The first time I ran a half marathon I wanted to quit because I was suffering.
But that was not a good enough reason.
I told myself: Keep going. Walk if you have to, but finish this damn race!
Slowly opening a forgotten drawer in the attic.
Memories of experiences and efforts come out of it.
Inside a plastic, shabby supermarket bag slept my crumpled and tangled half marathon participation medals.
I look at them with aching sympathy. How cruel I was to them.
I touch the hard iron with my fingers.
Lausanne 2014, Amsterdam 2017, Bremen… Ostend… Lucerne… Leiden… Athens… Berlin…
I have sent some of them to my father who hangs them on pictures of me in his family home.
I smile when I think of him every time he asks me about my new sporting goal.
The mind starts to run backward.
The glory moments.
The comfort of the well-prepared race.
The fun music lists that kept me company.
The smiles of my fellow athletes.
A girl who cried non-stop with joy at finishing for the first time.
The pride and hugs of some friends at the finish line.
The difficult times.
Endless rain. Injuries.
Thirst and pain.
Slippery ground. Frustration.
A heart attack of a 35-year-old German runner.
I wonder with real doubt if it is worth it?
The answer is 100% YES .
Running saved my life.
Symbolically the “21, 0975 km or 13 miles 192.5 yards” half marathon is a showdown with myself.
A struggle with depression.
A victory over bipolarity.
It was not easily conquered.
There was no magic formula for success.
I first demonstrated the necessity of a solution to save myself from the downward spiral.
Getting up at 05:00 or 06:00 with – 4 degrees Celsius or rain is not always easy.
Some mornings are heartbreakingly difficult.
The body is like iron.
The eyes refuse to open.
The body you sleep next to, hums making sounds of contentment.
I have to resist the overwhelming idea of going back to bed and eating all the extremely delicious breakfasts in the world.
Bulimia is the little sister of depression.
It is easy to embrace this little sister and settle her into my life.
I have done it in the past with great success.
And finally .. one day you are sure of yourself.
Sure of your years of experience.
Declaring confidence in your mileage…
It can only take one day to feel weak, incompetent, unprepared, helpless, insecure, lost.
Life will always test you.
Last Sunday was one of those days.
Zürich March 2022
From the depths of my warm bed, I hear something like a musical.
It’s very disturbing and it gets louder gradually.
I tuck myself further into the duvets, hugging the pillow tighter.
I embrace it like a lover I don’t want to part with.
The sound of the musical becomes barbaric.
I can almost feel the dancers and singers surrounding my mattress. I resist strongly.
I turn sideways and resent.
I can see the first light coming through the window shutters.
I squeeze my eyelids shut and promise myself that I will never again do the stupid thing of choosing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” as the alarm clock for Sunday marathon training.
The guilt is now partying over your head.
Rapturously awake, I think:
“The war is knocking at our door and I choose happy light songs to wake me up? How silly!”
I bravely decide to rid myself of the notes of the sappy song and the irrational guilt of my mind.
My hand searches for the cell phone on the dresser.
Log in with face id fails because it doesn’t recognize my sleep-crippled face.
I try to type in the code.
I make many mistakes but I finally get it.
I have to get up now.
I mustn’t fiddle with the f-book or check my e-mail for news from the war front.
I hurriedly check the temperature: -2 in the center of Zurich, -3 in my neighborhood.
It’s 07:00. I should have already started training.
My body doesn’t follow me.
I don’t want to go anywhere.
The spoiled child in me is screaming.
I crawl to the bathroom.
I put my head under the tap.
The cold water isn’t enough to wake me up.
I put on my new sports clothes.
I’m scared when I see my face in the mirror.
Maybe the police will arrest me for scaring the passers-by.
I tie the laces of my sneakers and curse.
I tie them too tight.
Today’s goal is 19 km in 1:30-:31 minutes.
I know from the beginning that I won’t make it.
Besides, I know very well how to trip myself up.
I go out on my street and try to do warm-up exercises.
The music cord gets tangled up with the house keys.
The timer and the route I’m going to follow are on a special app for runners that have been blocked for some reason.
And the selected music list that goes perfectly with my rhythm does not open.
But I’m cool. I won’t throw any of it in the trash.
The perfect neighbor from the next building runs like a bullet in front of me and disappears in a split second. He annihilates every inch of my confidence.
I finally get going.
I put on the special gloves but my hands are already frozen.
The salesman had suggested: “Take these please, they cost a little more but they are very good and will keep your hands warm.”
I didn’t listen, of course.
After ten minutes, the first cramps in my calves bother me and I complain.
I didn’t get enough magnesium this week.
At the lake, I meet other perfect runners and I think … they might be looking at me with regret.
But maybe it’s in my head.
They don’t give a damn.
They’re frozen too.
I save civilians from the battlefield.
Through diplomatic channels, I force Putin to stop the war.
And around the eighth, I’m awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
My self-centeredness is running red.
The cramps subside but a strange pain in my stomach visits me.
I’m now running behind a garbage truck along the river.
It’s cleaning up the thousands of bottles of beer consumed on Saturday night.
The stench of cigarettes and beer comes into my face.
I swear again and force myself to pass it by.
I feel proud that Switzerland has decided for the first time in its history to leave its neutrality behind and block the bank accounts of war memorialists.
It would be nice if they would do it openly for the rich drug and human traffickers. I hope so.
The pain in my stomach is getting stronger and stronger but I won’t stop.
I am looking through to discover some of the Zurich WC toilets.
I find one that asks for a coin. Of course, I don’t have one.
Who asks for coins today from a battered runner with a stomach ache.
At the 11th km, I’ve stopped to tie my expired shoelace.
I stop the stopwatch, it makes no sense. This training is a disaster.
The streets are full of people returning home from the clubs.
I have to get home.
In 14 years of running, I don’t remember experiencing such a total failure.
I’m not complaining at all but there near the bridge, I let the sun heal my body.
I stand still and close my eyes.
I think backwards about my life goals.
How many of them I supported and believed in with vigor.
How many I gave up with ease and lack of faith in myself.
Some utopian goals. Unattainable.
Some few, lowly, of limited ambition.
The demands on myself are carried over to next Sunday.
A tear runs down my cheek.. again.
Little Panos weeps that he didn’t make it.
Little Panos is glad he tried.
The adult Panos regroups his forces and plans the new attack.
The seagulls on the Weinplatz give a special concert together with the bells of the Grossmunster.
I walk slowly.
I count my steps.
No bombs fall in my path.
Only shells of thoughts fall on my head.
On April 10 I will run the Zurich half marathon.
I will not set a goal.
I’ll enjoy the freedom of a runner.
I am a small and insignificant man but I will run only for Peace.
The older sister of love.