The thrill of victory, the agony of de-feet.

Last Saturday was the annual 5K run. When daughter #2 asked me to join her in the race I acquiesced though somewhat reluctantly. Although a regular at the gym I’ve never run before and religiously avoid the treadmill. But secretly, I’ve envied those cheetah-like marathon runners and yearned to be among them sprinting gracefully towards the finish line, feet barely touching earth, wind in my hair, the theme from “Chariots of Fire” blaring as I cross the finish line…and so, when my daughter burst into my bedroom Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. and asked me to join her at the starting line at 9:00 a.m. I thought why not, another item I could check off my bucket list.

I was the poster child for how NOT to run a 5K – no previous training, wearing five-year-old sneakers, no sunblock, no sunglasses, and no vital warm-up exercises. Inexperience, however, didn’t stop me. I began to run at maximum speed and two blocks later almost passed out so I stopped to fake a quick chat with my nine-year-old neighbor in order to catch my breath. But when a grey-haired older woman sprinted past me I somehow pulled myself together and took off again trying to catch up with daughter #2 who had left me in the dust. Throat dry, calves burning, knees aching, a massive headache from sun glare, and sunburn on my nose and head, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of that senior citizen pulling ahead of me. Determined, I kept at it, and crossed the finish line ecstatic at actually finishing my first 5K run. Unfortunately, no one from my family was camera-ready to document the moment because they assumed I’d be arriving home by ambulance – no one dreamed I would complete the race.

My elation was short-lived because the next morning I woke up in pain, ankles swollen and massive purple bruises on both heels, a severe case of shin splints and a possible stress fracture. Every cloud, however,  has a silver lining. Sitting with ice packs affixed to both legs gave me the opportunity to do some Hubert hunting on my laptop. After hours of intensive researching I finally located an address to email the booksellers on the Seine. The first response I received (in French, of course) was the usual “sorry but we do not have these works.” Emboldened by my recent accomplishment I was undeterred, and determined not to let the trail grow cold, I sent off another email inquiry. As Charles De Gaulle once said “You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive or else a strategy is useless.” Obviously, I’m not all that fast on my feet but if my computer fingers were nimble enough to evoke a response from one of the booksellers then perhaps there would be someone else who might respond as well.

And there was – I received an email from another bouquiniste who also responded with a negative.  I persisted, asking if he could suggest another contact but by his return mail “Non aucune idee, du fait que nous sommes uniquement specialises en Geologie, Mineralogie et Paleontologie” (No idea, owing to the fact that we are only specialists in Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology) my strategy as per Charles De Gaulle appears useless. My daughter thinks it’s time to enlist the aid of a French teacher. I’m thinking it sounds like a far better idea than the 5K….


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