That's more like it!

Posted on: 20 Dec 2015

It has taken me a ridiculously long time to finish this post, but my time has been so fragmented, it had to be written piecemeal in between other things. Anyway, finally............

The numbers for November came in at 121.14 kms. That's actually the 4th-best month of the year, after May, April, and March! It would have been better still, except that the last week was frantically busy, both with work and other things, and non-essentials like running got squeezed out. But I'm starting to feel fitter and stronger and more motivated again. (Or I was, until the second cold of the winter got me.) One of the 'other things' was a meeting with a finance planner, working out my pension plan (dear god! - am I really that old?!), and deciding whether early retirement is feasible. It seems it is - one year early, at least. I admit to being very tempted, as I am getting seriously disenchanted with the theatre and the direction it seems to be heading in............. So that's what's occupying a fair number of my remaining brain cells at the moment. Sometimes it feels good to get out and do something as simple as running!

The revival began the day after the marathon weekend at the end of October, when I accompanied J. on an outing to the Bireggwald. His self-imposed errand was to move some sheets of corrugated iron down from Oberrüti to join some more sheets of corrugated iron near the hut. Quite why this was necessary I failed to see - as I pointed out, perhaps someone WANTED them up there. But no, he insisted they had just been forgotten, they were damaging the vegetation, and 'should' be all together. I refused to help him with this fool's errand, and ran off to do some rounds by myself, leaving him to struggle on his own with the sheets; but a vision of him tripping and slicing open an artery on the sharp edge impelled me to go back and check on him a few minutes later, as he was just retrieving sheet no. 2. By now it was getting dark, (we were caught out by the clock change,) and as my night vision is not good, I left him to it and concentrated on getting myself out of the woods. Along the top path of the Vita Parcours, heading towards the ponds, I was passed by another runner sensibly wearing a head torch, so tagged along behind her until I reached the safety of the road. A huge full moon had now risen, but too late to be of help to me in the woods. We both got home okay, limbs (and arteries) intact. A very slow 7.38 kms.

Wednesday 28th October: another early evening run. Along Waldrand, rustling through the thick carpet of russet beech leaves, past the goats and the no.7 bus terminus (I still want to call it 'turnimus', as I once heard someone in Sheffield do; logical, really - it's where the bus turns round!); down to Sternegg, and over to Wartegg and the Wagner Museum, where a dog obedience class was in progress in an adjoining field, and a cocker spaniel learnt 'Don't chase the runner'; and home along the lake. Still light when I set off, but started to get dark on the way to Sternegg. Just a short one, this: 5.38 kms, and 45:40.

Then there was the Halloween run, already documented.

And then it was November, which in Catholic Luzern begins with a holiday for All Saints. A nice day for a walk, clear and sunny. Train to Sursee, bus to Kirchleerau. A long, gradual uphill along a road to Weiher, brief diversion to a viewpoint over the surrounding landscape, then various paths through autumnal woods and fields.


A steep climb up to another viewpoint, where we allowed ourselves to be misled by a 'knife and fork' sign on the map into making another diversion in the quest for a restaurant. Alas, it was a very old map, and the restaurant had long since ceased to exist! - so we backtracked to the viewpoint, and back into the woods again, getting a bit lost in the confusing network of forestry paths. By the time we emerged, the sun was getting low, and it was turning cold. Our original plan had been to visit 'Bauer Fritz' ('Farmer Fritz'), a friend and former client of J's, who now runs a 'holiday on the farm' business. His wind turbine was just visible in the far distance, but it was clear we now wouldn't make it there before dark, so as we reached Schlierbach, we decided to get the bus from there back to Sursee and the train home. A check of the timetable revealed there was a bus in 50 minutes - just nice timing (we thought) to get something to eat in the nearby restaurant. We ordered, and waited.......... and waited........... Unfortunately our modest meal took so long to arrive, the bus passed the window while we were still eating, and there wasn't another for 2 hours. Nil desperandum, we established that there was a village on another bus route some 3 kms away, and a bus was due there in about 40 minutes. So we set off walking again. Not the pleasantest of walks, along a fairly busy road with no pavement, looping its unhurried way down a long hillside towards the distant lights of Büron. By now it was dark too; luckily we had a torch in the rucksack, so J. set it to blink and walked ahead. It was a very long 3 kms! - (like 'nearer 4').Visions of missing this bus too! After walking faster and faster, we ran some of it towards the end, and after a final brief panic locating the bus stop, found it, and were on our way home. Not quite the way I would have chosen to finish what up until then had been an enjoyable day's walk, but a good day all the same, and another 16 kms.

4 days later (5th November), we had a wonderfully warm and sunny run round by Rathausen and the Planetenweg, starting from the no. 18 terminus (turnimus!), past the old Jewish cemetery, and up through the woods towards Sedel. It was such astonishing weather, almost like summer (don't hate me!), we couldn't resist sitting on a bench for a while, just enjoying the sunshine. But then onwards, and down to Rathausen. Which of course means hot chocolate............. but first I had to earn it, so across the bridge we went, turning left in search of planets. Somewhere before Jupiter, I heard my name, and looked up to find myself crossing paths with the husband of a friend I haven't seen for a while, who is also the next-door-neighbour of my former running mentor Erich. So there was a short halt to exchange news and pass on greetings. The planets then came thick and fast, but the Sun, our usual turnaround point, was out of bounds this time, blocked off by the intensive road construction around Seetalplatz. Back to the nearest bridge; the least attractive stretch of the route, next to (and occasionally under) the Autobahn, always a good incentive to speed up a bit; and back to the cafe at Rathausen for the promised reward. On went the jacket.......... but it was still warm enough to sit outside. We then went up over the ridge to the Rotsee, and after only the briefest of deliberations, took the longer way round it to Maihof, and the bus home. 13.82 kms, and almost exactly 2 hours.

The next day was a short walk in the Bireggwald, on an even warmer and sunnier day. And the next (7th November) it apparently reached 20°! - not quite that warm, however, when I went out towards evening to do some rounds on the track. Still lots of acorns, and also a huge flock of crows giving me the evil eye - like something out of Hitchcock! It was a bit unnerving, the speculative way they stared at me every time I passed. Then for no apparent reason, they suddenly all rose up in a big black cloud, passing unnecessarily close above my head, and made off. These same birds like to sit in the horse chestnut trees along Alpenquai and drop conkers on people (I have been on the receiving end) - they have a very malevolent sense of humour! Undeterred by these avian antics, I did 3 kms, each faster than the previous one (6:35, 6:14, 5:40), two more slower kms, and finished the 14th round with a sprint designed to achieve 4:something pace (it did.) 10 kms altogether, and 1:13:30. The next day, Sunday, I had an afternoon performance (a waste of another improbably lovely day!), so concluded the week's exercise by walking the 4 kms along the lake to the theatre.

Another week into November, and STILL in Indian Summer mode! - no-one could quite believe it. Wonderful conditions for the week's long run, round the Horw peninsula, Tuesday 10th November. Langensand, St Niklausen, tower, Kastanienbaum church, 2 rounds on the top of the peninsula, then down the Stations of the Cross, past the OAP home, and over to the Bireggwald. A short diversion taking in the nature reserve, then up the main track in the woods as far as the Tessinerweg, and home via the goats and Waldrand. 18 kms, 2 hrs 27, elevation gain of 426m, elevation loss of 437m (though one of those has to be wrong - as far as I know, my house didn't sink 11 metres!) It felt far enough - I was getting a bit tired by the end. But an enjoyable and satisfying run.

Saturday 14th November: got the bus to Meggen Gottlieb and ran home along the lake, to take advantage of the afternoon sun being on that side........... though we miscalculated a bit, and it vanished behind the mountains before we reached Luzern. I like this route - it's one that I keep coming back to. Fairly speedy for me, too, despite the usual slalom through crowds of people along Schweizerhofquai and over the Seebrücke - 14 kms in 1 hr 40.

And the Sunday being another afternoon performance, I walked to the theatre again.

Tuesday 17th November: Another evening foray to the school track. (Though an afternoon of setting the world to rights with G. over a couple of mugs of Glühwein may not have been the best preparation!) Dark, moonless, slightly misty, but a perfect temperature. We found a large crowd of other runners at the track, occupied in doing timed runs. There were a couple of guys with stopwatches, and mistaking us for participants, they kept shouting out times to us too. We tried to keep out of their way, but runners kept stopping when they had done their allotted distance, and standing around on the track, necessitating some weaving about. One way and another, it was a bit difficult, so I suggested we move on to the Ufschötti, the park at the other end of Alpenquai, and come back to the track later. Returning after half an hour or so, we found the track now deserted, and though it was almost too dark to see, we did another 7 rounds as briskly as visibility allowed, before returning home along the lake. It was oddly enjoyable, actually - there is something about running in darkness, with extraneous distractions shut out, that allows you to focus your awareness on the pure sensation of movement. Anyway, that was 11.27 kms, and 1 hr 25.

Towards the end of that week, the weather changed abruptly, turning from summer to winter overnight. Our next outing (Sunday 22nd November) was in the snow. Only very thin, patchy snow, admittedly, but the temperature change was a shock to the system, and full winter kit was suddenly required. 8.3 kms in the Bireggwald: up the zigzags, up to Oberrüti, two rounds of the fig. of 8, and back via the top path of the Vita Parcours, Waldrand, and the trough. Two fallen trees to negotiate, one near the top of the zigzags, the other above the Vita Parcours. I don't remember there being a storm - it must have been during the night. A rather chilly 1 hr 09.

The ensuing week was very busy, and it was the following Saturday (28th November) before I got out again. We started off in the Bireggwald (Waldrand, top path of Vita Parcours, Oberrüti, fig. of 8 x 2), but it was a gloomy day, and it was clear we were going to lose the light early, so we headed back the same way, left the woods by the no. 7 terminus, went down the road to Sternegg, and over to Wartegg and the Wagner Museum, returning home along the lake. Someone had cleared a way through the second fallen tree, but we could see the other one was still there. 12.13 kms, 1 hr 36.

And a little multi-tasking outing to finish the month on 30th November: post office to post a letter, bank to drop off a form, then a quickie along the lake to the Wagner Museum and Alpenquai and back. Very windy, gusting me along like a blown leaf; storm warning lights flashing on the other side of the lake, and wind whistling eerily in the rigging of the boats in the harbour. 5.4 kms, and 40 minutes.

December, I fear, has rather fallen by the wayside......... but that's another chapter.

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