It has already been two months since I returned from the 35th MARATHON DES SABLES, the Master F4 trophy replacing the freeze-dried volatilized in my backpack. This podium is neither the result of chance nor an end in itself. It represents a monumental stage in sporting life, but not only. I matured it for years until I signed up in March 2019 so as not to miss my 70th birthday!
The paradox ? It was not "despite" my 70s, but "thanks" to this status as a septuagenarian that I have experienced this week with confidence, through a perfect knowledge of my strengths and weaknesses.
My grandmother’s recipe: mix my strengths into my training plan. Put aside the galloping muscular atrophy despite the hours of burpees with my wonderful coach. Add a big dose of humor and humility. And with determination, integrate into the disorder:
Dance practiced from 4 years old, which forges a taste for effort, regularity, demands and respect for the body.
Discretion around my project, necessary for my introspection, including maintaining a very active social life despite training.
Running intelligence while juggling CP to CP, between staying in my comfort zone to never be in the red, and keeping an eye on time barriers.
Solidarity with my friend Valérie who has never left me, myself often setting the pace in robot mode, she being my eyes and my guide in front of the markings that I saw badly and watching over each other, on our good form.
Shameless acceptance of the vagaries of gastric problems with the requirement of a sufficient diet despite the disgust, so as not to lose too many nutrients.
The form of urgency to make a dream come true before it is no longer attainable in the face of the deadlines of time passing.
The good knowledge of the desert that I have traveled for nearly 50 years. Thanks to the kilometers traveled with the Tuaregs, I have tamed the heat and happily manage the discomfort of a bivouac.
The anticipation of my actions at each CP and the good organization of my bag to avoid wasting time, which my slowness as a walker does not allow me.
The complicity under tent 43, set up before the event, which warmly supported me. Thank you to all: Valérie A., Valérie L., Lucie, Fabienne, Sophie, Marcel and Guy called “Maître Guy”!
Regularity in water management in the face of the risk of dehydration. I kept my flexible pipette stuck in the mouth as an oral infusion and absorbed my lozenges to the beat of a metronome.
Acceptance of the ridiculous, in front of the only moment that got me in trouble because it surprised me. Too bad no photographer has immortalized my crawling up the sand spit of Jebel EL-OTFAL, nor his second ascent after I had to come back down to retrieve one of my sticks dropped in the effort. The nice volunteers who were waiting for me at the top of the rope must remember "grandma in the mountains". I laugh at it again!
The ability not to be shaken, at the time, by the horror of dropouts during the ordeal, which I did not understand until the end.
Another paradox is the morality of the story.
That of feeling tiny as a grain of sand in the vastness of the desert, yet invincible with every step leading up to the finish, thanks to effective preparation. I think I have ticked all the boxes for good physical and mental preparation, like a good student who does not ignore possible subjects on the exam.
This trust that never left me allowed me to appreciate every moment, every encouragement from the fantastic staff and every word of kindness from some participants. A special mention for the reception of the latest in the long run, which I had never heard of. This ignorance has allowed me to take it to my heart forever!
Arriving in Paris without blisters or injuries is the reward for my modesty in the face of my abilities.
This dizzying experience is not an end. She comforts me in how I will continue to nurture my wishlist, and maybe inspire other dreamers!