I’ve been blabbering about running as a way to connect to one’s environment, to make it one’s own, but how does that work if an environment is already deeply ingrained into one’s being? I’ve been in the Low Lands for a week and used the opportunity to add a bit to my explorations of un Nimweegs rondje. That sounds all very planned but it wasn’t. Originally I intended to run the trail as it stands but a calf muscle injury and the lack of running it caused, the time of year which would mean hours in the dark for a runner with my speed, and plain – and more than justified as it turned out – fear that I would come to a grinding halt long before getting anywhere close to finishing, that much maligned fear of failure that the self-help lit makes such a fuss about, made me change my mind and look for something easier. So decided to run something I normally don’t and/or haven’t run ever before.
I started off with a little loop to the Goffert Park, just to run something I hadn’t run in a very long time. It was a trip down memory lane as was much of the rest of my route through the city, passing places I had lived myself or where close friends had been living when I was a student. Streets I had cycled often, neighborhoods that were my home during different parts of my personal history, when I was a freshman, when I met my wife, when my first kid was born, when we raised a young family. Running a place that already is your own is very much a stroll through one’s very own memory palace.
And then I took off towards the West of the city, a part of Nijmegen’s environs that I know much less well than the rest. One reason being that I always considered it less interesting than the East, but lo and behold, it is more than worthwhile. In and just beyond the city: great industrial landscape, some of it refurbished/reused, other parts still in operation. And then the flood plains largely accessible on trails, great river beaches, old majestic willow trees with impressive root structures, and back closer to town (at the North side of the river) a huge project to alter the flow of the river, creation of an island, the building of bridges, etc.
It doesn’t matter how well you know a place, it can still deliver plenty of interest. The intimately known comes with personal delights and unwarranted assumptions both of which can result in unexpected experiences. Let’s celebrate with two catchy melodies that are nice energy boosts when struggling on a longer run: