The hard work in training was over and so it was time to make the journey to Paris and enjoy the delights of an amazing city, oh and run 26.2 miles! The marathon is possibly the best way to see the main sights of any major city although quite probably not everyone’s preferred way of doing it. We were both looking forward to the weekend break and as Allison and I seldom go anywhere without running these days, it counted as a short holiday to us. My friend Graeme had also signed up for the race so it was also good to be able to spend a few days with him and Fiona.
We were up early on Saturday for the International Breakfast Run. What an event this was! This is the only ‘race’ I’ve ever done where running was actually secondary! The principle was that everyone wore the colours of their country, they were given little flags to wave and wear the same t-shirt. The main thing though was that everyone jogged the 5k route from Avenue Foch ( the start line was the finish line for the marathon) to the Eiffel Tower dancing along to the music and took lots of photos with other runners or the background, particularly when the Eiffel Tower came into view. When we got to the finish, I was surprised to see most people continue to enjoy the party atmosphere and not in any rush to cross the finish line. This was a stunning event that, I believe, should be a feature of any big city marathon weekend and Edinburgh is the only other city I’m aware of who has one.
A nice wee boat trip on the Seine occupied our afternoon and a rest of the legs before we headed to the Pasta Party put on by Macmillan. It was great to meet other runners who were supporting this great charity, some who have done it before and one girl who was with her family and about to run her first marathon. Like everyone else, we left early to get back to our hotel and get our kit ready for the next day and attempt to get some sleep. Even though I’ve done this a dozen times before, I still became nervous when putting the number on my vest and laying everything out so I wouldn’t forget anything.
We purposely chose a hotel within walking distance of the Arc de Triomphe so we only had a short distance to walk/crawl after the finish. This was a necessity after the last time we were here and I could only walk down stairs backwards! We arrived at the starting area in reasonably plenty time but by the time we had been to the loo and put our bags away and gone back to the loo again, it was a bit of a rush to get to the start pens and with all the congestion, I squeezed into the 3hr 45min pen as the 3:30 guys would already have gone by that time. A few mins of slowly walking forward then finally we got our race under way.
Like any other major city race, there’s lots of congestion along the route meaning that for the best part of it, I had to zig-zag my way round. This became particularly frustrating when I came up behind people who had clearly lied about their finish time and would’ve been lucky to break 5 hours never mind 3:45. I had my own targets though, I spotted one of the pace markers who was carrying a flag and set about trying to catch him. I did catch him and realised he was one of the 3:45 pace runners so I passed him and set about trying to catch his fellow 3:45 runner. By the time I had got past these guys, 8 miles had already passed.
I had been occupied with my thoughts that I reached mile 14 without realising it and it was good to know I only had another 12 miles to go. The battery on my Garmin died at mile 15 and so I decided to run the rest of the race solely focusing on how I felt just like I teach my Zero to 5k Running Club runners. I had also started to think about the Edinburgh Marathon in May and how I would feel running it having already run a half marathon directly before it. I decided not to push the pace for the rest of the race partly to avoid the risk of burning out early and also so I could recover quicker and restart my training again sooner.
I crossed the finish line in 3hrs 40mins and while it wasn’t the fastest marathon I’ve ever done, it was one of the most enjoyable as I had taken that decision not to push it and so I was able to enjoy the scenery a lot more, enjoy chatting to some other runners on their way round and actually stop to take a bit of orange on board at the water stations. I would normally have charged past and missed all that. I was delighted that Graeme, who had been injured for most of the build up to the race and was held together by KT Tape, finished 5 mins behind me and Allison had taken over 27 mins off her PB so it was a great day all round.
A burger and a beer was exactly what we needed later on to celebrate before Allison and I had a walk to the Trocadero to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up and sparkling and a stop to see the Arc de Triomphe lit up before the end of a memorable day and ultimately the end of a brilliant weekend as we made our way home the next morning.
It had been 4 years since our last trip to Paris for the marathon but it definitely won’t be another 4 years before we’re back. Paris offers a spectacular marathon and who would say no to a trip back there again?