March 29, 2010

Job (and pumpkin) hunting

I am standing in the small meeting room, waiting for my interviewer to arrive. This is my first real job interview for a while, and I am trying not to feel too stressed out. 

After months of living in my running gear, pregnancy clothes, and since Malo's birth, (dirty) jeans and T-shirts, I have put on a suit, reminding me that, once, a long, long time ago, I used to play tough, from the little corner of my cubicle.

Then I see it. No. Them. Several, bright orange stains on my black sweater. PUMPKIN.

Oh, no.

It suddenly comes back to me that I was wearing that sweater yesterday already. Including at lunchtime. When feeding Malo. Feeding Malo with PUMPKIN. Which he loves, but has not yet completly mastered the art of eating without making a big, big, mess.

To make things worse, I am wearing black. Black is in my view the ideal business colour. You see, I am a petite, 5ft2 (on a good day) girl - well, old enough to be called a woman, but somehow, I struggle associating my image in the mirror with that word. And I used to work in the not very female friendly world of investment banking. In that world, playing tough saved my life. That, and wearing strict, black, business suits.

But somehow, now, in this room, in my pumkin-stained sweater, black, which seems to make the orange of the pumkin even brighter, does not seem the ideal business colour anymore.

Instead, it just seems to scream:
- "Hey, look, she is a MUM, who just fed her baby-boy. She is a MUM, and just in case you were not aware of it, she has just decided to wear black, so that you can notice the pumpkin straight away. Now, surely you do NOT want to hire a MUM for that big-dick position you need to fill".

It should be enough that it is reminding Mister Interviewer that surely, if he has two ounce of common sense, he may think twice before hiring a pumpkin-covered mum.  But in case it was not, the vegetable situation also reminds ME that I might not anymore be the tough professional I once pretended to be. Now that the whale-turned-mother hen has made her official coming out, have I still got it in me to play the shark?

I just have time to realise that, given my inflated breast-feeding boobs makes it impossible to  button up my jacket and hide the pumpkin stains, before Mister Interviewer walks in. Either he's blind, or he likes pumpkin, or he himself is not the shark he is supposed to be, because somehow the interview goes decently well, and  I  am told I will have to come back to see the boss.

I will, if only to see how long I can pull it off before they realise I am a mother hen. But not before I have amended my check list of things to do before a job interview:
- put on my I-am-smart-I-am-sharp-I-am-tough-you-know-you-want-to-hire-me mask face.
- bring print-out of my CV.
- Be ready to answer the oh-so-silly "what is your greatest achievement" and other "what would your friends say of you" questions.
- Check for any pumpkin stains on jumper, suit, oh, and socks, while I am at it. The little devil is never short of ideas of where to splash it.

March 12, 2010

Mountain Masochist

Getting in training mode for upcoming trail races, I realised I needed new shoes. I got my (all very legitimate) excuses lined up: my current pairs were either comfy but not responsive enough, or perfect in snow and wet conditions but not ideal on harder terrain. Or too wide. Or giving me blisters. Or the wrong colour. 

Whatever. I just needed new ones.

And so I went hunting, and found...  the PERFECT shoes.


Now, Martin is, not very fairly it lust be said, claiming that I bought them because I just love that name. OK, fine: I just love that name.

A couple of days ago, my little, size 3,  masochists, arrive, and  I immediately start feeling some itching in my feet:  it is time to prove that I deserve them. That it is not just a I-baught-these-shoes-because-I-like-that-stupid-name purchase, but that I am a true mountain lover. Or a true mountain masochist. Same thing.

So here am I, planning where to go and treat them promptly to their first serious run. Which obviously needs to be on a mountain. And ideally a rather steep one. Add rain and a lot of slippery mud for good measure. On  my lunch break, meaning I get neither lunch nor a break. And, in case this does not make for a true masochist experience, I add a cold, runny nose and a sore throat for good measure

Man, what a great run!

The run starts next to a cemetery, and less than 30 seconds later, I catch myself thinking it may actually turn out to be pretty convenient, because I am positively dying. Then for the first mile, the slope averages 16%: who needs a warm up when you can feel like puking instead?  After a few hundreds metres, I just cannot breath anymore, and start questionning whether I am right claiming that a good run is the best cure against a cold.  5kms and 500m elevation gain later, alternatively plodding through deep snow and mud, and I am not questioning that claim anymore: by now it is all too clear this was a very stupid thing to say indeed.

Top reached. That felt hard. That felt good.

The Mountain Masochist and I have handled our first mountain run together rather well. And since they deserve it, I'll probably treat them to another outing rather soon.   The only thing I felt very let down by, is their colour. I mean, BABY BLUE? What kind of colour is that for a masochist?

March 09, 2010

Slackin' or Chillin'?

I used to be a runner of the obsessed/compulsive kind. In other words a middle-of-the-(off)road runner, I guess.

Back in the days when I was living in London, I used to get up every morning at 6am to go and work out at the gym before work. If I had not been able to get a run in during the day, I would just go at 11pm. Or later. I would update my log-book religiously, very unhappy with myself if I had not managed 6 runs and 60 miles a week, despite working 60 hour-weeks... I guess I just liked 6s. I could go on and on, but you may be getting bored: either you're a runner and you know all about it, or you're not, and you just don't see the point.

Then things changed.

If you have followed this blog from the beginning, or if you are one of my long-suffering friends (or worse: if you are my not-that-long-but-suffering-nevertheless husband), you know all about my long, painful, horrible, untolerable (add here any very negative adjectives you fancy) months of not being able to run, eventually followed by Redemption.

OK, so I am a runner again. But probably just barely. Because I am not sure I qualify for the "obsessed" title anymore.
So, since it's got to be done, here is The (non exhaustive) Shame List:
- No more early morning gym workouts.  These were the first to go, probably the result of  meeting Martin and thus getting the choice between a cuddle and the gym as a pre-work activity.   I can now also blame it on  the French' "Mediterranean" lifestyle, which means the gym does not open before 8.30am, by which time I am doing a different sort of work-out, throwing balls or crawling on the carpet with a 6-month old.
- No more 11pm-runs.  But I probably would get arrested and detained, on account of dangerous mental illness, if I did do this here anyway.
- While I will try to keep this one pretty quiet, my training log has empty days, and I even sometimes forget to update it. I know, unbelievable.
- I can still get pretty obnoxious if prevented from running, but it usually takes now two days instead of  24 hours at the max a few years ago.
- I am most of the time true to my "it does not have to be fun to be fun" motto, but have now the uncomfortable and recurring feeling that, well, fun is also fun.
- Sure, I still like to push myself. But, oh shock, I now also enjoy taking it easy. Sometimes.

No way round it: I am SLACKING.

I largely blame the current situation on my husband. He helped me go through months of inactivity. He then went to great lengths to find sports I could enjoy while I still couldn't run. Like signing up with me for a triathlon swimming course, despite the fact his free style technics initally sucked so much he was sometimes going backwards. He has since then improved greatly, and done his first triathlon in a very honourable time, while I was stuck on the sideline doing the whale, which I enjoyed only moderately (but that's another story)... Bottom line is, we started doing a lot of other sports, and no matter how one sliced it, that meant less running.

I also blame it on Annecy and living in the Alps. I mean, the place is simply an outdoor freaks' paradise, the kind who makes you want to have a seven-day weekend every weekend. So, of course, by the time we have gone cycling, swimming in the lake, hiking, climbing, alpine/cross/back-country skiing, we get sometimes a bit short of time for running.

Last but not least, I blame it on Malo. Not that he prevents me from running. In fact, he went on every single one of my runs when I was pregnant, and although I would admit he then did not have much of a choice, I like to think he enjoyed it. Since he was born, we have also gone on a fair numbers of runs, my little partner comfortably sleeping in his Chariot. It is just that, sometimes... how to say this...  I am quite happy just getting a shorter run in and spend the time playing with him instead. Or, whenever we go running together, enjoying the view, the sun, or simply the time outside with my son instead of trying to gain these elusive few seconds off, or adding a mile to last week's route. OK, that's not every time, but still, that's a sure change from my former running regimen.

So, slacking away, then.  But then,  I hear Martin reminding me what kind of total nightmare-on-(running) legs I was back in the old days, either running, or if not, thinking about it, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Then I am thinking: could it be that I am not slacking but just better at chilling out? Now, that would be some news. Such a big change that would be. Better put on my running shoes and go for a run, see if it helps me clarify the situation...