Reunions (and a bit of stalking) in Paris

When I was nine, my best friends were twin girls, four years my senior, who lived next door. Their dad was a bank manager, so they were Irish nomads who moved house every few years. When I was nine, the twins and their siblings moved to a village in an adjacent county, Wexford, less than 100km from Kilkenny. Other than one visit to stay with them, when I vomited in the back of their dad’s car (from eating too many sweets on the sleepover), I never saw them again. I don’t think my spewing over the car was a contributing factor. The twins’ departure from my life was a major, sad event, one which I recall vividly. Back in the pre-internet days, when a telephone call to Wexford was prohibitively expensive, our friendship hadn’t a chance.

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My own children have bid goodbye to many friends during their short lives. When I chaperone their tearful leave takings, I insist on saying it’s not goodbye forever, it’s until next time. I recall the twins and the vomiting and I vow to do better. I mean it when I say that they will see their friends again even if they are moving to the other side of the planet. All this is a long introduction really into how last week I found myself in Paris with four teenagers, aged 12-15. Selfless mother that I am, I travelled from Dublin with my two daughters, to meet up with my eldest’s two friends who now live in Houston and San Francisco. One of the friends, who is Dutch, lived in Paris for 8 years before relocating to Perth, where we first met and understandably his family love the city so much that they visit annually en route to the Netherlands. Spending time in Paris with people who know where to go, how to get there, and can suggest great places to eat, while also being great company, really makes for a spectacular holiday. I might even go as far as saying that I relaxed and enjoyed myself. I know! Incredible! IMG_1089

After five great days of being tourists with insider guides who didn’t charge a fee we took a taxi to Charles de Gaulle Airport to return to Ireland. Our reunions hadn’t finished yet however. Serendipity meant that another friend of my daughter’s, from our time in Kuala Lumpur, was arriving in Paris from Toronto, and we managed to meet her and her mother for coffee and a catch-up. Yes, my children do think such meetings and international travel are normal, no matter how much I try and explain that they’re not. The Wexford situation is beyond their comprehension in this instant messaging age.

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As we approached the airline check-in desk, I spied the familiar figure of Colm Tóibín, probably Ireland’s most famous living writer, coincidentally from the friend-robbing county of Wexford. I was as excited as a teenager bumping into Harry Styles but managed to keep my rapture under wraps channelling my energy instead into explaining to the check-in lady in Frenglish exactly whom she had just served. She was oblivious to Mr Tóibín’s celebrity status and possibly thought I was slightly mad. I’d met Mr Tóibín a couple of times at Kilkenny Arts Festival a few years back but remarkably he didn’t seem to recognise me (!). I’m pathetically bad at shoving myself forward (while sober) so this particular reunion was wordless and only experienced by one party. Some people might call it stalking but I promise, it was inadvertent. Remarkably no one else appeared to recognise him during all the time we sat in the departure lounge – he on his laptop, me pretending not to be watching him on his laptop, or back in Dublin airport in the line for Passport Control, me admonishing my daughters for staring, lest he actually notice me – for the wrong reasons. I guess not everyone thinks that writers are like rock stars but this brush with multi-Booker-nominated celebrity, whose career I’ve long coveted, topped off what turned out to be one of the best weeks I’ve had in years.

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Ireland 2015

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Yesterday I did my first non-Australian parkrun in my home town, Kilkenny, something I’ve been looking forward to for months. But I’m not going to write about it yet. I can’t, because I forgot to take a photo of the delicious scones topped with fresh cream and jam which we ate at the Castle Cafe afterwards and being a diligent blogger, who likes things to be complete, I plan to return to Kilkenny parkrun next weekend and take a photo of the after-run delights. I’ll probably run as well:)

IMG_1014I’ve been in Ireland a week and I’ve done much of my running around the Castle Park where parkrun is held. Today though I ventured a bit further afield, and actually ended up IN a field. There is a trail that runs along the River Nore from Kilkenny to Bennetsbridge, and beyond, for around 11km I think but I did not end up on that trail today, despite my best navigation efforts. I was, it turns out, on the wrong side of the river. Still, I took lots of lovely photos of the scenery I took for granted as a child. I was mulling around in the ruins of the old mill when I got an SMS to say my lunch was on the table at my mother’s house. The delights of being home.

I’ve posted the rest of the photos on my Facebook page. Tomorrow I head to Paris with my daughters for a few days. I don’t know if I’ll manage to persuade them to let me run but I’ll try as we’re staying very near the Bois de Boulogne which must be a good place to run. No doubt there will be plenty of Eiffel tower snaps to follow. Á Bientôt:)

ITB Saga continues

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‘She’s chomping at the bit so she is,’ someone said yesterday. I wasn’t anywhere near a racecourse or stables but lying flat on a physiotherapy table. The ‘she’ in question was me; the inference being that I was dying to run again, raring to go as they say (on racecourses). I was near the end of my third physio session in a week and the student physio who had just spent an hour pummelling my ITB and glutes with his elbows was updating the senior physio on my progress. I thought I’d been very good about the whole ‘don’t run for ages thing’ but I guess it’s still obvious that I want to run. Immediately!

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I’ll rewind a bit. Last Monday, I walked the three-minute trip down the road to a physiotherapy clinic I had found online and got an appointment for that afternoon. I don’t know what I expected but I hadn’t really anticipated being told not to run for 6-8 weeks. What?! A week before, in the midst of moving and bidding farewell to friends, pets, and life as I’d known it for four years in KL, I’d cried over the idea of taking a few days off. To be fair, I cried about just about everything that week. But here in Kilkenny, I didn’t shed a tear or even try to appeal the jail sentence. For one thing, the ITB problem had been going on far too long so that even I, obsessive that I am, knew that running wasn’t helping me to get better. It was in fact making the injury worse. The other thing was that the physio’s offer to show me his scar from ITB surgery. Er surgery?! Yikes! OK, a few weeks off didn’t seem so bad after all, even if it did mean missing the half marathon in August and jettisoning all dreams of running in cooler weather, climbing up the Kilkenny Strava ladder. My choice of physio may have been haphazard but I was lucky to end up with someone who not only is a runner himself, but who has also had an ITB injury, though hopefully much more serious than my own.IMG_6540

Unlike in KL, the physios here are not averse to causing pain, and I’ve the bruising to prove it. The idea is to break down the scar tissue on the ITB and promote healing by sending blood to the area through deep tissue massage. There has been no mention of exercises yet though it has been agreed that foam rolling is a great idea. Everyone I mention ITBS to asks if I foam roll. Well I do. And I’ve started to do some body weight exercises on my core, upper body, abductors, and adductors, in the hope of not losing the little strength I had built up, and even perhaps building up some more for when I return to running.

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Physio-inflicted bruising on my thigh.

Initially I thought the timing terrible – to be injured when home, where I have no access to a bike (it has just arrive in Perth apparently) – but I’ve now committed to a routine of walking a 6km loop in the countryside everyday (see photos), and with the glorious summer weather we’re currently having, it’s impossible to feel sorry for myself. Sure, my cardio fitness is really suffering but I’ll just have to accept that. As long as my ass doesn’t go south, east and west too I’ll be fine.

Before I took up running I was a keen walker so it’s no hardship to return to it once more – temporarily – and enjoy the summer weather without breaking a sweat. The ITB feels sore from the physio but other than that, it’s impossible to know whether it’s healing or not. Any temptation to try run is quickly tempered by the thought of the scar on my physio’s knee, which I didn’t look at by the way. Sure, I’m chomping at the bit to get back out there, clocking up the miles again, but I know I need to be patient – or I might end up in the knacker’s yard! Or worse, be forced to become a cyclist!

 

A little bit back, a little bit forward

We’re in Ireland now, enjoying the cooler weather and eating our way through the tin of Cadbury’s Roses my mother has kept for us since Christmas.  I’ve tried running twice but a week’s break has done nothing to improve my ITB. Sigh.

When I left Oslo in 2010, I regretted not having taken photos of the walking loop I loved so much. My ITB injury, which allows me to walk but not run, offered me the opportunity last week to snap for posterity before we left, or at least until my iCloud implodes, images of the Mont Kiara loop. This was one of my regular KL running routes. Here’s a taster of the cracked pavements, traffic junctions, and urban chaos that I came to love so much:

 

I’m sure if I returned to Oslo today, I’d find my old walking loop unchanged except for an imperceptible heightening of the trees, lengthening of the branches. The Tanum area I loved so much is a development-free zone. The same cannot be said of KL. The cityscape there is constantly changing so I’m glad I managed to capture what was so familiar and make digital copies as a reminder.
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And of course, the trick to moving is to look forward, not back. Today, I’m looking forward to my first visit to see an Irish physiotherapist as a week’s break from running has offered no improvement to my ITB problem. I ran 2.4 km this morning – gloriously fast, thanks to the cool climate – but that was all my ITB would allow before stiffening. I’m also looking forward to the arrival of the foam roller I ordered online as it’s been five days since my Malaysian one was packed up.
Other than that, it seems I’d better start looking forward to doing more walking, as after five weeks, this ITB issue isn’t going to be easily resolved. Pass the chocolates.