Paris Marathon 2015
As a new runner heading for my first marathon, I thought I had prepared well for the event, training hard throughout the worst the winter had to throw at me, but a health problem, some desperately high blood sugars after a bad reaction to a general anaesthetic (you know your BG is too high when the anaesthetist is too freaked out to look at your CGM!) and a string of hospital appointments disrupted the last 8 weeks of my training. I rocked up on the start line on the 12th April in worse shape than I had been last autumn, and carrying 10k more weight than I had planned.
On the day organisation seemed good; bag drop was only 5 minutes, and the wait for loos was not as long as I have seen at half-marathon events in the UK. We were held in the start pen for a while, but the “wave” start times made the start relativity quick, and considering there were over 42,000 of us, everyone seemed to get off to promptly with no walking. It is worth noting that as with many foreign events, a trip to the expo was compulsory as you needed to submit a medical certificate from your GP in advance of race day.
The first half was perfect; great views of Paris in the early morning sun, wide roads and lots of entertainment. There was water every 5k in bottles with the caps already loosened). There was fruit and sugar every 5k from 10K onwards, and sometimes gels and sports drinks. The crowds were supportive on a scale I haven’t seen before at UK events – very chatty (not that my French is up to much), vocal and great at encouraging runners by name; I lost count of the number of times I heard "Allez Robin" from the side of the road.
I felt great, and I was comfortably on target for the sub-4 I was hoping for. Just before 20k my abductors, which had been bothering me for a couple of months, started to lock up, and things started to get increasingly painful and slow. My hips became very stiff, and it became harder and harder to keep any sort of rhythm going. The last 15k were truly horrible, painful and seemingly endless. The sun came out in full and the temperature rose to the high 20’s centigrade on the less sheltered roads. I started walking for a couple of minutes each kilometre, but after a hose down by a well-placed sapeurs-pompiers fire truck and I recovered enough to run the last 15 minutes.
A few of my favourite moments from the day were
Turning my head to see the mist clear and sunlight dancing of the roof of the Palais Bourbon; as one the group of 5 runners in my vicinity exclaimed in a mixture of French and English at the stunning view
- A fanciful conversation around the 30k mark with a well-built Frenchman who offered me a swig from the wine bottle he was running with (it was in fact a deep red sports drink). I politely declined, stating that vin blanc was my drink of choice when running!
- A friendly chap from Kent who wanted to know if I was diabetic (the Team Blood Glucose "out performing Diabetes" shirt, blood sensor tapped to my arm and large medical alert message stuck on my other arm apparently not making it clear enough), and who wanted to ask about the details of my latest glycated hemoglobin levels, whilst running 8 minuet miles
- The strapping man, dressed inexplicably as a disco cheerleader, who seeing the broken look on my face at the 40k mark ran out of the crowd to offer me a bag of Harribo sweets
- Being hugged by a random group of finishers as we stumbled over the line together
4:33 was a long way from the target I set myself, but I know I did not leave anything on the road that day. I was intrigued to see if one marathon might scratch the itch for distance running, but I feel that I have unfinished business with the marathon – I think I will need to run sub-4, which I have no doubt I have in me, before I figure this out. Indeed, buy the time I had received my banana, water t-shirt, medal etc. and was being gently marshalled back into the Paris streets, I was already thinking about whether I should do an autumn event or wait for next spring…
I don't have anything to compare this to, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Paris Marathon is is a great big city event, and I would recommend it.
I know my race photo looks like I am surrendering, but that's me having a good time, honest!