Tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock Paris time I'll be shivering at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and waiting my turn to cross the starting line of the 31st annual Paris-Versailles race.
Newly installed in Paris back in September 2003, I ran the 16 kilometer race for the first time. I loved the race, but don't know what disappointed me more: discovering the finish line arrived well short of the château, or admitting that I couldn't possibly be following the route taken by the angry revolutionaries that stormed the palace at the end of the Ancien Regime. ("Try running it with a pitchfork!" my father suggested.)
My disappointment subsided once my husband treated me to a lunch at a sidewalk café after the race. Duck confit, red wine and potatoes sautéed as only the French know how: what could be a better post-race recovery meal?
My husband I ran the race together in 2005, and despite what I considered his relative lack of training, he powered up the famous Côte des Gardes hill with ease as I scrambled to keep up. We have a framed picture of the two of us crossing the finish line hand in hand.
I've recently gotten back into a regular running routine after le Petit's birth. I run in the Forêt de Saint-Germain with a colleague twice a week during my lunch break, and run once alone near home over the weekend. Now that I'm a mother, I find my priorities have shifted; time is scarce, and I'm no longer motivated by vanity or some misplaced sense of female macho. I run because it feels good -- or I hold onto the hope that it will eventually feel good if I keep at it.
I'm happy to report that recently it has been feeling good, at least most of the time. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow, even though I'm not likely to break any personal records. I'll be taking it slow, enjoying what promises to be a gorgeously sunny fall day and reclaiming a piece of an old pre-Petit me that I've been missing.