Friday, September 28, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane Part II: La vie en France

This month's Running Times has a feature on "running buddies," a person they described as "someone who understood our passion and shared the battle and beauty of the road." Last week I also came across an recent article from my college newspaper, the Hoya, about running in school without being on the varsity XC or track team. Both pieces got me thinking about some of the people I've run with over the years.

I spent the summer after my senior year of college doing a study abroad program in Tours, France. Even though I already had my degree and didn't need the credits, I really wanted to make my dream of living abroad a reality before getting crushed by the oppressive workload of a decidedly non-creative grad school program. I had minored in French but never been to Europe so the summer program in Tours seemed like the perfect way to spend the summer.

There was never any doubt that I would keep running while in France, but it would have been tempting to simply take things easy had it not been for my running partner.

Our local track.
As part of the program, run through Georgetown, all the students lived with host families. Although my host family was somewhat far from our classes--they lived in St-Cyr-Sur-Loire, a small town across the river from the center of Tours--they were just down the street from another Georgetown student, Renée, who happened to be a quite an accomplished varsity runner.

Although I had run my first marathon less than a year before, I was still getting used to "training" as opposed to simply running (I think I had still done fewer than 5 races total). Renée, however, had a rigorous schedule to stick to and I did my best to keep up with her every step of the way.

Not a bad spot for hill work.
We did some seriously punishing intervals at the local track (le Complexe sportif Guy Drut), did hill repeats up L'avenue de la Tranchée, and did long runs along the Loire, sometimes running through vineyards as far away as Vouvray. I was really lucky that Renée put up with me. She was a much more experienced (and faster) runner than I was, but not wanted to slow her down, I pushed myself. She was also extremely encouraging and also inspiring. 

Unfortunately, I went off to grad school in New York and only saw Renée a few times after that. She went on to do some pretty amazing things, like qualifying for the Olympic Trials (though unfortunately she didn't make the team). Still, in my mind, that's the summer I really became a runner and I have Renée to thank for that.

(Maybe next time we'll talk about how that's the summer I really became a wine drinker or cheese lover, but then again, this is a running blog, right?)

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to look back at the runner you were of yore. Thanks for sharing. I can see easily see how the summer you really became a runner is the summer you also became a wine drinker and cheese lover. I feel like running and an appreciation for food often go hand in hand!