Posts Tagged ‘run’

Go Little Legs!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

After two Saturdays of training, the Paris-Versailles run finally arrived. I was really looking forward to the challenge – 16 kilometres with an apparently evil climb and a seemingly long finish. I knew I was going to be able to complete the race, so I added a few additional challenges to push myself – no stopping at any point and complete 16 kilometres in under one hour and 30 minutes.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning as Becky, my running buddy and fellow Equip-Top-Gâteau-Vitess member (we made up that awesome team name while waiting for the race to start), and I stood underneath the Eiffel Tower with 21000 other runners. The race didn’t start until 10am, a very comfortable Parisian time of the morning to begin a running race. We had to wait for 20 minutes before the start which meant being squished by Parisians who have no concept of personal space and many of whom had spent the last half an hour warming up and therefore stank. Yum.

Paris sky

A beautiful sunny day in Paris – great weather for running.

The race finally began with competitors being sent off in groups of 300. We were the 23rd group to go, heading off at about 10.20am. The run took us from the foot of the Eiffel tower and then west along the south bank of the Seine. We ran through the outskirts of Paris, under the peripherique and then into the banlieu or outer suburbs of the city. It was fun looking around and discovering different parts of Paris while running with a large mass of people – firstly through newer commercial areas, high density residential zones with ugly concrete apartment blocks, past sand factories along the river, and then we hit Issy-Les-Moulineaux.

Paris Versailles run map

My Garmin map of where we ran

Issy is a town/suburb/I don’t know what you’d call it, situated just outside of the peripherique of Paris and it was here that I discovered what a hill is. Before the race, Becky and I had learnt that there was a ‘hill’ in this race that many people warned was particularly painful. The incline of the hill wasn’t anything more significant than the two hills we run up most mornings so we figured it would be fine. No worries. Hmmm…

It turns out that while the incline wasn’t any greater than our normal climbs, when the hill goes for almost three kilometres you discover that a hill is not just a hill. It’s bloody awful and it HURTS. Oh how it hurts. There were quite a few turns as we went up and each time I thought, “Oh maybe this is the end.” But as I rounded the corner, another mountain was waiting for me.

I am very proud to say that I kept to my challenge and I didn’t stop. Both Becky and I overtook people who were struggling with the slope and we made it to the summit without dying or rolling back down. It was a great personal achievement. And I have to thank Jens Voigt for providing me with the “Shut up legs and do as I tell you!” inspiration.

We then ran through a beautiful forested area that eventually turned into a down-hill gallop – people were speeding past as fast as they could go, causing a few potentially dangerous moments.

The final three kilometres into Versailles were long but I picked up my speed for the final two and really pushed myself in the last kilometre to attempt to make my one hour and 30 minute goal. The actual race was 16.3 kilometres and I came in with a final time of 1 hour 31 minutes and 19 seconds. According to my Garmin watch, I reached the 16 kilometre mark in just under one hour and 30 minutes. I think that made me happier than crossing the actual finish line.

Paris Versailles race

Post-race crowds

It was such a great feeling to finish and to know I had actually pushed myself a long the way. I have never been this fit in my life – I have very strong memories of being at primary school and making up excuses to not have to do cross-country running. I now love being able to run long distances and not feel dead at the end. While my legs were a bit tired, I could have kept going. Plus all of this exercise means that yesterday I could eat two pieces of cake, which really is the best reason to run from Paris to Versailles.

Paris Versailles medal

I got a medal!

Left, Right, Left, Right

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

The weekend before I returned to Paris, my friend and running buddy, Becky, completed the Paris Half-Marathon. Impressive stuff, although her boyfriend, Vivien, a man who runs very infrequently, completed it too, which is potentially even more impressive, but I am on Becky’s team. Anyway, Becky is now in training for the full marathon – a decision that has made me question her sanity, but she is a neuroscientist so she must have a fairly functional brain.

She has been going on long runs and this week I put up my hand to accompany her on her Saturday morning death-jog. What can I say? It was early in the morning, I wasn’t fully awake and my brain was clearly in some sort of self-harm mode. So this morning, at 10am we met in the front courtyard, kitted out with water-bottle holding waist belts and GPS watches. We looked impressive.

I must say that the great thing about going for runs in Paris is that time and distance passes very easily due to all of the distractions. We spent most of the time either looking at beautiful buildings, pointing out newly blossoming trees, or dodging Parisians and dog poo. Constant distractions. We ran down to the Seine and then along towards the Eiffel Tower. By the time we had reached there, an hour and a half had passed and we were 13km from home. Time to turn around and go back.

Our total distance was over 23km and we ran for two and a half hours. Considering the longest I have run previously is about 15km I was extremely pleased. My knees are currently yelling at me and I want to go to sleep, but knowing I am capable of running those sorts of distances is very good for the old ego. If I have managed to recover from this run within the next week I might agree to go again on Becky’s next cross-city adventure.

Paris run

Look at us go!

(One of the) Best Days Ever

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Every now and then days come along that are just fantastic. You wake up and everything goes to plan or amazing things occur that make you laugh and jump for joy. Last Friday was one of those days for me, where I let down my hair and let whimsy take over. Thanks, whimsy. You’re a good one.

Here was my day:
7.30am – I met Becky down stairs for our usual morning run, but poor Becky had to pull out by the time we reached the first corner due to extreme knee pain. So I took it upon myself to run for the both of us, heading straight up hill to Parc de Butts Chaumont, and then down to the canal. Usually at this point we head for home, completing a 7km circuit. But I was feeling good, my legs weren’t tired and I had spring in my step. So I ran on joining one of our other routes and heading to a bridge that has “Cabaret Sauvage” written in shiny lights. By the time I got home I would have completed a 10km circuit. A great start to the morning.

9am – Breakfast. Having showered and de-stunk, I sat down and ate my usual banana, muesli and fromage blanc (it’s like yoghurt but better) concoction and continued to read Le Delicatesse. I am determined to read and entire book en français and have been given a short novel that I am slowly making my way through. I haven’t read much in French in the past as it is hard, slow going and generally frustrating as I realise how few words I actually know. But I am doing it! I am learning new phrases, new verb conjugations and actually enjoying the process. Fun times.

Between 9.30am and 12noon – I worked on some ideas that I have for a new book. I started researching my favourite street in Paris, Rue St Denis, as well as prostitution laws in France. Yes, prostitution. Fascinating history – it has shifted from being an acceptable and socially appropriate career to now being illegal. Despite this, it is extremely easy to spot in certain areas of the city.

10.30am – Morning coffee with half a gevulde koek.

12.30pm – Tom and I met Pip and her boyfriend, Manu, for lunch. We went to L’As du Falafel, one of Paris’s most famous and popular falafel restaurants in the heart of the Marais. As per usual, it was extremely delicious and ridiculously hard to eat as these pitas are stuffed full of falafel, lettuce, and grilled eggplant that just go all over your face and hands. So good.

2pm – Manu wanted dessert (I like this guy) so we wandered through the Marais before settling on le Pain Quotidien, a chain boulangerie that makes very good bread and desserts. I had a mini chocolate tart that fit perfectly in my stomach after my large falafel.

Chocolate tart

Yum.

3pm – Time to do something crazy. Pip talked me into going ice skating with her outside the Hôtel de Ville in the centre of Paris. It is a beautiful setting and each year the Mairie sets up an ice rink that people come and zoom around on. I am the world’s worst ice skater. Really I am the world’s worst at any physical activity that requires me to be balanced and moving at the same time. I stuck to the wall on the side and pulled myself along, my legs like two planks who refused to bend and glide, bend and glide. Pip eventually convinced me to go around with her. I didn’t fall over! I think that’s a positive. And there was a fun and supportive atmosphere amongst all of the less-talented skaters. I was sure to speak in my strongest Australian accent so everyone realised that I wasn’t from these European, ice-filled lands. I’m quite certain that Australians were not designed for ice skating.

Ice skating

Jess "Ice Legs" Davies

Anyway, for just five euros to hire the ice skates, it was a fun way to pass the time. The boys stood on the edge and froze. Silly things. And on my various turns around the edge of the rink, I could have acquired at least seven phone numbers from French men watching and saying, “Bonjour, la blonde!” They must be desperate if they’re willing to go for the dorky blonde who keeps saying “WHOA!” and almost falls over.

4pm – From here we separated ways and headed home. I went online and bought a Le Creuset pot for even LESS than I had seen in the shops! It arrives in the mail next week (I hope.)

8pm – We met Pip and Manu again for dinner Le Jardin D’en Face. We wanted to take them to our favourite restaurant before Pip and I head back to Australia. I had spoken on many occasions of the world’s best chocolate cake that can be found at this restaurant and so there were high expectations. Thankfully dinner (and the cake) were delicious PLUS the waitress who has been there for our past few visits mentioned that she recognised us and asked where we were from, what we were doing etc. When I said we were from Perth she became very excited and said she had lived there for eight months. Of course she had. Every French person between the ages of 22 and 30 has. So now we have a friend at our favourite restaurant. Hoorah!!

10.45pm – The night didn’t end there. The old saying, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know (or rather it’s knowing people who know other people), came into fruition with Pip having scored us half price tickets to the Moulin Rouge. Pip works in the pub next to the Moulin, and the dancers come in for drinks so everyone is friends with everyone. This is fantastic when you want to save 50-plus Euros and see half naked girls dancing.

Moulin Rouge

Le Moulin

We were allowed to get in through a secret back entrance with a password, gate keeper and locked doors. Very exclusive. Pip’s friend and Moulin dancer, Alex, met us backstage wearing a face-full of stage make up and very dirty terry-toweling overalls. It was fantastic. All of the dancers were wearing these as they walked past with their heads high, shoulders back, looking ravishing from the neck up, and like trailer-park bumpkins from the shoulders down. I need to get myself one.

We were taken to our table as the show began and another friend of Pip’s was our waiter. Once again, this came in handy as he put an ice bucket on our table with three bottles of champagne. Thank you.

So, the show. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The costumes were fantastic with some great use of colour and they were well designed to cover and reveal the dancers bodies. It wasn’t all boobs – some of the dancers remained covered up for the entire show and only the lead dancers revealed their ‘bits’. The dancers’ bums were more readily on show as most of the outfits involved minimal ‘bottom coverage’. It certainly wasn’t crude, nor was it overly sexy.

The choreography was a bit tired and could do with an upgrade or perhaps return to how it really used to be when the Moulin was in full swing. It seemed very 80s and some of the dancers looked bored to tears. It was the late show and I don’t blame them for being sick of doing the same steps over and over again, but the crowd is expecting some sort of enthusiasm. The girls were definitely better than the boys, with most of the guys looking like their mum was making them do it.

There were a few interesting moments involving snakes and miniature ponies, but really overly I felt the show lacked some sort of spark. Maybe my expectations were too high, but really I’d much prefer to spend that sort of money and go and see a band perform. It was a bit naff. I think the other problem was that the crowd was full of tourists, half of whom didn’t really seem to get into the performance. There wasn’t much excessive clapping and the atmosphere was generally quite flat.

The show finished at 1.30am, our day of Parisian fun over. Tom and I walked home and were finally in bed by 2.30am. It was a long but fantastic day and a great way to say “A bientôt, Paris!” It also made me even more determined to be back here in six weeks’ time for more good times and more good food.

Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just an Australian!

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

So I did it! I managed to talk my way into the 10km run this morning. Why I did this, I’m not sure, considering I almost died as a result. But when asked for my medical certificate I pulled a “I don’t have one because I’m Australian!” line and it worked! I had to write a note (in French) declaring that I was taking all responsibility for my health. So when I almost collapsed from heat exhaustion at the 4km mark of the run, I actually stopped because otherwise I’d have to sue myself.

Anyway, GO ME! I did it! I ran the 10km (well… I walked maybe 100 of those metres in total) and I crossed the finish line and the best thing of all… I wasn’t last! I wasn’t first either, but I also wasn’t a guy with ripped leg muscles who just sprinted the entire race. Nor was I wearing short lycra shorts. Some clear disadvantages there, I think you’ll agree. I came 350th (a nice round number) out of 600 competitors which I am quite pleased with. My time – 55 minutes and 57 seconds. I had Tom standing by the side of the road with a camera and a water bottle so there’ll be photos of me with a red face pulled into all sorts of “Oww! I want to stop!” contortions. But I have to say I am very proud of myself for doing it. Not only that, I managed to complete it in under one hour and I wasn’t last. And I have fulfilled one of my goals of running in fun run and I did it in Paris! Awesome.

Strangely enough, one of the biggest difficulties was the heat – it was really warm! So far I have only ever run in temperatures below 20 degrees (once or twice it was -2) in Paris so running in the warmth was a bit of a shock to the system. My body doesn’t like me much at the moment but in half an hour I’m meeting Rom, Coup and Amanda (visiting from Perth) for ice cream. I think that will make everything better. Then we’re going to go and check out the noises coming from the canal – it is Les Voix sur les Berges which I think is a choir competition on the canal. Could be interesting, could be terrible. We shall see. Until then, here’s a photo of me having just won the Paris Marathon.

The finish line

VICTORY!

Danger Run

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

About a week ago, I signed up for a 10km fun run that starts and finishes on the other side of the canal from me. It is currently 9am on the morning of the run and I have just discovered that I need a doctor’s certificate in order to participate. In France, you can smoke and drink as much as you want but you can’t even contemplate doing any sort of sporting activity without consulting your doctor to see if you might die from it. I had stupidly not read the fine print on the email I was sent and this morning have discovered the truth, after leaving a party early last night and avoiding not drinking too much etc etc. Plus I was all excited as I have never done a fun run before and 10km is a nice challenge for me. I’m going to try and get in anyway but it is highly likely I’ll be refused. I guess if they refuse me then I’ll just do my own 10km run and it’ll be a much nicer course than the one they have set out. So NER to them, stupid French.

Living Your Paris Dream Challenge

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

I have received a few requests for Parisian dreams lived vicariously through me which is very pleasing! Please keep them coming. The more specific they are the better. Pretend I have no creative thought and need to be told exactly what to do. It’s your dream, not mine! I can’t read your mind.

So, Tom’s mum has given me a broad, though butt-kicking, challenge to do one fun thing everyday just because it is fun. No thought processes allowed. For those of you who really know me, you would be aware of my tendency to over-think things and to weigh-up pros and cons, consider what other people would think, etc etc. No more – now I am to be free and easy and jumping at any opportunity that entices me. Sounds like a plan.

So today was day one of “Jess’s Fun Times in Paris” and what fun was had! MY GOSH. I woke this morning to the delightful sound of falling rain. I thought at first it was Tom’s computer having a heart attack, but I went downstairs to investigate whether or not I had to go for a run (my morning ritual involves my alarm going off at 7.15am so that I can get up and prepare my calorie count for potential french pastries) and discovered it was raining quite hard. No run possible with that water creating slippery French pavements! That was fun thing number one: sleeping in.

Then, after breakfast, I wrote on my blog before Tom suggested a run. Dang. But I managed to run a decent length at a good speed and it started to sprinkle which added that element of “I’m running in the rain next to a canal in Paris!”

By this stage it was lunch time so a fresh baguette with cheese, rocket, tomato and nutella (not necessarily all together) was consumed and greatly enjoyed before Tom and I hoped on our Velib bikes and headed to the movie cinema to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Ahhh… Johnny. How can a girl not have a good day when Johnny Depp is part of it? Yes, I am one of those girls but I also went to watch the movie because I think the Pirates series is particularly good. I found this episode to be quite well done with a good plot but a terrible casting with what’s-her-name-who-can’t-act-but-can-pout. I’m not sure how Penelope Cruz has reached the stardom that she has. Sure, she’s hot, but surely you need some sort of skill? She’s good when she’s speaking Spanish because then I can’t understand her. Good to see Geoffrey Rush again and the religious guy who falls in love with a mermaid was pretty.

On our way home, we stopped in at the bakery to buy our second baguette for the day to go with my sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup. It was still warm, fresh from the oven and released delicious, enticing smells. This is where my official “Do something fun because it is fun” moment occurred. Normally I resist the temptation of breaking off the end of the baguette. Usually I wait until I sit down and eat my lunch and can devour the crusty tip with a dollop of nutella. But not today. I turned to Tom and said “This is my moment of fun for the day” and I ripped off the rounded baguette end with my bare hands and tore into it with my teeth. Worlds collided. Taste buds danced and I’m certain Bambi pranced down the street. The simple things in life can bring the greatest joys and a fresh baguette end eaten on a street corner outside a pharmacy is one of those simple things. Wonderful. I love France.

P.S. Not so dream like news is that I didn’t get that job. Luckily I didn’t reallllyyy want it anyway because who wants to work full time?

P.P.S. Tomorrow is Fête de la Musique in Paris where apparently the streets will be filled with free music performances. The sister of a friend (who I will immediately adopt as a friend) is visiting for the day so she timed it well. Lots to see, I suspect. A guy I went to primary and high school with is in town too so I may actually be able to show him something exciting in Paris.