Last Sunday (i.e. on 30 December), I decided that for my long run of the week I would try to do a repeat of the distance I had covered to encourage my brother in law for his first marathon a month earlier.
The gear I wore for my long run: a pair of running shoes (Nike Moto 8), a pair of tights (Adidas climacool), an old running top (Asics DuoTech), a headband received after having taken part in my last race of the year (Lausanne Christmas Midnight Run) as well as a ‘waterpack‘ by the French brand Raidlight (however, I decided to swap the water pouch for an extra of layer of clothing in case I would feel cold after my run). I also had a pair of running gloves (Nike), which I decided to put on a little later on in the run.
Unlike when I run to Mauvernay (another favourite running spot of mine situated about 200 metres higher than where I live), running from home to the lakeside near Ouchy (Lausanne’s harbour) is the easiest part of my long run, as the path mostly goes downhill. In fact, this makes for an easy start to a long run, which can come in very handy in case one’s motivation is already faltering after having stepped out in the cold under a miserable, overcast winter sky as it was the case on that Sunday morning.
However, by the time I reached Quai d’Ouchy, there was a bright sunshine illuminating Lac Léman and the lakeside promenade, making the whole landscape a pleasure for the eyes and the soul. At this point, I gobbled down two PowerBar energy gel shots as I had not eaten anything before leaving home — although each gel shot is the size of a small sweet, the manufacturer claims that five of them will deliver as many carbohydrates as one Powergel pack and I was keen to find out whether they would work for me given that I was trying them out for the first time.
Only a few metres from there, the hills of Lavaux plus the snow-capped Alpes vaudoises were visible. I knew I would have to run well beyond the second hill (see the picture on the right), approximately 18.5 km from this point. So I took a deep breath and continued running, motivated by the beautiful landscape ahead of me.
The path that starts after the lakeside promenade, called Sentier des Rives du Lac, runs very close to the shore of the lake, mostly along the backyards of the houses of the lucky few. I followed the path along the lake until I reached a wall; I then had to take a path on the left leading to the main road that runs along the lake. By law, the shore of the lake on the Swiss side should be accessible to everybody and not restricted to the owners of the land; however, the authorities of many a commune along the lakeside are reluctant to enforce the law, probably for fear of alienating the well-to-do owners of the properties who normally will be contributing taxes to the commune — so much for Swiss democracy!
Then I reached my favourite village on the Swiss side of Lake Léman: Cully. Unfortunately, I did not try to capture a 360 degree view from the pier as I did not want to stop for too long. Only a few metres after the chestnut tree (planted in 1798) visible on the bottom left picture, I unpacked my ‘breakfast’, a Pure & Simple energy bar (PowerBar), and ate it while running along the promenade, heading towards Moratel.
I carried along, passing through the spot near Epesses where in summer I like to go for swims in the lake. Not long after, as there was no path, I had to run again along the main road (‘route cantonale‘). Fortunately, the traffic was only scarce and I therefore did not have to inhale an air dense with exhaust fumes, so that I was able to enjoy my run along this stretch of the UNESCO World Heritage listed region of Lavaux (which is famous for its vineyards, this particular one being called Dézaley) on my left with the railway track and patches of the dark blue surface of Lake Léman glittering under the bright, wintry sunshine on my right.
Dézaley, the stretch of vineyards starting from Treytorrens (see photo on the panorama before the one just above) and extending as far out as Rivaz, is built upon a succession of terraces that at some points give the impression of falling precipitously onto the road. Wine has been grown on these terraces since the twelfth century (the monks of the abbey of Haut-Crêt near Palézieux were the first to do so after the land had been given to them by ecclesiastical decree in 1141) and there are many caveaux (cellars) along the road where one can purchase wine. Just before reaching Rivaz, I found out to my dismay that there was no longer any water flowing from the fountain where I had been able to replenish my water bottles the last time I did this run. So either I would have to try get some from the toilets at the railway station at Rivaz, from a restaurant or from a caveau along the road or I would have to be very parsimonious with the little water I had left. Given that the weather was relatively cold (6 to 8 degrees Celsius), I felt that I could do with very little rehydration (I must have had not more 300ml left of a mixture of Powergel and water plus 25ml of Sponser’s Activator) and I decided to continue running towards Saint-Saphorin (a gem of a village which unfortunately I would only be running past).
Finally, I reached the end of the first stretch of my long run: Castel des Tourelles, a small mansion which used to be a hotel and which is located some two kilometres (my estimate) from Vevey. The footpod indicated on my Polar watch that I had run 23.6km. Although it was very tempting to run up to Nestlé’s headquarters at Vevey, the three runs I had done in the snow over the past fortnight with a pair of shoes too tight to let me slip in my custom-made insoles had left me with some pain under the plant of my right foot. So I felt that running 42km would be giving my feet already enough of a battering and I decided to run back to Ouchy.
The first village I came across was that of Saint-Saphorin (see the first three pictures, left to right), which is perched above the route cantonale (called route du Lac on this stretch). This highly picturesque, almost Italianate village is often used in visuals for portraying or promoting the canton of Vaud, but it is usually shown from a higher vantage point (i.e. from a terrace in the vineyards or from the ‘old’ road, as the one I was running along was only built in 1845) with its church and distinctive tower. The village probably started as a Roman outpost, guarding the road from the pass of the Grand-Saint-Bernard to Lousonna (as the capital of the canton of Vaud was called in those days). A church had already been built in the village by the fifth century. The next village, Rivaz, which covers almost half of the hill seen in the background of these pictures, is a favourite with scuba divers (who thus tend to park their cars in the vicinity) because of a deep crevasse (87m) they can dive into off the village. Coming from Vevey, the village is preceded by the château de Glérolles, a kind of mini château de Chillon whose foundations date back to the twelfth century but whose dungeon was half demolished by its owners early in the nineteenth century under the pretext that it was shading their vineyards!
The top two pictures show the stretch of the road near Rivaz leading to a wine-tasting outlet (Lavaux Vinorama) for the wines grown in the region of Lavaux. As you can see from the bottom row photos, the road is then pretty flat. No wonder that I came across many cyclists (alone or in groups) during my run on the road as the course must make for a pretty enjoyable ride, even on the last Sunday morning of the year!
Approximately two and a half kilometres separated the last shot shown in the previous panorama from the first picture in the one just above this sentence. I was about a kilometre and a half away from Epesses, where I would leave the cantonal road to follow the path along the lakeside. However, Lausanne was still hidden by the hill upon/at the foot of which the villages of Grandvaux and Lutry nestle.
Once I had reached the path by the lakeside, it was difficult not to turn back a couple of times to admire the beauty of the scenery: the Alpes vaudoises and the Chablais range appeared in a mixture of soft blue hues and whites. At Cully, I decided that I had to take a close-up picture of the Alpes vaudoises as I could see my beloved Petit Muveran very clearly.
After Cully, I had to run back onto the cantonal road again but, whilst approaching the beginning of the commune of Lutry, finally I was able to see some reassuring landmarks: the rectangular building of CHUV, the chimney towers of Tridel and another such plant as well as the wooden tower of Sauvabelin emerging from the skyline (top row). The brown signpost (bottom left) pointing to Lausanne’s cathedral, its museums and the Old Town as the major tourist attraction spots for this city puzzled me at first as it read 3km to Lausanne whereas my Polar footpod and watch indicated a good seven more kilometres to go. However, a little more than a kilometre from there, I saw another signpost, this time with the mileage more in line with the distance my Polar devices were telling me I would still have to run.
With not even five kilometres to go, I could now very easily picture myself making it to the forty-second kilometre and I decided to drink what was left in my water bottle as well as gulp down the last two PowerBar energy gel shots I had in the packet. Because of the weather, there were not too many walkers enjoying a stroll along this most scenic stretch. This was the more welcome as the path is very narrow so that most of the time not more than two people can either cross each other or walk aside at a time.
I must admit that I found the last kilometre much more difficult than I had had a month ago. From Tour Haldiman to the Olympic Museum, I must have stopped four times, then walked, then started running again. However, by some strange but nice coincidence, I completed the marathon’s distance some ten metres away from the Olympic Museum (which is closed temporarily, but some of the collections are housed on a boat while renovation work is carried out until the end of 2013).
As I was in a hurry to get home, I decided not to go and buy any drinks from either Migros or CoopPronto. Anyhow, I did not feel terribly thirsty, probably because of the weather (in all, I must have drunk 800ml as I had two water bottles in my small rucksack). So I headed to the métro station at Ouchy, got in and relaxed for the twenty minutes it took the train to get me to the station nearest to home. Even though I was kaputt for most of the afternoon, I intend to run the very same course once a month at first (then hopefully on a bimonthly basis) as preparation for longer runs. In fact, I regret that I had not discovered earlier that I could run such long distances without extensive preparation because it is such a pleasure to run along this route. The icing on the cake is that it is not crowded: I crossed only five runners in all on the stretch from Lutry to near Vevey and then back to Lutry.
I hope this account will motivate people to run longer distances as part of their resolutions for the new year 😉 May 2013 see a huge increase in the number of people practising this most natural of physical activities, running. I wish everybody some excellent, injury-free and healthy twelve months ahead.
Other entries (in English) on running on this blog:
- To sign up or not to sign up for a local ultra-distance running race in September 2013?
- Is it possible to run a marathon with minimal training?