A few hundred yards after I rounded the corner of Rue de Saint Dominique, a narrow Parisian street, I was flying. Literally flying down the street. So much so that I put my arms out and pretended I was a bird. So there were a few pedestrians walking down the street. It didn’t matter to me.
The first two miles of this 11 mile run were, well, challenging. I had come face to face with a predicament most trail runners are not prepared for when running in a foreign city. The situation is something you just can’t plan for. Which is why by the time I reached the public restroom, or “Toilettes”, it was too late. That is the bad news. The good news is I’ve learned how to deal with this situational challenge. And, as I runner, I’ve long since accepted these moments as a vocational hazard.
I’m not at liberty to get into a lot of detail here, but I can say there is a certain skill involved in managing these moments. I call it disappearing. I’ve disappeared in the middle of city streets in Cleveland, Ohio of all places. It’s a learned skill. Training for it can be frightening at times. When you are in the “moment”, you have to let go of all inhibitions.
One of my favorite things about running in Paris is there are many parks and designated sections with no vehicle traffic that are perfect for running. On the Left Bank is The Jardine de Plant which sits right on the river Seine and is easily accessible via the Paris River walk. This is a 70 acre park that includes a zoo, a botanical school and garden with some 4,500 different types of plants.
Another great place to run is the Le Jardine de Luxumberg, a 55 acre park and garden of the French Senate. In addition to a crushed gravel surface which is perfect for running you will find over 100 statues, monuments and fountains in this park. After my mishap with the toilets I ran from the river walk to the Jardine de Plant and eventually made my way to Le Jardine de Luxumberg. When I arrived at the Lux there was 10k race going on so I jumped in for a few miles and then put a few more miles in circling the garden. Along the route I also ran by the Pantheon where the great philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau are buried and then over to Les Invalides, burial site of Mr. Waterloo himself, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Then I rounded the corner at Rue de St. Dominique and was overcome by all that I had experienced. All I could do was run. Faster and faster until I felt like I was flying.