Paris Day 4: Paris Marathon

Let’s be honest here. I didn’t train for this. My longest run was 13 miles in JANUARY .. and then my 2nd longest run was 12.5 miles the weekend before. That being said, I didn’t just get up off the couch and run it. In prep for a 200 mile bike race, Paul and I had been putting in 5, 6, 7+ hour bike rides each weekend, so the endurance and mental suffering training was in place.

And, oh, the suffering. There was definitely suffering at this race.

So, I didn’t perform my best, but I think all told I performed well-ish. Afterwards I was telling Paul how much fun I had and he commented “So, at which point were you HAVING the fun?”… because truth be told I was kinda miserable from the beginning.

You see, one of my beefs with France is that they don’t believe in bathrooms. Every race review I had read prior to the race stated that the port-o-potty situation was ATROCIOUS. Don’t count on using the johns in the corrals, they said. So, I didn’t. Our hotel was only 1k from the starting line, so I went before with the intention of not going again.

And I didn’t! But shortly after we started, I realized I did need to pee. Too bad. Not a single port-o-potty until the 10k mark. 6 miles is pretty far when you have to go. ESPECIALLY when you aren’t even sure if they are going to have them there. I panicked a bit when there weren’t any at the 5k stop and cringed watching every single guy run off to the side to just pee on the trees, street, cars, anything.

So, I spent the first hour slightly panicked that I was going to have to pee my pants, but thankfully the 10k aid station was my savior. Then I spent miles 6 – 10 feeling okay-ish, but it was downhill shortly after that. Mainly my feet were just spent and killing me. Perhaps walking the last 30 of 48 hours in the previous days wasn’t the best idea? (Or was it the champagne and charcuterie dinner that didn’t fuel me well enough?.. Or the lack of training? Take your pick) 🙂 But like a true endurance athlete, as soon as the race was over, all the memory of the pain was gone. Poof. So, I really meant it when I said I had fun. Will I find myself in this same position again? Yes. Will I have just as many races where I’m trained and about to PR? Yes (hopefully on the PR part).

But, I’ll back up a little bit:

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This race was HUGE. 41,000 runners. Thankfully the race started in waves and since I had reported a 4 hour finishing time (ha!) that meant that we started at 9:30 am. The late starting time was wonderful and since we didn’t have much of a walk from our hotel, we didn’t even leave until 8am.

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The starting line was directly on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées which was probably the neatest starting line I’ve ever seen.IMG_2069

In lieu of my typical bagel and peanut butter, I went with a waffle and Nutella. When in Rome Paris, right? (Yes, it was DANG good).

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Similar to the Berlin Marathon, they also had some aerobic instructors walking the crowd through a bizarre jazzercize-like warm-up. This time it was a bunch of guys through, and no cheerleaders 🙂

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They also provided everyone with a little plastic bag vest to wear which was really nice because it was fairly cold at the start.

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The corrals were all divided by time and they were strict about which corral you could enter. Even though Paul was entered in the 3 hour corral, he was running with me today, so they let him into a lower one with no problem.

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The corrals starting to fill up…

You might also notice that these photos are ALL GUYS. The race was 75% male and 25% female and you could really tell.

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The starting line! One notable difference between this race and any other was that they did not play any national anthem. They just did a countdown in French and we were off!

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^^You just had a moment while looking into that man’s eyes, didn’t you?

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^^I see you eyeing my lovely tube sock arm warmers. Best throwaway arm warmers ever.

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Storming the Bastille!:

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Here you can see my sunburn setting in:

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Running along the Seine (on the left):

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Here you can see Notre Dame in the distance:

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I don’t have any pictures of it, but they do paint a blue line on the course. Following that blue line is the ‘true’ distance of the course, so if you don’t stray from the line, you should run exactly 26.2. But regardless if you were on the line or not, I’ve never had a race with less personal space. The course wasn’t necessarily crowded, but runners do not go around you. Even running maybe just shoulder-length apart, Paul and I constantly had runners jumping between us.

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The first peek at the top of the Eiffel Tower:

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We went through quite a few tunnels, but the entrances/exits of the tunnels were really the only hills on the course. It was very flat!

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The Eiffel Tower was right around 18 miles/the wall, so you can see a lot more walkers now!

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Approaching the finish line! The inflatable tube men were 42k, so just .195k to go!

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Finished! The chute was looong. We walked all the way towards the Arc, picked up shirts first, then medals, then water, and then bananas and oranges.

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Picture overload? We finished! Our time was about 5:18.

What I LOVED about Paris:

– Mile markers in km AND miles.. which was a super nice touch!

– Signage in French and very poorly translated English (a good laugh is always needed during long runs). There were signs EVERYWHERE. They even had “Aid Station in 200 m” signs which I really, really liked. I could get my gel out, eat it, and then be ready for water 🙂 🙂

– Great views of the Arc, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Bastille, the Seine, and more. This course actually takes you by (or in sight of) it all… AND they had signage up telling you when you were passing something! 90% of the things I would have just ran past without realizing it!

– Aid stations handed out full (8oz) water bottles at each aid station! I like running with a waterbottle, so this was super nice for me. There was also far less plastic litter on the ground than at Berlin where it was a hazard. They had tons of recycling bins and they said all the trash was going to be sorted.

– Finisher shirts were given out AT the finish line.

– Tons and tons of entertainment! They claimed 100+ entertainment stops on the course. Lots of drums, but also bands and orchestras and singers.

– Great finisher’s shirt and even better medal. Love the medal!

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What I did not like about Paris:

– No port-o-potties until the 10k aid station (however, I will say once I saw the port-o-potties there were never lines!).

– Only one ‘Gatorade’ stop around mile 18. Only water at all the rest stops.

 

After we walked back to the hotel, it was time to celebrate! We headed just across the street from our hotel and ate at Leon de Bruxelles.

We started off with some fried smelt. And no, you can’t feel/taste the bones.

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And shared the Mussels with cream and mushrooms. So good.

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After dinner, we had the BEST tiramisu right around the corner…

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And spent the rest of the night at a corner cafe with a couple bottles of wine 🙂 Perfect post-marathon celebration!

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The view from the cafe

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