Showing posts from December, 2016

Foggy Mantua

Mantua was the place for two very foggy runs. On the first day we headed out in search of the bike path shown on the map, which should take us from our hotel very easily to the lake shore of the first of Mantua's three lakes. We couldn't find it so ran along a busy road for a while until we could cross the railway lines (lots of them) and found a park by the lake. The fog was a shock! It had a lovely effect on the scenery however, trees shrouded in fog and a hint of the lake nearby.
We ran through this and further parks on dirt tracks and saw few other people, but heard trains coming into the station close by. There was some bird activity and a couple of fishermen. It was the coldest we've run in so far in Italy.
When we came to a junction and a path heading under the railway lines Denis turned off. I didn't because I didn't realise where we were exactly. I continued straight ahead on a sort of bitumen boardwalk built out into the lake, crossed some more parkland a…

Certosa di Pavia

This was a real wintry run. We headed out from the town along the street towards the Certosa and then just before reaching it we turned off to start a circuit. I'd looked at the map and picked what looked a simple route where we couldn't get lost, a big square around the Certosa.
Almost immediately we were in a little village and then out of it again. All around were frosty fields and it was colder than previous days. There were frozen irrigation channels and the area was totally flat. After a while Denis turned off on a side road, which was actually the route I had intended to take, but I decided to continue on.
I passed another village and went under the railway line, then I was able to run a bit off the road on a sort of dyke along a rice paddy. The water in the rice paddy wasn't frozen. Finally I came to another village where there was a small street market setting up. I was looking for the Certosa di Pavia railway station which should have been close by, and fortunate…

Christmas in Como

There only appeared to be one place to run from central Como but it was very good. We enjoyed a nice Christmas morning run along the lakefront path, passing the war memorials and stadium before reaching the Villa Olmio, one of the larger villas on the waterfront whose grounds you could actually go into.
From here we ran along the road which for a couple of kilometres is right by the water. The views across the lake to the hillsides dotted with small villages were lovely, in a slight haze. There were a few runners out and very little traffic. Then we came into Cernobbio, a longish town, and we parted company at the waterside promenade.
Not far out of Cernobbio I found myself running up a long hill. Beyond the town there was no footpath by the road and mostly not even a shoulder, but luckily there were almost no cars. There were intermittent lake views between the houses, which included some larger villas and hotels. Every tiny village appeared to have at least one old stone church with…

2 days in Bergamo

Yesterday was another nice clear morning and we set out to run around the walls of the upper town in Bergamo. The main street in the lower town was busy but the upper town was quiet, although we saw a number of runners.
This was quite a hilly run, especially ascending to the upper town, but the views from the walls, looking out over Bergamo, whose large size surprised us, were impressive. It was pretty much possible to follow the exact contour of the walls and this meant taking many detours around some little parks. On the far side of the upper town were residential areas and the views were out to countryside, where the ground was frosty. It was nice to see mountains on the horizon.
We had to go back after breakfast to tour the sights of the upper town properly.
I liked yesterday's run so much that I went back there this morning and did two laps of the upper town. I just got up to the walls of the upper town in time to see a wonderful red sunrise over the Bergamo valley


A short run in Brescia which didn't turn out quite as planned. But it was a change to be in Italy and for the temperature to be above freezing and I only wore one layer. We intended to run the whole way around one of Brescia's hills, the one with the Castello. The route there involved narrow streets with cars and pedestrians, and then a winding climb up the hill.
Fortunately there were footpaths on the hillside leading right to the castle and beyond the main gate we were able to run all over the castle grounds. There were a few pedestrians around. From several vantage points we had great views over Brescia and the castle itself is pretty solid and impressive.
When we came down the castle hill we realised we had come down in the wrong place. But instead of retracing our steps we headed for another of Brescia's landmarks, the Capitolo. We couldn't go inside the grounds of the adjacent Roman temple and amphitheatre ruins but the Capitolo itself, with its partially reconst…

Another Innsbruck run

I wanted to have a short run before heading off for a day's skiing. When I woke up and saw the totally clear blue sky I wondered if I should abandon the run and go straight to Kuhtai to ski, but the desire to run got the better of me and I set out on a short one.
This was a good move, since I got to see the mountains all around Innsbruck, whereas yesterday they were hidden by the fog. It was seriously cold, and soon I could see why: there was an icy wind and it was coming straight off a very snowy looking mountain range.
I did a loop around the river, running downstream from the Christmas market in town for a couple of bridges then crossing the river and heading upstream, past my starting point to the next bridge, and then back to the centre, and the Christmas market. Most of the time I was on a riverbank footpath so it was pleasant running despite the arctic breeze. I was very happy to get to see the Innsbruck backdrop, and I also enjoyed my trip afterwards to Die Bäker Ruetz. I&…

Innsbruck river run

I had an enjoyable 16 kilometre run in Innsbruck this morning. Last time I ran  in Innsbruck was in 2006, the Tirol Speed Marathon, but I had also been for a training run there which was psychologically significant to me. The previous weekend I had had my most disastrous marathon ever, in Phuket, and it was not only hard but it was my fiftieth marathon. The way that marathon had panned out had really upset me. After this awful experience I worried that my running days might be over so, to reassure myself, I went for a run along the Inn River in Innsbruck a few days before the Austrian marathon. I remember this run very well because it seemed like make or break time, and it went well. I don't know how far I ran, I just stayed by the river.
So this morning I set out to follow the same route. I ran through the city centre, through the Christmas market, across the river and headed west, as I had last time. The whole Innsbruck valley was in a dense fog and at 8am it was hardly daylight…

Morning in the Stubai Valley

Another short run at a ski town, this time in the Stubai valley. I wasn't expecting to see any other runners out there, but I had seen one yesterday afternoon so I knew that running wasn't unheard of here. I found a figure 8 route on the map and gave it a shot. Anyway, even if you run along the main road it's nice here, pretty houses on the hillsides and mountains all around. Quite honestly the houses look as if they have been put on the hillsides, linked by narrow zig-zagging roads, to make the scenery even more appealing, but I'm sure that wouldn't be the case. I think life through the long cold winter can't always be fun, even if you ski.
I ran though the town, Neustift, which was quiet on a Sunday morning, and found my riverside trail. It had a bit of old snow on it but it wasn't slippery. It was slightly uphill. This river wasn't frozen, and the water was lovely and clear, the bottom was pebbly. The trail didn't go very far, only to the next vi…

Early morning run in Sölden

Well, not that early. I had to wait for daylight first. I thought it would be nice to run along the river because it's a very pretty river partly because of being frozen in places. I managed to stay by the river bank through town, having to switch from side to side several times, and there certainly weren't any other runners about.
Once out of town I noticed a sealed path heading a bit away from the river and going through a little village so I followed that one. I thought it would eventually lead me back to the river. But soon it started to climb, and climb, and climb, until I was way above the river. The path was no longer sealed, just dirt, and it seemed to be an access path to several hillside huts among pastures..
Looking back, the view towards and beyond Sölden was wonderful: the town is in such a narrow steep-sided valley. I could see lots of snowy peaks among the many, many mountain tops. After a while the path went into forest and its condition deteriorated. As I came…

My Running Year

2016 - Reflections on my running year

2016 was the year I decided to try not to run any marathons. Having just run my 200th in December 2015 I wanted to take my time to savour the accomplishment. I also worried that I had got into a bit of a rut running nothing but marathons and that I should run some other distances for variety, even if I ultimately returned to running marathons.

Back in January I wasn't at all sure how the year would pan out. And, in fact, my first experience of not running a marathon was not a good one. I lined up for a half marathon in Germany, the Johannesbad Thermenmarathon, feeling pleased with myself for being able to resist running the full marathon, and the day did not go well. I was reduced to a walk early on and all I could say to myself for comfort was 'thank goodness I didn't sign up for the full marathon'.

I didn't do much in the way of races in the first months of the year, also part of a new strategy of not entering as many events …

La Saintélyon, France, 3 December 2016

La Saintélyon is a long race at a strange time of day where you don't get to see much: 72 kilometres, starting just before midnight in Saint-Étienne and finishing in Lyon, and you'll only be running in daylight if you are on the slow side. I liked the sound of something a bit different, even though it's usually all about the scenery for me.

Standing on the start line for an hour before things got under way, the temperature below zero, I was shivering uncontrollably beneath four layers of clothing. I had just woken up from an hour's sleep on the cold stone floor of the huge hall where runners waited for the start time to come around; I had not expected to fall asleep but I was very glad to get a real rest right before the race. Now as I stood there I tried to convince myself that this was like any other race starting in the dark in the early morning (except that it wasn't yet early morning, it was late evening). It's all about the mental games. I had gone outsid…