It seems that everyone has been hard at work training for their Spring marathon this year; Brighton, London, Paris, Rotterdam etc. I chose Paris as my poison of choice; it is my favourite city, what could possibly be more fun than running 26.2 miles round the most beautiful city in the world?!
Training for Paris began in January and this time I adopted a completely different approach. I ran 4 marathons last year and I am just DONE with feeling like I’m just about to die by mile 20 then the death plod to the end. Despite being proud of my 3.53 at Loch Ness last autumn I decided to train completely differently this time round.
I have to say as a naturally (or perhaps unnaturally!) competitive person, mentally it was quite difficult seeing people on social media posting ‘ZOMGGGG just ran an EASY 17 miles!!!’ on a Sunday morning way back in January when at that point my longest run was 9 miles. I totally understand this night work for some people. Different strokes and all. But there was no point battering hell out of myself doing endless long runs that were going to drain me mentally and physically and then being too tired to get my quality sessions in during the week. Speed. Intervals. Hills. That’s all I’m saying folks.
Anyhow, Paris was amazing. The city was gorgeous as ever, I had the best company and the best time. Had a great pre race dinner at the hotly recommended Pizza Momo and then onto a Scottish pub. Yes it had to be done. I only had a few beers and a mojito. I take my racing very seriously.
Actually managed to get some sleep and then up for 7am to down 500 ml electrolyte drink and a cereal bar. And chocolate.
The hotel was 0.8 miles from Arc de Triomphe – wee walk down, wait in the longest portaloo queue ever and then time to get into my start pen. Had initially stated 4.00 time but wanted to get into the 3.45 pen, they were having none of it and I was turned away. Being a true Scot I jumped the fence at the last second. I got into the pen with my rightful people. MON THEN.
And we were off down the Champs Ellyses! And onto Rue de Rivoli! Amazing. Have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Paris crowd support but it was fab. Bands, cheers, the works. I fell and cracked my ribs the week before the race, so my initial goal pace was out the window. Revised goal pace was 8.27-8.36. I tried hard not to go too quickly which wasn’t difficult as it was so congested. I enjoyed the sunny morning and race atmosphere and tried to ignore the jolting pain in my ribcage. I ran up hills in Barshaw park through sheet ice for this. I’m damned if I’m letting go now!! MTFU Jude!!!
I had decided to start having gels at 5k and then every 5k after…have to say I felt a bit daft taking them so early on but it works quite well, until 15k when I decided to try the sugar cubes and raisins that the food stations had in offer. Felt like a sugar bomb had gone off in my stomach. Not sure if it helped my energy levels but it did result in a portaloo stop at 20k…and 25k
At 16 miles I had the overwhelming need to cough … Fair enough but since dingying my ribs in the only way I’ve been able to cough is crossing my arms over my chest and bracing against something. No way was I stopping so I just ignored it. At 17 miles I had this overwhelming euphoric feeling. I WAS OK. MY PACE FELT GREAT. I HAD LOADS OF ENERGY. IT WAS GOING TO BE OK.
Have to say I enjoyed the tunnels at this point, they were a welcome respite from the heat. The few inclines were barely felt. I stormed up them while others slowed to a walk. Thank goodness for all those hill sprints!!
From about mile 20 I was close to the 3.45 pacer (I’d started right at the back of the 3.45 pen and he was at the front!) and made it my silent mission that I’d overtake him by the end. He was a DUDE, blowing on his whistle and whooping and hollering. The heat started to affect me by this point, I was thirsty but worried that drinking would mean another portaloo stop and I want sure I could make up any lost time by this point. Mile 21 brought us back to the Eiffel Tower on the left. I waved my hands in the air and cheered and air kissed. Mainly because I felt ok and wasn’t dying on my arse. I kept seeing WHERE THE FOCH IS THE FINISH t-shirts which made me giggle.
The last few miles were just about concentrating enough to keep it all going. I was getting annoyed because everyone was going so slowly and it was so congested I couldn’t overtake. Between 25km and 42km I went from 14691th place to 9830th place. So I can’t complain too much. Overtook Mr 3.45 pacer at mile 25 – he stopped for a pee – to be fair I think he was a slightly fast and looking to come in on time! Turning back up into Avenue Foch and I saw the finish…SPRINT!
Ho hum. Looking sexual!
And it was over. 3.42.21!!! Loved every second, although am picking holes in my performance already. Bring on Edinburgh marathon at the end of May!
Merci Beaucoup Paris!!!