My next marathon, the one that will hopefully qualify me for Boston, is not going to happen as soon as I thought. I had been training very hard for it (probably too hard) for quite some time (probably too long) when, all of a sudden, everything went down the drain. Five weeks before the big day I entered a half marathon and realized after 2.5 miles that something was very wrong. My legs were leaden and my speed was gone. I finished the race anyway because it's in every marathoner's DNA to get to the end no matter what... but it was a really bad race.
Subsequent testing revealed that I had iron deficiency, possibly caused by overtraining and overracing. My doctor prescribed a cure and advised that I cut my training to 5 times a week for a maximum of one hour at a time over the next few weeks. I'm sticking to that more or less, though I must admit to running an hour and a half last Sunday including two 15 minutes bouts at threshold pace... just don't tell my doctor.
This morning I'm being a good boy, anyway, and I'm going for a short and happy-go-lucky run. I'm not entirely alone at the Luxembourg Garden in Paris (France), which means that it's late and my time on my feet will be short. I'm running past the great palace that was built in the early seventeenth century by Maria de' Medici, widow of Henry IV of France, and mother of Louis XIII. I run past the building, into the park and into the setting of one of childhood's fondest memories. This is where the Musketeers used to take their Sunday strolls and if this ancient building or these secular trees could remember and speak they would whisper of days when gentlemen lived and died by the sword and often settled their differences right here where I'm running.
The endorphines are in full swing and the present is gone. I'll need a double cafe-au-lait to snap out of this morning's runner's high, I think as I complete my run around the garden, exit through the north-western gate and begin a sentimental journey I indulge in every time I run in Paris. Call me a child if you want... I just can't come to Paris without passing by the homes of Aramis, Porthos, Athos and D'Artagnan. Now I'm running down the Rue de Vaugirard, where Aramis used to live, between the Rue Servandoni and the Rue Cassette. Aramis was a secretive Casanova who couldn't decide whether he was really a soldier or a priest. He was the least lovable of the foursome and, in the following books, he turned from secretive to elusive to downright manipulative and hypocritical. But he paid the price: he was condemned by the author to live forever while his three friends all met honorable deaths. I harbor no ill feelings for my old friend Aramis. Like countless readers who were brought up on Dumas I learned from him the value of discretion.
I run on to the Rue du Vieux Colombier, where Porthos, the gentle giant, used to occupy a large apartment in a very ostentatious building. Gaudy, tacky, simple-minded yet noble-hearted and generous Porthos! He taught me the meaning of loyalty.
Now I'm heading East toward St. Sulpice, a church that's been around for over a thousand years. My run is already cutting into my breakfast time and surely my fifteen-minute shower is going to be suffering too. But I have two appointments I cannot miss. Rue Ferou, between St. Sulpice and the Luxembourg garden, is a narrow street no longer than three city blocks. Athos lived here, "two steps away from the Luxembourg Garden", and it is here that he was wounded in a duel at the beginning of the story. Athos the father figure, generous and unlucky Athos, the knight who served his king without becoming the king's servant. As a boy I turned to him to tell right from wrong and to this day I'm under his spell.
It took some searching to find out that Rue de Fossoyeurs, where D'Artagnan used to live, is present-day Rue Servandoni. It runs parallel to Rue Ferou, between the church and the park. I have no idea which of these houses, if any, hosted the real D'Artagnan, a gentleman who lived in the seventeenth century and actually did many of the things that Dumas wrote he did. But always, when I come here, I pause in front of a building on the corner between Rue Servandoni and Rue de Vaugirard. In this house, says an aging sign, lived William Faulkner... I like to think that he chose this dwelling after a little sentimental journey of his own.
Runners who have yet to discover Dumas, I think as I rush back to my hotel, should read "The Three Musketeers" and its two sequels, "Twenty years later" and the unforgettable "Vicount of Bragelonne". These books train the ability to daydream, which is as indispensable as endurance in any long and lonely Sunday run or in the final miles of a marathon.
Giorgio Pogliano’s morning coffee doesn’t come in a cup, but he can still find it everywhere. Running each morning is his daily “coffee” – it gives him the surge of energy, something good to reflect upon during the day, and a reason to look forward to tomorrow. Just like the different types of coffee found around the world, Giorgio finds different surroundings as he runs.