (I did walk to the theatre, though.) Final outing of March on Tuesday 29th, taking in the Bireggwald, the athletics track at Allmend, and the Biotope. Along Waldrand; past the goats (all 5 came running up the field, meckering loudly, as I approached, so I stopped to say hello); an excursion along the Tessinerweg and back; down to Allmend; a round of the Finnebahn (floored with new wood chippings, a bit lumpy, but nice and springy), and a fastish 400 on the track (2:10 - I think I can improve on that, though); then over to the nature reserve for 'Fantasy parkrun, version 2'. I'm still working on this one, distance-wise. I thought 3 laps plus the run-in from the entrance and back would do it......... but no, it was about 400m short, and I can't figure out a suitable loop to add in. They're still working on it, though, so a solution may turn up eventually. (Not that it matters, for an unofficial parkrun for at most 2 people!) I took it casually, lurking around the ponds looking for frogs ( a few small blobs of frogspawn, but no frogs that I could see), and walking steep or tricky bits ( steps; 4 small streams to cross; sections of path comprising a row of logs.) Back up through the woods via the main track, with some very dark clouds looming, and home the shortest way down the zigzags to outrun the impending rain. 13.31 kms, 1:56:23 (not having turned the Garmin off while frog-hunting.) An enjoyable outing, with plenty of variety, and I think my foot has forgiven me...........
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