Paris Marathon: Sunday April 5, 2009 (Marathon)
The alarm going off at 6.00am set off a beating in my chest which caught me by surprise. I was so calm last night it was strange. I am usually really nervous before race day. I did wake up a few times through the night including a stretching session for my hips and glutes at 4.00 am. So the thumping chest was good, at last it is time the get the job done and move on. Breakfast of banana and coffee and I was off with Strider Ingrid, to the Arc de Triomphe to do a photo session with CLM runners. They very generously accepted me at dinner last night, even though communication was difficult. I met some amazing, talented and funny characters. It has added a local flavour to my experience of this marathon.
Marathon morning was cold and the poncho bags provided came in very handy. After standing at the Arc de Triomphe I again had to pinch myself – OMG I am in Paris about to run a marathon. The race is incredibly well organised everything went smoothly including getting runners into the right corrals – despite the 37,000 runners and spectators along the Champs Elysee it never felt chaotic. It was not too long before the count down started and 15 minutes before the start the sun peaked over the buildings to the left of us. It put a smile on my face. The corral barriers were wheeled away and it was getting close now. The gun went off and we ambled for probably 10 minutes before crossing the start line. Just as well, as underfoot were thousands of plastic bags and discarded gear and the cobblestones are slippery at the best of times. My race plan was to get to 30km feeling comfortable and then run the last 12km as two separate 5km segments, then the last 2km soaking in the atmosphere. To do this I knew I had to hold back for the first half despite how I felt. The lessons learnt and successfully applied finally is that if you think you are running too fast – you are – slow down. This worked really well. I got to 30 km mark feeling great and I knew the race now really started. So many highlights of the first 30km – running past bands almost every 5km, great crowd support calling out your name printed on the bib, the Bois de Vincennes and the best bit the tunnel along the Seine. I got shivers as the call went out like Mexican wave through the runners in the tunnel – it was a memorable moment of this race. Almost beat the Wellesley girls screams in the Boston Marathon.
Got to 31 km and almost choked on a sudden wave of sadness as I heard Elvis sing “Its Now or Never”.I had flash of my two boys at home following the race on the internet. I put my head down and powered on. Got to 35 km just behind the 3.45km pacer, still running smoothly and passing lots of runners From here the race got ugly, and I paid the price of changing my diet in the last week. It is impossible to be in Paris and not eat bread including chocolate bread for breakfast in the past few days. I slowed I think in this section – it is all a bit of a blur. Got to the finish in 3:48. Feeling remarkably good – must have been all those back to back 30km runs months ago.
Woo hoo PB achieved – job done – tick. And the best bit was waiting at the hotel which was just around the corner from the finish line.
What a treat it is to run in Paris – I am in love. Paris Je t’aime.