May 5, 2018. New Dots Emerging – Le Tri / To Sort. Learning To RUN Like No One Is Looking. Struggling With Old PRs.

Is that not the perfect picture?

Bonjour mes amies.  Comment allez vous!  Moi, ça va très bien.  Il fait chaud aujourd’hui ici et je cours finalement dans au soleil. J’aime le soleil.

Je aussi aime dire les mots en français commes –  tous les jours et finalement.

Le temps passe trop vite! L’annee derniere en France:

paris
Is that not the perfect picture?
charente maritime

Ile d’Oleron – Charente Maritime.  Deep tides mesmerize.

Emergent –

I see the new dots brightly flashing on the horizon. Each one enthusiastically waving “pick me, pick me.”

See previous post for more on these dots.

Mais, lequel choisir? Je ne sais pas!

Pour moi, pour la première fois, je suis arrêté et je sens les roses.

And it feels amazing!  I’ve never paused like this and once this pause ceases I most likely won’t pause again for another 10 years.

Est-ce que beaucoup de stress? Un peu. Parce que je n’ai jamais arrêté comme ça avant.

Donc, j’écris. L’écriture m’aide à faire le tri dans ma tête.

It’s actually quite euphoric, this pausing, once you let go and just be.  I’m excited for the future and what is yet to be.  Today, I live each day fully, slowly and with intention.

Forming new mental muscles, routines and habits.

Le Tri –

As I often do when I read, write, study French I once again stumble amongst the words.  This  time it’s the French word le tri that holds my gaze.  Le Tri, means to sort and I am suddenly reminded of my younger days as a army medic and the word triage.  I google triage and le tri and am once again lost in time – lost in reading – lost in discovery.

I use the word lost here in a positive way.  J’aime lire, mais – it is a time sucker.

Then I realize I am triaging my life right now. Sorting out what I want to keep and what I no longer need.

Determining what is most important – most vital.

Unconventional methods of learning French (writing) serve me best.  A planned vacation to Quebec this summer (super, super excited) should provide some much needed conversational / verbal practice.

And then it will be time for me to un-pause – peut être

Still holding out for that chance encounter and cool opportunity to travel and work abroad.  

Until then, to the emerging dots I say, “I see you and I am sorting through you, be patient.”  Smelling the roses, realigning  priorities, and triaging.

Courir-

Returning to my beloved running is also serving me well.  After a long winter, I am finally feeling half way decent about running.

I’m a solid month behind in training, but am running with a new sense of peace.

Still struggling with my speed after a few years of long distance running and now finding myself forgoing events because I don’t want others to see this slow down.

C’est la vie! C’est la vie! C’est vrai! C’est ce que c’est et c’est fantastique – cette vie!

The first half-marathon of the season (for me) is in two weeks.  I so want to be able to keep the pace under 9 minutes per mile.  I’m afraid of this pace for 13.1 miles – so starting today, it’s all visualization “I can run 13.1 miles at a 9 minute per mile pace!”

Oui je peux! Avec du café!

Gauging my strength at the moment I would say that I am too slow for an age group award 5K, not quite strong enough for a half marathon distance under 2 hours, but feeling 10K ready (where you can better balance the speed with the distance).  There is a 10K near by tomorrow, but I really need to run 12 to 13 miles so my body and my mind remembers what this particular distance feels like.

I’m also not ready for others to see me run.  I’m learning to run like no one is looking – with peace in my breath and joy in my heart.

I’m learning…I have not yet learned this.

Does anyone else struggle with keeping up with old PRs (Personal Records)? 

Au revoir pour maintenant mes amies.

Suz.

 

Novembre 13, 2017. J’ai Couru 50 Miles! C’est Fini. I Did It!

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I ran 50 miles in 11 hours and 30 minutes –

C’est fini!  Je suis très heureux.  Mais, je ne peux pas parler français.

Intesting enough, I could not remember much of anything while I was running let alone French.  I actually resorted to singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, which actually worked quite well.

The first 5 miles I ran with two friends.  Then both of my knees started to hurt.  Thinking that maybe I was not relaxed enough, I decided to run on my own so I could run at a more relaxed natural gait (not adjusting to their rhythms and cadence).

For the next 32 miles I stuck to a 4 minute run, 1 minute walk routine.  I had a lot of knee pain. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was at a 7.

Luckily, I would see my husband (sweetest, most supportive guy ever) about every 10 miles while filling up my water bottle and grabbing pretzels and oranges from the aide stations.  His gentle kisses and encouraging words helped so much.  Oh and popping a few pain relievers – didn’t hurt either.

At mile 37 I knew I could finish but I was in a lot of pain, but still a level 7.  The pain was bad but it was not getting worse.  Each mile I would say “ok, it’s not worsening – keep moving.”

I walked the last 13 miles!  Oddly enough, at that point, I was able to walk faster than I could run.  I walked the last 13 miles at a 15:30 minute per mile pace singing 99, 98, 97, 96 etc…bottles of beer on the wall.

As the sun set I put on my headlamp to light the now dark trail, and focused all my energy into a driven march forward.  I knew I’d finish the race and I couldn’t wait to do so.

So many emotions to explore and so much time alone to do so.  Yet as I marched, all I thought about were those darn bottles of beer on the wall.  All the while asking God over and over to help me finish the run.  Quite the mental contrast.

I tried to speak French dans ma tête. Mais, c’était trop difficile.  I can never remember how to say the number 14 in French.

Oh – quick side note…remember my period that was due on Saturday, the day of the race, It held off till Sunday morning – is that luck or what!  And drum roll please, NO STOMACH ISSUES.

Today, aside from being unable to bend my knees fully, I am fine.  I have a few blisters on the tips of my toes – but otherwise, I feel great.

I will honestly say that my French studies suffered over the last 3 months.  I’m not sure learning French while running works for me.

I want to thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you for the encouragement and support!  I thought about you while I was running – and how I did not want to let you down.  You kept me accountable and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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50.47 miles in 11 hours 30 minutes and 47 seconds.  Average pace of 13:41 minutes per mile.  5167 calories used.

It was quite the adventure.  It was a beautiful day, about 47 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny.  No rain, no wind.  A perfect day, full of happiness and friendship. The trail was amazing, rock walls and fallen leaves, wooden bridges and old train tunnels.

Now, I need to put some energy into French.  Not sure where I’ll go from here – probably the 100 K.  But for the next few weeks – I’ll be working on the knees and dreaming of returning to France late next year.

Life is beautiful.

Merci Beaucoup Mes Amis.

Suz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 22, 2017. LOOPS… Is this an 8 hour endurance race or another rond point? It’s a 3.25 mile rond point. Rond points, roundabouts and traffic circles oh my.

IMG_3499Speaking of loops, this past weekend I ran an eight hour endurance race, the Backyard Classic. It was a 3.25 mile trail loop that reminded me of a giant rond point (traffic circle or roundabout).

J’ai une ampoule, une grande ampoule.  I have a blister, a big blister.

The goal of the race was to complete as many loops as you could in eight hours.  I’d consider the trail moderate to hard.  Each 3.25 mile loop consisted of two technical sections, two decent hills and two water crossings. The remainder was a mostly uphill meadow like trail with little shade.  Sounds fun huh?

Nineteen.” “There are nineteen rond points from mom’s house to the super marche, two of which are doubles.”  My husband said sarcastically from the back seat.

It doesn’t sound like a huge number, until you consider how close le super marché / the supermarket actually is à la maison / to the house (4 kilometers or about 2.48 miles).

Over the years, across France, I’ve seen the gradual conversion of four way stops into rond points.  When I see a four way stop in France these days, to me, it appears out of place. The four way stop no longer seems to belong or to even fit into the French landscape.  Traffic is halted at these seemingly archaic stops and you can sense the frustration as drivers are slowed on their commutes in their charming, energy efficient voitures / cars and scooters. But come on already nineteen of them over 2.48 miles.

This year as we vacationed, I paid extra attention to the theme of each major rond point. I noticed how each town tried to represent the flavor of their community to the visitor. Often highlighting historical aspects associated with the area. In the center of the larger roundabouts you might find une ancre, un bateau ou un mémorial de guerre / an anchor, a ship, or a war memorial.  Each one carefully crafted to represent the area and the people.  Some are weird, some are cool, some are relevant, and some are confusing.

Home now in the U.S., I miss the way we whipped around the rond point.  I miss the dance of cars between lanes. I miss the way the cars flowed in and out of the rond point. I miss the rhythmic movement. I miss it all so much that last week, I found myself doing a few loops around the lone traffic circle in my town.

Back to the 3.25 mile trail loop and 8 hour endurance race.

How did I do?  I realized my personal goal of 8 loops (in 6 hours and 21 minutes) for a total of 26 trail miles.  After 16 water crossings, my toes were extrêmement / extremely blistered.

I elected to stop with 1.5 hours to go. Of course now I have remorse as I feel I should have made one more pass through the giant rond point.  I had enough time for another loop.

Did I give up or did I make the right decision?  In the grand scheme of today’s world – does it really matter?  Running is not life or death.  This was a gathering of like minded individuals out to challenge their minds and bodies.  But the things that will drive a person crazy…

As this was not my 2017 focus race, I convinced myself during the 8th lap that it was okay to stop.  My knees held up and I did not hit the famous reputed WALL.  I made the smart decision, and although I wish I had done the 9th loop (just cuz), I know I made the right choice in stopping.  My 50 mile race is in November and I have a long way to go to get there – risking injury was not an option.

Mais, c’était une bonne journée.  Le soleil était brillant!  Et maintenant, j’ai une grande ampoule. Fantastique!

What did I learn:  Foot health is très important / very important (blisters will take you down).  I’ll need to get actual trail shoes, and to find better socks.  I also need to do more long runs on the weekends.

My nutrition plan was sufficient but as much fluid as I took in, I didn’t use the bathroom from 8 a.m. till about 6 p.m.  Probably need to consume more fliuids.

As far as practicing my French: HAH – that didn’t go at all as planned.  I had designated a theme for each loop.  However, on the first loop I tried to count my steps in French and I couldn’t remember the difference between treize / thirteen and trente / thirty.  Brain fog.

During the second loop I tried to run through the basic French greetings dans ma tête, but found myself dazed and confused.

Sadly, loops 3 – 8 contained no French.

Sérieusement / Seriosuly, I think I made the right choice stopping at 8 loops.  I hope I’ll have the mental fortitude needed to push through the 50 miler.

Ne panique pas – Reste forte! / Don’t panic – Stay strong!

Suz

Hand painted medals – each one was different.  Several different artists painted them.  Very unique.

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August 11, 2017. Dear long run, you can bisous ma miche… And a pulse check from Suz Learns French.

IMG_3446Photo: A banana, some grapes and the miche. Une banane, des raisins, et la miche.

Demain, j’ai une course de dix kilometer.  Et dimanche je vais courir autre dix miles.  Tomorrow, I have a ten kilometer race.  And Sunday I am going to run another ten miles. Exciting plans for the weekend.

This is how I speak French dans ma tête / in my head.  I may read this a year from now and be horrified by the simplicity and mistakes.  Mais, maintenant – dans my tête, c’est fantastique. But, now – in my head, it’s fantastic.

You can see the elementary syntax.  Yet, I’m so excited.  I really enjoy learning French while running.  Vraiment! / Really!  Or should I say, Je cours et j’apprends le français  / I run and I learn French?

Bisous ma miche / Kiss my miche, is a phrase we’ve come to use in our family.  It basically means kiss my butt, in a humorous non offensive way.

Several years ago my French father-in-law (who we all know can’t understand a thing I say in French), and I had a bit of a spat.  A little disagreement.  And I blurted out in frustration “Bisous ma miche!” And braced myself.

Earlier in the day – at une boulangerie / a bakery, I asked  “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” / “what’s that?” “C’est une miche.”  “It’s a miche.”  I heard someone say.  FYI – a miche is a rounded rustic loaf of French bread (see photo).  As we continued to look around, someone mentioned how the miche was shaped like a derrière.  D’accord… / Okay… I thought and continued to look around.

Obviously this image stuck avec moi / with me.  Plus tard / Later, as my father-in-law and I playfully argued, I found myself searching for words in French and then blurting out “bisous ma miche.”

When the words flew out of my mouth – I cringed!  Thankfully, he just laughed.  Actually, we all had a good laugh and un autre verre de vin / another glass of wine.

Hier soir / Last night, I had a bad run!  I was tired, I was hot, and I have a cold.  Feeling defeated, I thought about how to express myself en français  / in French – when the old bisous ma miche story came to mind.  Je vais courir 50 milles! / I’m going to run 50 miles, so you can just bisous ma miche.

Channeling the anger, I ran a little farther before calling it a night one mile short of the planned distance.

Thirteen weeks to go until the 50 miler.  Don’t panic!  What is the French word for panic?  C’est panique.  It’s panique.  Ne panique pas / do not panic.  Oui, je peux! Yes, I can! I can do this.

50 Mile Ultra Marathon Training Pulse Check:  Overall – body and mind feel good.  Knee pain is under control and doesn’t seem to be worsening.  Last weekend it held up for back to back mid distance runs.  But 50 miles is another story.  Pray for me.

Suz Learns French Pulse check:  Vocabulary is building and concepts are starting to make sense.  I’m making simple sentences and attempting simple conversations avec mon mari / with my husband.

Dear long run,

Bisous ma miche!  If you only knew I was using you to learn French.  

Bisous!  À plus tard.

Suz

 

Aug 4, 2017. Positive thoughts to repeat in FRENCH while running my first 50 mile ultra marathon (a.k.a my mental fuel list). Help me build my list.

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Belt buckle from my first 60k (37.282 miles) spring of 2016. 

I’m building my mental fuel list (liste) in FRENCH and j’ai besoin de votre aide!

Suz (that’s me) learns French while running 50 miles.  I wish it was that easy.  In reality learning French will take years, but the prize for the 50 miler is a ginormous gold (no not real gold) belt buckle and I want it now!

I love a challenge (who doesn’t) and really try to prepare mentally and physically for all my runs – in order to avoid failure.  I’m not talking about trying your hardest and coming up short.  I’m taking about failing because you’re just not prepared.

We all have that one time – the one time we wish we were better prepared.  My one time time still haunts me.  I’m older (not sure when that happened) and wiser (background laughter) and finally understand preparation is truly the key.  I may still come up short, but I’ll have prepared.

Donc, in preparation for my first 50 miler, I’m making a liste of things to bring.  I’m also making a liste of things to SAY to myself (in French…bien sûr) while running the 50 miles.

The first liste is simple: shoes, socks, extra clothes, water bottles, fuel, headlamp, toilet paper, etc…

The second liste is simple as well, it’s a liste of things to tell myself in FRENCH while running.  Words (mots) to encourage, words to prepare my mind.

Runners know that you can’t wait until your energy reserves are depleted to begin the fueling process – you have to properly fuel your body throughout the run / race.

Same goes for the mental fuel – you have to properly fuel your brain throughout the run / race.

So what’s my game plan?  How am I preparing?

Before race day:  I’m PRAYING!  And building mileage while following my weekly training plan (of course while listening repeatedly to my weekly French lesson).

On race day:  I’ll be PRAYING!  And repeating from the very first step positive thoughts in French as I run the 50 miles.  Maybe I’ll even meet someone from France or someone who speaks French. Oh la  la…I can dream.

Not only will I be reinforcing my French, I’ll also be brain washing myself right into completing the 50 miler (fingers crossed).

What else am I going to do while running 50 miles?  I can’t afford to simply run for 12 to 15 hours, I’ve got a language to learn.  So by thinking and repeating positive thoughts in French good use of my time will be had.  Which, will make for a productive day.  All crazies, please line up ici.

Positive thoughts in French:

– Think positive / Penser postiif

– You can run fifty miles / Tu peux courir cinquante miles

– You are strong / Tu es fortes

– Mind over matter / l’esprit avant tout

– Tomorrow you can sleep (rest) / Demain tu pourra toujours te reposer

– Trust your training / Fait confiance à ta formation

– You are a winner / Tu es gagnante

Call to action:  Please comment with additional positive thoughts in French.  J‘ai besoin de votre aide!

Merci beaucoup et a bientôt.

Suz

Special thanks to my fantastique FRENCH friend who graciously helped me form these positive thoughts in French. Thank you so much for your time.  I’m so jealous of your ability to speak more than one language.  Bisous.

July 19, 2017. What’s a French word for Stubborn? Tête de mule. A secret running tale.

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There’s a whole list of French words that translate to stubborn.  By far my favorite is tête de mule.  It’s the easiest one for me to remember.  I also like têtu et têtue.

I know this girl, she est très têtue.  Mon ami têtu (my stubborn friend) and I have a secret.

This femme (woman) is très, très têtue.  Once her mind is made up, it’s made up.  Final answer.  End of story.  Don’t waste your breath.

Pause tale…quick thought

What does it take to run (courir)?  I don’t mean – what does it take to run a marathon.  I mean – what does it take to run period?  To pick yourself up and juste run.

To Run / Courir:

  • Roaming / Promener
  • Utterly / Complètement
  • Nonstop / Sans arrêt

Thought fades…return to tale

She ran far and fast and hard.

She ran, until she decided she was going to walk…  Parce que elle est têtue – (because she is stubborn) and her mind was made up.  Elle marché vite (she walks fast).

“Should we be worried?”  the running relay team asked me.  “I don’t know,” I LIED!  Knowing all the while – we were in for a long wait.

Elle est fatiguée (she is tired).  I knew she was spent.  I knew when she started her last leg of the relay  she was done.  And I also knew IF she made the decision to walk, she was walking the whole long eight miles, in the dark, by herself.  And I knew there was no talking her out of it.  Been there, done that, ain’t going back.

I knew she’d finish.  Être têtu est une bonne chose (to be stubborn is a good thing).  She never gives up!  But, how long would it take pour (for) la femme obstinée (stubborn)?  Je ne savais pas (I didn’t know)…

Ninety minutes went by – I knew she was walking.

“Should we go look for her?” the girls asked me, knowing if I was worried then they should be too.  “Give her a bit more time,” I said – silently rolling my eyes while thinking – believe me you, this is the last woman you want to go “pick-up,” if she’s having a bad run.

The team’s worry went on.  I just wanted to sleep, but the concerned women kept asking my opinion, “Do you think she’s okay?” “Yep, no worries,” I smiled.  Again in my mind, thinking “têtue, très têtue!”

I felt like I was in cahoots with some grand walking secret. I also had to calculate in my head – her walk time for the eight miles, because at some point I might actually have to send in the troops.  I figured she was walking the full eight miles but you never know, so safety first.

While trying to seem concerned, I quickly processsd the math in my head, I added several minutes for the terrain and a possible potty break.  I figured she should round the corner in no more than two hours and fifteen minutes.  This would be my pulse point.  I had my finger on the button – ready to push it – when…

“She’s here!” (“Elle est ici”) Someone said, “She’s here.”

We quickly switched out runners and she climbed in the van. Everyone talked about how hilly the course must have been (to have taken so long). “Did you have to walk?”  “Did you get sick?”  The questions…oh the questions.

She ran far and fast and hard.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Vite! Vite!

Suz

July 12, 2017. I simply said “il mange beaucoup de nourriture…and he replied QUOI (What)? Apparently my French still stinks.

IMG_2921After a long time, 30 plus years and numerous visits to France, I am still only able to use about 15 French words.  I can’t believe how difficult learning this language is for me.  I adore France. I love the county, the culture, the food, the coffee, the wine, the cheese, the people, and the language – however, I can’t understand a thing these people say.

I had big hopes for our most recent trip to France; I truly thought that all my hard work this last year would have made a difference. It didn’t. At least not to the one person I really wanted to impress, my French father-in-law.  He and I have known each other for over 30 years…yet we’ve never had a conversation (as my French stinks and his English is worse). So, during a recent visit to France, I really tried to speak slowly and deliberately to him. Using phrases and words I felt comfortable with. But apparently even after months and months (truth be told – years) of classes and practice, he still can’t understand a flipping thing I say.

It was one hilarious happening after another. The latest incident and there were several memorable moments on this trip, occurred one night at dinner as I tried to make small talk with my father-in-law.  I gathered all my courage and said, “il mange beaucoup de nourriture.”  I was speaking about my husband or should I say I was trying to speak about my husband. I was trying to say he eats a lot. I just wanted to say something simple. It wasn’t even a true statement; I only wanted to engage in conversation.  I planned the whole thing dans ma tète (in my head). I thought about how to say the sentence dans ma tète. I said it dans ma tète. Then I said it fearlessly out loud “il mange beaucoup nourriture.” Quoi,” he quickly responded back to me. I said it again, this time a little louder, “il mange beaucoup nourriture!” And he repeated with a smirk “Quoi.” I said it yet again, this time a little slower “il mange beaucoup nourriture…” He then mumbled something in French.  My husband sat there wide eyed. I sat there thinking what the heck did this man not understand about what I just said – I said it slow and clear and it was a very simple sentence.

Then…I heard ma belle-mère (my mother-in-law) yell sternly to him in French from the kitchen.  She was obviously scolding him. I cringed and thought oh goodness this is not good. I tried to change the subject by saying in French “regard le ciel,” (look at the sky) as we were on the balcony and it was a beautiful evening. My husband looked at me oddly and said “what?” I replied with a coy look, “changer de sujet…” Half laughing my husband corrected my pronunciation of the word sujet; half crying I took a GINORMOUS drink of my wine.

IMG_2922When ma belle-mère walked back into the room, she continued to reprimand my father-in-law. At this point, I felt really bad and just kept awkwardly saying “regard le ciel.” he responded to her lecture with the typical French “bof.” We all laughed it off and went back to our typical pattern which looks like this – 4 people are in a room, but only 3 can talk at any one time…my husband, his mom and me or my husband, his mom and my father-in-law.

Although strange, this is our norm and it works. Truthfully, we have a great relationship and get along for long periods of time very well. We’ve traveled all over the United States and France together – it’s just that – you know…he and I have never spoken to each other.

Long story short – my father-in-law and I still haven’t had that conversation. We probably never will. As we said our good-byes at the airport he smiled and hugged me tightly and said something in French – but seriously, I have absolutely no idea what he said. But I’m sure it was said with love…then again for all I know he was saying “thank goodness you are leaving and I can have my house back to myself.”

On the other hand, I ordered successfully in the restaurants and I communicated really well at the market and in the stores. In addition, while visiting my husband’s cousins they seemed truly impressed and mentioned my improvements several times. Moreover I picked up several new practical phrases to add to my growing list of words. Most importantly, my sweet half French husband remarked numerous times how proud he was of me for trying so hard.

I’m hoping for real language growth over the next 6 to 12 months. However currently, I’ve plateaued. My mind is just exhausted.

If anyone has any ideas on how I can improve my French, toss them my way.

Ok come on – truth be told, it’s been 30 plus years – who am I fooling. I’m probably never going to get any better; regardless, I’m addicted to France – It’s a beautiful country! Where I am able to rest my mind and simply be me – quiet, still, unrushed and free.

Originally written as a guest blog for one of my favorite travel sites. Edited here to shorten.

Suz