The last time I was privileged to live abroad, I enjoyed writing an essay about my regular run in Chengdu, China that appeared in PLU’s magazine. Maybe I’ll share it sometime this year.
As you can probably imagine, China and Norway are extremely different places. For instance, it’s nearly impossible to compare population density in a Chinese city and a Norwegian burb. Even though running in Norway isn’t nearly as chaotic and eventful as running in China, I thought you still might enjoy learning about it.
In China, I did about five pancake flat miles five days a week, four outside the Sichuan University campus and one inside it on a black cinder 400m track. I ran in and out of a stream of cyclists and I could easily see a thousand people during the 38-40 minutes it took to complete my run.
During my hilly 8 mile Norway run I might see a few dozen people if I count those speeding by in BMW and Audi station wagons with rooftop boxes. It’s not anywhere near as sensory an experience, but I’ve come to enjoy the quiet, the rolling farmland, the beauty, the peacefulness and naturalness of it all.
My hometown running crew—PC, Dano, and Double S—will be surprised to learn I have “a route” since I typically make them run a different 10-miler every Saturday. As my mom says, “Variety is the spice of life.” I occasionally improvise here, but usually tough out what I’ve labeled the Heritage run. It has a lot to recommend it: no stop lights, not even any stop signs (at my age it’s hard to get started again after stopping); hardly any traffic; as the pics hopefully attest, it’s scenic (even more so when snow covered); and the hills and 650 feet of elevation require an honest effort.
If I led my crew on this run, one of my aforementioned, hill-adverse training partners, would flip me the bird well before the midway point. I’m only running three times a week because the day after a Heritage run, I like to swim or take the day off. I’m taking more days off here since no one is waiting outside for me in the morning. My favorite segment, which I’ve labelled “Grandma’s Stretch,” is about five miles in. I like it because most of the elevation is in the bank and I get to begin cashing it in. Also, it dissects exquisite family farmland.
Through this segment I sometimes picture Grandma Byrnes as a young girl running around the beautiful farms that dot the hills on each side of the road. She emigrated from Norway at age 13. It’s not a stretch to think that Grandma’s Stretch probably looked fairly similar 100 years ago.
Our Northern Retreat has gone extremely well. In addition to our new Nordic friends, I’ll miss pounding the bike paths, neighborhood streets, and farm roads that make up the Heritage run.
[Note to runners: between 1:00 and 1:04 depending on the footing, wind, and just how honest an effort.]