In the fall of 1991, I met the cutest “girl” and chased her for all I was worth. We met at Siena College. She’s stuck with me through thick and thin – literally in my case. One of her favorite movies – probably her favorite, is “The Sound of Music”. In Europe we were able to visit the “real” Siena – the Italian City outside of Pisa, and also stay in the real Von Trapp Home – the home the Von Trapp family left in Salzburg, Austria so that they would not be forced to serve Hitler. Ironically, Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS would takeover their home, and make it his summer house. You could actually see one of Himmler’s bunker’s – leading to underground areas, at the Von Trapp home still. This was truly a terrifying reminder of our truly not too distant past.
When my wife and kids and I decided to plot a summer trip to Europe, I wasn’t thinking we would be the Griswalds in total. We did go to a beer hall in Germany (I actually had root beer). We did see the places where the Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg. We did try to drive in Rome – that was fun. The highlight though for me from an exercise perspective was I did the Swiss Alps 47k – http://www.SwissAlpine.ch for those interested in torturing themselves.
The race organizers said to plan to “double” your normal marathon time. 47K is a few more miles than a regular marathon, but there was no way this climb over a couple of hills should actually cause me to “double” my marathon time. Yeah right.
In any event, I did double my normal marathon time. But it was still incredible. We ran (ok, climbed) thousands of feet of elevation gain. We went through steep rocks, and snowy peaks – in July. It was truly the only race I honestly thought about quitting. The leg cramping was intense, I had no appreciation for how hard it would be. It was painful, it was challenging, it was glorious.
In some races, there is a “sweep car”. Here, if you wanted (needed) to get off the course, they would send a helicopter, rope down a gurney and two EMS workers, strap you in, take you back up to the helicopter, and fly you to an ambulance. As I said – it was painful, it as challenging, but there was no way I was going to be helicoptered off the Swiss Alps.
I celebrated the only logical way possible, I strapped myself into a parachute afterwards and ran off a cliff and floated gently down those same thousands of feet to the ground. Swiss Alpine Marathon 2018? I doubt it, but you never know.