The French verb "lancer" + A lost phone and a found skill: Max's foray into juggling
Fournisseur: Photos from the Grand Opening of Jean-Marc's wineshop!

S'emballer: Jean-Marc's heart after the 2019 Ironman Barcelona

2019 Ironman Barcelona Jean-Marc Espinasse
In between these letters, you can follow colorful updates on my Instagram @kristinespinasse

Looking for a gift? An Audible Membership is an enriching present! Click here for the world's largest library of audiobooks.

Today's Word: s'emballer

    : to race, to bolt, to soar, to rocket

=> s'emballer also means to get carried away, to lose control of yourself

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following update, click here
À 28 kilomètres de la ligne d'arrivée de l'Ironman Barcelona, mon cœur a commencé à s'emballer et j'ai senti dès fourmillements dans les pieds, les mains et le cou. J'ai alterné marche et course ensuite et lorsque j'ai ressenti une pointe au mollet à 14 kms de la  "finish line" j'ai décidé d'abandonner.

At 28 kilometers from the finish line of the Ironman Barcelona, ​​my heart began to race and I felt tingling in the feet, hands and neck. I alternated walking and running next, and when I felt a stab to the calf 14 kms from the "finish line" I decided to give up.

  By Kristi Espinasse

My Ironman is sleeping after a challenging 24-hour day, Sunday, in which he pushed his 52-year-old body to its limit. Twenty-eight kilometers shy of the Ironman Barcelona finish line, after swimming, biking and now running... Jean-Marc's heart began protesting. Next, he had les fourmillements--"crawling ant" sensation in his feet, hands, and le cou. At that point, he began walking to the finish line...when his mollet began to shoot with pain.

His first words when he called me were, "Je vais bien. Ne t'inquiète pas..."

I wasn't the only one concerned! My Dad, over in Idaho, was also tracking Jean-Marc--via the Ironman app. When Dad's watch dinged, shortly after he'd gone to sleep, he realized the race had begun. Jean-Marc had dived into the Mediterranean Sea in Calella, Spain, and this immense physical épreuve--among men half his age..and a few older--was on.


Dad's watch continued to ding throughout the night, alerting him (and my belle-mère?) to Jean-Marc's progress. By the next morning when the sun rose in Idaho, Jean-Marc had finished the biking and was now running. But my Dad became concerned when Jean-Marc fell off the radar and could no longer be tracked...had Jean-Marc had an accident?


Meantime here in La Ciotat, my phone was dinging as well. It dinged when I went out to feed the chickens their breakfast, dinged after I made our daily bread, and dinged on my way to church...and dinged when I returned home and when I took my nap. I was amazed to check my husband's progress thanks to each alert. It was incredible to think that while the rest of us were going about our day, waking, eating, gardening, sleeping, Jean-Marc was carefully meting out his energy reserves on what would be for him a 12-hour course.

I was thankful our son Max had driven across the border with his Dad to help out with the equipment and cheer him on in person. Speaking of Max, this is the reason Jean-Marc had called so late at night....

"Everything thing is ok," my husband assured me. 

My sleepy brain tried to process Jean-Marc's words. Why was he calling? What had happened? Last I checked he was 2 hours from the finish line. Where was Max? 

Max was fine (indeed he'd had a thrilling day following his dad, cheering him on, photographing him, and enjoying the Spanish seaside town. He too was receiving those dings, or notifications... while he ate ribs, spoke in Spanish to the locals, and even managed a little spa time during the 12 hours that his father advanced toward the finish line....

But he was currently unaware of his father's injury. "Call Max and tell him I will meet him back at the hotel."
Jean-Marc's voice was level and I knew not to ask too many questions, but to get the message to Max asap. 
When next I heard back from the two, they were already on the road, for the 4.5-hour drive home (with Max at the wheel).

It wasn't the first time I thought: This is crazy. He is overdoing it--once again squeezing a mountain of activity into the space of a day! Driving almost 5 hours home after midnight and after an all-day triathlon! He has not slept in 24 hours. Why don't they just stay one more night and get some sleep?

Because that's Jean-Marc, and I am learning to let him be, all the while keeping a watchful eye on this Ironman.

"But I am not an Ironman," I did not finish the triathlon, Jean-Marc replied, as he cracked open our bedroom door at 3:03 am, having arrived safely home.

"Yes, you are! As far as we (your family) are concerned, you are a Finisher. And we are so proud of you! Tellement fier de toi!"

*    *    *

I am still editing this post, but will pause now to make lunch for our Ironman, who is up and walking around now. If you see any coquilles, or typos--or simply want to congratulate Jean-Marc--thank you for using the comments box below.

For those reading our memoir, you will be familiar by now by Jean-Marc's drive. Indeed it's driven us from town to town, project to project, where he's raced after his dreams 24/7. It caused a fair amount of tension in our relationship, something I am writing about (8 chapters have now been posted). Let's give Jean-Marc the rest of this week to finish his latest chapter. He needs a little rest for now. Click here to read about our memoir-in-progress.

les fourmillements = tingling
le cou = neck
le mollet = calf
je vais bien = I'm okay
ne t'inquiète pas = do not worry
une épreuve = test
la belle-mère = stepmother
tellement = so very
fier de toi = proud of you




A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

Oh yes, he is an ironman. Amazing job.

Lynda House

How wise you are Kristi! You let your husband do what he wants to do even though you don’t always agree with his plans! My mother once said, ‘Don’t interfere with other peoples’ peculiar ways of being happy!’
Sadly I didn’t pay attention and my relationships failed as I foolishly tried to change my partners! I am happily single now and it is great not to have to make the compromises necessary in a relationship. But the downside is not having those wonderful things a loving relationships bring. You seem to have got it right. Glad Jean Marc got home safely and well done for such a Herculean effort.

Audrey Wilson

Very impressed with him .Wow ,what an effort .Well done Jean Marc !!!
p.s Think it should be' metered' out


Congratulations to Jean-Marc for getting as far as he did, and for having the courage to stop when it became too dangerous to his health.


meeting should be meting
Had dove should be had dived

Félicitations Jean-Marc!

Maureen McCormick

Felicitations, Jean-Marc ! Très bien fait !

Maureen McCormick

Felicitations, Jean-Marc ! Très bien fait !

Kathi K

In my estimation, Jean-Marc came in first! Bravo!!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Audrey. This verb was on the tip of my tongue but I could not recall it. See Janet's note below.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Janet. So helpful. On my way to update the post.


Jean-Marc has accomplished more than most of us ever will !
He is awesome !!!👍

Jens from Copenhagen

When the body says 'stop', an ironman stops! Well done, you were almost there!

Alice Halliday

Well done JM. I so admire your get up and go in every situation. you are not phased by anyone when you want to do something! Perhaps your own well being will now dictate precautions!

John Patte

Men can be terrible about listening to their bodies, says a guy who knows first hand, as we become fixated in completing the challenge.
At a charity cycling event in June (220 km over two days), a friend attempting the event for the first time felt poorly after the first day (105 km) and, with the “advice” of his wife, a retired nurse, headed to the hospital where he was diagnose with a heart attack and found to have an artery that was 100% blocked. By 5:30 am the next day, he had a brand new stent! My friend is a youngster of 75 years and is now recovering nicely but it could have been different.
He’s a youngster because he’s two months younger than me. This was my 6th time for me at this event. While I did finish the 220 km, the second day was difficult - I “bonked” at about 80 km with 35 km to go. I went on to finish but it wasn’t pleasant or pretty.
The problem was that, thanks to a cold, wet spring, I had put in the training I should have.
My issue now is whether to ride again in 2020 for my seventh time. I am registered!

Patricia Sands

Bravo Ironman Jean-Marc! Crossing that official finish line is not the only goal in a challenge like this. I believe everyone has their own personal finish line and to recognize that you have reached it is an accomplishment in itself. Congratulations on all the intense training that took you to this place and all you achieved in Barcelona!


Right, I'm going to be a total killjoy. At 80 years old, I've known too many cases of people just pushing themselves too far. Please don't be one of them! Kristi and Co. and many more people need you and love you. You've made your mark in many good ways but does this have to be one of them? Sometimes the heart, mind and body give messages. Are you listening to yours? Forgie me for being sharp but I felt really quite cross with you! But of course I still send you congratulations and good wishes. But please listen and think ....

Suzanne Codi

Wow! I am so impressed with Jean-Marc! What an incredible effort, and so proud that he is intuitive ( and brave) enough to listen to his body!! And to rehash what another of your fans said, so proud of you, Kristi, for your wise approach to your relationship!
Bien fait tous les deux et grosses bises!

An Scott

It's not whether you win or lose. It's the journey.

Congratulations to Jean-Marc for his valiant effort and impressive weekend journey.


Congratulations for your Ironman efforts and for your courage to listen to your body! Bravo!

Cheryl Matzker

Bravo, Jean-Marc! You won by listening to your body and taking care of it! Félicitations pour vos efforts.

Rob T

I hope Jean Mark gets a full check up. Those symptoms are concerning.


Yes, yes Jean-Marc is a finisher!!!!! Congratulations and do have your body checked out by your doctor!!! Maybe a half IronMan awaits you in the future!

Chris Allin

From each endeavor we accomplish something that can give us a new perspective. You took on the challenge, Jean-Marc, and gave it your best. The real strength comes in understanding when we have reached our limit, giving into it with grace. This you most certainly have done...


How could anyone swim for two hours?
You’re crazy.
It must have been very difficult to make the decision to stop running. You felt disappointed. But of course your family and friends were not interested in having you die on a road in Spain wearing unattractive clothing.
You will die many many years in the future holding a glass of wine, wearing cool clothes, killer shoes and a chic, silk escharpe just after a couple of young women asked, “Who is that hot guy holding hands with that hot blonde of a certain age?”

Janine Cortell

Félicitations Jean-Marc:
You are indeed a finisher and an Ironman. You were wise to listen to your body.
And just think how much you did accomplish! It's the journey....


Bravo, Jean-Marc, on your amazing race! Now, race for your life and get checked out by a doctor-that could be your most successful run yet-taking care of yourself for a long life with your loved ones. You’re amazing!!!!

cynthia lewis

Congratulations, Jean-Marc!! If "magic carpets" existed in real life, you would have had hundreds of supporters lining the roads cheering you on!!

Diane Covington-Carter

Very wise choice and we are all glad that you are okay! What an accomplishment to have done all that you did!
Bises a tous,

Faye - Gleneden Beach, Oregon

Bravo! What an amazing adventure!! Thanks for sharing:)

Sherry Frank

Congratulations, Jean-Marc. You never cease to impress. Like an Olympian, always striving to excel at whatever you attempt, always working to be the best that you can be. Wise now to listen to your body and come back to fight another day.
I look forward to one day before too long coming to visit Le Vin Sobre, another brave and exciting undertaking. You are a hero, for sure.


Our dear Kristi,
First of all,congratulations Jean Marc!! As sweet Kristi said you ARE an Ironman!! Not only to yourself,but to your family,and to us!!
And we all thank and applaud you for knowing and listening to your body when it was time to stop.
Bottom line is that
As Clint Eastwood said:"Man's got to know his limitations" did and we applaud you!!
Kristi,we applaud you,too!! Most of all for your words said(and not said!)
What wisdom and inspiration for us to try to follow!!
Natalia. Xo


Congratulations to Jean-Marc. So much courage. To be fit enough just to consider entering this Ironman is a blessing. And hard work! To have the courage to know when to stop. Well done!

Jerry Wood

As you know I walk a fast 5 kms every morning. Yesterday at about 4 kms I became dizzy and fell. Strangers picked me up and sat me on a bench. I will call my Dr for a checkup and hope Jean-marc does the same. I’m thinking that at 84 maybe it’s time I cut it back to 3 kms a day.
Jean-Mark is, of course, much younger than me, however please do the right thing and get a checkup.

Carolyn Chase

What an amazing accomplishment. I can totally understand any disappointment felt if he focuses on the definition of the "finish", but I hope that he rather focuses on what he has been able to get his body to do. Even just the training is above and beyond. I feel proud of him, and he doesn't even know me.


I hope that Jean Marc has made an appointment with the Dr. for an exam. He needs to have his heart/arteries checked out. These symptoms are Warning Signs. ASAP

Barbara Blizzard

What you have accomplished is amazing - more than most of us will ever dream about. Congratulations!

Judith Dunn

.......Congratulations Jean-Marc... Kristi and your family and all of us regard you as an amazing winner! A winner in life and that is the most important race you can ever be in! We all salute your incredible Ironman efforts and do hope you get a check -up with a MD, so you can start to think about training for the next one you take on! BRAVO! Jean-Marc! Kristi , you have become the 'Ironwoman' of marriage... knowing when to say yes and when to say maybe and when to say no..... especially when it is not easy to do. BRAVA to you , as well. Judi

Kathleen Bidney

Bravo Jean Marc for pursuing an iron man challenge and knowing when to stop. Many men would have pushed on and who knows what would have happened to them.
You are a hero for the challenge and a hero for stopping when your body said to stop. Congratulations 👏👏👏👏👏😎
You don’t have to prove anything to yourself or to others. You are a champion.

Peace, Kathleen

Hank Sweet

Brilliant. You must be so proud of him!


I totally agree with you. There are many other types of sport activities that are gentle on our bodies. Yoga, swimming, free-weights.. kettlebell, if you must. But each to his or her own.

Marathon is something one should be dedicated to from a very early age, practicing diligently, participating rather often and preparing yourself while doing other (many) types of training simultaneously. To just “get up and get going joining marathon” is not wise in my view as well. I may send the link to the Iron Kettlebell Training to your account on instagram. I joined you there a couple of days ago and did not LIKE your post there, Kristi, about your husband’s participating in the marathon. Observed your news silently until now. Glad all is ended up well. Much ❤️ to you and to your family I have been reading about for a decade by now. 💗 Be well. 🙏


Bravo, Jean-Marc! Vous êtes vraiment «un homme de fer »!

Lise Hoffman-McCabe

Life is about the journey not the destination. I think we all admire you more Jean-Marc for being smart enough to know when to stop. That is the real wisdom. Congratulations on your accomplishment, you attempted something many of us only wish we had done. Congratulations on your wisdom too Kristin, we all need to let our spouses follow their dreams even when they are not our dreams.


Dear Kristin: What a man you have! Stubborn, yes, but very determined to follow through on his challenge! Congratulations, Marc, on both doing your race & having the sense to stop! Good that Max was there, too. Worrisome for you, Kristin!

Lorna Peterson

Glad he had the wisdom to listen to his body.
Driving over 4 hours after midnight , though, not advisable! What's the rush?
Sleepy drivers, not healthy or safe.

It is ok as we age, to take care of our bodies and slow down....nothing to prove to anybody.
I pushed myself too hard for too long, most of my life and now am paying the price. Studies show that
70% of diseases are caused by stress.
In the end, after all, LOVE for our life and our family is all we have
and love is all we can take with us.
Not to sound preachy, but had to say what I felt! : )
With Much respect for you and your beautiful family,
Hugs from Oregon, Lorna

Polly Adkins

Love the unfamiliar vocabulary in this one! S’emballer and fourmillement. Also Le mollet. Kudos to that husband of yours who never stops pushing himself and your patience with change!

Morton K Brussel

I agree with Rob. It is important that Jean-Marc knows if he has medical limitations. A complete heart check-up…

Morton K Brussel

I forgot to add in my brief comment above that I'm 90.5y and started to have heart problems in my late 50's, which were eventually fixed. The aerobic physical activity is great and essential for good health, so keep that up, but with prudence.


I believe you meant “fazed” rather than “phased.” 😊

Virginia A. Ward

Felicitations!!!!! jean Marc. You are an Iron man to me!! Bien fait!
Always wonderful reading you Kristi!

Cerelle Bolon

BRAVO! Amazing that you take on the hardest challenge! Maybe you can be just as special with not-so-over-the-top goals! We want to cheer you on for many more years! Again, BRAVO!
Hugs from Arizona

Carmen Clarke

Bravo, Jean-Marc! You are awesome!
Big applause from Houston!!


Bonjour, Kristi,
I hope I don’t hurt your feelings, but the responses to this blog about your Iron Man husband have elicited the best reader remarks that I’ve read in many years of following your blog! I
actually laughed out loud at some of them. I have a nephew who is a little like J-M with regard to skiing in the extreme. I have, on occasion, dropped to my knees in prayer, thanking the Almighty that he is still living among us. So I would place myself in the same camp as the responses from Margaret and Francesca. Thank goodness J-M knows himself well enough to stay ahead of Dead Man’s Curve. You’re a very lucky lady!

Michele H.

Jean-Marc - what an amazing fete! I am so proud of your accomplishment. Most of us 'think' about what it would be like to try a race, YOU actually did it! Hold your head high and be proud of yourself. Congratulations!!

Judy Feldman

Bravo Jean Marc! You are a courageous (& a little crazy) man!

Pamela Wing

I think Jean-Marcs triathalon was amazing but please be sure he is checked out by a doctor. There are some signs that are worrying and he's in the prime of his life. Take care. There are more challenges to come. I'm glad Max was there.
Take care


Great comments, everyone.... Felicitations, Jean-Marc. Very wise ideas about successful relationships, Kristi. My husband gave up on triathlons after realizing how much time it would take to train to improve his performance. He finally realized that he enjoyed the activities, but not the competition.

Christine Moore

Kristi, I have been following you for ages and love this story!
I have just sent in a donation to show my appreciation for all the insights you have shared.



David F Clinnin

Did you mean "feat"? Of course "fete" meaning party might work just as well. HaHa. All good.

Chris Allin

We know you will persevere. You are very much an inspiration!


Eileen Burns

Ah, but crossing the finish line is not what matters... The starting line is the true test....Start again another day! My father ran competitively well into his 70s, finishing the NYC Marathon several times...And NOT finishing several times. Eileen

Leslie in Oregon

I am so glad you knew when to stop and were courageous enough to stop, Jean-Marc. The fact that your incredible drive, determination and daring were tempered with that wisdom and courage may well have saved your life. All of attributes mentioned in the preceding sentence, and the training you have accomplished over the last year, makes you a true Athlete. Congratulations and Well Done! Leslie, with Scott and Bob

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Christine! On my way, now, to send thanks. Look for my note... 🙂

Valerie Porter

I jog with my dog a 5 k about three days a week. The other days my knees and hips remind me of the jog. I am in awe of anyone who can ATTEMPT an Ironman, especially starting at 52!

Valerie Porter

I heartily agree with John Rushing...never good to die in unattractive clothing...would love to be with the old couple, drinking wine in France watching the bicycles whiz by at the end of the greatest vie!

KJ Laramie

On a sliding scale, factoring in AGE would make you an instant winner. It is an impossibility for the younger marathoners to possess your incredible LIFE COURAGE, another important factor as well, because they haven’t aged yet, like fine wine. Bravo, JM, #1!


Hi Karen,

Glad to read your thoughts here again. Yes, and you are too - absolutely correct on the matter of the aged strength and endurance. I remember myself recuperating after an accident a while ago, and being forced to attend the aqua-aerobic and water yoga classes where I was obviously struggling yet observed the best players. Oh dear, I was the only one in my late 30s amongst the 80+ old ladies — and that was the great lesson for me of how strong, fast and vibrant most of those “aged” swimmers could be. I eventually regained my strength but The Lesson stayed. They have been constantly working out though; two-three or even five times a week — in the water and out, with the gym equipment. Great example of our “elders”, many young people cannot possibly hold a candle to. 😄🙏❤️🙏 So, looking forward to JM taking up that race AGAIN next year.

Suzanne Dunaway

How smart of him to know when to stop and how brave of him to even have entered. But to know when to stop takes even more courage.

KJ Laramie



Bravo pour cet incroyable accomplissement. Ironman you are!

stephen B

Jrean Marc is my hero!


the only failure is to not try at all.

Marianne Rankin

I share many of the thoughts expressed in these posts. Jean-Marc, regardless of finishing, regardless of your times, you MADE THE ATTEMPT, and had the good judgment to know when - this time - enough was enough. Perhaps in the future you will have opportunities to train more extensively, and be able to complete the course. I can't imagine doing an Ironman, so having done even part of it is SO IMPRESSIVE. We are all amazed by your accomplishments.

I had never done any "real" running until about 10 years ago. At going on 61 at the time, my goal in running a local 5K was just to do it - to have not only the care and discipline to train, but to follow through. I learned quickly that 5K is a longer distance than it sounds, and to mostly walk uphill and run downhill. Over the years, I have run more 5Ks, and my goal - since I knew I wouldn't beat most people - was to compete with myself. One year I was 8 seconds faster than in the previous year's race, and that is still progress.

Last year I broke 2 bones in my foot, so had to take a break from running. Today I ran a 5K, in the coldest weather I'd ever raced in - 31 degrees F. My time was the slowest ever. But I told myself, that at age 71 and with a year mostly without training, to be satisfied that I completed the course. There will be other races.

I encourage you to take things slow and easy, and maybe to sign up for another Ironman, but to tell yourself that doing ANY PART of it is still an achievement, of which you should be very proud. We are all proud of you.

Kristin Espinasse

Congratulations on running another 5K today, especially after breaking those bones last year. I like your words about competing with oneself. Thanks also for your thoughtful words about Jean-Marcs race. 

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)