Thursday 6 June 2019

Training for Chartres

I am sitting at my desk rolling a massage ball under my foot.  This morning I woke up at 7:30 AM and decided not to walk 18 miles. Having walked 15 miles yesterday and 12 miles on Monday (9 on Sunday and 6 on Saturday), I'm going to take two days of rest. Besides, I know that lugging my pack  to the train at Charles de Gaulle airport and then up the Paris Metro stairs on Friday night is going to be a challenge.

There are two big difficulties in walking 18 miles when you live in a city and have a full-time job. First, walking long distances takes a lot of time. I'm a fast walker, but 6 hours (including breaks) is a big chunk out of my day. Second, finding safe places and times to walk is tricky.

Having grown up in a big city, the phrase "in a wooded area" frightens me to death, and most of Edinburgh cycling trails are in wooded areas, skirting depressed neighbourhoods. Fortunately, they are popular between the hours of 7 AM and 9 AM - although I still got a fright yesterday after 8 when I got a hard and lingering stare from a large man with a shaved head who then contemplated the schoolboy walking ahead of me and shook his head.  

That said, I also got a fright from the driver of a car with the license plate KINO SYU, who almost ran me down on the street sometime after noon.  I think given a choice between the trail and the road, I'd stick with the trail. Oh happy day when we get a dog. Can dogs walk 14 miles at a stretch?

As I worried about the issue of where to walk for 6+ hours, I solved the whole problem by deciding for two days of rest. Today will be active rest, though. I wish I had begun training for Chartres months ago, but I didn't know I was going to Chartres. Fortunately, I went on a few long walks in mid-May and have been going to exercise classes since early April.

Exercise class, like my firm decision that we were getting a dog, followed a major meltdown I had at my desk, yelling words along the lines of "Something must change!" And even though I am 100% behind the Anti-Leggings Notre Dame Mom, I bought two pairs of leggings at Tesco to wear to exercise class. My classes are mostly in a ballet studio among thinner, taller, younger women also wearing leggings or on an exercise cycle in the dark at the back of the room behind thinner, taller, younger women also wearing leggings. Like swimsuits being okay at the beach, leggings are okay in the gym --- although when I found out my friend had died, I was on my way to the gym, so when I was praying in the atrium of the Cathedral, I was Wearing Leggings in Church.

I was also wearing a raincoat, but I think I took it off.  I must have looked quite a sight in my gym clothes, kneeling on the floor of the atrium praying and crying in the direction of the Lady Chapel in the locked nave. Nobody else was around, but if someone had come up to me then and said, "Excuse me, but you shouldn't wear leggings in church," I am not sure what would have happened.

I am willing to concede that maybe I should buy a black skirt to wear over my leggings in case some emergency befalls me on the way to or from the gym. (I really am short on clothes--long, boring story.) However, accidents happen - like deciding to go on a gruelling 70 mile pilgrimage 3 weeks before - and from now on I will think nicer thoughts about women who wear leggings in church.

This, by the way, is interior training for Chartres because I noticed last time that physical pain made me extremely misanthropic. Take every possible physical comfort away from Mrs McLean, and what do you get? A smelly enemy of humanity, that's what. So this time I hope not only to complete the pilgrimage on my own two feet--and to put together some decent articles about it for LSN--but to become a more loving, accepting person.

This does not mean I think anyone, male or female, should make it a habit to wear gym clothes to Mass, mind you, and I think Sunday hikers should at least clean the mud off their boots before they enter a church. However, I also think there should be a general rule that whereas you should take pains to dress appropriately for Mass, you should not be afraid to dash into church between times, no matter what you are wearing.


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