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Switzerland Adventure: Part II

by Meghann on December 3, 2014

Right after Derek and I booked our tickets for Switzerland, Ashley asked if I wanted to run a 10K the Saturday of our visit. My first international race? Hell yeah!

She immediately sent the registration link, but since everything was in French, I gave up trying to register about 5 minutes into the process. Luckily Ashley noticed my name wasn’t on the registration list and was able to send a more direct link a few weeks later. This time I was able to stumble my way through the registration process and even managed to pay through PayPal – I <3 that they accepted PayPal!

The registration process was a little different than with U.S. races. The questions were straight to the point (name, address, birthdate – done!), there wasn’t a waiver I had to sign (at least, I’m pretty sure I never saw a waiver?), and the price of the 10K was relatively cheap compared to races over here (the total came to $30 USD – not bad if you ask me). The registration process was separated by female and male registration categories, and instead of separating age groups by age, they’re separated by birth year.

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I casually glanced at the start time during the registration process and for some reason I thought I saw 10:00am, which is a pretty late start for a race in Florida terms, but not entirely unusual. It wasn’t until we were figuring out race logistics on Friday that Ashely told me the 10K actually started at 2:30pm. What? 2:30pm?! That’s different.

As I discovered Thursday morning, the Swiss are generally not the biggest fans of early morning runs, therefore the majority of local races have afternoon starts. Honestly, it was a nice relief to not have to rush to the race start. The four of us slept in, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, and even spent some time at the local Farmer’s Market gathering items for the next night’s meal.

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We headed towards the race start around noon and arrived with plenty of time to collect our bibs and warm-up in the school gym before the start.

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With just over 500 participants, the race was on the smaller side. We were told the course was flat (lies!) and that the men and women would start at the same time (the majority of local races have a separate start time for the men and women – some races even have separate distances). We also discovered there was not going to be any water stops along the course. Since it was a cold day, I was hopeful that wasn’t going to be a problem (it wasn’t).

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We arrived at the start line about 10 minutes before the go-time and did a bit a people watching. Apparently men running in tight capris is completely normal in Europe. Noted.

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At 2:30 the countdown began and we were off. I wasn’t expecting much for this race. I hadn’t run longer than 6 miles since June, I was feeling under the weather, it was freezing, and it was an afternoon race – not my ideal race conditions. However, I was running a race in freaking Switzerland and that was pretty epic.

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Running Bucket List

–          Run an international race – CHECK!

Ashley and I started the race together, but I knew she was gunning for a PR (spoiler alert – she got it!) and I was only gunning to make it to the finish line. About a km in to the race I pulled over to tie my shoe and told her to give the race hell. She took off and ran a fantastic race (Go Ashley!), while I tried my best to finish.

I discovered quickly the course wasn’t as flat as advertised. It was full of gradual rolling hills that felt like we were going more up than down. It was cloudy and cold, my nose was running, my chest burned, and my lips were helplessly chapped. I pushed myself when I could and indulged in a handful of walking breaks when I needed them.

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I ran this race sans Garmin, so I spent the majority of the it playing mind games with myself on how far I thought I’d gone and how long it’d taken me. There were kilometer markers every two kilometers and I silently cried to myself every time I saw one, assuming I had run so much farther. It felt like the longest 10k of my life. I also spent a lot of the race doing bad conversion math in my head (so I’ve run 6km, that means I have 4km left… if a 5k is 3.1 miles, then 4k means I have about 2.5 miles left, right?).

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We finally hit a clearing and I could see the familiar blue arch from the start in the distance. Finally, the finish! Then I saw the runners ahead of me continue to run through the blue arch and realized it was not the finish line, just a big tease. Instead I had to go under the blue arch, around the school track, and THEN the red line for the finish. That final lap around the track was just evil.

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Done!

Race Results

Woo hoo! I made it! My first international race is in the bag! Worth it!

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Ashley and Bo had great races as well. Ashley earned her PR and Bo ran a very respectable time considering this is his first race back since his ACL surgery. Go team!

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The race dead ended into a line for post-race treats. Instead of water and Gatorade, I was surprised to see cups of hot tea, hot wine, chocolate pastries, and whole apples waiting for finishers. I grabbed a cup of hot tea and really enjoyed it – who knew a cup of hot tea would taste so great after a chilly 10k run?

After a quick change, our group headed over the border to France (!) to catch the sunset above the clouds on top of Le Salève.

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The drive up was a bit scary, but the view from the top was amazing.

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We decided to celebrate with dinner out (our only dinner out the whole trip!). Ashley and Bo introduced us to one of their favorite restaurants in Geneva , Le Crise, for delicious French food.

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I had the escargot, which were buttery, full of flavor, and absolutely amazing.

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And the lamb shank, which was also melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

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Overall it was a great meal with great company.

Stay tuned for Part III!

Have you ever run an international race? What were the major differences you noticed?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bridgette December 3, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Love your running vest!!! Where is it from and what is it made of?

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2 Meghann December 3, 2014 at 9:57 pm

It’s Brooks!

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3 AndreaClaire December 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm

For Switzerland, that is a flat race! I mean, the Jungfrau Marathon has an elevation change of roughly 1500 meters (about 1 vertical mile).

Enjoying the updates. Sounds like you guys had a great time.

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4 Linda @ TheFitty December 4, 2014 at 5:59 am

May I just say that the finish line looks beautiful with the spotted red? 🙂
Linda @ TheFitty recently posted..Night of Tears, and Applying for Juilliard

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5 Susie @ SuzLyfe December 4, 2014 at 8:56 am

I would love to run an international race! (also, holler for GTech, and really like that vest). That trip up the mountain would have been totally worth the scary drive. And so would the escargot!
Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted..Willpower: A muscle to strengthen #thinkingoutloud

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6 Courtney December 4, 2014 at 10:04 am

Switzerland looks so beautiful! What a great picture of you and Derek!
I did the Berlin Marathon this year and definitely agree that converting to km is basically impossible once you are tired. At first I liked seeing the km markers more frequently than I would have seen mile markers, but by 30km I was over it 🙂
Berlin also served hot tea during the race which I really liked! But the plastic cups they used were hard not to trip on!
And P.S. Your vest is really cute. Is that Brooks?
Courtney recently posted..12 Hours in Hong Kong

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7 Meghann December 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Yep! It’s Brooks!

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8 Kaci @ Running the Next Step December 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

I’m so jealous! A foreign race is on my bucket list too. Looks like an awesome day!

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9 [email protected] December 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I am so jealous of this trip, I cannot even tell you. Perfection!
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10 Molly Rose December 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Gorgeous picture of the two of you out at dinner!

Running a race internationally– on my bucket list now!
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11 Amy December 4, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Do international races give a finishers medal? Way to go!

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12 Marjolaine RAPOG December 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Ah ah ah! I am French and now lives in California. So, it’s funny to see how you were surprised with how things work for races in Europe. And, also, your little maths to convert km to miles! I actually started getting serious about running when I was living in NYC so I directly started with miles. But, when I speak about running with my husband (also French), he is talking in km. It’s getting confusing. And I ran races in France (after coming back from NYC), so in km. And I was confused… even if I am French. I know it’s weird!
Also, races in France start so late!! I don’t like it either. But, I think it’s due to the fact in Europe people are not early-risers as you are in the USA.

Anyway, congrats for your first race in Europe 🙂
Marjolaine RAPOG recently posted..Et maintenant… que vais-je faire ?

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13 AndreaClaire December 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

I’d attach this to my previous comment but comment problems… 🙂

As you have friends in Switzerland and may some day be back, there is a half-marathon in Basel that takes you through Switzerland, France and Germany (http://3laenderlauf.org/) and a Full Marathon that takes you around part of Lake Constance through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (http://www.sparkasse-3-laender-marathon.at/) – the half-marathon on that one only takes you through Germany and Austria. One race, three countries? That would be a good story, right?

Cheers!

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