Slacking in September!

Posted on: 04 Oct 2015

Hmmm......... not a vintage month, September - in fact, the worst of the year so far, exceeding even February in the 'Could do better' stakes. A rather evil cold accounts for the blank days of the past week, but before that........ no excuse, really - just a general lack of organization, a thin patch in the motivation, and simple laziness. Oh well, those can be improved (once I can breathe properly again.) I do feel a bit sheepish, though, in the light of the magnificent achievements of others, having so little of worth to recount. But here it is anyway.
I ran precisely 5 times in the whole of September. Surenen Pass having left me with rather painful knees, I waited a few days before subjecting them to a gentle tour of the Bireggwald (Saturday 5th September.) All seemed okay, so I extended the run over towards Wartegg and the Wagner Museum............. and down came the rain. I'd expected it (if not this heavy), and had a jacket strapped round my waist, but was soaked before I could unfold it and get it on. A temperature difference of almost 20° from the previous week, brrrrr! Home wet and cold, but 10 kms done - a reasonable start to the month.
Cashing in on this (very temporary) mood of 'Tatendrang', out walking the next afternoon, revisiting another of Luzern's woods, the Gütschwald. This is crowned by a rather magnificent old hotel, Chateau Gütsch, a pinnacled fantasy à la 'Sleeping Beauty'. There is a funicular up to it, closed for the past decade, but supposedly reopening any day now, so I thought we might go and check it out. No, still closed, so we walked up, via steep paths and long flights of steps. Interesting contrast between the run-down ugliness of Baselstrasse at the bottom (the nearest Luzern gets to slums) and the increasingly noble villas, the higher up the slope you climb. The view from the hotel terrace is spectacular; it was a gloomy day, but still worth a photo or two.

We peered in through the restaurant windows, and saw the tables set for elegant dining, but there was not a person to be seen. I remembered coming up here once, not long after I first came to Luzern, and the place was thronged with people; now it was spookily quiet and deserted. Perhaps the reinstated funicular will revive its fortunes. We did finally find a bar open, and went in to get something to drink, discovering that the hotel's prices matched its elevated reputation (HOW much for a hot chocolate and a glass of milk?!) Then we spent another hour or so getting totally and happily lost in the Gütschwald, enjoying this wood's relative unfamiliarity, secure in the knowledge that we only had to keep walking to get unlost - wherever we came out, we could find our way home. In the end, we found ourselves back at the hotel, so took the access road down to the city, and the bus home. Another 7 kms.
Nothing on the Monday, but more running on the Tuesday (8th September): a tempo session at the school track. 5 kms, aiming to do each one faster than the preceding one. I accidentally set the bar a bit high by doing the first in 6:13, but did succeed: the rest of them were 6:07, 5:57, 5:43, and 5:28. Together with getting there and back, 10.36 kms. Interesting profile, looks like a breadknife - Garmin thinks the track isn't flat!

Back at the track the following Sunday (13th September) for another 'breadknife' run. Intervals this time - alternating fast and slow rounds. I ran in the outside lane, so each round was about 330 metres (it's a 300 metre track, not 400.) I messed up the second one (evidently I didn't press the lap button hard enough for it to register), but the other fast rounds were all 4:something/km pace (4:56, 4:54, 4;58, 4:49, 4:49, 4;45), except for the first (5:01). As this was the day after a hilly 10+ km walk (more of that presently) and I was a bit tired, I was quite happy with this. Again another few kms getting there and back, so 10.75 kms altogether.
Up to this point, I thought September was shaping up to be a good month............ but from then on, it was all downhill. There always seemed to be something else I 'had to' do, though nothing that was really of any importance. Before I knew it, a week had slipped by. The following Sunday (20th September) I finally kicked myself into action - well, to be strictly honest, it was J. who did the kicking - and set off into the Bireggwald. Feeling sluggish and reluctant, I told myself 5 kms would do - enough just to get out there and do SOMETHING. But as so often happens, once I got going, I enjoyed it - it's just getting over the 'c.b.a.' threshold that's the problem. An hour and a half later, I was still going, and feeling much better. Carried by this positive energy, hill walking was on the agenda again the next day. (More about that too later.) Unfortunately J. came down with a bad cold the day after, and under the guise of solidarity, I kept him company in his enforced inactivity. The fifth and final run was towards the end of the week, motivated chiefly by the wish to try out a new pair of shoes. A cheap Aldi special, they were not bought with the intention to run in them, though they were branded as running shoes; I just needed something for general casual wear, and liked the colour (purple and green.) But finding them surprisingly comfortable, I thought I would give it a go, testing them out on a circuit that included asphalt, gravel path, and woodland. They were not bad! - I wouldn't care to run a marathon in them, but for shorter distances (parkrun, 10k..........) they would be fine. (Hey, why pay 250 francs for a pair of shoes when you can get them for 29?! - though I'm not about to abandon my Brookes and Salomon just yet.........) Anyway, these colourful articles notched up another 8.5 kms for me, again quite painlessly.
Four days after J. caught his cold, it got me too. Just as I was thinking I'd been lucky enough to escape it, I felt the beginnings of a sore throat. A long rehearsal that evening didn't help. By the next morning, there was no doubt. I just hoped it would be a mild one.
Unfortunately not. It's pretty horrible, and in no hurry to shift. Poor J. has had it now for 13 days, and I'm into my second week. I've even taken time off work, which I hardly ever do. Running is definitely off the agenda at the moment, this time with good reason. We both feel our level has slipped, and it will take time and work to get back up to standard again - a bit dispiriting. But if there is a ray of sunshine in all this, it's the hill walking........... which will make for a cheerier chapter next time.

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