I thought I was inhaling air, but apparently what I really was inhaling was mud. Or so it felt while I ran my first kilometre towards the lake. The air was rich with the aroma of a thousand flowers and almost sickly sweet. Could it be the reason it felt so thick? Can I be allergic to pollen?
Arriving at the gate of the nature reserve, I saw a man and a woman approaching, having just completed their run. The woman stopped to stretch just before the gate. I looked at the man, trying to guess if he too would stop and let me pass through the narrow gate, and he looked at me; I run to the left, leaving him plenty of room to the right, in case he decided to keep walking. But the right side was obviously not good enough for him. He kept walking towards me, forcing me to swerve to the right at the last minute. My shoulder violently bumped against his. I turned to look at him, but he didn't seem to have noticed. My grandma would probably have threatened to wash my mouth with soap, had she heard the words I uttered just then.
I reached the lake and was struck by a horrible stench. The whole area smelled, inexplicably, of rotten fish. There were plenty of people around, some jogging, some walking their dogs, and some returning home carrying their picnic baskets and blankets after a day in the summer-warm sun. I was still struggling with heavy legs and laboured breathing, so I left the lake path and headed towards the horse track nearby, which would take me home.
This horse track is used almost exclusively by, well, horses. According to a neighbour who runs there sometimes, moose frequent the track too, although I suspect for different reasons than the horses and their riders. I ran alertly, listening for any sounds of hooves and watching out for big animals on the path.
I was glad I chose the horse track. It crosses a lush part of the forest, with wood anemones covering the ground and thick, unspoilt vegetation all around. My breathing eased. My legs found new strength. Suddenly I was flying. I stopped once to take a picture, and then ran the last kilometre home at 5:08 min/km. What a difference the right environment can make.