Run This Town


A Terrapin in Paris
Volume I, Issue II
16/1/2010

In my last post I alluded to the French and their passion for fashion, both men and women alike. As one of our advisors said, when some guy smiles at you, you don’t really know whether he’s trying to take you shopping or trying to take you home.

I wish I could say it was the same in the athletic department. During an 8-miler with my training buddy, Liz, we discovered that this was not the case. I thought I knew everything about optimum form, breathing techniques, and stretching, yet I learned a new running tactic last Saturday: observing French runners and their outfits makes a long run much more bearable. Hopefully there will be enough to keep me occupied for 26.2 miles in April.

Last blog I discussed feeling a bit out of place with my unhemmed jeans and nondesigner attire. But, if there were a Paris fashion week for athletic gear, I would surely be on the runway. Santa brought me lots of new UnderArmour, the Chanel of sports attire, which I was sure to bring along. I have my rather nice Brooks shoes (from when I happened to be at a Georgetown running store at the same time as Joe Biden), my bright red Viator Soffes (from a long time ago) over long black UA leggings, and my Coldplay shirt on over my grey UA longsleeve shirt. New iPod in hand, keys tied on my shoe, I was ready to conquer the France running world, Napoleon-style. I metroed to meet Liz at Parc de Monceau, a small but very nice space.

Monet painted at this park so, if it’s beautiful enough for Monet, I guess I can bear it. So here are my seven favorite runner attractions at the Parc de Monceau (aside from the statues honoring the greats like Guy de Maupassant and Frédéric Chopin)

7. Young woman in athletic outfit, with a scarf chicly wrapped around her neck
6. a middle-aged male wearing fanny pack, except in the front, not on the fanny
5. those black swooshy track pants that are tight around the ankle, so 90’s.
4. running with your hair half up half down with a barrette
3. running in cross-trainer asics or keds. The French have only one pair of athletic shoes and do not abide the “new shoes every 300 miles” rule. Likely because they never get to 300 in their lifetime.
2. man wearing Capri spandex under a pair of long basketball-esque shorts
1. running in a polo shirt (no, not the athletic Nike kind) and cargo shorts

Metroing was harder than the run itself. I was a complete fish out of water. Everyone is bundled up in their chic coats and scarves and I hop on the train with my hair thrown up in the classic high pony, no jacket and (gasp!) gym shoes. I purposely looked down the whole time, and then discovered solitaire on my iPod to look occupied. I should have taken a picture of myself to document my ridiculousness.

The run was enjoyable because it was that typical afternoon in the park. Little kids in collared shirts and khakis playing, rollerblading, scootering, old couples strolling despite the cold. So classic. So cliché. So French. I did not however, enjoy constantly running into people’s smoke fumes. Something tells me it just reverses everything I do. Kind of like baguettes.

My Americanisms are evinced even more on the metro ride back. Liz told me she found peanut butter at her grocery store. As much as I have been avoiding Starbucks and peanut butter, I couldn’t resist. The thing was, I did not get a bag because it was the only item I purchased. This only fueled my humiliation on the metro. Picture this already-ridiculous girl in spandex with her ipod, metro pass and now clinging a jar of peanut butter. That PB was super expensive and exclusive, so I tried to tell myself that I looked wealthy and not homeless.

Though I have made plenty of mistakes in the last week, only one is necessary to top all the previous ones. I met up with a friend of my French family, the Coupries, in Paris, and enjoyed a wonderful evening…and a conversation completely in French! (give or take a few words and several sign language gestures)

After a nice, way-to-cheesey-french meal followed by chocolate mousse and coffee.

Emile: Would you like anymore?
Me: Non, je suis pleine. (literally I am full)
Emile: laughs. You don’t mean that.
Me: (in my head: crap, what did i just say)

Why? Emile was too polite to explain to me what I said wrong. I later realized that just said that I was a pregnant animal. It can also mean that I am drunk in a trashy way. I was so embarrassed that I kind of wish I were…

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