After the Two-Oceans marathon I needed a new challenge. That’s just me, I suppose. You see, I don’t fit into any particular category. For instance, I am French, but also British. I am a runner, but I don’t really like the usual 5k or 10k races. So what to do? Well, I have set my my views on a 100k race: the Thames Path Challenge on the 10th of September, from Putney Bridge to Henley.
What can I say? I love long distances. As in, really long distances. This time, I will be running for a charity I have been supporting for years, ActionAid, Please wish me luck. I am not sure what I got myself into. You can click on my fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/Muriel-Demarcus. Of course I would be delighted if you could sponsor me, but I would also really appreciate you to send me some encouragements as I am not sure what I got myself into. I take some comfort in the fact that, when I run for a long time, there comes a point when I feel really bad (this is actually a British understatement), but it doesn’t get any worse (am I making sense? I hope so).
And frankly, nothing can describe the feeling of having completed a long race. I just love it.
Nota: I don’t have the official pics and will post them in a separate article, but I thought I should tell you a bit more about what happened this weekend…
It was pitch dark when I woke up…
What went into me? It may be a late midlife crisis, but I think that it is deeper than this. I used to think that there was time to realise my dreams, but now that I am in my mid-forties I need to act on them. This is why I started running again about a year ago, after a twenty-five years hiatus. I have always liked long-distance running. It was time to finally make it happen. I started training, right from the start. Obviously I was a bit slower, but the pleasure had remained the same.
Don’t get me wrong: I know that I will never be a champion. For me, it’s not about going fast. It’s about the experience. I want to run in the most beautiful places of the world. Obviously running the Two Oceans marathon was a no-brainer, and I signed in as soon as entries were open, back in February. The marathon is in Cape Town, and takes you from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. What’s not to like?
It is all over the press and is coming from the celebrated actress Kristin Scott Thomas: apparently we French women, unlike our British counterparts, can be attractive without abusing our sexy side. You can read the article here : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3461270/SEBASTIAN-SHAKESPEARE-Fake-tan-short-skirts-Actress-Kristin-Scott-Thomas-blasts-UK-women.html
Is there some truth in such sweeping statements? Obviously the article is written in a slightly provocative way (after all, it was published on the Daily Mail), but I do think that, in my home country, there is a stronger pressure on us women to look good in all circumstances. This is one of the reasons why I find living in London liberating. I will always remember the day when I so one of my neighbours buying her Sunday newspapers at the newsagent around the corner wearing her bathrobe and flip-flops. Shocking. This simply couldn’t have happened in France.
It had to happen, right? I suppose it is a compulsory step when you are a female blogger. What am I talking about? Well, to cut a long story short, I was asked a couple of months ago to be part of an advertising campaign…for an underwear company. This means that they wanted me to pose, well, in my undies. Yep, you read that right.
Obviously, I was flattered to be considered, especially at my ripe age. But I turned it down. All my male friends told me that I should have accepted, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I would have looked great, and so on, and so forth. Suffice to say, they didn’t make me change my mind. I am a bit stubborn like that. And I can’t help thinking that they would have enjoyed the whole process a lot more than me.
Let me be clear here: I am not a prude. It’s just that I don’t want to be ‘the woman who posed in her underwear’. Because once you have got this label, it is a hard one to get rid of. Whatever you achieve in life, you will always be the woman who was photographed almost naked on a billboard. You can speak four languages fluently, have a business and two master degrees, but that’s it, you are the woman who posed in her undies. And don’t get me started about what my children’s school mates and my husband’s colleagues would say.
I think that 2016 will be the year of the comebacks. Why? Well, for starters I was pleased to read that the classic shirt is coming back with a vengeance. See here if you don’t believe me:
You see, I love shirts. Especially white ones, come to think of it. Always have. Always will. A white shirt is simply a must-have in any women’s wardrobe, isn’t it? A white shirt makes you look -and feel- cIean and crisp.
As you know, I am always being asked for some tricks to look and feel more French. I am afraid that this year is no exception. I was asked how to look more French no later than yesterday after my run (all sweaty and stuff. Can you believe it?). I will never understand such an obsession for anything French but hey, as I am polite, I am always happy to oblige. It must be my British side taking over…What can I say? More than a decade in London was bound to leave a mark.
Come to think of it, nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for such an obsession for ‘the French’. I suppose that you have to live outside of France to start grasping its full extent. My French friends and family don’t believe it when I try to explain to them the reputation we have. They think that I am kidding. If only!
Life is all about having fun and making the most of what you have, right? This year, I changed a few habits of mine. From now on, I am renting my dresses instead of buying them. That’s because I hate to wear the same things more than a couple of times. And it’s good fun to rent! Not to mention that’s it’s cheaper than buying a dress I will only wear once or twice…The thing is, I like to try out new things and new designers. This is why I use Rentez-Vous for new styles and new clothes. You can read all about it here: http://blog.rentez-vous.com…Enjoy without moderation: this is a guilt-free fashion experience…and oh so French!
Yesterday I was asked by the friend of an acquaintance what my secret to look so young was (really? I feel my age, this much I know). I was very embarrassed. I didn’t know what to answer. The secret is, well, there is no secret. I still feel 15 in my head but I will be 40-something + one year very very soon (just don’t mention it. Birthdays are overrated anyway).
I therefore decided to tell the truth. Because I am well-behaved. Because I am honest. And, most importantly, because I have nothing to sell. I therefore said:
” Well I run almost every day ”
I even run in the bloody British rain
She looked so disappointed. She was clearly expecting something else. Like ‘I have found the youth elixir, and here is what you need to do…”
She didn’t believe me. She looked suspicious.
I felt ill-at-ease. I shut up.
“Really? Nothing else? No miracle product?”
If you follow this blog, you know that I had my 20-year university Alumni reunion over the weekend. The thing is, I am not too big on reunions. But somehow this time I wanted to catch up with old friends. So off I went to Paris, and despite the late arrival of my Eurostar service I made it on time (just!). I had rented a dress for the occasion (this one here). You see, I wanted to look my best. I was a bit stressed, I am not sure why. Maybe because my own daughter will soon go to university. I also remembered that I had had a good time, albeit sometimes a bit challenging, but I couldn’t really remember why. It was so long ago. Frankly, the whole thing felt a bit surreal. Could 20 years have passed? Damn it. I couldn’t believe it!
The Power Dress I was wearing…
I bumped into an old classmate on my way to the Parisian restaurant where we were all meeting. I recognised him instantly. It had to be a good start, right? Old university mates kept arriving and I was pleased to recognised most of them They all recognised me of course, because out of less than 400 students we were only 35 girls. I was ashamed not to recognise some faces at all. Most of my old friends were now living in France. I felt a bit, well, different. I clearly had taken a wrong turn (and become British –what a shame). There used to be a guy who looked like a cool surfer. Well, he was still cool, but he had put on weight. Not a surfer any more. Then I saw the guy who was trying to grab my bottom at every possible opportunity, and steal my bras from the laundry to staple them on the class door (Don’t worry, I took matters into my own hands and he never bothered me any more. Suffice to say, I can be quite scary when I want to). I started to feel slightly uncomfortable, but I must admit that I shouldn’t have, because he was absolutely charming. He was now married and had three children, and was great fun to talk to. The old bully had mellowed! Unbelievable!
My life is never dull. Last week I was invited to a casting, only to notice too late that it was in fact about doing some stunt work, and even involved some pretend-fighting. To top everything up, I was by far the oldest women Damn it! Once upon a time, I used to be the youngest. The youngest student. The youngest project manager. Well, those days were clearly gone. That day, I was the oldest extra. On the bright side, the rehearsal was quite a good workout, and I had a good laugh!
I started talking to one of the assistants of the production company, because she thought that there was a mistake in my date of birth (of course there wasn’t!). She called her colleagues and they thought that it was some sort of joke (I wish!!!). I showed them some pictures of my daughters, and they looked startled. One of them then asked:
“- But what is your secret to look so young?”
That’s what I was expecting to do!
Let’s face it: marathons are so last year, right? And seriously, why should the fun stop at 42 km? When you run somewhere, you just run somewhere, no matter how far it is. You just want to reach your destination, whatever the distance.
The thing is, I didn’t know that ultra running even existed until a few months ago. I grew up in the countryside, and running up and down the hills (especially walking up, and running down in my case) all day long was what you’d do. As it turns out, this activity has a name: it is called ultra-running. I didn’t know. It made me wonder where I had been. Probably working, and bringing up my kids as best as I could. Anyway, we are where we are, no need to dwell on the past.
Granted, I will never be a champion. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t be a fun runner!
So here I am, at the starting line of the Thames Path Challenge in Bishop’s Park, Fulham, wondering whether I will make it in one piece at the finish line, in 50km. Why do I love running? I have no idea, but I believe that it has something to do with the fact that when I run, I can’t think of anything else, I just have to carry on. And for once my priority is, well, me. Just me. Pure bliss!
Everybody thought I was mad. Because I happen to be 42 (almost 43 if you must know), I was told (in no particular order) that I would hurt myself and especially my knees, that I wasn’t ready, that I should run a few marathons before (I didn’t), that I was addicted to running, and so on, and so forth. So here is a newsflash for everybody: I am fine, thank you very much.