February (for want of a more imaginitive title)

Posted on: 05 Mar 2016

It's been a mixed month in all respects, has February: weather, activities, mileage, motivation.......... but here we are, 115 kms done, more than half of that in the last week, and 45 of THAT in the final weekend. (Consistency is not my middle name!) One thing that has seriously been messing with the motivation in particular is a newly-developed inability to upload my activities to Garmin Connect. Up till the end of January it was working just fine; then............ nothing. 'Error' it kept reporting, but no clue as to why. I tried everything I could think of: updates; re-downloading the programme; using different browsers - nothing worked. E mails to Garmin Customer Service produced no answers either. They suggested the problem probably lies with my computer rather than their site, and they're probably right. But it was so frustrating! I've wasted hours and hours messing with it, and it still doesn't work. However, for some reason I found it DOES still work (after a fashion) with my old computer. That is to say, I can upload the activities onto that, but not view them - for that, I have to re-plug everything back into my current computer. This is time-consuming and not tenable as a long-term solution, but better than nothing. (All very BORING, sorry.) I shouldn't let something like this affect my motivation, but it did, I'm afraid. So February was shaping up to be one of my worst months ever until it was rescued by 'RuediRennt', a charity enterprise, in the last few days. More of that later.

But first the more bread-and-butter stuff. Friday 5th Feb, 8.14 kms round the Bireggwald: up the side, 2 1/2 times round the fig. of 8, back via the ponds and Waldrand. I have no notes to remind me of any further details, but the weather pictogram suggests it was quite a nice day (sun/cloud, not raining, 9°). Which cannot be said of the next outing, on Monday 8th Feb, a walk in Kanton Aargau. It was windy. It was VERY windy. In fact, it was a storm with a name: Ruzica (though I didn't find that out until afterwards.) We set off from Wildegg along the river Aare, and already the wind was impossible to ignore. At Auenstein we turned right and set off on the 350ish m climb to the top of the ridge, mostly through woodland. It seemed less windy here - must have been the sheltered side. A dividing of the path offered us two choices: the one described in the book we were following, or a 'Gratwanderung': a ridge walk. We decided to stick with the book. Thank god!!! As we reached the top, overlooking the next valley, the wind struck again. "Is that a plane?" J. wondered aloud, just as I was thinking it sounded like an oncoming train, though there was no railway line anywhere near. But it was the wind roaring. I stopped briefly to take a picture of a ruined castle before battling on. At a bend in the path, it hit with such force, it nearly blew me over; I literally staggered, clutching frantically at my buff before it blew off my head. At this crucial point, the signposts let us down, and we had no option but to check the wildly flapping map, hanging onto it to stop it flying away. Back in more sheltered terrain, it was easier for a while, but then we had to climb back over the ridge to descend to Biberstein. At the top, the trees were bending and thrashing wildly, and I heard an ominous loud crack disquietingly close by. This did not seem an ideal place to be! So we scurried briskly down the path towards the Aare valley again, eyes and ears on red alert for flying branches or falling trees. My heart was in my mouth for a while, but gradually descended to its proper place as the force of the wind lessened. Another castle (non-ruined) at Biberstein. Our quest for a restaurant or cafe being unsuccessful (Monday is often closing day), we crossed the bridge and set off walking back along the other side of the river to Wildegg. Here it was just 'normally' windy, not gale-force. The path led through an 'Auen' landscape of pools and small streams and low, scrubby trees for a while, then followed the river embankment, before cutting over to a long island dividing the river in half. Here the sun even broke through briefly. At the end of the island, a suspension bridge led back over to the riverbank.......... and as always happens just as you think you're nearly at your destination, the onward path was blocked off. We decided to ignore the warning, climbed over the barrier, and carried on along the riverbank, which looked as though it had been dug up and re-surfaced. No problem! - except that the reason for the closed path then became apparent as we encountered a stretch of deep ditches full of drains and cables being laid, battalions of diggers, some displeased-looking workmen, and lots of mud! Oh well, 'I've started, so I'll finish'; and soon, obstacles negotiated, we were back at Wildegg. Half an hour to wait for a train, and this time a restaurant open, so a welcome hot chocolate to finish the day. 17.26 kms, and 3 1/2 windblown hours.

Next day, goodbye 'Ruzica'......... and hello 'Susanna', as central Europe was battered by the second storm in 2 days. It was also A's birthday, and I gave her a Vivofit, to encourage her back into the walking again. This has been a great hit - she wears it all the time now, and is enjoying the daily step challenge.

Thursday 11th Feb: combining a run with a practical necessity, I dropped off a form at the bank, then tried to intercept J, who (in a grumpy mood) had declined to make this small diversion with me and gone the usual lakeside way. I ran back along the lake for a while, but realized I must have missed him, so about-turned and sprinted in pursuit, taking short cuts where possible. Finally caught up with him near the Wagner Museum, and we shuttled up and down the road to Wartegg, adding in a loop round a big house where I had noticed some cowslips recently, and another round the ice rink. Unable to shake off his negative mood, he said he'd had enough and was going home. I wanted to do more, however, so after accompanying him back to the Wagner Museum, I continued solo, back to Wartegg, over the bridge, and through the Bit of Woodland. I was going to do the loop over the top, but the way was blocked by a fallen tree, casualty of the recent storms, so after negotiating the lower path (only semi-blocked), I headed over to the Bireggwald, throwing in a small diversion around the gardens path and Sternegg, and went home via Waldrand and the trough. A dull run, too many aimless loops, but another 9.15 kms recorded.

Saturday 13th Feb: We decided to check out the Bireggwald and see what havoc the storms had wreaked there. No particular signs of it up the side of the woods, but once we turned towards the middle, it was a scene of carnage, many trees broken and uprooted, some bringing down others as they fell. Four times we had to clamber over them on our way over to the Biotope at Allmend. We were going to do our 'alternative parkrun' route, but only got halfway round when it began to rain, so decided to leave it at that and head for home. Back up the main track again, past the hut, through the middle of the woods, and down past the ponds. There we encountered the most drastic fallen-tree scenario of all, one bridging the path like an archway, and a few metres further on, the smashed wreckage of two more blocking the path completely. By now the rain was coming down hard, I was cold and wet, and really just wanted to get home! But nothing else for it, we had to climb over/through the tangle of broken branches - no other way! It took a couple of minutes, and by then I was feeling really chilly. Not the fastest of runs (understatement!), nor the most enjoyable. But it got done: another 10.2 kms.

The following week was dismal, filled with rain and sleet. It also coincided with the release of more databases on a family history website I am subscribed to. Guess which seemed the more alluring prospect: that, or running? - yes, I'm afraid I succumbed to the drier hobby! Between the weather, the Garmin problem, and a general lack of anything in particular to train for, my motivation went into 'sleep' mode, and it was 8 days before it could be persuaded into any sort of action again. Conditions had suddenly made a dramatic upturn, it was a wonderful day, warm and sunny, the best of the year so far........... and yes, naturally we had a Sunday afternoon performance. (They practically GUARANTEE lovely weather - it always seems to happen.) Most frustrating! - now I was itching to get out and run! But the days were starting to get longer, and there was still an hour's daylight after I got home, so I quickly got changed, scrubbed the rest of the makeup off, and headed down to the school track, enjoying the last few glimmers of sunlight on the way. I aimed to do 5 kms, each faster than the previous one. Unfortunately I messed something up, and the first 2 laps didn't record at all, but I did end up with 4 kms of 6:35, 6:28, 6:06, and 5:52. Together with there and back, it was 9.7 kms altogether, and 1:12:57. And as a bonus, a huge full moon rose behind Rigi as we trotted home, shimmering across the lake and illuminating the snow-covered mountains - magic!

Monday 22nd Feb: the 'Rachmaninov' day. I didn't think the previous day could be topped, but it was, by 2°. (16°). Flowers had appeared - daisies, Primelis, periwinkle, coltsfoot (coltsfeet?), those dirty-white tufty flowers I STILL don't know the name of. Catkins on the trees. Birds singing. The hesitant drumming of a woodpecker. All the portents of early spring.......... alas premature. The next day brought rain and sleet again - vyesna definitely nye idyoht just yet. Ah well, it gladdened the heart while it lasted.

Wednesday 24 Feb: another outing in the Bireggwald - zigzags, hut, fig. of 8, triangle, ponds, Waldrand. Dull, drizzly, but not unpleasant - actually felt pretty good. Another 9.25 kms, in a not too shabby (all things considered) 1 hr 15. It helped that the forestry workers had for once done something useful and cleared away the obstructing trees.

And with some real motivation finally on the horizon.......... next time 'RuediRennt'.

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