This morning, sunrise broke across Saint-Germain, speckled by a thin patch of clouds and punctuated with a balmy 54 degrees. Naturally, I could not resist my instinct to run, hopped out of bed, laced up, and headed out to the terrace.
If home is where the heart is, running will always be one of my 'homes,' no matter where or when I run, and it's this nomadic 'home' that has made France as much a home to me as California. If there is one thing I am missing here though, it's trail running. Trail runners here are distinguished as les traillers, rather than your basic coureur. As I've embarrassingly discovered, however, coureur does not simply mean runner; it also connotes someone who chases after members of the opposite sex, which isn't really me, so I suppose the serious runner side of me is somewhat lost in translation. Instead, it's easier to say that I fait la course à pied or that I am a marathonienne. And as much as I love the marathon and I love the thrill of road racing, there is something deeply innate within that trails bring to the surface that hard pavement cannot.
The trail and I have been separated for a while. Prior to my departure, I itched to get across the bay from Berkeley to Marin to run some of the coastal trails, but my work schedule made this difficult. To complicate matters, I had picked up running again only in May; I'd spent 9 months injured with a serious bout of plantar fasciitis, which is an overuse injury caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, the muscle that supports the arch. In other words, saying that the trail and I are long over due for a date is like saying peanut butter is long over due for a date with jelly.
But alas, I miss the trail. The trail is organic in a way that cement is not, allows one to unite with the surrounding environment and to let loose the inner animal. It's the raw energy of one's heart pumping blood and salt on one's skin beneath a canopy of tree leaves for an endless suite of hours.
I adore Paris, but the Alps are calling. I've been reading about the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, which is an ultra run around the base of Mont Blanc sponsored by The North Face. Runners traverse three countries: Italy, France, and Switzerland. I confess I am in no way trained enough nor at the level I'd need to be to compete in this race, but watching footage of the quest set before those who undertake the challenge is like a call of the wild: go to the Alps. And I'd give anything just to get down there for a few hours when most of the snow has disappeared to wander the earth for a while. The call of the wild coursing through my blood is only a manifestation of my intense need to adventure, of my curiosity about the world.
So I toast to bravery, to courage, to adventure, and to embracing the inner animal.