I run out of food, I run the dishwasher, sometimes my nose runs, I run from confrontation…but I don’t physically run. Not if I can help it. But at least once a year, I find myself binge-running.
After my first day of “work” in Le Luot, Laura invited me to go running with her.
“I guess I probably should,” I said. After all, I just ate my way through Italy and if I keep eating all these croissants and pain au chocolat, my body will hate me.
“Great! I usually run 5k!” she said, enthusiastically.
“Okay….well I probably won’t run that much…but I’ll pretend.” I ran 5k once…on a treadmill. A year ago. And I hated it. I could hear myself scoffing at the thought of running that much.
After about 1.5k, I stopped to walk. I didn’t want to hold Laura back, so she gave me directions to finish the rest of the loop and kept on jogging. Kilometers 2-4 were a mixture of walking, heavy breathing, and 100m jogs. Just as I decided to walk the rest of the way, Laura comes jogging back towards me.
Crap. Now I have to jog again and pretend to be fit. Inhale. Exhale. Here we go. Inhale. Exhale. Run, run, run.
She jogged the rest of the way back with me. And the next day I jog-walked another 5k with her.
“Try not to walk,” she advises me, ” You lose momentum. Once you stop to walk, it’s hard to get moving again. Just try to keep a steady pace. Even if it’s very slow, just keep moving. Just try not to walk.”
..says the girl who ran track and cross-country.
“Okay, I’ll try.” …knowing full-well I didn’t have it in me to jog 3.2 miles without stopping.
And the next day, she jogged alongside me. Sometimes she would jog ahead and come back again. I felt silly and slow. But it was nice to jog with someone. And then it started to rain a bit. Add this to the list of things I don’t like about running. But just as I neared the 3.5k mark, the sun came out again. And I was proud I made it this far without stopping. With the sun shining on my face, my breathing steady, I started to take in countryside. It was a great 5k loop with just the right amount of hills. Before I knew it, we made it back to the bed & breakfast. I did! I ran 5k! Outside! No stopping!
The first kilometer and a half is a quiet one lane road winding through rural Le Luot. We jog up and down a few hills bordered by fields of green and the occasional country home. Sometimes the horses would even run alongside us or just come close to the fence to say hello. [It was sort of really amazing.]
Right before the 2k mark, we would turn onto a busier 3 lane road with more traffic. This was a straight-away so we just stayed on the left side running against traffic.
Kilometers 3-4 was on a 2 lane road headed back to Le Luot. The first half is shaded with tall trees on the right and another open field on the left. We would pass a church and a couple houses, but it was mostly greenery. This was my favorite part of the run, especially right before sunset, because the sky would be such a beautiful contrast to the green and yellow fields.
The last kilometer was uphill to the bed & breakfast but always the most rewarding. It’s where we find just enough energy to push ourselves a little harder.
Our runs together were the highlight of my day. Our runs were our little escape from the bed & breakfast. We ran away from Roger. from our frustrations. from our homesickness. from our sadness. and into this beautiful, calm, wonderful French countryside. We ran towards the bluest skies with brilliant white clouds. towards friendly horses waiting to run with us, if only for a few meters. We ran just to have some time to ourselves. to feel grounded again. to know that we could run anywhere we wanted.
My favorite part of our runs was having Laura by my side. The first two runs by myself were tough and lonely. And the negativity was running me down. I couldn’t fight it. The third day, though, with Laura there to encourage me, I did it. I ran 5k without stopping. And we wouldn’t always talk on our runs but just having her with me gave me the strength and positive attitude that I needed to keep moving one foot in front of the other.
Life at the bed & breakfast could be really challenging, too, but knowing that Laura and I could run through the motions together, made it so much easier. And she helped me get through it…the same way she helped me push through 5ks and eventually a 10k.