Friday, September 23, 2011

Germany

Beat and I have been spending a quiet recovery week at his mother's apartment in Bielefeld, Germany. We've both used the time to catch up on work. I had a difficult time focusing enough to complete much writing — my mind is still muddled with Italian mountains, Alaska winter dreams and borderline obsessions with cycling — but it's been a good week to catch up on bookkeeping and work on the tedious, hair-pulling process of updating my eBooks. In the near future my digital books should finally be well-formatted with plenty of photographs and will look awesome on iPad and pretty good on Kindle. I'm looking forward to this, but in the meantime I'm slogging through the ePub process and exchanging communications with a company in California that is nine hours off my current time. Yes, it has not been the most productive week, work-wise, but arguably more productive than my week in Italy. Arguably.

I'm excited to be in Germany and have tried to get out for explorations, although I can only go as far as my feet will carry me, so my range has been rather limited. There are a number of beautiful trails around Bielefeld. The area reminds me of southeastern Ohio, with its rolling hills, lush green forests, and wide valleys of sectioned farmland, villages and the city. I rode my bicycle across Ohio at this exact time of year in 2003, so my explorations have filled me with bicycle touring nostalgia. Have I mentioned I am dying to go for a bike ride? Even a mellow cruise on a road bike would make me feel exceedingly happy. Although I did manage a few mellow commute-type rides in the days leading up to our Europe trip, it's effectively been six weeks since I've ridden a bicycle. My injured arm is at about 95 percent these days and my mind is almost reeling with bike lust. Seriously. I can't focus. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm in Germany and that in itself is pretty awesome. I did look into bike rentals but availability was limited and the logistics discouraging. I decided to run through the week instead.

Meanwhile, Beat's mom has been spoiling us with regular home-cooked meals, daily trips to the bakery, more chocolate that we could ever eat (I say this, although it's almost gone now), rich German yogurt in an assortment of flavors and an endless supply of Pepsi Light. I actually lost a few pounds while I was in Italy, but I'm quickly packing all of that back on and more here in Germany. It's just as well. Beat needed the recovery. He's slept a fair amount this week and even gotten out for a couple of active recovery runs. He's doing well except for some nagging pains in his Achilles. And we're both enjoying Beat's mom's kitten, Filou.

Can you tell I miss my cat Cady? I miss her.

It has been a good week for running. Thanks to the climbing volume of last week a bit of nagging knee pain I haven't put in any "fast" runs, but my progress has been good. I transitioned from completely empty legs during an hour-long walk on Monday to feeling strong during my 20-mile run today. For my "Tour of Bielefeld" I started going on walks with Beat's mom's partner, Peter. These were fairly quiet outings, as Peter doesn't speak much English and I speak even less German. But he pointed out all of the notable sights to me, including the University, a large school that is famous for its ugliness. Indeed, the buildings look like they were designed by 1960s Hollywood sci-fi set designers — futuristic retro. Beat got his master's degree there, so I'm sure he has lots of fond memories of the place.

Peter and I walked 7.5 kilometers on Monday and 15 kilometers on Tuesday (14 miles total). On Wednesday I ran twice, an 11.5-mile morning run in which I was vaguely lost the entire time, and a 5.5-mile recovery run with Beat in the afternoon, for a total of 17 miles. On Thursday we ran 7.5 miles, and I did 20 today on the Hermannsweg Trail. The "H" Trail was actually a lot of fun, all along a narrow ridge with tough climbs, rocky descents and fantastic valley views. The whole route is 156 km — might be fun to come back and run the entire thing someday.

The H Trail also allows cycling, so maybe the better idea is to come back and ride the whole thing. I admit I spent way too much time this week fantasizing about cycling. I saw these signs and imagined an illustration with a backpack-clad runner chick tackling the rude mountain biker and stealing his bike. We return to California on Sunday. I will miss Europe. But I'm excited to see my cat ... and my five bicycles.