Paris Marathon took place on Sunday 9th April at approximately 9.15am for the 4 hour wave runners. That would be me. If you have read my past weekly posts, you’d know that my training has not gone smoothly – namely due to sprained ankle recovery, a couple of infections and antibiotics…blah, blah, blah. The list goes on.

Based on everything that had happened over the 12 weeks, I revised my original goals of 3.50/4.00/4.10 to getting close to my Manchester Marathon time of 4:23. Deep down I still hoped for something between 4-4:10. After all, I had come off the antibiotics a few days prior to the marathon and I felt OK. I felt optimistic!

The weather forecast of 23 Celsius was a bit of a concern but my aim was to throw water over myself as often as possible and run in any shady bits. Things didn’t really go to plan.

The race

I arrived at the start pen about 8.10am and immediately queued for the single portaloo. A very wise move by me! By 9am the pen had filled nicely and it was getting warm. I heard the elites and quicker pen times leave before 9am.

As the horn sounded, we walked down to the start line and we were off! An excellent atmosphere. Everyone was clapping and cheering. It felt pretty good. I was next to the 4 hour pacer but within the 1st mile I knew I wouldn’t stick with him. The pace just didn’t feel right for me. So I plodded along at a pace that did feel right – somewhere between 9-9.30.

The plan was to take a shotbloc every 4-5k and take on water at every aid station. As I hit the 12k marker, I had already taken 2 x shotblocs and water but my stomach said no to any more. I felt really queasy. But still in good spirits. I plodded onto 16k and had another shotbloc. Still queasy but manageable. It was also at 12k that I started to feel the effect of the heat. This was barely 10.30am! So I revised my plan again……

I now thought that I would still carry on with the above pace but if the route had no shade further on I would accept I may have to slow down. There was no shade.

After about 25k I started to get mild dizziness. As soon as I felt this I stopped and walked. May be I was over cautious? Who knows. But I am still sure I made the right decision. I certainly wasn’t upset about it! From about 30k to the end involved running with about 6 x 2 min walk breaks. This seemed to manage any dizzy spells I was getting and really helped that over-heated feeling. Even with this going on I was still really enjoying the race. It was from 30k that the heat felt a lot hotter than the predicted 23. It was only after the race I was told it was 26. That explains the epic sunburn I had!

The last 6k were very difficult for me. I had developed a pain in my hip (flexor?) which I had never suffered from before and my ankle felt tired. The walk breaks made the pain worse but they really helped the over-heating. I opted to reduce the over-heating. Mild hip pain won’t stop me from completing a race but passing out will.

The last couple of kilometres of the race was through parkland and you couldn’t see the finish. Even when the 26 mile marker arrived,  the finish line was no where in sight! But I put a sprint on and ran the last 0.2m at a sub 8 pace. I haven’t walked over a finish line yet and I don’t intend to start doing that either.

So all of this may appear like the race was a bad experience – it wasn’t. I absolutely loved it! Yes, I had issues but I think I managed them well. I listened to how my body was responding and I adapted. OK, I didn’t hit any of my time goals but I am still very happy with my time. I think I did well all things considered. On reflection I probably could have pushed harder. Would it have been worth it? I don’t know. But there is no point dwelling on what may have been.

There’s a few things to point out about the race:

The support was fantastic – in places. Hearing different nationalities shout out your name was amazing. The crowds were great at certain points along the course. There was a lot of the course where the support was minimal or non-existent. But that’s to be expected for any long distance event.

The hose pipes were a God send! Especially in the latter 20k. There was also aid stations purely for water throwing, sponges, etc. There was definitely no water shortage (take note Brighton)!

The aid stations were ‘eventful’. Runners did push you out of the way to get to the water, and orange peels and banana skins were all over the floor. This meant some aid stations were a bit slippy but manageable. But I had read all this before in blogs so I was prepared.

After crossing the finish line, there was a long walk up the Champs-Elyees towards the Arc de Triumpe. Along the way you would collect your medal, tee and fruit. This meant there were no queues which was really appreciated. Getting out of the finishing pen was a bit of a challenge due to the number of expectant family members but security handled it very well.

Oh and there was a lot of security! Even snipers on the top of the Arc de Triumpe!

The metro was managed extremely well.  Extra staff were on hand to manage the sudden influx of thousands of runners going through the ticket barriers. A very professional set-up.

My final words: I am not a fan of road running but I wold do this race again, which surprised me. The expo number collection was very smooth and basically everything about the race (apart from the price) was brilliant! I can’t comment on the breakfast run as I overslept! I really enjoyed the whole experience.

I crossed the finish line in 4:24:17 with a Garmin distance of 26.6 miles

It’s been 3 days since I ran the marathon. It took 2 days for me to want to eat again. My ankle is swollen but pain free. The sunburn is not attractive.

I’m still smiling.