I chose Paris as I love the city (after getting engaged there in 2003) and also running the marathon back in 2010. The flight was 6am Saturday 11th April with the race the next day. We landed around 8:15am in Paris and after collecting the bags etc the time was around 9am. I had booked my son in to the kid’s maratoon 1.2k run near the Eiffel tower and he was due to run at 10:30. Short on time I decided we should get over to his run rather than check into the hotel. Big mistake. With two bags, two kids and a suitcase and a pram we were traveling across the city on foot and tube. We couldn’t find the start of my sons run and at 10:25 saw the start line about half a mile away. Kieran and I ran to the start so my son had already run about half a mile and was starting the run with all the others gone into the distance. I ran round course 1.2km course with Kieran and he LOVED it…..well not at first he fell on the gravel and cut his hand. He got up dusted himself down and started to overtake people to the finish. Kieran had finished his first run at 6 year old and got his first medal…..I was made up for him and he wore the medal all day!!
It was now around 11am. I hotel was around a mile from the Eiffel tower so we walked to the hotel and checked in. I still had to get to the expo and register. By the time we had got to the expo, had some lunch and got back to the hotel is was around 15:30. My legs were killing me….up since 3am and far too much walking/running round Paris. Was wasn’t overly concerned and headed off out for food around 17:00 and was safely back around 21:00 to settle in bed ready for the race the next day.
I was up nice and early around 6am with a good 8 hours sleep and my legs felt ok. I had some Porridge and some water and walked out the hotel to the tube. I arrived over at the start around 8am with the start at 8:45. The plan was to go into a café and get a croissant and some water…..who would have thought I would struggle to find somewhere in Paris…o well……
The race started and I was in the sub 3:15 pen….the plan was to run around 3:04 pace. My PB was 3:09 and after a winter of near perfect training was confident of hitting my time. I had done a 10 mile race a month earlier and used that to test pacing albeit at a faster 6:30 p/m and managed to hit this target all the way round and felt fresh. I started the run and from the word go it didn’t quiet feel right….mile 1 – 7:05, mile 2 – 7:12, mile 3 – 7:02, mile 4 – 7:02 the pace was ok but it didn’t feel comfortable not hard but certainly not easy. Last year I had run four sub 3:15 marathons and thought I had managed to manage the demon’s that had previously made my marathon times go up and down. I had gone through 5K on 22mins, 10k 44, half 1:34. At 30K I was still around my PB time but 3:04 was gone and to be honest was never in sight. The splits were too slow from the start and not feeling fresh from the start I tried to run for PB and kick on later if I had it in me. The times were masking how I felt and around mile 19-20 expected to see the family but missed them. By mile 21 I was a mess……I had been here before and managed to overcome the negative thoughts and push on to still finish strong…..not today. I started to walk….i know only too well that when you start to walk you very rarely recover and today was no different. In 2010 I ran past the wine station at mile 22 this time I was willing to find it to somehow try and block out the pain. Somewhere between mile 22 and 23 the sub 3:15 pace went past what felt like an express train. I had no response and with 3 miles my thoughts were just too somehow get to the end and finish. There was some running but plenty of walking by now and after what felt like hours between miles 20-26 I could see the finish line.
I crossed over the line in 3:24:14 and had finished my 23rd marathon. No joy and just disgust. I went to the baggage collection. Rang the wife and started to cry!! I got on the tube met the family and put the day behind me by setting off to Disney. Within an hour I was out of Paris and in the hotel swimming pool with my kids splashing and having fun. Having the family with me and seeing the kids have fun at Disney the next two days more than made up for the disappointment of the race. At least one of the family had a good run!!
The course its self I LOVE and will recommend it to anyone. The crowds in the city are great and along the river seine particularly. The last few miles are through a wooded parkland and can be very lonely considering there are around 40,000+ runners on the course. It took a week or so to get over and was helped by going to Manchester the week after to support all the Harriers smash their marathon and then following the runners in London via the website. I’d like to thanks all the members of the club who I trained with over winter and the club sessions. Like I said I can’t fault the training and support leading up to the marathon and it’s now ON TO THE NEXT ONE!!