Thursday, April 9, 2009

A day for speed

This Sunday was André’s race.  He has been training specifically for this day for 10 weeks and was very excited it was finally here.   We spent the morning sleeping in, eating pancakes and packing up for the afternoon. It never fails to amaze me how fast time passes on these mornings when we have ‘nothing’ to do.

We headmini_DSC07414ed over to the venue around noon and hung out until race time –1:30pm.  André spent time signing up, chatting with other runners (a few of his co-workers were running as well) resting, and warming up to maximize his performance. There was a kids’ fun run, which Zander kind of wanted to do, but it turned out he needed a medical clearance in order to participate – oh well!  Meanwhile, the kids and I hung out under this giant pine tree.  It was a great climbing tree and they even ended up eating their sandwiches IN the tree (they were pretending to be a monkey family). The weather was beautiful – almost too hot and the shade was perfect.  mini_DSC07416

We stood on the side lines waiting to watch Daddie come in. It was a pretty small race – only about 550 runners so the sidelines were not too crowded, which was a treat – we have often had to fight crowds when attending races in the past.  Griffin got tired of tree climbing and spent time pretending to be a moose, instead. Watch out, everyone.

Oncemini_DSC07421 the runners started arriving, the kids were happy to just look at them and count up.  They wanted to tell André exactly what place he was.  I was very impressed by Callie’s French, as when Jean-Luc (André’s co-worker) came over to say hello to us, Callie struck up a fluent French conversation with him.  She asked him if he was going to run with her Daddie and if he was going to win.  When he said no, she informed him that her Daddie didn’t run to win either, just to do well.  Zander doesn’t really understand this whole “I don’t run to win” thing, although we have tried to explain it about 1000 times.  What’s the point if you don’t win???  Here is a shot of the winner – he came in about 1 or 2 minutes ahead of everyone else.   

Counting up the runners was harder than I thought it would be – after the first 100 or so, they came in bunches and, also, it got harder and harder for me to keep counting in French – I just can’t switch back and forth in my mind fast enoumini_DSC07423gh and I still don’t think in French (as André and Callie and Griffin do).  Numbers have never been my strength (if it hadn’t been for my mom the math teacher I don’t thmini_DSC07424ink I would have made it through high school). I STILL don’t have my own or André’s phone numbers memorized.  I realize that this is mostly due to the fact I have a cell phone.  I don’t need to  memorize anything since it is in my phone – but heaven forbid I lose the thing!

Well, he ended up coming in at 236th – running the 10K in around 47 minutes total.  This was extremely disappointing  for him as his slow goal was to break 45 minutes.  His super unrealistic dream goal was to break 42 minutes, if possible.  He started out well and, halfway through the race, he was on track. The day was hot and he just didn’t keep up the speed. The next few dmini_DSC07425ays he kept bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t more disabled from the run – proof positive he hadn’t tried hard enough.  He usually has what he refers to as ‘race day magic’ that helps him do better – but not this time, I guess. I try to be sympathetic, but it is hard since I know that running non stop for 45 minutes at mini_DSC07426any speed would be far beyond my capabilities – I think he is a great runner and too hard on himself.  I mean – look at his face about half an hour after race end! Obviously some effort went into it.

I think the sad thing for him is, that he thinks he may have hit his ‘peak’ as a runner.  It is hard to think you will never improve from this point onward.  When I was fencing, my goal wasn’t usually to win – but just to fence well, better and smarter than before.  That meant success, for me.  What is success in running, if you aren’t getting faster?  When I talked to him about it, he said that a few years ago he read that, after 7 years of running, most runners hit their peak.  So, he knew he was getting close to that window so he decided he would put more value on other things he likes about running.  So he stopped timing most of his training runs, started running different paths each time to make comparison more difficult. He tried to find new challenges by seeking out new hills and new scenery.  This has been successful, this still makes his running fun, but it doesn’t diminish the disappointment of slowing down.

After a bit of rest we walked over to the Micropolis (the Besancon Convention Center) to check out a classic car show. We actually didn’t even end up going inside, since there were so many great cars just out in the parking lot. I didn’t take too many pictures but I really thought the shape and style of the blue car, below, was unique.  I also liked the orange ‘mob’ car – even the front windshield could be closed up!


    mini_DSC07434    mini_DSC07432       mini_DSC07428

mini_DSC07430                mini_DSC07435        mini_DSC07436

And, of course there are pictures of an engine, the convertible (known in french as a decapitable – that’s right – just like decapitation – it’s not a vehicle – it’s a guillotine) and the adorable little three wheeled red thingy.  I want one – for a pet!  André’s favorite was a Jaguar – but I didn’t take a picture.  The kids have lots of fond memories of Nellie Belle (our VW bus) and wanted us to buy another old car.  We have been toying with the idea of buying a junker that could die in 6 months and we wouldn’t care much but it seems there is no such thing as the 500 or less category here in France.  It is frustrating because we would like to explore villages etc… locally, especially with the warmer weather, but, without a car, it is very difficult. Renting for a weekend is a couple hundred euros, so buying a piece of junk might be worth it – if we could find one.  It would be nice for local things as well  - just going to this race – about 10 minutes by car – takes about an hour by bus – if you don’t count time spent waiting for the bus to arrive.  BUT if we spend money on a car, that means money taken away from a future fabulous vacation.  Yes, I would get to do more local things, but what about Ireland, Greece, Southern France and more of Italy – we can’t skip those!

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