I woke up around 9:30 and spent the morning running little errands...one of which was going to the fromagerie and trying some of the local brie of Provins. I headed out around 1 pm with a stomach full of brie and baguette, and decided to walk for a bit to allow my food to settle. I didn't make it one kilometer before I started running. Some days it is hard to hit the road...and other days it is hard to hold myself back. This was one of those days. I had a lot on my mind, and nothing clears your head quite like grinding out just shy of a marathon. I love running. It is just me and the road, with no worries but putting one foot in front of the other. The fact that I didn't have a place to sleep didn't even cross my mind. Out on the road on a hot day, alone and in the middle of nowhere...that is where you hit the runner's high. I don't really know if there is a universal feeling of the "runner's high", but for me it comes when I am out alone, simultaneously tired and full of emotions, pounding out stride after stride. Every step involves muscular tension and the pounding of pavement, a mixture of pleasure and pain that I can only relate to Bernini's "Ecstasy of Saint Theresa"...mildly like ripping an arrow out of your chest repeatedly for miles at a time. If you haven't already, I suggest you give it a try.
I got to Nogent-sur-Seine after a 20 km that just sped by. I had originally planned on stopping there, as the itinerary on my website pointed out...but I made most of those decisions arbitrarily one night when I was incredibly sleep deprived, so I decided to keep going to the next town on my list, stopping briefly to check out the church and pick up a snack from the boulangerie.
I arrived in Marigny-le-Châtel a bit after 4, incredibly thirsty. I wandered around in a state of half death, covered in salt grime, until I found the supermarket outside of the town and downed a couple liters of liquid. Feeling a little bit better, I stumbled back into town and wandered around for a while, not really discovering anything. When I was too tired to be on my feet anymore, I returned to the little square in front of the church and sat down. There were two women sitting nearby, so in an attempt to start a conversation, I asked if the church could be visited. They said no. I asked if there was anything interesting to see in the town. They said no. I asked if there was a place I might find the Internet. They said no. After a few more questions of that nature, they asked me where I was coming from, and after telling them my story they were pleased to offer me some help. They had to be somewhere for the evening, but they started calling everyone they knew. After many false leads, they offered to put me into the hotel for the night. It was a bit difficult for me to explain that I couldn't accept, but they understood and continued to try to help me out. We went together to the house of the guy who operates the church (I don't really know what his position was), but he was very reluctant to have a stranger sleeping on the premises. He did offer me a shower though, and the two women left me with him on their way out. Ten minutes later, they returned with news that they had found me a place to sleep, and I went with them to meet Ingrid who had offered to put me up for the night. She brought me back to her house, where I met her family and her husband Philippe, who was quick to introduce me to my first authentic Champagne, on my first day in the region. Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am...or how hospitable people are...or both.
We had a good dinner together, and I spent some time watching TV...mainly American shows dubbed in French. I can't say I understood more than the basic plot, but I enjoyed being off my feet and at a table with some wonderful people. I hit the bed hard.
24 June 2009