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Paris Marathon – Job Done!

April 11, 2011

The final preparation for the Paris Marathon was very French. Our hosts insisted on filling us with an enormous 4 course lunch including aperitif made by my friend’s brother who has his own vineyard and makes prize-winning wine. So, yes, you guessed it – rude not to have at least a little sip of the wine…”tomorrow is another day” I was told.

In my previous blog I also mentioned that we bounced from the lunch to the pasta dinner with the other participants from the Bergse Runners Club.

The day of the Marathon dawned bright and sunny. Joost and I prepared our breakfast in our friends’ kitchen. Extremely healthy – fruit, bread and jam and I was pleased that we had brought our own hard boiled eggs.

Then it was off to find the right metro stops. It was not difficult as it was simply a matter of following the people in the plastic Marathon sacks…

The atmosphere was hotting up as we left the metro. The pacers were already warming the crowd up.

Sponsors’ trucks were to be seen everywhere.

I had an appointment to meet a friend. Joost and I pushed our way against the stream of people to meet him. Alas it was too busy and I could not reach him by phone (it later turned out that he too was where we were supposed to meet – how we missed each other…).

I turned back to go to the green (4 hour) start box. It was closed as the handicapped race was just beginning. So I, and c. 10,000 others were trying to get in. Eventually it was open again and we streamed in to a virtually empty start place. The all important loos were also to be found here. The TWO (for girls) and 2 4X “corners” (for boys) were in each start box for the c. 10,000 people in each starting place. So I queued. It soon became clear that this would not be possible if we were to start when the gun went off  – choices choices… some ladies chose to do it the “old fashioned way”directly into the drain. I waited. And, yes, and my neighbour pointed out – oh now there were men in the queue too.

So the starting gun went off! The 40,000 odd thousand started – except for those in the queue for the loo…

Imagine – my first marathon – and I am in the queue for the loo.

I eventually started… sort of… it was nearly over before it began… as I went over the starting line my drinks belt flew off, I lost a drink bottle and I almost fell a**** over t** over a plastic bag.  I steadied myself and reattached bottles (well 3)  and belt and tried to start my runkeeper. She seemed to be working although refused to talk to me. Oh well let’s get on with it.

I chased down the 5 hour pacer and the 4,30 hour pacer and got into the swing of my first marathon. Had to laugh to myself – what start!! Of all the strategies that I had thought of – NEXT TIME – NEED TO HAVE A LOO STRATEGY!!!

I knew that it would be hot so I had already added – get water from drink station – not just for extra drink but for keeping my core cool my pouring water down my neck and back – to strategy.

I ignored the 5 K offering – just as I usually do. Good move as it was a good learning time to avoid “death by orange peel” which it could have been. The soggy orange peals on the ground were LETHAL so staying upright was a challenge.

The kilometers seemed to fly by and just to add another dimension – the counting was also in miles. I seemed to be passing everyone – but then I had started at the end…I realised I had made the fatal error of not checking what time I went over the start – will I ever learn?! – so I was a bit clueless as to the time. I had a look at Runkeeper – even though she was not talking to me she was counting. It seemed that I was going quite fast – but it felt good – not forced and that I could do more – so about right I guessed.

As I went round a roundabout and across some lights at 9K I heard my loving husband – shout: “Lizzy!” – what a boost – I felt on air.

I entered the Bois de Vincennes really pumped. It was getting slightly warmer but the air was good, there was greenery and the birds were chirping away. At around 16 K I was relaxed enough to check the Runkeeper. My brain could not really register but I seemed be ahead of time – that said there had been some starting and stopping so I was not too sure.

As we left the Bois I past the 4h 15 min pacer…ummm, I wondered – if I was 15 – 20 mins over the start after the start gun, I should stick with her as I would achieve my 4 h goal. On the other hand… I felt comfortable… why not see if I could find the 4h pacer….

It was really super running through the streets of Paris and seeing the famous Bastille ahead of me glimmering in the sunshine.  A little like Eros in London.

At the other side  – a familiar face – and even a high five as Joost encouraged me on… It still felt really good – although I felt as if my ace had dropped just a little – but that’s fine – still some way to go so no harm.

Here and there – we were held up – even down to a jog as we hassled through tiny gaps in the streets. We were now running along the Seine. Although it was quite difficult to see.

Fabulous buildings on the other side – although I admit I “missed” Notre Dame but did wonder at the Musée D’Orsey! This was quite a challenging part – we were running along the road which my friend had told me was always closed on Sundays to traffic. We ran down into tunnels and up again – and again and again at least a few more times – ummm – quite tiring. In the tunnels people were having a “sneaky” stretch as they seemed to be cramping already. I felt fine…

It was awesome to see the Eiffel Tower! I really was in Paris running the Marathon!

Post 30K and I felt my pace slowing. Many people were already walking – no way ! I was carrying on. Just a steady pace to “recover”

I had been warned by the experienced runners and my friend, who lives in Bologne – that the road into the Bois de Boulogne is up hill.  I had not expected to see this stream of people in front of me – almost copying the stream that run up hill in the Sevenheuvelenloop – but in this case NOT streaming – MOST were walking!

Jog, jog, jog…keep on jogging. Earlier someone had shouted = “don’t stop!” thanks – I thought – it did not even enter my head to stop until you mentioned it…

I also heard ambulances. We were directed left – around someone who was receiving medical attention..and I jogged past the walkers – my mind playing mind games with me – wouldn’t be nice….. no no no!

I tried to “pick people up” those who were walking or jogging slowly. It was getting a bit dangerous as there were also quite some people passing us and the jostling was quite violent at times.

I started to speak to someone: “English? ” “no I am German” “Oh I also speak Dutch”   – “so do I” “wow! how come?” ” I work in Eindhoven” “Oh I lived in Brabant for a few months..” our conversation came to an abrupt halt as someone shoved past us and I lost my German Dutch speaking friend in the crowd.

OK so that tactic did not work.  I noticed that the people watching the race looking extremely bored. And they were not even running! Crowd stimulation was my next project. “Hello Scotland” I shouted as I spotted a Scottish flag – I received a roar of applause – effective!

The crowds thinned out as we/ I jogged through the BdeB. At 33 K my legs were heavy. A quick body check – I could feel a blister on my right foot but what the hell at this stage. If that was it – why was I acting in slow motion?? 37 k was a good goal on which to focus as after that it was unknown territory…. I wish that I had stuck with the 4 h 15 pacer…

Somewhere just before 37 K she who had apparently turned into a he – over took me. No way could my legs summon the strength to go with him.

I started some serious counting. Trying to count to 100 in either English or Dutch – amazing how I got lost.  I picked it up again – concentrate… I was down to my last pack of Sure2Endure and sunk down my secret weapon – the Winrgy Shooter. The latter did help my focus and the counting reached 100 more times without the stop on the way – I was almost there in French too!

Somewhere round 38/29 an industrious wine promoter was offering Medoc – which some took and thanked him for! I guess everyone has their own strategy.

I thought that I would feel exhilarated at 40 k. I debated – push a little faster?? I was just passing someone who had not quite made it and was having his feep elevated by the medics – OK then take care and make it over the line…

41 K cautiously excited – I had to make it now! Where was the end?  The road seemed to twist and turn with no end in sight – when could I make the dramatic sprint? There it was! I tried my hardest  – it was rather a damp squid – but I made it!!!

No idea of the time!

The man removing my chip told me I was beautiful – oh the French men!!! even after 42,195 K I was beautiful :-))

Massage, elevated chats with other finishers, frantic sms’s and voicemail messages to the other BergseRunners  – to whom thank you for support and training scheme that works – Mark! – all starters had made it – I was not the fastest…oh and sms’s to Joost whose phone had decided not to take calls!!! Medal, Finishers T-shirt! Amazing feeling.

Lunch with Joost and plenty of walking to stimulate my legs.

Dinner with oysters with my friends – oh and of course, champagne and great wine  – a good way to recover (after, of course my protein shake).

We found me on the results – quite amazing – even though I was not so over excited by the time of 4h 24 mins – it seems that I was 978th from 2249 in my age and sex category – so not so awful. If I understand the French correctly I was 19,724 over all from 32,092 starters and 31,169 finishers (and I bet some of those walked!!!)…

on the hottest 10th April in Paris since 1890🙂

 

Medal to prove it!

Paris Marathon - Job Done!

Job Done!

 

So on to the next…Amsterdam…and faster…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2011 2:36 am

    Congratulations! We’re proud of you. You set the mark . . . Now, we’re going to have to try and beat the 4 hour and 24 minute mark. Our first marathon is on May 1. Only three weeks away . . . scary. Glad to hear that you did so well.

    • April 12, 2011 8:24 pm

      Wow Zeb – that has crept up fast. You are approaching the most difficult bit – the tapering – i.e. not running – you should have just one last long run?
      Just remember to have a loo strategy!!!
      I am rooting for you!
      Liz

  2. April 12, 2011 2:23 pm

    Great job Lizzy! So proud of you, wow…
    Now keep up the running, don’t stop. Set new goals and beat new targets🙂
    A well deserverd hug for you!

    • April 12, 2011 8:25 pm

      Thanks, Peter – indeed – the illusive 4 h remains illusive. I was thinking of triathlon although I really woul dlike to run that marathon in under 4….
      Liz

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