This week, for the first time since I graduated from Rice, I had the luxury of doing some consistent training with girls around my age and ability. While I’ve done tons of recovery runs and the occasional workout with new people, I’ve mostly been doing my quality sessions alone. This week, however, was different as I was treated to 2 sweet and speedy new training partners:
Livia, a 16:08 5k girl whose latest track season was cut short by an injury, has been hosting me at her parents’ home all week and showing me the best of Bern. And Astrid, a 9:50 steeplechaser who just graduated from Florida State, has been meeting up with us for runs, dinner, and lots of reminiscing about the NCAA, Panera, and fro-yo.
On Saturday morning, I got to join Livia and Astrid for one of the toughest, yet most scenic and satisfying, training sessions I’ve done yet. Along with 3 guys who pace their workouts, we did 2×25-minute hard uphill runs with a 5-minute jog and a quick drive back down to the bottom in between reps.
The workout was steep, challenging, and doubt-inducing- and the perfect formula for euphoria and fulfillment that just aren’t possible from the flat. Running with a group of similarly driven and serious runners also reminded me of my 5 wonderful years at Rice, and how nice it is to be a part of a team. Running alone definitely has its benefits- space for peace and reflection, among others- but special things happen when passionate and ambitious people work together to chase a common goal. While I loved running with Livia, Astrid, and the guys this week, it went by way too quickly and left me craving many more miles with them. We’ve already talked about teaming up for high-altitude summer training in Switzerland and warm winter running in Texas. Sounds like the perfect trade-off to me!
Livia also showed me all around the new and old downtown areas of Bern, took me on some runs by the river and zoo, and brought me to a coordination and drill session with her coach. I seriously love this city (and my new friend)! It’s gorgeous, peaceful, awesome for running, and seemingly within reach of the mountains on a clear day.
The fact that the Burri family, who I’ve been staying with all week, are about as friendly as it gets doesn’t hurt either. I’ve loved chatting with Livia and Mr. Burri and have become a pretty good gesturer, thanks to Mrs. Burri and my attempts to communicate without a common language. While I would have really liked to talk freely with her, our dramatic signing and scribbling turned out to be a fun part of my visit. And you know what else was fun? This:
On a more random note… Google Translation just informed me that the “shampoo” I’ve been lathering in my hair all week is actually body wash. Oops! At least my locks are all sanitized and stuff, right?
Well… it’s about time to pack my bags up again and move onto my next destination. I’m going to Mendrisio in the Italian part of Switzerland for a few days, and will then spend 5 days in Italy as I make my way down to Rome for my flight to Ethiopia. It’s wild to think that in a week from tomorrow, I’ll be heading to the continent I have been dreaming about for as long as I can remember!