Running short (of French)

I may have mentioned I run. In my long-story-short style, because I don’t want to bore you and do want to get to the point – which is about speaking French (or not), here’s brief history of my running (or also not!):

Birth to teens: not ‘sporty’. Ran a longer run once st school & realised I wasn’t utterly useless at everything.

Teens to 20s: not ‘sporty’. But swam, danced, occasional jogging round the park.

Later 20s through 30s: some gymming, ran a bit more (London green spaces), trained for a ‘sprint’ triathlon (overslept on the day!) Moved to NZ, ran a bit more, gymmed more, took up mountain biking.

Age 40: Started running more. First (clueless) 10km trail run in 2012 just before leaving NZ, on the volcanic Island of Motutapu (NZ). Shock to the system.

2012 Motutapu_IMG_1663 small
Moved to Bristol. Joined running group. Did Bristol 10km, then persuaded to try Cardiff Half Marathon. Bristol Half… Became a runner. Loved my local trails & long, exploring weekend runs linking woods, rivers and green spaces.
March 2017: Moved to the French Alps. When life gives you mountains, become a mountain runner…
July 2017: MTB crash resulted in head injury putting me out of serious sporting action for the rest of the season
Winter 2017-2018: skiing! First ventures off-piste and ski rando.
Early 2018: Signed up for the 20km Balcons de Val d’Isere race in July. Winter lingered so started training in snow, sometimes at -20!

2018 cold training copy
July 8th: 19km, 1000m D+ 🏅03:03 🏃🏽‍♀️7th V1F 🏔 26 / 103 women
Aug 19th: 12km, 650m D+ 🏅01:50 🏃🏽‍♀️3rd V1F 🏔12 / 72 women
Sep 16th: 10km flat – Annecy. For the crack and a tempo run…
Oct 7th: 23km, 1200m D+🏅03:07 🏃🏽‍♀️6th V1F 🏔 24 / 129 women
Oct 14th: 35km, 1912mD+🏅05:14 🏃🏽‍♀️4th V1F 🏔
Oct 28th: 19.6 km, 586mD+ 🏅02:03 🏃🏽‍♀️3rd female overall 🏔…

AND THEY STUCK A MIC IN MY FACE! I could see it coming… I crossed the line to hear the frankly bizarre announcement that I was the third female. I often feel a bit faint when I finish a race so I was doing my usual of sitting down somewhere on the ground quite quickly, just to be on the safe side. In fact I felt okay – probably because it was pretty chilly so my body temp was fairly steady. Or maybe I could have run harder? Anyway, I could hear the announcer man saying some basic things about me over the tannoy, then there he was. And there was the microphone stuck in my face with an expectant look on his. I really didn’t know what he’d asked me. So I told him how much I liked the race and stuff like that. I figured he would understand that I was knackered, add points for being foreign, and let me get indoors to the warm and the buffet tout-de-suite.

Oh no.

Mr Mic wanted the full interview. Why am I so exotically foreign?! Why do I complicate my own life by being so detailed?

‘Where are you from?’ I could understand. I should have just said ‘Bristol, England’, but no, I had to give the full list of New Zealand, England, then Tignes and now… Gold for my interviewer who wanted more details. Details I couldn’t quite understand. Was Bristol near Birmingham? South West, I said. Ah – Cornwall? No, a little further north. Somerset, I said. Ah – near the coast then. Yes, I agreed, quite near the coast. It’s not on the coast, but ‘near’ isn’t a lie. It has a port, and we had seagulls in our Clifton garden even…

You might not remember the brilliant ‘Mastermind’ sketch by British comedy duo The Two Ronnies, in which Ronnie Corbet answers the question before last. Here it is if you’ve never seen it (non-British folk and anyone under 35 might not get the jokes)

Clever, and of course hilarious (at the time – political references now somewhat historical!). Well, my interview felt a bit like that, only instead of answering the question before, I was answering the question I imagined they were asking. (With a few hints, since I did grasp words, it was comprehending the meaning of entire phrases that I was struggling with, which is quite important!)

The location of my last British home was still not enough for my interviewer. Next came New Zealand and something about places I’d lived…maybe about moving, possibly did I run there? I don’t know – I think I just smiled, which doesn’t come across well over a microphone.

Then something about the trail. Not sure what, so I told him what a lovely trail it was; hard now and again but not too bad; I really enjoyed it; it was a great race.
He was in love with interviewing. It must have been my accent. He pushed on with something about the trail again. A question that included the phrase ‘de plus en plus’ which usually means ‘more and more’, but I didn’t know to what this recognised phraselet related. Oh, I just loved the woods and the autumn colours, so pretty, I said. God only knows what he really wanted to know. If it was something to do with how well I’d done I couldn’t answer that anyway since I was using a new Suunto running watch that I didn’t understand, so I’d resolved not to look at it and really had no idea of my progress until nearish the end when a sign told me there were 5km to go, Then a man jogged past muttering about ‘troisième femme’, and my trail buddy behind yelled at me that I was the third woman, had no one behind and should GO!

So – interview confusion… much work to be done on the old French conversation methinks! I’ve missed my fantastic free French class this week due to having to take the Mr to the airport, but I’ve not felt such a strong need for improvement as I did after that race. And I liked placing – what a buzz! I’d like to do it again. And I’d like to have half a clue and sound a little less like the eccentric wild card next time someone sticks a mic in my face too.

2018 Balcons

Really just a gratuitous pic of me on the High Trail Vanoise ‘Balcons de Val d’Isere’ when I wasn’t swearing. It was a beast, and I am so proud and pleased that I did it. No interview necessary.


You’ve been reading Jumping Off Books. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been a bit of a fits-and-starts blogger but I’m trying to write weekly at the moment. I’m a runner, mother, business consultant and voice-actor-in-training among other things. I like being outdoors and I’m soppy about my 16-year-old, much-travelled cat, Loco. Plus my children, of course, and the Mr gets the odd look in!  Do swing by again and feel free to comment or even follow 🙂


One thought on “Running short (of French)

  1. Pingback: The gloves are on, the gloves are off… | Jumping Off Books

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