Last month I had the privilege to live and work in France for a few weeks. Week one was near Geneva, 20 minutes east of Annemasse, France in a small farming town. My frugal purchasing mindset pushed us into the country for a lower-cost Airbnb – if you’re also a purchasing pro, YOU GET IT. Why waste the money?

Morning one (Memorial Day), I ran west along the country road, wonderfully smelling cows, grass, tiny towns, churches, wildflowers, and ultimately a small castle. It was amazing.

Morning One – to the West
Morning Two – to the East

Morning two, I ran east past another tiny town (these are beautiful/quaint places) and came to a crossroad where I could continue in 3 different directions. I decided to head up what looked like a mountain pass – there were even signs that named the climb for cyclists. It got me wondering, and SURE ENOUGH Col de Cou is one of the climbs on this year’s Tour. I was so excited that I decided to dedicate my ‘morning five’ to running to the top of the climb. It was amazing. Green trees canopy the road most of the way up with occasional vistas across the valley with Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) in the background.

Bottom of Col de Cou

This month I watched Netflix’s ‘Tour of France’ and LOVED it. I’ve been watching the Tour on/off for almost 20 years but this new behind-the-scenes view of the teams, managers, and sport left me spellbound and wanting more. I can’t wait to see how the 2023 Tour plays out – and I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat looking for the Col de Cou on July 15th.

On new roads like this, the miles spin out under my feet and before long I arrived at the top for some great photos where I made sure I’d remember the sights for the July 15th Stage of the Tour that starts at Annemasse and includes my new personal favorite, the Col de Cou! After watching the 2022 Tour episodes on Netflix – I’m more excited than ever to watch the tour.

Col de Cu about 2/3rds the way down
Top of Col de Cou

On the way down, I passed a few cyclists. No surprise as the country is full of cyclists (natives and visitors) who want to ride the same roads and climbs as the Tour. Frankly, if I had my bike, I would have tried to climb all the passes of the stage.

Funny side story, as I waved and opened my mouth to use one of my 10 French words, ‘Bonjour‘. A fly following behind the cyclist flew directly into my open mouth and into my throat – which sent me into a gagging/coughing fit until that pesky fly was ejected.  So much for practicing my French – which I soon realized wasn’t important anyway as the waves/hellos from the visiting American were rarely returned.

My daughter, who lived in France for a few years let me know that it wasn’t just me. It’s just not quite as culturally normal to be waving and saying hello to strangers along the way.  Je suis désolé  (now you know 4 of my 10 French words).

I couldn’t help but think about one of my childhood nursery rhymes…

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die! …

4 K remaining

Thankfully, I’m still alive – no spider required 😉

I’m so incredibly thankful that my body continues to allow me to run, cycle and hike. I still remember the day over 20 years ago when I realized I needed to do something different. It was a revelation that the answer to several of my problems lay in regular exercise. It has changed and improved my life.

Since then, I have run about 30 marathons and cycled many thousand miles. It’s sort of become an obsession for me. But, unlike others who testify about the ‘runners high’ or other euphoria. I can honestly say that it’s been a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I lay in bed for an hour debating with myself about the weather, temperature, my aches, and pains, or any number of things.

But I can say – that without exception. EVERY TIME I return from a run, walk, or ride, I feel much better than I felt before I started.

I think more clearly. I talk more clearly. I am more focused and more creative. Some of my best ideas and personal therapy were the result of miles along the road as time passes behind me.

I know running isn’t the answer for everyone. I’m told swimming would be better for me – but I have a hard time going back and forth in a pool (and open water swims make me nervous). The key is to find some form of exercise or activity that works for you. It could be rowing or weightlifting. Just do something. These bodies of ours are the greatest miracle in the world. And it’s inseparably connected to our minds, souls, stresses, and relationships. Whatever you do – it’s worth every moment.

You may have watched the TedTalk about power poses.  Well, for me – I feel the same way about my morning exercise. If I have some big pitch or presentation. I KNOW I NEED my morning run to perform at my best the rest of the day.

Miles, marathons, and mountains just might overwhelm you. I know the idea of running 10 miles BLEW MY MIND when I was younger. It just seemed ridiculous and impossible.

Just start small – a brisk walk after lunch. A standing desk during a few of your meetings. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park at the far end of the parking lot rather than as close to the door as possible. As you make small changes in your ‘movement’ and exercise, your body will quickly adapt. Our bodies have an insanely cool ability to adapt to whatever we do with them. If we sit around – our bodies evolve into a sitting-around body. If we move around, our bodies evolve into a moving-around body. If we run, our bodies evolve into a running body, and if we list weights, we will evolve into the body of a weightlifter. I must admit – my weightlifter body doesn’t look much different than my regular skinny self. I’ve always envied abs and big muscles – but they have eluded me.

I promise you – it’s worth the investment. We only have one body. And, the warranty (in this life) isn’t great.  

Stand up and move around – your body will thank you! (later)