December 19: The end of the boring running phase

My nephew Jack, who turns 18 this year, is coming to Nice on January 6 to run the Prom Classic 10k with Joel. We’re totally thrilled about this, to the point where I thought I even might try to run it with them. I could easily do a 10k if I had someone else’s body, but as I’ve no option but to use mine, and mine repeatedly hurts in critical places after 6k, I’ve conceded I’ll never be a runner.

Oh, happy day! What a relief!

Joel in Cannes, after finishing his first full marathon.

Joel in Cannes, after finishing his first full marathon.

No more running for me means less snits with Joel. Now that he’s a marathon man himself, having finished the Nice/Cannes marathon in November, he tends to think it’s all Mental. He’s been nice enough to drive me down to the airport at stupidly early hours while it’s still chilly so that I don’t have to cycle down without enough clothes on to stay warm, clothes that would be too hot to run in. The thing is, he brings a flask of coffee, buys a pain aux raisins and the newspaper, and sits on a bench halfway along my route on the Promenade des Anglais waiting for me. When I lope up, he gets up to tell me, “Look, there’s Papa Noël! Not far! You can make it! Keep going!” My breathy response is “Stay effing away, I can see bloody Papa Noel, I know exactly where bloody Papa Noël is, leave me alone!” Aren’t I charming? This enormous Papa Noël is right outside the Lenval Hospital for Children, very sweet, but I see his palm-up hands as a comment on my running; as in, “Ho ho ho, no no no, ma petite fattie, you might as well stop right here.”

Papa Noel, the 2.5k halfway point on my morning run.

Papa Noel, the 2.5k halfway point on my morning run.

The thing is, I love being on the Prom in the morning. People are SWIMMING for god’s sake! They’re fishing on the beach, walking their dogs, roller-blading, cycling, power-walking, pushing babies along, reading the paper on a bench, arguing on the phone, waiting for the bus, taking photographs, drinking coffee… It’s such a golden, bright-blue, glittery time of the morning, completely different from summer.

By the time I’ve got back to where they are now selling Christmas trees on the Prom and conscientiously done my stretching while looking out to sea, Joel will be parked outside the Casino Ruhl, waiting for me. How kind and patient is that? But it doesn’t stop me from falling into the car, whinging and whining about my hips and knees and lungs. All that is HISTORY now, thank God. The Running Phase is over!

When Joel was training for the Marathon I bought him a book written by women’s marathon world champion Paula Radcliffe. She actually fired the gun that started Joel’s marathon. After all the runners had set off, and I was idling around in Nice before I took the train to Cannes to meet him, I noticed her wandering off after the festivities with her two minders. I raced after her (see? The training was good for something, at least), and stopped her, to tell her I’d bought the book and she was an inspiration for my husband’s first marathon (not exactly, but she helped…). She was very graceful. She said, no, it’s people like HIM who are an inspiration to me. Awwwww.

A selfie with Paula Radcliffe, very early in the morning on November 10 in Nice.

A selfie with Paula Radcliffe, very early in the morning on November 10 in Nice.

Enough of running already, how boring have we got, for god’s sake? Our new apartment is wonderful, we’re happy, Ted is even happier. All is well.

Ted asleep by the kitchen window.

Ted asleep by the kitchen window.

A rainbow to the north, as runners were leaving their kit on marathon morning.

A rainbow to the north, as runners were leaving their kit on marathon morning.

Our friend Pollie's dog Frankie, with fags and a glass of wine.

Our friend Pollie’s dog Frankie, with fags and a glass of wine.

One of may favourite accidental pix, taken in the mist fountain at the wonderful new Promenade du Paillon in Central Nice.

One of may favourite accidental pix, taken in the mist fountain at the wonderful new Promenade du Paillon in Central Nice.

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About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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