Wednesday, August 01, 2012
For the Saturday race I came in 196 out of 966 women in my age group, 1033 overall (women only). I was 3331 in the co-ed overall out of I don't know how many thousands since I didn't have the patience to scroll all the way to the bottom. Finish time of 48:40, which means the obstacles took me about 15 minutes total.
If you are interested here is the link to the pictures, I am in pink and pink/black stripes, although after the mud pit it looks more like brown. I haven't yet decided which ones I'm going to get.
Monday, July 30, 2012
The Warrior Dash on Saturday was, if anything, even more awesome than last year. The course was a slightly different route and some of the obstacles were new. They got rid of the on where you had to go hand over hands down a rope from the 20-30 foot platform, which was good. That was the obstacle I was seriously thinking of skipping and I really didn't want to have to skip any. I did it last year so I knew I could do it again...but if I slipped or landed just the wrong way it would have been very easy to snap my ankle. Which is probably why they got rid of the obstacle - last year a lot of people broke their ankles on this obstacle, mainly by letting go of the rope halfway down and landing poorly.
The final mud pit was longer and, I think deeper, than last year's. They also had barbed wire in front of the mud pit so you would have to get almost on your knees to get under it. Another good improvement....last year one of the participants ended up paralyzed from a broken neck because he dove into the pit, which was only 3 feet deep, in disregard of all the warnings and the detailed waiver.
This year the water obstacle was a lot tougher. You had to wade/swim/paddle to a bunch of floating boxes lashed together, tread water while waiting your turn to haul yourself up on them, get into the water on the other side, swim to the next set, repeat and swim to the bank. I think that was to hardest obstacle. A guy behind me was nice enough to give me a boost on the first set (probably to get me out of his way lol!) so I returned the favor by letting him use my arm to help pull himself up.
There was also a rope bridge instead of the rope spiderweb which was pretty cool. I almost lost my shoe in the mud bog. And - again! - I wound up behind some wussy girl who started to freak at the top of the climbing rope net and got in my way, wasting time.
I finished in about 48 minutes I think. My goal was 45 but I also took my time on the obstacles to make as sure as I could that I wouldn't get hurt. The fastest times, from the first group of people to go, were about 24 minutes. I'm hoping they bring Warrior Dash to Europe next year, or one of the similar races like Run for Your Lives. If I could get a team I'd love to do the Tough Mudder sometime but that will probably have to wait awhile.
After the race I came home to confront the jungle that has overtaken my yard. Apparently there was rain during the two weeks I was in France...and no one mowed the lawn since a week before I left. So three weeks of unrestrained growth = jungle. The grass had to have been at least 5 inches in some places. It took twice as long as normal to mow it since I had to go over each section twice. So I split it over two days.
I started cleaning out the garage again, putting things in piles to sell or donate or Freecycle. I'm still waiting for the Freecycle posts to get approved and sent, and I listed a few things on Craigslist. I haven't sold anything there in years so I don't know how effective it is anymore, but I hope the items sell, they are too big to list/ship on eBay.
This morning I'm meeting with a moving company to get an estimate on shipping my furniture and stuff and my Dad will arrive at noon to start working on the doors and trim. I met with my ex on Saturday to get a notarized "permission slip" for our daughter to live with me in France - right after the Dash since it was held only a few miles from where he now lives so I was filthy and smelly, made quite an impression on the local library staff where we went to print out the letter! I personally didn't care, but it was worth it to see his expression - he's very uptight about "what people think" and was beyond humiliated to be seen with me! Yes, I am evil LOL!
I'm still waiting for the property management guy to call me back about renting out my house while I am gone. I called him late Friday afternoon, so I can almost understand not hearing from him over the weekend. Almost because I know real estate agents do work on the weekends a lot. So I'll give him until today for the call back and then call someone else. I have neither the time nor the inclination to chase someone down in order to give them business.
It is going to be a busy week!
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Now on my previous list I should have been clearer that the differences are based on what I have experienced in a very localized part of France. It is like comparing a large town / small city in the Midwest USA to New York City...what I observe here in Compiegne is going to be different from major cities like Paris, and even from other regions in France. Many of the differences may very well be my misinterpretation because I don't know the language or the "why" behind certain behaviour. Nor am I passing judgement in the slightest (unless expressly stated) because things are simply different from what I am accustomed to, not necessarily better or worse.
Except for the number of vacation days I now get, those are way better.
I will adapt fairly easily. Except maybe for the morning hand-shaking / cheek kissing routine, that is hard to get used to; I can't wait for cold & flu season.
So caveats aside, some more of the differences I've experienced lately:
*for grocery shopping everyone brings their own bag because the stores don’t provide the cheap flimsy plastic bags we are used to in the US and you bag your items yourself (just like Aldi now that I think about it, but that is not that common of a store in my area)…no bag, too bad (and everyone stares at you)…finally I fit in with all my reusable shopping bags! My kids laugh at me because I have my own bags but now I have the last laugh!
*the grocery store has the normal things you walk between to detect shoplifters but also has security guards at the entrances. I'm sure that's normal in parts of the US too, but not where I live. And those shoplifter detectors go off when I wear a certain sweater because of something in the name/care/size tag. You'd think I would have remembered that from the first time it happened but nooo, not me. They almost didn't let me in tonight because I was setting off the alarms. I had to rip the tags off to get out of the store without setting them off again. Thankfully it was the sweater tags setting them off and not the tag on my pants because that one wasn't coming off without scissors.
*if you ask for butter for your bread or ketchup for your fries you may get stared at (in one case in a restaurant in Paris my American coworker got a horrified look complete with a gasp & raised eyebrows for asking for butter for her bread. Now the waiter may have been having fun with us, I don't know, but it was quite a visible reaction); in the store I went to here in Compiegne the ketchup bottles are the size of mayo bottles in the US (small) and the mayo bottles are US ketchup sized (large)
*there is no “Diet” Coke or “Diet” Pepsi…here it is branded as Coke or Pepsi “Light”
*ice in your water/Coke/etc is not a divine right; neither are free refills
*you have to ask for the bill at the restaurant. I have been told it is because it is considered rude and seen as rushing the customers if the waiter brings the bill to you before you ask for it; if you pay by credit card they have nifty little hand held machines they use right at your table (and very few places accept American Express). Imagine my surprise at check-out after staying at a little bed & breakfast here for 2 weeks - which was booked for me by my company travel agency - to learn that the B&B did not accept AmEx. Now I already knew that most places in this area did not take AmEx but I had assumed (bad me!) that the agency knew I had AmEx as my travel card and would therefore book me somewhere that accepted it. Now I know to stipulate form of accepted payment up front when making reservations.
*the credit cards all have a little chip in them so they just get inserted into the machines, no swiping a magnetic strip. I usually get very strange looks and my cards get scrutinized since US cards don’t have chips; sometimes the person swipes it backwards or upside down b/c they are not familiar with no-chip cards. This also means there are some things I can’t do right now, like buy a train ticket from the machine or get fuel for the car unless I go to a place with an attendant who can accept cash (which I have avoided doing, again due to not knowing the language and fear of putting the wrong fuel in the tank and therefore killing the rental car)
*On average most of the people I have seen are smaller than in the USA; of course here I feel very large and overweight compared to a lot of the women I see or work with although I know I am not (size-wise I am a medium in France and a “small” in the US due to our vanity sizing). On the plus side I don’t think I’ve ever seen here any of the fashions modeled by the People of Walmart which is a very good thing. If you don't know what I mean go here:
*Another good thing…no Walmart
*there is greenery EVERYWHERE…there are trees, shrubs, flowers, plants literally everywhere, along the road, in parks, on balconies & roofs…everywhere…and lots of parks…compared to Detroit & the suburb where I live it is like being in a greenhouse here (and is most awesome)
*no Mexican food (supposedly there is Mexican and TexMex in Paris but I have been told it is not what I would expect) and no Starbucks in Compiegne and nothing comparable, although there are 50+ Starbucks in Paris it is a bit far to go to get my fix
*many more foods are eaten with a knife & fork, including things like hamburgers and pizza and fruit (and the pizza I've had in the restaurants is more like a thin crust than our regular pizza except the crust is soft instead of crispy)…although there is a Dominos Pizza just down the road that I haven’t been brave enough to order from due to my almost non-existent French, which might be closer to what I expect from a pizza. I will also mention that while I have seen many people eating a hamburger with fork & knife I have also seen people pick one up to eat with their hands.
I fly home to the US Friday morning and get to stay there for 2 weeks, to meet with the moving company, preperty management company, go to the French Consulate to turn in our Visa and residency applications, and have my Dad hang the last few doors and put in the house trim. And start packing and get my son moved & re-registered for school & moving on his Eagle project & get his Dad motivated to help him and get the pets microchipped and & and & and.
I will be very glad when the move is finished. I come back to France for 1 week in mid-August to sign the lease for the house and then back to the US again to finish packing. And - I hope! - get our Visas in time to come back at the very end of August for good.
And my question for the day: If windows in France do not have screens how do people keep their pets inside the house without keeping the windows closed all the time? I don't think I can live without opening the windows, it gets too stuffy to breathe, but I don't want the animals going outside either. The yard is completely fenced so I'm not worried about Stupid Dog but the cats can get past the fence.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
On my initial "look & see"' visit to Compiègne I received a ''Sports Guide'' listing all the clubs and teams available. It is quite a bit different from where I live in southeast Michigan.
Some of the possibilities include:
* several types of martial arts
* circus arts
* rowing / canoeing / kayaking
* rock climbing
* mountain boarding / skateboarding / rollerblading
* motor biking
* table tennis
* shooting / archery
Plus the common things like dance, soccer, track, gymnastics, baseball, basketball, horseback riding, etc.
Many of these are available where I live in MI, but not necessarily close by, and are typically offered as a class at the community college so not necessarily practical for continuing practice.
To continue with karate I will need to start in a different style, at the ''beginning'' again, which is OK as it is a new challenge. I think I will also look into fencing. I took one class in college for my gym credit, with my boyfriend (and whooped his behind 'cuz I was bad-ass even then) and really enjoyed it. I also used to watch re-runs of the old Disney series Zorro as a kid and always thought fencing was super cool.
There are so many possibilities that I will have no excuses to slack off on the fitness once we're moved here!
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