Non, je ne regrette rien - My Paris Marathon
Spring marathons always bring surprises in terms of weather. We train all Winter long in dark, frosty, cold, wet and very windy this year conditions. Then race day arrives and suddenly the sun is shining at 8am and it becomes very warm, very quickly.
This was how I found things as I emerged from Charles de Gaulle Etoile metro station on Sunday 3rd April, with the Arc de Triomphe larger than life in the middle of Paris and thousands of runners milling about. First thoughts are wow, this is Paris and then you quickly forget that and try to dodge the cars that are flying around the roundabout and the tourists taking photos and queue in the portaloo queue. When you realize that the queue doesn’t move that quickly, you start to pysch yourself up for the state of the portaloo, not a pretty site and one that I would like to forget!! Then it is a wander down to the finish line in Avenue du Foch to drop off the bags. There is a noticeable Police presence and we are bag searched etc, this is actually quite comforting and for a moment breaks my thoughts of running and I ponder the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium. Quite rightly the city carries on and shows us that it will not be beaten and neither should we. The heat really is beginning to build at this point and I put my gloves into the bag and pull on the visor, I am glad that I applied good old p20 before I left. A wander back past the Arc du Triomphe and head down to the starting pens which are on the Champs Elysee. Is there a better start to a marathon, I doubt it! The cobbles, the view, the people, it is something pretty special. It is quite nice when you hear a few English voices, I found myself chatting a Liss Runner for a bit before we got our heads in the game and our wave was directed to the start line.
Another wow moment as you head off on the world famous cobbles and into Paris. There are signs that Asics put up along the way such as “Look right, it’s The Louvre” or, “Left for Notre Dame”, runners are smiling as we take in these spectacular sights and the noise of the crowds is like a wall of sound.
The first 10 miles or so seem to pass in a blur of spectacular scenery, bands, crowds and a zoo! I become aware of the heat at this point and make sure that I am taking on fuel as per my plan. The lack of sleep the night before was a concern and at about 12 miles I start to feel pretty sick. As a long term sufferer of IBS, I am used to fairly regular GI problems, however, not sure if this was the case here or not. Anyway, stubborn that I am I carry on and take my mind of it by clocking the sites and the mile markers and just generally ignoring the sick feeling. Well, sorry people of Paris and my slight detour at mile 17ish, nice bit of puking on the pavement, wiped mouth and off I went. Gave myself a bit of a talking too and worked out that I would finish no matter what and would adopt a walk run strategy and force myself to drink.
The tunnels along the last section in Paris are a relief from the intense heat, although they can be quite disorientating with the addition of bands and laser lights. Lots of people around me were walking at certain points and as we got nearer the 20mile mark, people were being sick and ambulances were on and off the course. This can be quite freaky, and the temptation to just sit down and cry was quite strong as I entered the final section in the Bois du Bolougne. A quick text to Mr eGlove made him aware of the situation, he knows it is not good news if I text during a race! The wood section is great for runners, there are plenty of crowds, the aid stations are plentiful and I am sure I saw some can can dancers, although to be fair I could have been seeing things by then! This was my 10th marathon and I have never seen so many runners on the side of the roads, being sick, having medical assistance, not to mention the ambulances on the course.
I reached the 40km mark and knew that I would make it, I was grabbing water and even a bit of orange from the aid station. Paris have amazing aid stations, sugar cubes, bananas, oranges and water! Brilliant, however, the pavements around them are sticky and a hazard to weary runners. The longest mile is always 25 – 26 and then as I turned the corner, the crowds had been barriered off again and I knew the finish was coming. Ignoring the stomach and legs I carried on and ta dah I made it! I staggered across the line, stopped the Strava of course, took a finisher shirt and cape thing, wandered in a line to get a medal and then rather spectacularly threw up all over the floor and some boxes. I dropped my new shirt in it and was crying. The great thing is other runners were asking me if I was ok and all I could manage was ‘non’! I rang Mr eGlove in tears and then staggered to the bag area, retrieved my bag and promptly sat on the floor! Surveying the situation, I wiped myself down with baby wipes and a towel and got changed under the cover of the huge green cape that they provide you. When I emerged I knew I had to try to get something to eat. I wandered out the runners bit, found a hot dog stall, ate and drank and then waited for my support crew to meet me. By that time I was feeling a bit more human and actually quite proud of myself for carrying on.
If you are going to be sick in a marathon, Paris is the place!! It is a truly brilliant marathon, no ballot to enter, fabulous route, great support all the way round and just so, well, French!!
Thanks for reading, and until next time, au revoir! Nikki x