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Run or Die, the beginning of my love affair with running

Snowstorms in Kentucky where we lived as expatriates are like nowhere else we experienced so far! I learnt it the hard way that winter, during my first year of staying there. The trees, magnificent besides thus adorned with a blanket of snow, had to support the weight of the ice for more weeks. Ice is heavy. Suddenly, branches cracked here and there.

The roads very slippery had been under ice for 2 weeks! When this is the case, the schools close and there is no more school transport. The children are therefore stuck at home with their parents. I was wondering why they don't salt like in other countries. But obviously for safety measures of the school district, they just cancel class.

After 2 weeks stuck at home, I wanted to go for a walk in the icy streets especially since the sun had shown up that afternoon. So, I dressed warmly like I was going to ski and here I am quietly leaving my house, lost in my thoughts. Freeman Lake is a lake located on the Ring Road, a Highway that goes around Elizabethtown where I loved to go to take my mind off things, feed the ducks and geese.

I loved my neighborhood, a place looking like Wisteria Lane for those who have watched Desperate house wives. That day, I encountered a single pedestrian, really no more, and he had his dog on a leash.

As long as I was in my neighborhood, everything was fine. But once I got out of Nicholas Ridge, my adventure started. I was all by myself, lost in the only Elizabethtown main avenue, Mulberry street. The city, located one hour drive from Louisville, the hometown of Mohammad Ali, is crossed from east to west by Mulberry street, from north to south by Dixie Avenue, and has a peripheral highway circling the city called the Ring Road. I enjoyed very much walking Mulberry street that afternoon not realizing that I was the only one apparently and that it was considered weird!

In this southern city, no one does walk for just the sake of walking … neither in normal weather, not to mention during ice storms. An American, from Kentucky, unless he is a jogger jogging in sports clothes, or a municipal worker fixing utilities, or walking with his dog, is never a walker. He is either in his house or in his car or in the mall. Otherwise, I would say (Colorado, a healthy state, must be different), they don't walk the streets for no reason, unless having car issues. I was told how useless and a waste of time it would be!

Back to my story, the silver lining made the trees and houses shine with a thousand fire under their magnificent coat of ice. I was in awe.

JI had just accomplished a few steps on Mulberry Street and all of a sudden a police car pulled up right next to me and the cop called me, wanting to know what I was doing in the street. I replied: "I am walking". He said: "Why, where are you headed?" Panicked, it's very impressive a cop car out there and its a pro guns state too. So, I invent anything that came to my mind: "Walgreen". It is a pharmacy that was over 3 miles (5 km) away. Surprised, he insisted on taking me there by saying: "I don't mind giving you a ride". So, I don't know if it was the fear or not being able to reply with my poor English ... I had barely been in the US for a year, so it's as if I had never learned to that language. I could read it perfectly but the accent was a nightmare. I understood nothing at all. I let you imagine all the hustle and struggles with all the phone calls I had to make for administrative procedures such as water, electricity, telephone, children's school ... very often during these conversations on the phone, after repeating themselves, the people at the end of the line took me for a deaf person. Instead of articulating their words or translating theme they would speak louder until my eardrum will break ... after a while we hung up having not sure of who they were, no clue of what the conversation was all about :)

It was only after 2 years of stay really that I started picking some phrases. I remember clearly that day driving my car, how relieved, happy, delighted, proud I felt realizing that I understood everything on the radio! A superhuman daily effort, so intense to immerse in a culture, to be able to communicate in a foreign language is the price to pay when you are an Expat.

Back to my story, my trip in the cop car, sitting in the back, with a window separating me from him! Surrounded by gadgets, talkie walkies, it all did a huge impression on me. I sat there waiting to arrive home. At Walgreen, he stopped. I left the car. Went to Walgreen as agreed with him, bought myself some candies (thank god I had some money in my pocket) and came out hoping he was gone ... but there he was waiting for me to drop me back home! He insisted. And here I am again in his car heading home. I wondered if he weren't just trying to make sure I wasn't some homeless planning something bad. I learned that pedestrians are often suspected of burglary. The cop must have some suspicions about me I guess ! My neighbors later taught me that walking is dangerous, and that you can be kidnapped, like in the movies, or a friend once told me "They're gonna stab you!". One day, still at the beginning of this first year, my 10-year-old daughter and her Japanese girlfriend after missing the school bus asked my permission on the phone to walk back home. I said yes of course. 10 minutes later a neighbor rang at my door. I open and she said: "I just saw your daughter and her girlfriend walking ". I said yeah I’m aware. She then lectured me how that was extremely dangerous and all and all! I waited for them to arrive and told them that this will never happen again ...

Run or Die, the beginning of my love affair with running

From all these funny events I have learned two things: to walk, you need a dog on a leash, to run, you had to be in jogging clothes. Moreover, you do not run-in shopping centers. In Louisville, I was in such a rush one day and needed to withdraw some cash from the nearest ATM. So I run a bit and a cop summoned not to!

Since then, you know what happened… I got equipped, sports gears, running shoes, sport clothing, hydration gels, camel back… and my running journey began. Freeman Lake was my favorite playground and a treasure story to me where it all started.

By the way, this is a bottle in the sea kind of thing, I happen to see this letter. It was written by a toddler somewhere in the woods. i would love to hear from him. If you guys know him, I will be glad to know him in person.

This is my treasure story of how I started running. I would love to hear yourse

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