December 21, 2010


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 (C├ęcile, 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...)