Day 60: What one Norwegian said to the other

Day 60

You had to love running, or you wouldn’t live to love anything else.

Do at least one outdoor activity weekly for an hour.

This is the month of vitality. Very well, today I got up at seven and went for a run.

Not tough enough? It was Saturday today.

Still not enough? I slept next to my youngest son, he had a high fever and needed support during the night as he felt terrible and couldn’t sleep. I didn’t fall asleep until well after midnight.

Still not enough? I ran only in thermal underwear, a jacket and tights.

Still not enough? OK, I met a drunk Norwegian.

See? I am tough.

When I left the house, the two boys were watching a film on YouTube while the rest — the baby, my wife, her mother — were all fast asleep. That is the usual morning routine here: the six-year old goes silently down to the living-room, finds the iPad and watches films, the three-year-old (four tomorrow!) follows him twenty minutes later, and then some twenty minutes after him, my wife gets up.

Some time later, I get up. (Now, though, the baby is waking up whenever he feels like it, so this pattern is changing — ie, I occasionally wake up before my wife.)

The boys are used to sitting alone in the morning, I thought to myself, and they don’t mind at all. (Bye dad, the youngest one said as he saw my in my running tights.) I have time for a short, slow run. Just around the lakes.

It was quiet outside. Only a few cars. The birds were swimming silently back and forth on the lakes. Even the air was still, as if the winds had also gone to sleep and not woken up yet.

A few runners passed me. A woman with a pram and a dog on an early morning walk stopped and stared at my naked feet. Good morning, I said. Good morning, she replied. Barefoot?! Yes, I said as I passed her. I like it.

Behind me I could hear her muttering questions to herself: why is he…? How is he…? Incredulous.

It is 6,5 kilometer around the lakes, and as I neared 6 kilometers, I could feel my feet complaining a bit. One slow round would do today. I should perhaps go back home anyway, perhaps the baby’s awake.

As I approached my house, a bicycle came up beside me. You’re running barefoot? A man, a student, ten years younger than me. He spoke English with a familiar accent.

You’re running barefoot? Wow, man. That’s cool.

His toungue seemed to be a bit too big for his mouth and his bicycle wobbled sligthly.

But you need some shoes, man. You know, those toe-thingies, you know. You should get something to protect your feet, man. I mean, fuck, there’s glass like everywhere, man. You’ll get blood.

No no, I replied, I’m fine. I’ve done this before.

But you bleed! You get wounds!

Yes, it happens. But it lasts a day or two at most. No problem.

But you need shoes, man!

I reached 6,5 kilometers. I could see my house. But somehow this bicyclist had made me find a rhythm, it was easy to run next to him, I almost felt like a proper athlete running next to his support crew, I couldn’t stop just yet. I went on.

Running at half past seven in the morning, man! You’re crazy.

What about you, then? Been up all night?

Yeah, he replied and his bike wobbled even more as a he tried to make some gesture with his right hand.

Yeah, all fucking night, man. Lots of beer, you know? No-one can drink beer like a Norwegian! And then I stayed with this Portuguese woman. Fucking whore. But she knew what she was doing, you know? She rubbed me…

His bike suddenly turned violently to the right, he lowered his hand again and narrowly escaped his second horizontal encounter of the night.

You’re Norwegian? I’m…

I hope she’s been with uglier men than me, you know?

I ran without thinking about running. I didn’t notice where I was stepping or what I stepped on, my unconscious did that part — my conscious self was busy with other things.

I’m sure she has, I replied, not knowing whether it was the right thing to say.

It’s the only place I don’t wear any shoes. Yeah, and in the shower. And on the beach. But running, no way, man! Like marathons. Have you run a marathon?

Yeah, in Oslo last autumn.

It’s not a good course. You haven’t tried Berlin?

No. I am Norwegian, so…

I ran in Berlin last year. Fuck, man. Half marathon in 1:25, and then I had to pee, and then I had to walk the rest. Came to the finish in 3:38. My mind was willing, you know, but my muscles, you know.

Still one hour better than me.

You’re a nice guy, you know? Crazy, but nice. I like you. You should get some shoes, though. You’re not like all the Norwegians, you know? I don’t like them.

I turned left around the lakes.

Oh, you’re going that way? I’m going this way. Good luck, man!

And with those words he was off. I thought about shouting after him: I AM NORWEGIAN!, but that would only have confused him. At the other end of the street he missed a turn and went up on the pavement. Fuck, I could hear him scream, but in Norwegian this time, fuck, my balls!

After twenty seconds he got up on his bike again and disappeared.

I ran on, a second lap around two of the lakes, almost like a victory lap. Yes, he was a bit drunk. But he was mighty impressed with me running barefoot. As was the woman with the pram. I know I am not the only barefoot runner in Copenhagen, but there aren’t many of us — and I am surely the only one who’s tough enough to be our running this early on a Saturday morning.

I mean, I ran next to a Norwegian on his way back from a drinking spree. What more proof of my toughness do you need?

As I approached one hour of running, I could see my house again. This time, my feet asked my politely to stop. They could have continued, but you know…

Suddenly another barefooter ran past me, much quicker than me, in a T-shirt and running shorts. I stopped.

Fuck, man.

Next time, I’ll run drunk. That’ll show him.

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