Things that Happen on a Parisian Run

Racing along the Canal...

It’s Sunday, and that meas a long run day.  You’re running a half-marathon distance through Paris.  That’s about 21 kilometers (13 miles).  Your shoes are tied, your iPhone is recording your distance, the music is pumping through your headphones, and the sun is just peeking through the morning haze overhead.  Some things happen as you run along…

You start following people.  It becomes easier to run when pacing off someone else, but this practice quickly becomes stalker-like once you find someone with a good pace.  You end up following them all the way up the Canal and it’s kind of awkward, almost like eyeing someone in the metro or in a club.  “Is he into me?” you think.  No, he just wants my stride, too.  Can’t blame him, I guess.

You realize that the French still don’t get it.  The weird looks never stop, but it seems that the French maintain running is best left for somewhere else.  Where?  Not sure.  But they refuse to get out of your way, making the least bit of effort to liberate sidewalks or paths when they clearly see you barreling towards them.  Fine, but do they have to blow the cigarette smoke at me as I run past?

You get hungry…then thirsty…then hungry.  While your mind can space out on a run, your body definitely doesn't.  Hunger turns to thirst, which, once quenched by a water fountain or handy water bottle, reverts to hunger.  In a park this would be easy to ignore, but imagine running past bakery after French bakery and trying to maintain focus.  Maybe you need that almost croissant at kilometer 15…

You start singing.  Embrace it.  If you’re going to wear bright red shoes, black tights, and a blue jacket (as I do), you’re not looking to fit in.  So I take it to the next step and have my own karaoke sessions while running the banks of the Canal.  It’s a good way to gauge whether or not your running fast enough.  If you have enough breath to hit every note of “One Day More” form Les Misérables, you may not be running fast enough.

Your thoughts wander.  Running alone is akin to Alcatraz-style, albeit voluntary, solitary isolation.  It’s a way to know if you really like yourself as your thoughts start to stray over a few hours. 

"I need to buy sponges.  What would be the best way to prepare a horse steak?  I wonder where that homeless man moved to.  Will people hate me more if I smile while I run?  “The Fun starts here, right here at Hershey Park.”  Um what?  How did Meryl Streep get such a good Polish accent in Sophie’s Choice?"

If such internal dialogue can’t keep you entertained, you might need to migrate to team sports.

Then by the end, whether I go to the market for groceries, take the metro home, or grab a cumin-sausage sandwich from an outdoor vendor with Heather (we’re suckers for it), the euphoric feeling is the same.  You won’t have to do that for another week.  But you did it. 

Paris marathon, bring it.