April 13, 2010

Unidentified Running Object

In case I was craving for attention, I would have found the perfect "hey, look at ME" toy, the running mum's version of the macho's Porsche Convertible. Or Ferrari, given my toy is also red.

Except my Ferrari is a Chariot.

It may be the Chariot to me, but for most people here, runners included, it is just some strange URO, or Unidentified Running Object.

As I have discovered when I was expecting Malo, most French runners disapprove of running while pregnant, and I got more than my fair share of surprised / disapproving / plain nasty stares when running with my swiss ball-size belly.  Right, I admit I may have, sometimes, asked for them, like when running with a super tight, bright orange, tee-shirt over my 40-week pregnant belly. But I disgress.

So no running for French pregnant women then. As this was not tough enough on them, it also seems that French runners do not believe  in running with a baby either. Proof of the pudding is, you don't see one single Chariot or proper baby-jogger around. Parents with a normal, three-wheel prom fast-walking around, yes.  Sometimes. Proper runners with proper baby-joggers, no. 

So, obviously, when Malo and I are out for a run, we seem to be quite a sight. And, from the comments I got, I take it it is more because of the Chariot than because of, say, my athletic body.

There first seems to be a general disbelief that there could indeed be somebody "in there".
- "What are you carrying in this?", have I heard many times. And if I happen to be standing still , this is usually followed by a good look through the net, to make sure I am not pretending, and carrying my groceries, or my dod, or a teddy bear, instead of my son, as claimed.
The lazy crowd is also clearly interested in the URO, and not just because of its looks.
- "can I jump in?" I have heard quite a few times.  Yeah, right. Between Malo and the Chariot, I am already pushing almost half of my weight, and you think I may be considering taking a 70kg grown-up for a ride?
- "it is cool to run with this", said another man who stopped me on one of my runs to ask me about the URO and where to get one (given there is only one dealer on French territory, that was an easy one to answer). "you get to lean on it, which makes it easier to run.", he went on to say.
 Yeah...right... well... actually... no. Or maybe is it just me being a wimp thinking that pushing the 20 odd kilos that make up Malo and the Chariot is not that easy a task come the uphill portions of my runs.

The URO is also a great social device. Several times over the 6 months I have been using it, I have met people, who, upon being introduced to me, said: "oh yeah, I have seen you before, running with that big red thing by the lake / by the river / in the woods" (tick box as appropriate). OK then, I may forever be known across town as The-Crazy-One-Who-Is-Always-Running-With-The-Big-Red-Thing, but socially speaking, I take this over having total strangers wanting to be my Facebook friends anytime.

Last but not least... OK, this is getting sappy (SLG, you've got company!)... the URO makes people... smile at me. And, as much as it hurts the anti-social in me to admit it... I like it.

A few of the smily faces may be mocking, but, for the big majority, it is just a plain, nice, friendly smile. a oh-look-at-this-girl-running-with-her-baby-in-this-weird-red-thing-that's-cool smile.  Maybe a I-wish-I-had-been-able-to-do-this-with-my-kids-50-years-ago smile from slow-walking, white-haired grannies.  Or a here-am-I-walking-by-the-lake-and-there-is-this runner-coming-toawards-me-pushing-an-URO-and-she-is-clearly-enjoying-herself-as-much-as-I-do smile. Whatever their smile may mean, they make me enjoy my run even more... and too bad if this is sounding sappy.

About all this, Malo... could not care less. But if asked, he would probably call our Chariot-URO The Next Best Thing After My Bed:  two minutes in the Chariot, and he is fast asleep.


Cécile said...

Je te parie que dans quelques années il y aura des chariots partout à Annecy. Tu seras une pionnière.

sea legs girl said...

I love this post! And I agree with Cécile. At first I thought most of the looks I was getting with my URO in Denmark were looks of disapproval. But the more women have come up to me and asked me where they can buy one, the more I realize I am not alone. And though running joggers are commonplace in the US, they are just starting to be sold in Europe. I don't even know where to buy one in Denmark!

As for the looks you got while pregnant. When I was living in France, I felt like strangers ALWAYS had the need to stare and comment when I ran by UNpregnant. I can only imagine how it was for you when preggo! But I'd rather be the healthy, happy runner than the one commenting from the sidelines. :)