Posted on: 12 Mar 2017

Never the most inspiring of months, February did not get off to the best of starts, with both of us succumbing to illness. Only a cold in my case, and fairly mild; but J. had a flu that knocked him out for a good couple of weeks. He even spent 3 days in bed, which is almost unheard of. Neither of us had much energy for running, and generally settled for walking: mostly short walks in the Bireggwald, plus the odd longer one. No point documenting them all, as they were much of a muchness, though I kept brief notes, mostly recording the conditions ('Springlike warmth in the sun, but still fridge-like chill in among trees') and the first signs of spring. ('Very slow', 'no energy', and 'sat on a bench' also feature fairly often!)

One or two merit a more detailed mention. The first of these was a cross-country event at Allmend on the 11th. J had originally intended doing this, I never had, but we went along in our convalescent state to spectate. A good job I wasn't running it, I thought afterwards - even at my best, I would still have trailed in last by a long way. (Possibly I would still have been running round the next morning!) The women's race was won by the orienteering world champion, who left everyone else, including most of the men, for dust. Out of curiosity, we walked some of the course afterwards, jumping over the straw bale obstacles before they were removed (presumably back to the nearby stables), had a bite to eat at our 'parkrun' cafe, then went for a walk through the residential streets of Horw and along the path by the railway as far as the level crossing on the way to Hergiswil, before returning the same way: about 8 kms of bright (if still chilly) sunshine. Nice.

12th February: Better attempt to run again, I suppose, see if I still remember how to. Off to the school track to do some rounds. My old 'favourite' (that may not be quite the right word), 5 kms, each one faster than the previous one. Starting modestly with 6:54, I worked up through 6:45, 6:28, and 6:16, to 5:57. Plus a 6:38 6th km for good measure. That will do, for now. Including there and back, 10.82 kms altogether.

A solo walk for me a few days later, on the 16th: nothing particularly special - I just made more extensive notes than usual, and it seems a pity to waste them! 'Bengal cat on a lead; bitten by a goat (think it may have mistaken my thumb for a piece of bread); small child insisted on giving me a handful of dead leaves; Tessinerweg - 4 fallen trees impeding my way; half a dozen coltsfoot; found a new path (yes, in the Bireggwald, where I thought I knew them all); Biotope - some new ponds since I was last there; ducks, 2 herons, no frogs yet; chairs carved out of tree stumps; sun went down behind Pilatus; back through middle of woods - still icy snow in places; found pretty stone - black with white band (like the cows we sometimes see in Schwarzenberg.) 1hr 50, 8.5 kms.' (Subtitle: 'Tales of a very dilettante runner' - or not even a runner on this occasion!)

A longer walk 3 days later - 26 kms, and 4 hrs 22 - starting at Friedental (the cemetery), taking in Sedel, Trumpf-Buur, Buchrain, Root, and Gisikon on the outward leg, and the flood defence dam, Perlen, Planetenweg (I noticed Pluto has been reinstated!), Rathausen, and Rotsee on the return one, recrossing our tracks at the lonely tree, and finishing at Maihof and a rather welcome bus stop. We did run/walk over the last 11 kms, realizing we would run out of daylight otherwise, the run intervals gradually getting longer and longer. I've noticed before (on the Bielersee 40k) that it's actually a relief to alternate the two, it seems to use different muscles. But I admit I was quite tired by the end. A good route, though - worth remembering for a possible long run, should I need to do one. (Which of course I will - I haven't given up on marathons yet, however out of practice I am at the moment.) It was, incidentally, a lovely sunny day, and included the obligatory sit on a bench quite early in the proceedings, watching a helicopter landing on the roof of the hospital.

Tuesday 21st February: everyone's favourite - hill training! I introduced J to my round of the Bit of Woodland. We ran divisi, each taking it at our own pace, occasionally waving to each other from the upper and lower levels - though towards the end, I didn't see him at all for a while, and wondered if he'd gone home without me! (He hadn't - we were just permanently at opposite ends of the round.) Timing the uphill section, I forgot the first one, and messed up the fourth (pressed the wrong button), but the others were 1:49, 1:55, 1:57, 1:54, 1:55, 1:51, and 1:53, so reasonably consistent. I confess I still take a few (about 20) seconds' breather by the bench at the top each time, excusing it as 'birdwatching'!

But here is where it gets a bit more exciting. At the theatre, we were due a couple of compensation days (for having worked outside our usual hours), and it was also Fasnacht (carnival), when we get a couple of days' holiday anyway, plus our normal 1 1/2 free days. Altogether it amounted to a block of 6 days - a rare occurrence indeed! I had something arranged for the Monday, but that still left Thursday till Sunday to fit in a long weekend away. I had in mind I would like to go to Colmar and the Vosges region, and managed to find a good deal in Lapoutroie, a village about 20 kms west of Colmar in the Vosges foothills. Unfortunately the Saturday night wasn't available, but that still left us 3 days. The other question was how to get there. One possibility was to hire a Mobility car in Basel; the other was to rent one in Colmar (not Mobility, but a partner firm, Hertz.) J. favoured the latter idea (more ecological), though I foresaw problems, as the car rental place was not at the station but 2.2 kms away, somewhere out in the wilds of Colmar. He had his way, however, and armed with a Google Maps printout, I hoped it wouldn't be too tricky to find. Once this was all organized and booked, I began to feel really excited - it seemed ages since we last went away anywhere. (Well it was. The last time was August: our 24 hour getaway to Chamonix and the UTMB!) True, February was not an optimal time, and the mountains per se were probably still covered with snow, but with miles of vineyards and lots of pretty villages, there were surely plenty of walking possibilities. (Just let it not rain the entire time.........)

This is getting a bit long now, so I'll give Alsace its own chapter - it's worth it!

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