Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Paris Half Marathon - Completed!

Last week’s training: 19 miles, Body Pump, 30 minutes cycling

I’ve completed the first of my charity challenges! I’m so stoked!

I had a fantastic weekend in Paris with my family. I cannot think of an easier way to get to France than the Eurostar, especially as it’s only a 20 minute drive to Ebbsfleet from my parents’. We were checked into our hotel in Bercy by 10:30 am and took some time out in the lounge are to wait for my Godparents to arrive as they live in the Loire valley and were driving up that morning. Cue long late lunch and a trip to the Parc Floral to pick up my race pack and suss out the transport route. It felt like quite a trek from the race start point to the expo but once there it was well organised. My heart was in my mouth until my medical certificate, a necessity for racing in France, was stamped but from there it was easy to collect my number, t-shirt and goody bag which included some energy sweets, poncho, a towel and some anti-chafe cream, along with a LOT of leaflets.

 Saturday was spent relaxing by wandering around some local markets then hopping on the metro to Montmartre for a land train ride and another late lunch. I think I slept better that night than I ever have before a race previously, despite still having a cough.

Sunday was a relatively early start to ensure we were breakfasted and at the metro station in plenty of time to contend with the crowds. There were a lot of runners staying on our hotel and it was really cool to see so many on the platform at the metro too. The race village didn’t have nearly enough loos and the ones that were there were disgusting (so I heard). It felt very chaotic even though I didn’t have much trouble finding my starting pen but as we were started in groups according to our predicted finish times and there were so many of us, although the advertised start time was 10am I didn’t cross the start line until a good half hour later. As we were blessed with a cool but sunny day that was half an hour of standing around getting cold. Not fun.

Once underway the race was great fun. Each group had pacers but I lost mine pretty early on, not surprising as I knew I wouldn’t be hitting my 2 hours target. The route was marked in kilometres which I really liked as it made it much easier for me to mentally break it down into manageable chunks (5km = a parkrun, 7km a third of the way there, 10km = a distance I’ve done many times before etc. etc.). The first third or so was through the parc as so very pretty. Then we were onto the roads and hitting the first water station. Each water station also had fruit available in the form of oranges or bananas so as well as having to contend with bottles (and cups at the powerade station, despite plenty of bins to put them in) it was pretty treacherous underfoot thanks to all the peelings.

My god mother, dad and Mark
The course was mostly flat, lined with spectators and supporters throughout and really really fun. We weren’t running in the heart of the city so landmarks were few but the atmosphere was excellent. I saw my parents and OH at three points in the latter part of the race and gave plenty of high fives to bystanders. I also swore at people crossing the road in front of me, including one old man who just stopped dead in my path causing me to shoulder barge him as I didn’t have enough time to give him a wider berth. It’s a serious bug-bear of mine in races on roads. Why do people insist on crossing the roads in front of runners? WHY?
However I finished in 2:22, which I was pretty happy with. The chaotic feel of the race village was apparent at the finish again, having a fair trek to get your medal and then refreshments (no additional goody bag) but I found my support group without too much trouble. The metro station had admitted defeat and just opened all the gates so we didn’t even need to use a ticket to get back to the hotel. Bonus.

A nice hot shower, 15 minutes of collating photos and updating twitter and facebook then out for an early dinner and some vino! I think I was in bed by 9pm. It was nice to have all of Monday to chill out and as a buffer in case of injury but in the event my legs felt fine and we spent the day taking a bus tour around central Paris seeing all the sights. Another early dinner and we bid farewell to my godparents and made our way back to Gare du Nord for our homeward train journey. We finally tumbled in the door at around 11:30 on Monday night.

It was a great experience to run in a different country and it felt even better to have ticked one of my challenges off the list. My fundraising total is looking healthy and now I just need to get myself healthier so that I can tackle the next 7 weeks of training prior to the London Marathon. It’s quite scary to know it’s less than two months to go now. Even scarier to know that a large number of my runs in the next two weeks will be in -8c conditions as I’m heading out to Chicago to visit a friend and training stops for no woman. Be prepared to see a number of tweets from me procrastinating about my runs, moaning about the cold and wondering why I’m putting myself through this. There might be several photos of my looking miserable and tired in the snow too.

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