2019 week twenty

Book Read

Kilometres Ran

2019 to date: 976 KM

We flew to Paris then took a train to Basel and in that 13 hours of travel plus the waiting around time — and there was a lot of waiting around time — I read virtually nothing. But I’m a bit ahead on the book count so I feel like that’s okay. A bit of a lost opportunity. I started a new novel but as is prone to happen I was not inspired to do much reading at all. But I ran. Our first full day in Basel was Friday and I did an 8 KM loop along the Rhine and over a couple bridges and only got lost a little bit within the last couple blocks near our rented flat.

The Dreiländereck spire at the corner of France, Germany and Switzerland.

Saturday I waffled back and forth over whether to run or rest but decided to run so that I could check out a monument called Dreiländereck that is situated a bit north along the Rhine at the end of a pier in an otherwise industrial area. The spire marks the intersection of France, Germany and Switzerland. (The actual point is in the middle of the river.) My plan was to go to bed a bit early and get a good sleep before the race but our neighbours upstairs had a plan of their own, which included a sing-along dance party to go with the Eurovision song contest finale. Apparently Switzerland placed fourth. I remember at one point Like a Prayer started and I thought it was the worst Madonna cover I’d ever heard (it was Madonna). The party finally finished at about 1:30 a.m.

Race package pick up at the Rathaus (Basel Old Town Hall).

The 3Laenderlauf half marathon started at 9:45 on Sunday morning from the Rathaus in Basel’s Market Square. I left the flat at 9:00 for a 1 KM jog to the start. It was a bit hectic there and the queue to check gear was a bit disorganized and spilled out onto the start area for the 10 KM event that started at 9:30 but the atmosphere was pretty great. The field wasn’t very large, and the two 1:44 pacers had positioned themselves close to the front of the corral, so I seeded myself a bit closer to the line. (It didn’t matter much — once the gun went off I both ran over and was run over by people who’d seeded themselves poorly.) I went into the race hoping for a decent run, but also knowing that just two weeks out from a new marathon PB and still pretty tired from all the travel not to mention the neighbour’s late night dance party, I probably wasn’t going to have a great performance. A 4:20 pace would give me a new half marathon PB but wouldn’t quite reach my sub-90 goal for 2019. I thought 4:20 was pretty lofty, but decided to aim for it and just see how long I could hold it for. Turns out, barely 5 KM.

Coming up to Dreirosenbrücke.

I sent Stephanie the Strava and Garmin beacons so that could track me but neither one worked. She was there anyway at the Dreirosenbrücke crossing the Rhine (race bridge number two) at 3.5 KM. I was running around 4:15 but knew that I was not going to hold that pace much longer. Crossed the river and went north into Saint-Louis, France, then a couple hundred metres before the 6 KM marker my Garmin vibrated 7 KM and I stopped paying attention. At 10 KM I checked the time: 45 minutes — I started thinking about my other two races in Europe and decided to try to chase a Europe PB. By 15 KM I was running on fumes; I needed to be under 1:10 and my watch said 1:08:16 but I was fading pretty hard.

Passerelle des Trois Pays – ramp or stairs?

This race course had a bit of everything, including a couple odd route choices. At the Passerelle des Trois Pays footbridge from France into Germany (race bridge number four) there was a switchback ramp but the route instead took us up the stairs. A couple kilometres later the route took us up a steep worn dirt path from the lower road up to Friedensbrücke (race bridge number five) over the Weil am Rhein train station lines. (A spot, I’ve discovered, that Google Street View has never filmed.) Next a couple kilometres through an open field in Platz der drei Länder park and then a few more along the gravel path beside the Wiese river, crossing back into Switzerland, and crossing the Wiese as it met the Rhine (race bridge number six). By now I was just focusing on being mindful of the experience and not worry about the time but when I crossed the Wiese I realized I was in the industrial area that I had run the day before and that familiarity gave me a bit of a lift with 4 KM left to go. The last leg followed the Rhine south then climbed up over Wettsteinbrücke (race bridge number seven) before a right turn and a nice decline for the sprint to the finish line back in the old Basel Market Square.

High fiving kids on the streets of Basel, CH.

Last year I ran 1:39:09 in Helsinki, and in 2017 I ran 1:38:27 in Copenhagen (a PB at the time). I figured it was pretty close but didn’t see the finish clock and didn’t trust my watch. I found Stephanie and collected my gear, finishers medal and shirt, and took a few photos. I didn’t see a place to check times so we hopped a LRT back to our flat. After a shower and something to eat I went online and found that I’d finished 1:37:43 which is over five minutes off my current PB, but a new fastest in Europe. Plus I had a ton of fun.