My first week in Switzerland whizzed by like my dad on a gurney, flying down the highway, with Uncle Chris behind the wheel. (Bear with me, non-family members.)
Here are some high points of the week:
> Long dinners, hilly runs, endless training chats, and Swiss-German vocab lessons with my stellar hosts, Beat and Julia. Between Julia’s pumpkin soup, ginger tea and knopfli, and Beat’s steeplechase expertise and unbelievable organization (see the maps and reading material below), I’ve been living in hog heaven
> Runs and workouts with Beat and Julia’s club, LAC TV Unterstrass. I ran with a dozen speedy guys and one awesome gal, Mona, who is preparing for the Frankfurt Marathon in 3 weeks. After a solid 4×8 minute workout and a 2-hour long run along the Limmat, I’ve decided I should bring her with me to the rest of my destinations! Her sedimentology PhD and boyfriend can wait 9 months, right?
> An evening of running, feasting and chatting with Dominic and Yvonne (Beat and Julia’s friends) in beautiful Lucerne.
> The roller coaster (fine, it’s a cable car if we’re being technical) that leads up to Beat and Julia’s house. It was in repair for the beginning of my stay, but kicked back into action just in time for me to take a spin up the mountain that has been dominating my legs every day. (Mrs. Nolan, the only things missing were you, Jackson 5, and a dozen crazy 6th graders!)
> Oh, and lots of this. After diving into the British tea obsession, I’ve reboarded the coffee bandwagon and couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
Beat and Julia have taught me an incredible amount this week about the Swiss culture and running scene. But what I will remember most from my visit is the simple philosophy they live by: If something helps or inspires another person, it’s important and worth doing all the way. When I asked Julia what some traditional Swiss foods were, she purposefully cooked some delicious new dishes and carefully explained every ingredient and direction. When I questioned Beat about his training philosophy, he walked me through the most thorough powerpoint presentations, performance graphs, and training plans I’ve ever seen. And when they coach, they carefully inspect each person’s technique, flawlessly demonstrate the drills themselves, and offer creative and useful cues until the point is received (“Feel as light-footed and free as a kid skipping home from school!”). The world could use a lot more Beats and Julias, of that I am sure.
Tonight I’m heading to Uster, about 30 minutes outside of Zurich, to get a slightly different Swiss running experience. I’m looking forward to spending the next 5 days living with Lisa Gubler, running with her club, and soaking up a new area of stunning Switzerland.