Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Footing Fun

Yesterday, I began the epic challenge of "running" again. As in running for sport, for exercise, for good health, etc. I have decided to do this for many reasons, not least of which is to feel much more spritely in the increasingly warm summer air and be good and ready to don a swimsuit when I actually find myself on some sort of a beach. Last summer, I was incredibly lucky to spend most of the month of August in the South of France, lounging by a pool and soaking in the sunshine. Unfortunately, I don't have any friends in the South from whom I can mooch off of, so my beach days this year will not be as frequent. At the same time, France is not a culture notorious for showing off large and/or unhealthy people. And just as in NYC, any moment of light and warmth instantly sends Parisians out to the cafés and the parks for picnics and sunbathing. It is also a culture where most people engage in some sort of physical recreation (and I don't mean just the unfaithful fellas... wink wink...) Running, cycling, footballing, and all the rest are weekend traditions. The one I am always most surprised by is swimming. Public pools are commonly taken advantage of here, something that I haven't really conceived of since my youth. 

I was very fortunate to grow up with a small park right down the street from my house, with a public swimming pool that was clean and accommodating. Though I was never into sports per se, I spent my summers reeking of chlorine and trekking about town on my bicycle. Every day I would make the rounds to the park, local shops, rolling up and down hills, never wearing a helmet and going so far as to ride no-handed. When helmets became legally required under a certain age, I was at a very petulant stage (probably still am) and rebelled against the idea of wearing what I assumed was a very negative and antiquated safety-induced chapeau upon my head. Once I passed the time that I was required to wear one, my crazy hypochondria forced me to believe that if I didn't wear a helmet I would instantly die... Conundrum... Teenage pride versus irrational (though not entirely so in this example compared to, let's say, glaucoma or nuclear disaster) fear was a raging battle of wills, eventually won out by the former. I somehow lost my cycling ways and spent my high school and college years driving a car instead. Once I chose to live in cities the dye was essentially cast because while I genuinely miss the idea of riding round town on a free-spirited cycle, I am quite sure I would in fact be instantly hit by a Parisian smartcar or motorscooter... Sigh... 

In lieu of that, I take to running... Or footing, as some may call it, though that definitely makes me think of a weird abnormally large fake foot on stilts, almost cartoon-esque... I know, I know... Regardless, I have taken to dashing about the outdoors with the wind in my hair. In reality, it's more like wheezing clumsily as I remind myself that my asthmatic, allergy-ridden lungs have never been thrilled with excessive exertion while pollen rains on my face. Along with that, the first day of any exercise regime can have the effect of making you feel like a tractor has driven over your face a few times... Or rather, tried to forklift my right thigh and disconnect it from my body. Still, I shall sally forth with my frolicking scheme to a gallant goal in sight. My cousin has convinced me to try for a half-marathon, and I proclaim this fact as a testament to my determination... And yes, just saying that out loud made my body go, ouch!

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