December 21, 2010

Single

I am back to being single. Well, not really single. And only for a week. But surely the longest week that ever existed.

Last Saturday, Martin and Malo left for Austria, where we will be celebrating Xmas. The particularities of French labor meaning that I won’t have any proper holiday until the end of 2011 (yes, end of 2011, and yes, that sucks), I will therefore only fly there late on Thursday night, and spend total of 1.5 days in Austria (I am so lucky). If you can count, you'll see that this means six (six!) days and seven (seven!) nights without my son. For my sin, I can count, too, which means I was already feeling dreadful last week in anticipation of them leaving, and was feeling even more so after they had left.

My mother implied I needed to toughen up a bit, to which I implied back replied tersely that she had zero credibility here, given she had clearly forgotten she herself cried the whole drive from Lyon, France, to Venice, Italy, the first time my Dad and her left me with my grand mother, aged one or so, to do and spend a long weekend in Italy's most city. Still, in all her mum wisdom, she suggested I use this week to do all the things I normally struggle to do, or dream I could do but can’t, when Malo is around.

Credible or not, she was right, obviously, and I quickly did a mental and not exhaustive list of the things I would be doing while single, in no particular order (that's my poorly disguised attempt at avoiding to be too predictable by putting all the running related things at the top of my list):

  1. Take a bath and have a facial.
  2. Think about something to do about this grey hair which have started to grow on my head like bad weeds since I started to work again.
  3. Go for a long run without having to think it is time taken off the little time I can spend with Malo.
  4. Get on my mountain bike (not because I enjoy riding on ice so much, but because Martin and Malo have left with our car) to visit friends in the mountains above Annecy.
  5. Go to the movies
  6. Make the traditional calendar with family photos we have been giving my grand dad every Xmas for the past few years, which I have not yet had time to do this year.
  7. Think of a way to get to one of the nearest nordic skiing spots without a car, since Martin left with ours (yes, we do have only one car, which we did by choice and out of principle, and is usually not a problem, except in emergency situations such as the need to go skiing while the car is 900kms away).
  8. Write posts for Malo’s and my blog in a last minute desperate attempt to avoid having zero posts written in either blog in December.
  9. Go to a Christmas carol concert given by a children choir at the town's cathedral
  10. Get some sleep
  11. Eat rubbish (well, cheese in fact, which is not that rubbish, and which is our usual evening dinner, lazy b*** that I am. For Martin, it is different, it is a culture thing), seated on the floor or in the sofa with a book in one hand and the computer near the other, strictly forbidden by Martin, on top of being very bad for digestion.
My newly (if only temporarily) found single life started on Saturday with neither of the above, since I had to deal, instead, with one of the worst migraine I had in a long time, which started pretty the minute the minute Martin and Malo were gone. If you're tempted to see a correlation between these two facts, well… you are right. And if you're also tempted to think I am a pathetic slob, well, you're right, yet again.

I did slightly better last Sunday, since I at least manage to get out of the house. Yeah me. Initial plan was to run in the morning, then go to a friend's place and spend time with her and her two babies (aged 6 weeks and 16 months, meaning I make a mental note not to complain about being busy with Malo each time I go and visit her), then go to the concert, then go to the movies with a friend. In the end, only the visit to my friend happened, although I did also find time to post on Malo's blog. As for the runs... well, there is not much to say about the runs, since there were none. And the best thing is, I am fine with that. I am telling you, I am going to finish 2010 a zen master (Now, I pause for a minute, to allow you laughing your heart out before you resume reading).

Yesterday: I managed to write a post at lunchtime (well, admittedly, only because a lunch I had scheduled got cancelled and I could not go running instead since I had stupidly left my gear at home), thus ensuring I would have at least one post written in December. Not that this makes me feel like a prolific blogger deserving some kind of Pulizer Prize of the blogsphere or anything, but that way I may just manage not to have my account deactivated for being inactive for too long.

I also went to a spinning class in the evening. That was the first one in so long that I can’t even remember when the last time was. It is not like I am lazy or anything. In fact, I miss spinning a lot. I would even go as far as getting up super early to make it to the gym before work, and believe me, given how sleep deprived I am, that’s saying something. But the problem is, this is France, worst even, this is a small provincial town in France, and that means one can forget about gym opening at 6am and closing at 10pm like I was used to in London. Spinning classes are only scheduled in the early evening, in other words when I have my only time of the day with Malo. That means that something has to give, and since it was not going to be Malo, it has to be spinning.

But since Malo has abandoned me for six days (six days!) and seven nights (seven nights!), spinning it was last night. And man, was that first session in ages hard! It was only an hour, but after all these spinning-less months, this felt harder than the 1h30 sessions I used to go too while heavily pregnant. Coming to think about it, even my heart rate seemed to be going higher than when spinning heavily pregnant. It felt so hard that I don’t think I managed to think about Malo more than a couple of times in 60 minutes. Yep, that hard.

It was so good to be back that I decided to go back tonight. In the end, it did not happen because I got so soaked cycling back from work that my only options were going straight home or risk “catching death”, as my grand mother would put it, by having to put my soaked clothes back on to cycle back home after the session. Instead, I went home, changed into dry warm stuff, got to the supermarket, bought Baileys, walked back, sat on the floor, ate rubbish, blogged and drank Baileys, which is not that bad given I now get to tick a few things off my wishlist, and even one which did not. And man, which one! I had not drank Baileys in years, and that reminded me of my student years when, being broke, we would buy some cheap ersatz to drink between two essays on Saturday nights (Cécile, are you reading?). In a nutshell, the perfect drink for a (temporarily) single girl. And despite the spinning-free, Baileys-full evening, I am not even completely lost for sports yet, since I had gone on my usual mountain run at lunchtime. Isn't life just perfect sometimes?

Tomorrow maybe be movie night. Like spinning, that would be the first time in a while. Again, living in a small city where the latest evening show-times are at 7.00pm and 7.30pm in Annecy’s only two movie theatres, means going to see a movie is not really compatible with spending time with a one year old, who has his daily bath, eats dinner and go to bed precisely between 7.00 pm and 7.30pm.

Seeing that it is now close to midnight here, one thing I may not be able to tick off the list though, is getting some sleep. But at least I'll have had some Baileys.

December 20, 2010

A Race Report and a Christmas Tree



This is the only race photo you will see from the last race I signed up for. Which, if you think about it, it makes sense given that this is where my trail running shoes spent the entire time of the race.

I had planned everything really well. We were supposed to go and celebrate an early Xmas with my parents and brother’s family down at my parents' in the South of France. Given that I was the one suggesting it, I chose a weekend where I could kill two birds with one stone, and run as well as wait for Santa's Christmas bonenza. I am usually a specialist of deciding to do a race, talk about it a lot, train for it even more, then realise when registration is closed that I forgot to sign up. This time, I had even managed to avoid that pitfall, which can undoubtedly be earmarked as my best 2010 running achievement.

I was not best prepared. The race is 35kms long of hard single trails, when I had only done hourly runs at lunchtime and nothing longer. It is characterised by a succession of steep and short climbs and downhills, and my training sessions consisted of a 40-climb followed by 20 minutes running back down, since this is what is available near work (not that I am complaining to “have to” run in the mountains on week days, mind you).

Still, I was looking forward to it, since the scenery was said to be amazing (when, unlike last year, it does not rain sheets and you feel the entire race, this being clay, is like trying to run on a giant slide): the sea down to the South, the mountains East and West, and this huge sky that is typical of Southern France. In spite of the inappropriate training, I was still feeling confident I could place decently, since I was feeling in good shape.

In good shape, until two weeks before the race that is. Then Malo, who had not felt too well for a while, started being quite ill. And work got even busier than usual. And I started feeling quite ropey myself.

Two days before the race, I started having a very bad sore throat and could not talk anymore. A blessing for most people around me, I am sure, but one which did not mean too much good as far as the race was concerned. On Saturday, with the race being the following day, I was feeling like walking required a huge effort, and it did not take too much brain power to realise that running a hard race may not necessarily feel easier than walking.

Most of Saturday was then spent with this dilemma: run, or not run on Sunday? I was sure I could finish the race. What I was less sure of was in which state. Plus, was the point to race, or to race and enjoy it? The answer seemed to be crystal clear for the rest of the family, but as far as I was concerned, there was still this nagging little voice at the back of my mind, suggesting that pulling out would be the decision of a wimp. Well, I have gone further on the “a race should be fun, or at least, should also be fun”-road, but I am not totally there yet!

In the end, I decided to be a wimp. Why? Because this race will still be there next year. Or the one after next. Because I thought, based on previous experience, that I would deal better with not racing than with having a bad race, or even only what I would perceive to be a bad race. Because this was supposed to also be a Xmas weekend, and it did not seem to make any sense to miss quality time (note to myself: why am I using this expression since I hate it?) with the family, and especially with Malo, to participate in a race I clearly should not be doing.

This is how my trail running shoes, on that Saturday night, ended up under the Xmas tree, waiting for Santa to turn up, instead of in a sports bag waiting for an early morning start.

At least Santa ended up being considerate: for the first time in years, my shoes did not get filled with sports related stuff: he must have realised I would not have handle the frustration so well. Such consideration: clearly a sign Santa does exist, isn’t it?

 (PS - in case this post sounded a bit bitter, it would only be because I am a bad writer, not because I am bitter. It actually ended up being easier than expected not to race. Sure, I felt a bit of envy, at the time of the start, seeing that the sky was of a cloudless blue, at the thought of the runners about to start. Sure I could not help myself checking out the results in the evening, and trying to figure how I would have beemotivan able to place. But there will be other races, and, as I have said many times, I don't need races to enjoy my running and to be motivated to run hard. In the meantime, 10 days later, I am still feeling quite ill, so racing would probably have been quite stupid... oh wait, does it mean I am going to finish 2010 a reasonnable girl? Now, that would be an expected turn of event...)

November 21, 2010

Doudou Disaster

Last week could have ended up in a disaster.  

On Monday, I took Malo to the doctor to check his then two-week old ear infection. 

The appointment was at 6pm, by which time I am usually still at work.
I had a 5.00pm meeting which started late. It has begun to rain in the afternoon and I was cycling.
When I got to daycare, the Chariot, which we leave outside the building during the day, looked more like a sinking boat than a child carrier, filled as it was with water.
Then, when we arrived in front of the doctor's building, I had to struggle trying to simultaneously hold my son, try to protect him from the rain, lock the bike, close the Chariot's cover, all under the judging eyes of an old lady sheltered under her umbrella and clearly not impressed by my riding my baby around in torrential rain.
In a nutshell, all the conditions were not met to get to the appointment all cool and relax.

Considering things had not gone too smoothly until then, the doctor's appointment went surprisingly well. Not that Malo's ear was getting much better, but at least, he was really well behaved in spite of the late hour. 

45 minutes later, we were all ready to go.

Then the fateful realisation struck: WE-DID-NOT-HAVE-MALO'S-DOUDOU-ANYMORE.

Now, in case you are 1. not French, 2. not a parent yet, 3. lucky parents, like mine were, of a child without a doudou, you'll be forgiven for not knowing what a doudou is, or how important it is. To sum it up, a doudou is quite simply, for many children, most likely the third most important thing on the world after his mum and dad. And sometimes, you would be forgiven for thinking it is the most important thing in his life. He sleeps with it, needs it when he is sad, to day care, to go for a walk, and, in Malo's case, even tries to convince me I should let him take it in the bathtub. 

Malo did not have a doudou until, aged 4 months, he started going to daycare once a week, so that I could  have a bit of free time to (relunctantly) look for a job.  In daycare, the ladies looking after him suggested I gave him something that would remind him of me, ideally that would smell of me. I briefly thought about an old running shoe, realised it was not that practical, so settled on a Provence-style, rawsberry-red cotton scarf, that seemed bright enough for a small baby to be interested in it.

That worked beyond any hopes, Malo was carrying his doudou everywhere, and the only trouble was that, once in a while, I had to find a trick to separate him from his doudou so that I could wash it  dry it with a hairdryer so that it would dry faster, spray a bit of perfume on my neck, the scarf around the neck, and  give it back to Malo before he realised part of him had been stolen.

Now that Malo is in daycare 50 hours a week as a result of me working  full time, the doudou has become more important than ever. He has it to fall asleep, when he's sad, when he's tired. He even crawls around with it, and I strongly suspect the daycare manager seriously considers downsizing the cleaning staff since Malo is mopping the floor with his doudou 10 hours a day.

Now that the context is set, you can easily imagine me, standing in pouring rain with my one year old son under my arm, realising disaster had just struck and the doudou was gone.

After a last look in the surgery, the hall and outside the building, I frantically loaded Malo in the Chariot, sprinted back to daycare thinking that maybe a miracle had happened and I would find the doudou in the hall or where I park the Chariot.  No such luck.

Then Martin rang on my mobile. "I LOST THE DOUDOU", I cried in lieu of hello.

And this there was nothing else to do, I cycled back home, tears running down my cheeks. 

Things carried on going wrong. Malo was tired and crying, and did not understand why we were not giving him the only thing which soothes him straight away. Then it was story time before going to bed. Except Malo's favourite story is that of a little bear who has lost his doudou (a red one too, would you believe the coincidence?). The story ends up with the bear's cat finding the doudou and the little bear being very happy, but since Malo always needs to have his own doudou in his hand when we read the story, doing this tonight was not an option. Hell, even whispering the word "doudou" was not something we envisaged doing that evening.

It is not that we had not thought this may happen one day. We even tried to prepare ourselves, putting aside some scarves which, altough not identical to Malo's, may do the job. As tonight was clearly the night to resort to Plan B, I gave him that other scarf, a brown one, thinking that, with dim light, that may just work. It did not, and although he did end up falling asleep, it took much longer than the (admittedly quite short) 3 minutes it usually takes.

To say I was not productive at work the next day would be an understatement. I was feeling miserable, plus had a lot on my plate.  Like try to reach the other doctor from the surgery since I thought maybe some kid patients of hers may have seen and taken the doudou. Or prepare signs that I wanted to pin on the trees in front of the doctor's office and in the hall, asking anybody would would have information about the doudou to call me (yes, I was that desperate, which is why being ridiculous was not something I cared about anylonger). Gave up my lunchbreak run to instead rush to the doctor's and placard my little signs.  Giving up a run. Now, if you had not realised how bad the situation was, that should give it away, shouldn't it?

Now, if you are not a parent, the chance is you are by now finding the whole story beyong ridiculous, and feel you now need to stop reading and have a good laugh at me. Hell, maybe I would have done just that has I read the story from someone else, pre-Malo.  On second thoughts, I wouldn't, but that only because you're talking to someone who, well into her 30s, cried when she saw a lion driven around in a cage by some circus staff.

Problem is, now, I am a mum, and I tell you there was not much I would not have done that day to make sure I would not see this sad look in my baby's eyes. 

Early afternoon, I could not help calling daycare to check on Malo and how he managed without the doudou. OK, said the lady, but he clearly felt something was off, and he had refused to nap, throwing the erastz of a doudou at the bottom of the bed. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. 

Next step was to try and find a new scarf which looked like the lost one. Not an easy task, since I had been enough of a fool to give my son a scarf from a brand which has known better days and is now only sold in a few shops in Provence, and of a pattern which they have stopped producing years ago. Well done, me.


After a day feeling like the most useless and miserable mum earth has ever produced, I got home, still wondering how to deal with Malo and his loss.

Then I realised I had a message on my mobile phone. I checked the caller: it was the doctor. I checked the message: SHE HAD FOUND THE DOUDOU! We would not be able to get it before the following morning, but now, we knew we would manage another night.


We now have the doudou back. My mum has managed, through a friend who works at the firm producing the scarves, to get the exact same one (that was the last one:  I cannot believe my luck!), so we have a spare one (although I'd better keep it around my neck night and day if I want it to feel the same as the old one - good thing we're getting into Winter).

Malo has also developped a fondness for another scarf of mine, of the same pattern but bright yellow this time, so I have hopes that, if we were to lose both the old and the new red scarves, we may be able to survive with the yellow one.

And now, if the Company producing these scarves does not have anything against child labour, they may  want to consider using Malo as their new top model...  They could pay him in scarves: if he carries on being a scarf addict until he's in his 20s, that may prove a good deal for me.

November 03, 2010

Standing Ovation

I am glad last weekend was a three day weeekend.

As reported, the last two weeks, including the beginning of last weekend, were, granted, pretty eventful, but unfortunately not of the kind of eventful I like... call me picky if you wish.

Yesterday however allowed us to finish the weekend in style, and hopefully marked the end of our "septimana horriblis" (times two).

The doctor had been adamant I should not run on Sunday. But hey, I had not asked anything about Monday, and the weather was very nice yesterday, so it was worth taking the risk of a more painful throat after a long steep climb to enjoy a run in the sun... no pain, no gain.

So yesterday morning I went out running up Mont Baron, above the Annecy lake for two hours with a friend, Martin, my usual favourite partner in crime, having all but broken his toe on our last run together last Wednesday, and, since he could not run nor climb anyway, having been promoted to "baby sitter in chief" for the morning.

Two minutes in our run, I was already wondering what had gotten in my head when I chose this route, of all routes. Sure, the view from the top, overlooking the lake, is simply amazing, but the 900m elevation gain it takes to get there may not have been the best choice when one is already coughing her heart out walking on flat ground. Every single metre of the climb made my calves burn and my throat feel like pearced with needles, and my running partner as a result seemed more concerned by me collapsing at the top than at his 8.5 month pregnant wife giving birth in his absence. But it was fun!

The photo is not from yesterday but although the outfil has
changed, the view has not!


I was home by late morning, and since Malo was feeling better, Martin was feeling better, and I had been feeling well enough to go for a run, we decided to go for a family hike in a natural reserve by the lake.

And that was even more fun that the morning run!

Petite Boule loved being outside and was laughing like there was no tomorrow. He was throwing big yellow dead leaves in the air, trying to catch and eat a beetle... What a great feeling for Martin and I to look at him enjoying being outside, especially after last summer's fears - seeing like Malo would straight out refused to let grass touch his bare feet - that our son did not like nature and that he would hate every single minute of the kind of activities we were planning for him for the 18 years to come.

We walked a little with Malo in the Deuter backpack, which he quickly got tired of. Who would blame him: it sure is much more fun to be on Maman's shoulders and witness her make a total fool of herself by running and whining like a horse. 



Malo also "walked". Oh, not by himself, since the little devil has clearly decided two people in the family doing insane amount of exercise is more than enough and he does not need to add to that (to be fair to him, he does move around a lot, only not on his two feet yet).  Although I am in no rush to see him walk, since he will do it in his own time and he has the rest of his life to do so anyway, I must say that I am soon going to take on a loan to pay the osteopath if I need to carry on holding Malo's hands the way I do several hours per day these days. Anyway, he did a lot of assisted walking yesterday, from one tree to the next, to some leaves on the ground, to the edible-looking bettle, back to the tree.. repeat 10 times.


Then we got back home, and a few minutes later, a big milestone was reached: Malo stood by himself! We clapped in our hands, so he did it again, and clapped too. And again. And again. Then with keys in the right hand. Then with bread in the left one. Then with both keys and bread.


I just cannot decide who, of the two, was the proudest, the mum or the baby.  Hey hey, next thing I know, he is going to come running up Mont Baron with me, even with a sore throat and a bad cough...

October 31, 2010

A life in the Day

Back in our London days, when, on the rare occasions we were not training on a Sunday morning, we used to go for brunch loaded with the Sunday papers, one of my first reads was the Sunday Times' A life in the day, where somebody famous describes how his/her typical day looks like.

If I were famous, or had done anything remotely interesting so that people felt they wanted to read about me, last week would have given me perfect material to describe my own "life in the day". On second thoughts, I am not too sure about "perfect", but "some" material, for sure.

Wednesday started early, if not well. 4.10am, to be accurate, as we had to go to a meeting in the South of France, 5 hours from Annecy, and my new company does not believe in bearing the cost of a hotel night so that you can have a mind in working order when you get to your all-day meeting. From then on, the day went like this:

4.40am - leave home, to get picked up by my colleague and drive to the railway station.

4.50am - arrive at station, check on the departure screen  for our platform, can't find our train listed.

5.00am - at last find a member of staff, who tells us that our train has not run for the last week because of the strike (surely the entire world knows by now about the French strikes - the best way found by some workers to be make sure the economy goes down the pipe even faster and their situation deteriorates equally fast). As there is absolutely no other way to arrive where we're supposed to go before mid afternoon, we wisely figure that, given that our return train also leaves mid-afternoon, we may as well cancel all together.

5.15am - I am back home, and get back into bed in the crazy hope I may get anadditional  hour and a half of sleep, but as all crazy hopes, this one does not materialize, and I end up deciding to go to work, so that I can leave earlier in the evening, and get to spend more time with Malo.

6pm - "Spending more time with Malo" has proven to be a crazy hope, too, as  I am stuck into a meeting with people who clearly got more than 4 hours sleep last night, and look and sound depressingly energetic. I, on the other hand, fight to keep my eyes open, in spite of the litre - make it a galon -  of coffee I must have downed.

7pm - home at last, with Malo as tired as I am, after a full day of playing at day care. Hard life to be a baby. We manage to fit his bath and dinner before puting the little one to bed, I bidding my time before I can do the same.

8pm - Martin and I have had dinner, but bedtime has suddenly become something further away, as we have just realised that the cleaning lady is coming tomorrow for the first time in 2 weeks, and that we must promptly tidy the flat to avoid her resigining as soon as she arrives in the morning.

10.30pm - we're ready to go to bed but that the time Malo, who usually sleep 12 hours straight, choses to wake up and start crying. I end up craddling him in my arms for half an hour, which I love... but would have loved even more if I had not been up for 18  hours 1/2.

On Thursday, it quicky looks like the day may not be much better than the last, only different. Thursday is the only day I ride my bike to work. As I am driving towardswork, I start getting a lof of cute little black shiny stars in front of my eyes. Not very convenient to drive. And scary. I made it (just) to work, where I get into a meeting, to promptly have to lie down on the floor with my feet up, shivering and feeling dizzy, and crying uncontrollably. Is there anything you least want to do that crying in the office, especially lying on a dirty carpet with your boss' scarf beneath your head?

Friday is going to be better, at least for the two male members of the family, since Martin has taken the day off to spend it playing with his son (and has even written so on Facebook so that the entire world kneows what a great day father and son are going to have). At 11am though, it becomes clear that Friday is NOT going to be better than Wenesday or Thursday. Martin calls me at work, asking me to come back home urgently, since he is having a migraine attack and cannot even see Malo anymore, let alone play with him. I promptly get out of the very important meeting I have just walked in, rush home, load Malo in the car since Martin has convienently left his migraine drugs at work and needs me to go an pick them up, come back, cook lunch for Malo, feed Malo, call day care to see if they could take care of Malo for the rest of the day, realised I don't have time to have lunch myself, drive to day care, then to work. Whatever is left of the day was uneventful.

In case this was not enough, we played "A life in the day" this week too. 

Malo cried all night on Monday, meaning I was, on Tuesday morning, 1. pretty worried since he has slept through the night since he was five weeks old and him not sleeping meant sometyhing was definitely off, 2. so tired I felt I was in dire need of a weekend. Unfortunately, even in France with its crazy labour lwas, weekends don't start on Tuesday mornings.  On Tuesday afternoon, I was called by daycare to advise me Malo had fever.

On Wednesday morning, fever had gone up, meaning Martin had to give up a climbing day he had dreamt about for weeks, to look after his son.

On Friday, we took Malo to the doctor, which means I did not get to work before 10.45am. Later that evening, I realised, back at home, that I had forgotten his prescription in the office and was unable to get it before Tuesday, since this is a long weekend here. 

Yesterday I decided it was vital for my sanity that I squeezed in a little run in the rain, started running by the river, got freaked out by a guy on his MTB looking too interested in me for comfort, had to run back on the road, stopped at the chemist's to try and negotiate she gives me Malo's drugs without prescription, failed, ran back home feeling ultra cold after the chemist-stop over.

Today, since Malo was still clearly unwell, we decided we could not take the risk of waiting until Tuesday evening to get his medicines, so had to drive accross town to the on-call doctor, where we obviously waited for ever, and well past Malo's lunch time. On the bright side, it turned out his ear infection had actually not worsened. On the not-so-brigth side, I took the opportunity of me being there to tell the doctor I was not feeling too well and had a sore throat, and she quickly diagnosed a massive throat infection, and put a veto on the long trail run I had planned for the day. 

Feeling I had had enough good news for the day, I did not even ask about running tomorrow.


October 11, 2010

Miss and Hit...

... or how to write two race reports in one post (and make the most of the very little free time I have since starting work

Fast rewind to the end of August. I had signed up for a trail race in the mountains not far from home, and had found plenty reasons justifying getting up at 6am on on Sunday,including, in no particular order:

1. Pretty much everybody who runs in Annecy (and even a big chunck of those who don't) has done it, so I felt I would not get any credibility as a runner here unless I can tick the box (OK, I am totally making tup reason  #1).

2. Set up in the Aravis range, halfway between the Annecy lake and Mont Blanc, the scenery is stunning (this I am not making up).

3. I had turned 37 on the eve of the race, and running and spending half a day in the mountain sounded like a great way to celebrate. And while I was at it, I would also "celebrate", although I am not sure that's the best way to describe it, the end of my time as a stay-at-home mum, and the beginning, three days later, of my new working life.

4. I was still frustrated to have had to withdraw from another great trail race because of last minute surgery inconveniently planned for the day before the race (and it seemed bad form to race anyway while the surgeon had said "no running for three weeks).

5. I don't race a lot, and never felt the need for it. I don't need them to push myeslf.  Actually, I push myself harder if I don't race, as it became all too clear last time round,. Call it a screwed up mind, and clearly a lack of  trail racing experience too.  So it was probably also because I am screwed up that I had managed to convince myself that I had to be able to manage stress and race situations better, and race at my full potential, instead of being the only girl in the world who trains faster than she races.
So here was I, literally freezing my butt off while waiting for the race to start, on that last Sunday morning of August. I had slept very little, eaten even less, in a nutshell, my stress management still had some way to go before being called efficient. Checking out the list of runners the previous night: had not helped all the best female runners from the region were there. Unfortunately, I know I am - in theory - almost as fast as some of them, at least on a terrain I am more familiar with than mountain races.  And I say "unfortunately", because it means that, for the last 12 hours, I had been thinking that, again in theory, and even accounting for my lack of experience of mountain races,  I should be finishing just behind them.

Best way not to feel under pressure? Probably not.

As the church bell rang and notified us of the start, I, at least, managed to avoid a first mistake. Instead of being buried (quite literally, given my "sample" size) in the middle of pack, I positionned myself at the front, to avoid getting stuck behind a long queue of walking runners on the first steep single trail section comes up, less than 1km after the start.

Half way, I was 6th woman, which I was pretty happy with, considering who were the first five On second thoughts, cross that last sentence out: I was 6th woman, but defintitely not happy. Too stressed out to be happy. The same - totally unproductive - thoughts than last April  were cluttering my mind: what am I doing here when I could be running with Martin instead, why putting myself through all that stress while I am a runner because it is fun, why why why...

Then things got even worst: as I started down a very steep and technical downhill session at the half way point, I started feeling a sharp pain on the side of my knee. I had to stop and walk for a few minutes, and got overtaken by a first woman. Then I started running again. Then had to stop again, and got overtaken by a second woman. Repeat that twice more.

As I was about to start up the last very steep climb, I saw Martin and Malo, who had just made it up the mountain to see me, and was oh-so tempted to DNF, and just go back home with them. But as I could not decide what would make me feel worst, DNFing or walking to the finish, I carried on, thinking that, at least, I would get the t-shirt.

An hour and the worst 4kms downhill of my life later, I "sprinted" the last few hundred meters, crying of pain and frustration.

 That's me at the end of The Dreaful Downhill,
crying (but luckily, I am too far for you to see it)


As we talked about the race later that day, Martin pointed out that I didn't need to do this: I love running, I am a good runner, I am lucky enough to have wonderful running routes on my doorstep,  and that should be it. Why racing if that is going to be such a traumatic experience?

And I fully agreed with him.

So why is it that, two weeks later, I have signed up for yet another trail race, taking place the following weekend? Again, plenty of good or not so good reasons. I have in the meantime started in a new job, met some of the runners there, and a few have signed up for that race, too, so I feel this is a good way to "bond". Again, it is not far from home, so I can race and still spend half od the day at home with Martin and Malo (who are staying home today, just in case the whole day is a total failure again). But the main reason is that, once again, I want to prove myself that I can race on trails.

This time I have been smarter though, or so I hope. I have chosen a race which is flater (flater, not flat: there is no such thing as flat around here), to be able (or so I hope - again!) to build on the experience gained during road races, enjoy the flatter portions which should allow me to run fast, as I like it,. That seems slighly more promising than running one steep hill after another, since I seem to love them while training but get terrified by them while racing.

On that Sunday morning, as we start with a first kilometre of asphalt and I get into the rythm, I immediately feel good. My legs are moving well, I am going fast. I am the first woman, and can hear the breathing of the second one just behind me. Then I can't anymore, and understand she has fallen back a little, and I think I am going to try and keep it that way.

As we keep on running into woods and accross fields, I am feeling HAPPY! No stress, just pleasure to be there, enjoying the splendid scenery and the feeling of my legs moving well and fast. This is so much fun! Not that it is not hard, but everything seems to be happening the way it should be. I am focused but relax, I am pushing hard but it hurts my legs, not my brain.

Having fun! To set the story straight, this guy had been using me as pacer for a while, overtook
me when he saw the photographer, then stepped behind his favourite pacer again as soon
as we had passed the photographer. Men...


Two thirds into the race, and I am still feeling happy, but also wondering how things are going to pan out, as I start feeling pretty hungry too. The race has not started before 10am, a full 3 hours after I ate breakfast, and I can tell I am getting low on sugar, and to make things even more interesting, the one big, steep hill of the route is now in front of me.

I slow down but keep on pushing, carried by the idea that I may be able to win my first race ever... if I manage to keep whatever distance there is between me and the second girl. Is she 500m or 2kms behind by now, I have no idea...

Two kilometres before the finish line, we hit asphalt again, and a hill. And I am more starving than ever. By now, I am done with the race, no matter how much I have enjoyed it so far. I briefly turned my head, seem to notice "the other girl" only a few hundreds meters behind, and gather whatever energy I have left to sprint towards the finish.

"And here is the first woman now getting to the finish", I hear the organiser shouting in the microphone. As I cross the line, he races towards me to get my "first impressions", and I am beaming: I won, for the first time, but more importantly, I had fun!!! I could do it, race and have fun!!! It may be that, to achieve this, I only have to find the right combination of off-road but still fast course... only problem is, I think I have just done the only race of that kind in the region...

The only thing missing is actually two things, or rather two people: my two men, the tall one and the tiny one, who I have told to stay home because it did not seem fair to drag them to yet another race especially if I was going to end up in tears like last time. But now I have won, and the two people I want the most to share this with are not here.  I would have been so proud to walk on the stage to get my prize with Malo in my arms (and who knows, getting "his" first prize maybe would have stuck somewhere in a deep part of his brain, and came up to the surface 15 years later, giving him the urge to become a runner).

 I would not mind if that was the first of many...

Later that day, as I am getting back to Annecy, it occurs to me that I am going to have a problem getting back home. I have ridden my bike to the town-centre in the morning, to meet a guy who had kindly offer to give me a lift to the race. The problem is, I am now supposed to ride back on said bike, only I now have ato carry, together with my rucksack, a massive basket full of wine bottles, cheese and honey and an as-massive bouquet of flowers... I guess finishing first sometimes has its drawbacks...



August 31, 2010

Beginning of a new adventure

Almost a year to the day after Malo was born, we are about to embark on a new adventure.

No, I am not talking about Malo's little brother (who in any case will be a girl if Martin has it his way). If anything, our new adventure will delay the brother/sister for a while, since I am about to start a new job.

Fast rewind 32 months back. We had just moved to France, leaving London for a life in the Alps, full of running, climbing, cycling and other fun "ing" things (including, for Martin, learning French, although at the time I am not sure he found it that fun). I had ditched my banker's job and decided to give me a few months to try and find the holy graal: a job as interesting as the old one, but not involving my working nights and weekends, and leaving me with enough free time to make the most of the mountains around. Nine months later, I had the perfect offer. Promptly  (and probably no so legally) withdrawn when it became clear the crisis was here, and here to stay. Add two months to that, and I was pregnant with Malo, and under no illusions I would find a job "in my condition". 

As much as I had been saying, "before", that I so could not see myself as a staying at home mum, that I needed the intellectual stimulation that work brings, that there was no way I could spend all day with a baby or toddler and stay sane, etc, etc, etc... it became obvious this was all nonsense the minute I got to held Petite Boule in my arms. And that was not even because of novelty or because I had yet to experience the sleepless nights.  On the contrary, the strength of that feeling actually grew in perfect correlation with that the size and weight of my son.

Then reality kicked in: I needed to work. Not so much for the intellectual stimulation (which I got from my daily and long conversation monologues with Petite Boule), not so much for the social interaction (thank God for the crisis and the French welfare system: there were plenty of friends around with new-borns and on extended maternity leave). But for the money, oh, yes. It is, I guess, one of the drawbacks of living in a cool place with a lake, some mountains, and 40 kms away from Switzerland (where salaries are three times as high as here): life is here is a bloody expensive bliss. 

I won't go through the ordeal it was to leave Malo in day care once a week to free up time to look for a job: that would take a whole day of describing, and my posts are long enough as they are.  Let 's just say that, while I did not feel guilty for leaving him with a baby-sitter once in a while on a Saturday morning to go running or cycling with Martin (the way I see it, I come back relax and happy, so that's good for him, too), leaving him in the middle of 15 other crying babies was another story, because I am a mother hen, and because I knew that, sooner or later, he would have to be there five days a week, 47 weeks a year. 

Now the time has come. I have found a job, starting in... nine hours.



It took longer than expected (but what exactly did I expect, with only 8 hours a week where work related calls could not be interrupted by a baby requiring food, clean nappies, or simply a cuddle from his mum), which generated quite some stress, but which I am also very grateful for, since it means I got to spend a full year home with Malo. Him getting bigger and clearly enjoying the contact with other kids has not eased my feeling a tremendous guilt at knowing he will spend 50 hours a week in day care, and my missing in anticipation all these fantastic moments with him, his daily progess which will be witnessed by somebody else, his outburst of love. In a nutshell, the life with a one-year old lovely little devil.

Sure, it may actually be easier when I am in the job, busy getting up to speed, discovering a new working environment, meeting new colleagues. Sure, I think I chose the right option: a job not very well paid, for which I am over-qualified, but which seems interesting. I will be managing internal organisation projects, which surely has to be the perfect job for an anal-retentive such as myself. It also has the distinct advantage of being located 15 minutes from home and day-care, and comes with 10 weeks vacation (which, even for France, is a pretty good deal!).

There should also be numerous advantages to being back at work, aside from getting a monthly pay slip, or or so am I at least trying to convince myself.

- As Petite Boule is close to turning from a crawling ball to a walking one, and already using anything he finds on his way to stand up, I am glad I won't be the one witnessing his falls and bruises live, because this currently breaks my heart everytime it happens.

- After 10 hours away, his mum should be more than ever the star of his life, right? (if not right, please do not tell me, I need all the comfort I can get, and will shamelessly resort to lies if that does the job).

- Now that I have a good reason not to be able to do clean up the flat (apparently "I do not enjoy it and do not consider it a good use of my time" did not seem to qualify), we'll at last probably get a cleaning person (other that Malo, who is usually doing the job by crawling on the floor with a freshly washed white shirt).

- I may not have any longer to spend an entire evening, as it recently happened, having to try and convince the guys present that it is not because I am "not working" that I don't have a brain and have read the manual on how to use it (and by the way, regarding the "not working" bit: for what it is worth, I happen to find it much strenous, if pleasant, work looking after a baby full time than going to work five days a week).

- Although, as I said, I am not missing too much yet the intellectual stimulation provided by work, it could be that, in the longer term, my brain would have started to slowly die off, limited to reading about Babar and Elmer and speaking in 4-word-at-the-most sentences.

- My osteopath bills should significantly reduce, now that I won't have to carry Malo several hours a day, lift him from his bed three times daily, and spend what would have been a growing amount of time bent in two because he has decided it is cooler to walk rather than crawl through the flat, but need his mum's supporting hands to do so (and even if I am a bit of a dwarf, I am still more - although not that much more -  than twice his height, meaning that's a lof of bending over).

- Now that my work-outs will have to take place during lunchbreak instead of with Malo in his Chariot, I should be able to fit speed work, intervals and what-have-you in (not that I like them so much, but again, I need to find ways to get excited).

- Working barely a 10 minute run from my usual mountain trails means I may even be able to squeeze a short mountain run from time to time (now, I am getting close to not even having to pretend getting excited).

Of course, these advantages identified and acknowledged, a lot of questions still remain to be answered, which no doubt will have a great influence of whether I will like this job or not.

Starting with a pretty fundamental one: will there be showers at work?

August 26, 2010

The Birthday Boy and the Sappy Mum

In most areas of my life, including on this blog, talking about the very, very, serious topic of running, I tend to be ironic, even caustic on a good day. It does not mean to hurt anybody, it is mostly directed at myself, like a shell, and my way to try and stay distanciated, and pretend I am the tough cookie I am not.

Today, celebrating Malo first birthday, I must come clean: there is one area in which I must admit I totally fail to show distance, objectivity, or my trademark dry sense of humour. When it comes to talking about being a mum, think of a cliché, then that'll be me. I am just standing on a little cloud, unable to believe my luck at having such a perfect (in all objectivity) little thing into my life.

I swear I have tried.

I have tried to pretend I don't like changing dirty napppies. Or having to get up at 7am every morning including weekends (on this one, yes, I know, most mums would consider that very late anyway). Or dealing with teething problems. Or not being able to have a remotely intellectual conversation (or making sentences consisting of more than 4 words for that matter) until Martin comes back from work. Or being unable to have one single minute of "me" time as soon as the little devil is awake.Or hating to have to go to the playground.

I wish I could be, at least for the sake of pretending, like these cool mums who make me laugh when reading their comments about forgetting their kids at the supermarket, missing their life from "before", or feeding their kids ready-made meals intead of home-made organic food cooked with love.

But the truth is, I am not. I just love being a mum. All of it. So much that I don't even want to pretend I don't enjoy it as much as I do.

I loved when, a tiny baby, Malo would fall asleep on my belly.

I loved the feeling of perfect peace that went through me thinking that I could make him happy by just being there.

I loved the first "real" smile he gave me (and could give you the exact date, time and location), that will stay in my mind for ever.

I loved his first laugh, too, and  the fact there has been so many since then.


I love when I go and pick him up at daycare, and he sees me, and start sprint crawling towards me faster than I could run, with a massive smile on his face.

I love getting ready to go for a run with Malo in the Chariot, and see the smile on his face when he realises we're getting out and going running.

I love when he takes my hands to indicate he wants to use me as stablizer-in-chief to get up. Gets up. Sit  down. Takes my hands again. Repeats process 100 times.

I love, love, love, going to the playground with him, and laughing his heart out on the swing. And here, let's face it, I would love going anyway, but, at 37 in two days, I feel less stupid doing so with a toddler and pretending I am going for his sake.


I love when I tell him off and he looks at me, with a massive smile than makes his eyes shine, and I can't tell whether he does not have a clue I am being serious-mum-who-is-telling-him-off now, or whether he on the contrary knows it all too well and has already mastered the way to make me melt.

I love having to tidy up the living room every single night of the week, because Malo has himself done so for the entire day, except he and I do not strictly have the same idea on where things should be.


I love, LOVE, LOVE when my one-year old son, in one of his frequent  "love attacks", suddenly and hurriedly takes my head between his little hands, and give me a big, wet kiss, unfortunately still very often involving very sharp teeths, but given with so much love for such a little person that it is impossible to pretend that you're mad at him or even to let it show that it hurts like hell.

And above all, I love that his love for me is so simple. He doesn't not care whether I am cute, rich, a fast runner, smart, a fast chick on the bike, or a good cook (although given his voracious appetite, he may beg to differ on that one). I am his mum, and that's enough.

So that's me then. Less than 2 years ago an ex-banker who would not take crap from anybody and was not sure she ever wanted kids because she thought she may not "have it in her". Now a mum who regularly ,at night, when the little one has been put to bed, cries, of joy, overwhelmed by how powerful this love for and from Malo is.



Bon Anniversaire Malo!


August 22, 2010

Winter running

"Is breaking one's leg good enough a reason to come back home late?", I ask Martin as we try and negotiate the super sleep, super slippery, first downhill section of our run, a single track which torrential rain has made look suspiciously like a waterfall.

We are spending two weeks in Austria visiting Martin's family, and have only today, almost a week into our stay,  managed our first trail run together, since Malo's Austrian grand-mother, unlike his French one, is not too keen on playing baby sitter. Still, she has agreed today to look after Malo for two hours, and, Martin having failed with his slick (but clearly not slick enough) attempt at getting 30 minutes more, we've set off feeling a bit under pressure.

The flipside of having a pretty small window for a run is that one is pushed into running hard. Which we are, except there is not much we can do about the fact that the rain and the fog are slowing us down quite a bit.

Yes, this is August. Yes, I really mean Austria, which, unlike Australia, is not in the Southern hemisphere. And therefore, yes, you're right, it should not feel like we are running in the middle of winter. But the fact and the matter is, we are. In fact, I am beginning to think I have fallen victim of a conspiracy: the only time I have ever seen Austria with beautiful sunshine and warm weather is before Martin was mad enough to propose and I was mad enough to say yes.  Which, of course, I may have thought about twice, had I known this beautiful country never see the sun.



We soon get to our turning point, an  inviting hut.  This, I am told, offers amazing views on the Dachstein range, the local highest mountain. Not that I could confirm, since the fog at that point limits our vision to our feet... and maybe even that is only  because I am vertically challenged and therefore with my eyes naturally pretty close to my feet.

Under normal circumstances we would stop at for a radler,which is beer with Almdudler, the local lemonade, only it is much, much better than lemonade (this is slightly off topic and not crucial to the understanding of this post, but Almdudler being the national pride, I feel it is my duty, as the wife of a proud Austrian national, to mention it), since, as Martin tells me, it is very rude to stop at a hut and not get something to drink.   In any case, no such luck this time since we are running (literally) short of time, and the only thing we get to do which respects the local customs is to run carrying logs from the last clearing to the hut... not, jugding from the look on the owner's face, that doing that last one running is the most common way to comply...


 The next day, I get to make up a bit for the frustration of having not done what is, in my book, a proper trail run (I mean, I got the steep hills, the getting-lost in the fog, the going-down waterfall style tracks, the coming-back looking barely human and covered in mud, but come on, two hours...).

After a family hike about an hour drive from home, Martin suggests I run back home. Which is a great idea, if you forget about the fact I have never been in that part of the region, have a far-from-precise map as my only guide, and cannot really count on the help of an hypothetic local to help me out since I have long understood that my high school German was of stricly no help to understand the local dialect. Anyway, I prefer concentrating on the "good idea" part, since running is involved, and therefore set off.

Fifteen minutes later, I am panting up a killer hill which Martin had previously labelled as "a bit steeper, I think, than the normal path, but I think you'll find it less boring".  Not that the gradient leaves me with enough oxygen to irrigate both my lungs and my brain anyway, therefore saving me from thinking about whether I agree. Arriving on the plateau, jumping on the Bumelzug, the local bus, sounds like a cool idea, if only it went not in the opposite direction as the one I am heading towards...


Forty five minutes later, I am almost lost on the middle of a marsh-like expanse of high grasses, mud up to my knees, thinking that the steep hill was pretty pleasant, after all.

One hour and 10 minutes later, I am lost. Clearly, in the fifteen years since my map was drawn, the locals have decided these mountain forests needed more trails. Or maybe they are just trying to make sure vertically challenged foreigners who tricked the Nation's best men into emigrating to other parts of the Alps don´t deserve ever finding their way back home.  In any case, since I am quite keen on seeing Malo - and one of the Nation's best men - again, I bet on the left trail being the right one (ah, ah), which gets confirmed half an hour later, when I get to get a glimpse of the Hallstätter See, the local lake.


From then, it is an hour and a half of uneventfull running before reaching home, and my two men.



Ah, August running in Austria, the rain, the fog, the mud, the vertical trails. Yet somehow... I love it.


August 21, 2010

Lazy and beautiful

Lazy, that's me. Although I managed to post three times in the first five days of August (how very unlike me), I am still supposed to post an account of my July holiday, since, as one may guess, those did not stop to a few bike rides, no matter how steep.

I will use a trick, since (OK, let's start with the lame excuses now) 1. we are already August  21 and therefore July sounds a bit like something out of the Middle Age, 2. I am writing - well, trying to to be precise - from Austria, on an Austrian keyboard, which is nothing like the English nor the French ones and has all the letters in the wrong places and I am starting to feel very annoyed (but maybe should I instead be grateful, to have, this time, have an excuse for typos), 3. I am also already behind on telling about the August break.

That's where the beautiful comes handy. Pictures of beautiful mountains, that´s all you'll get. Oh, and a runner struggling up it for good measure, as we did not hike, just ran this year, since we figured that was the perfect way to spend time in the mountains doing something we liked while spending time with Malo. Like we needed an excuse to run where most people would find it difficult enough to walk AND breath...

Steep uphill running,

 Which will soon be followed by steep downhills...
... very fun indeed, if less friendly for the knees.
Sky running, wearing a skirt, but I felt I was going strong enough to pull it!

One can guess the trail behind what you will admit is a very handsome male
model, doubling, lucky me, as my husband.

Another day, another trail...
... the shortest way is a straight line. Up.

Forget the basics of photography: the important stuff here
is... the background.

Same comment
(and that's lucky actually: so much as foreground that it is not even on the picture
was a much narrower, very airy trail, bordered by a vertical backdrop, which I had to run
because I found it less scary than walking.

Could somebody please tell well meaning hikers thinking of themselves as photographers that
one should not cut people's feet when taking a shot of them, especially if they are RUNNERS.

Martin "icing" his knees after our 4 hour run.


On the way to our target, a 3000m+ summit at the border with Italy. That run/hike could also
have doubled as a sort of recce run, since a race is taking place here, which we would quite like to do...


 Running? Skiing? Skunning?

On our way down, happy bunnies marmots.

Back home, getting comforted if there was any need,
and then assisting Malo with some sporty activity of his own:

Swimming

Adrenaline sports

And finally getting used to waving to the crowd like a champion
(of what is what still needs to be decided).

August 05, 2010

Hochicbachoc

There are so many things I don't like about the French (and, since I am one myself, I am fully entitled to b*** about them), I won't even try to start a list. However, you have to handle it to them, they know how to do things in style. Food, fashion, they are hard to bit. But what I myself did not know, which I discovered earlier this weekend, is that their fashion sense extends to running, too. Now, you tell men how stylish is that:


Now, I thought the guy was so classy that I had to overcome my shyness and walk accross the street to ask if I could take a photo. So here was I, standing on the pavement next to him, wearing only my swimsuit given we were about to go for our swimming session in the lake, standing next to Mr Top Class. And wondering whether, given that the classiest top I wear to go running may indeed be black but is nothing else than a technical t-shirt, I was at risk of losing my citizenship.  Or maybe, I went on thinking,  Ishould I try to emulate him, and give my banker's suits a new life, maybe adding a Hermès scarf as headband for an added French touch... 

Now, I know I will shatter all your illusions (as I sadly did mine, that day), but it actually turned out that Mr Top Class was going to a party. A hochicbachoc party. Although I have regained most of my French over the past two years, this did not mean anything to me until several hours later (must have been the cold water freezing my already not so numerous brain cells), when I woke Martin up: "hey, I got it now, he meant: "haut chic, bas choc", which would roughly translate into "chic top, in-your-face/unexpected bottom",. Athough clearly, with such a not-punchy translation, one may not want to have and organise the same party accross the pond. Which will I guess confirm my point: stylish running... you can only get it in France...

August 03, 2010

Losers

- "I think I may have forgotten my wallet at home", says Martin sheepishly.
- "but I did ask you minutes before we left if you had it and you said yes", I  say shout. " I mean, it is not like we often go out, this is silly."

This was us, a few days ago, getting annoyed, Martin with himself and me with Martin.

Fast rewind. For the past two summers, we did the most of the Annecy Lake. Last year, with Martin in full training for the Annecy triathlon and me expecting Malo and entering the last trimester, we were in the lake days in days out pretty much until Malo was born.  Martin discovered that, with training, he was actually more than decent at it (not a mean feat coming from somebody who was pretty much going backwards when we started swim training back in our London days). I discovered I enjoyed it, which is saying something coming from somebody known to have what we may call a slight bias towards running and cycling when it comes to endurance sports.

Full of beginners' enthousiasm, we vouched to carry on swim training in the pool during winter, and to start swimming in the lake as soon as weather would allow this year, and to act on it, two days after Malo's was born, I received a brand new wetsuit for my birthday. 

The swimsuit got used twice before I needed to store it because the lake had become too cold. Then any plans we had had of training at the pool got binned. We tried to keep evenings as a family time. Martin was working during the day. As for me, running and cycling were things I could do during the day with Malo, but swimming was not. Not that I was desperate to go anyway, as I find swimming in a pool akin to running on a treadmill, ie: dreadful.

Then summer arrived and we got all motivated again, except that, with Malo to be fed and put to sleep by 7.30pm, that did not seem to work.

Then last week we had a great idea: just as we occasionally do on Saturday mornings, we would splash out on a baby sitter some evenings during summer, bath and feed Malo, put him to bed then go swimming for an hour, and maybe even go for a pizza afterwards, like inthe good ol' times. That way, we would not have to give up spending time with our Petite Boule, would not have to feel guilty leaving him when he is awake, and would still get to swim and enjoy the lake.

So a few days ago, we got into action. We booked a baby sitter, I got our swimming stuff ready, Martin took the evening bath with Malo, I gave him dinner, and the minute we were sure he was asleep, we were on our bikes heading to the lake.

Then Martin realised he had forgotten his wallet at home. Oh well, no after-swim pizza then. Shame because, in all honestly, that may have had helped with my motivation to dive into the lake. 

We got into our wetsuits (not that it was cold enough to truly need them, but because we figured we could do with the added buoyancy).

Put swimming caps on. 

Then googles.

Googles? Where are my googles?

-"OH NO, I have forgotten my googles", am I crying to Martin seconds after having telling him off for being so disorganised we would have to skip dinner.

So that's how our first attempt of the year at getting back into swimming and enjoying the lake ended up. Martin swam 10 min  before giving up, feeling he had somehow forgotten how it worked between last year and this summer. I did not get to swim at  all. We both did not get pizza.

Just losers.

Just in case you are crying already, don't, as this story eventually got a happy ending. We booked the baby-sitter again for last night, decided not to cancel although it started pouring, got there with wallets and goggles, got our asses kicked in less time you need to read it, and came home home happy bunnies...

The way things go, Petite Boule, already in training, will soon swim better than his parents.
That's why we wait he's asleep to go training ourselves, pretending we're doing it for his own
good and to respect his sleeping patterns, but actually secrtetly hoping we'll still be a bit
stronger than him for a couple of years...

August 02, 2010

Blond Moment

A few nights ago... Thunder can be heard, clearly getting closer. The sky is between dark blue and grey, nice really. But also clearly promising rain. It is the moment I choose to go running, with Malo and the Chariot. Admittedly not your ideal moment, but I have not had a chance for a run all day, and am getting restless. 

And as one would expect, it starts pouring as soon as Malo, the Chariot and I are ready and getting out of the garage. Not that this, in itself, is a remotely decent reason to stop: I love running in the rain, and I can even be accused of being a bad mother for taking Malo with me, given that he  is comfortably chatting away in the dry comfort of his Chariot.

A while later and I am not feeling so cheerful anymore. Flat tire. To add to the fun, it  is still raining, only it is now a fully-fledged thunderstorm.  Oh, and I have pretty much reached the half way point of  today's route. Turning back or carrying on, it is not going to make any difference: I am far away from home indeed. I can't really think of one single time where I wished I had not gone running, but if such a thing could happen, it would be today.

Not so much because of the rain. Not so much because of the flat tire. More because I am standing in the rain next to a flat tire wearing a skirt.

And ridiculously bright shoes.

Running wearing stupid shoes and a skirt, although admittedly not quite that skirt...

Parenthesis: nobody, I mean, nobody, runs wearing a skirt in France. I only bought mine because, precisely, nobody else does, and because I decided I was fast enough not to be mistaken for a girly jogger (can't decide what's worst, "girly", or "jogger", but in any case, it is a pretty serious insult, isn't it?).  As for the shoes, just to avoid any misunderstanding, I did NOT buy these shoes because I found them cute. I bought them because stupid Asics, a few seasons ago, changed the shape of my dream shoes,and I have now gone through the entire stock of the old models I had so wisely stocked on. And now, the only model whose fit  is somehow close to my old ones is the Asics Noosa Tri. Now that I have mentioned "tri", you'll get the picture: the shoes needed to have the most "in your face" design you can come up with, to go with. And just in case this was not enough, they called the color "Harlequin/Glowing Tiger. Seriously. So now I hope this is clear: I bought these shoes because I HAD NO CHOICE. End of parenthesis.


So here was I, having to WALK, in my skirt and garish shoes, in the rain, back to our flat, more miles away that I would care to. No need to say I kept my fingers crossed the whole way (not that easy when they are simultaneously gripping the handlebar to push the Chariot, but I was desperate) that there would not be anybody else crazy enough to run under his weather and therefore able to see me. Walking. Pushing a Chariot with a flat tire. In my skirt. And ridiculous running shoes. 

From now on, I may still put on the Noosa when it is raining, in the hope that they will quickly get covered in mud (that works pretty fast with the Mountain Masochists, which are now a dull mix of beige and grey replacing their initial baby blue color). As for the skirt, I'll keep it for when I run alone, with no risk of flat tire, and ideally when I am en route for a sub-40 10K... That way I may manage to avoid another blond moment.