Frenchitude Lesson #25: Nourish Your "Grain de Folie"


Today’s Lesson is about nourishing your “grain de folie“, which means that little spark of craziness that flickers at the base of your soul.

The French love people who embrace completely insane ventures. I fit in quite well here for this reason, as my life is more or less a succession of crazy projects.

In France, the entire country follows extreme sailing races with religious fervour, such as the Vendée Globe where sailors have to make a solitary, unassisted lap of the world without any stops.

Sailors such as Maud Fontenoy who routinely embark on projects such as a solitary row across the Atlantic are revered. So are modern day aventuriers such as Nicolas Vanier, who is famous for his arduous dogsled expeditions across the Arctic in the dead of winter when there is hardly any daylight.

And have you ever heard of or seen that guy, Alain Robert, referred to as”Spiderman” who climbs up huge buildings such as the New York Times Building without any ropes or equipment? . He suffers, incidentally, from a bad case of vertigo.

He’s French.

In the spirit of my adopted country, back on October 18th I made a declaration in front of a large audience of people: I was going to run in the Nuits-Saint-Georges 10K race on March 21st.

The reason wasn’t to lose weight, or to find my inner runner, or to take care of myself.

Rather, seconds before I had just watched Franck run through the finish line at the SavignylesBeaune 10K, and witnessed that gleam in his eye that one gets from doing something a bit crazy.

I want some of that, was what I thought to myself.

Of course, I committed myself before thinking through the logistics. In fact, I committed myself before thinking much at all.

If I had, I might have concluded that training to go from not running at all (and having had a third C-section) to running 10K during the months of November, December, January, and February is not ideal.

I have run with hail as big as one Euros pelting off my head, I have run on days when it has been so cold my Ipod actually froze, I have run in freezing winds that have blown down straight off the plains of Siberia.

And no, in case you’re wondering, I didn’t experience some kind of mental and physical transcendence as a result of these hardships, or established a dialogue with the divine.

It sucked.

Also, I didn’t stop to think that with a full time job, a baby, and no child care to speak of actually finding time to run would be a bit of a head-scratcher.

Ideally I would like to run three times a week, but in fact I only get out two times, sometimes only one time. That means that the most I have run so far is 9km. And I still run laughably slowly – so slowly that some people actually walk faster than I run.

However, despite all that I am going to at least try running 10K next Saturday. I could cancel, I could beg out by saying my knees were sore or my back was out. But then my grain de folie would be so disappointed.

Besides, I still want that crazed gleam in my eye too…not to mention the wine they serve at the 9th kilometre rest stop.

***Frenchitude Fridays (French + Attitude = Frenchitude) give ideas for injecting a bit of frenchness into your life, whether you live in Savigny or Savannah.