Paris Marathon Recap
It’s almost a month later and I am still feeling the high of completing my 1st marathon!
Completing this goal was HUGE for me and I could not have done it without the love and support of family and friends. I sometimes still feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure its all real. A year ago, I wasn’t running at all. A year later, I completed my first marathon and hit all three of my goals.
Going into the marathon, I had three basic goals. The first was to finish. The second was to finish in under 5 hours and the third was to finish injury free. The morning of the race, I woke up very excited that the day was finally here. It had been a long 20 weeks to get here. I was a bit nervous because due to the weather forecast in Paris (43 degrees!!!) I had to switch to running pants instead of the capris that I was used to running in. To make matters worse, three weeks before the race, I developed shin splints. The shin splints were due to my sneakers being worn. They had too much mileage and wouldn’t take me through the marathon. ARGH!!!!! I had no other choice (see goal #3) , but to buy a new pair. While I tried my hardest, I did not get as much mileage on them before race day that I had hoped to. Needless to say, I was VERY nervous to introduce “fairly new” elements on race day. I also was dealing with a ton of emotions, all positive, but still so much that I felt a bit antsy. I left the hotel with a friend from my running group. We anxiously made our way through the streets of Paris to find our corral section. We arrived at the corral station and was lucky enough to get a spot at the beginning. This section was also the 4:30 pace group and I realized the day before that that’s exactly where I wanted to be because my training was consistently suggesting that my range was somewhere between 4:30-4:45. At this point, I started to recognize just how BIG this race was. Reports stated there were approximately 39,000 runners. WOW!!! This was pretty evident as the lines for the porta-loos were ridiculously long. There simply wasn’t enough porta-loos for the amount of runners that was there and people improvised and I’ll let your mind wander about what you think happened. Yeah……moving on.
We patiently waited for the race to start and cheered when the gun finally went off to mark the start of the race. The waiting for our corral section to get over the start line was even longer. It took approximately 52 minutes to get across the start line. The first few miles I don’t remember much because I was simply glad to be moving and have my body start to warm up. By mile 5, I was feeling pretty awesome. I had warmed up enough, so I took off my jacket and decided that I was going to just enjoy my race. I had trained for this and I knew that I had it. I knew that if I stuck to the plan, kept as steady pace as possible, fueled properly and kept positive, that I’d hit my goals. The next ten miles felt great. I had kept my pace within my 9:45-10:15 goal. My pace was steady and I was fueling properly and feeling strong. I was starting to realize just how much the training had prepared me. I kept expecting to feel fatigued or my legs begin to feel like lead, but that didn’t happen. I was running strong, I was smiling and taking in all the beautiful sights and just happy. Then I got to mile 16 and that’s when things started to unravel a bit. My stomach started to feel weird. I didn’t want to give it too much attention, so I sipped on my water and slowed down just a tiny bit since I was cramping. (Disclaimer: If you’re offended by discussion of “Poo” then skip to mile 20 to read about the rest of the race) LOL!
Mile 17: OUCH! My stomach is cramping and the bubble guts starts. OH NO!!!!!
Mile 18: The bubble guts or runner trots, or whatever you want to call it was in FULL EFFECT! I began to sweat and get really, really hot. I begin to look around anxiously for any sign of a porta-loo. At this point, my running has damn near come to a complete halt. I’m basically walking. Then I run a few hundred feet, then walk again. I am running a mental marathon at this point with my intestines to just cooperate and not fail me. Emotionally, I’m nervous, anxious and sad. I begin to wonder if I can finish this race at all. I squeeze my glutes and start to walk like there’s a stick up my behind. When I type this now, I laugh hysterically, but at the time, it was NOT FUNNY. NOT. AT. ALL. LOL!!
Mile 19: I’m basically walking a shuffle at this point. I don’t know if I’m so focused on “not” poo’ing that I can’t find, don’t see, or don’t have the logical common sense to find a restroom. I’m trying my best not to cry. I had the most ridiculous thoughts in my head. For example, I was like, I’m going to “poo” on myself and everyone will see\smell me all the way back to the finish and then all the way to my hotel. Or another example, there’s going to be a picture of me in perpetuity on the internet that I poo’d myself. I realize that I’m being irrational and silly, so I try to start thinking positive thoughts. I think of the professional marathoners and IronMan athletes who experienced the same thing and kept pushing until the finish. By this time, I’m feeling a bit down because the last of the 4:30 pace group had left me around mile 18, but I continue walking/shuffling.
Mile 20: I slowly approach the mile 20 banner. I stop there and decide to take a picture and post it to FaceBook. In my mind, I start to think….from this point, it’s only a 10K race. You can do this. I knew I could finish those last 6.2 miles under 90 minutes and for some reason, that began to resonate with me in a very powerful way. I kept thinking, the faster you finish this race, the closer you’ll be to getting to a bathroom. So, I started to get excited again, so I started walking faster. Before long, I started to run, and then run faster.
I kept an average pace of about 12:06 through the next five miles. Once I saw the banner for mile 25, I kicked it up a notch and really started to run. My pace for mile 25 was 11:36 and then mile 26 was 10:40. I ran across that finish line strong. I was a marathon finisher and I was proud. I was super emotional and then I heard my friend’s voice screaming my name. I was happy the race was over and I was overcome with emotion that I had actually finished and I was injury free. In fact, I physically felt fine. My legs were tired and sore as expected, my glutes were screaming at me, but I was not in any excruciating pain at all. I was pleased that with the exception of those two miles where I had some extreme stomach issues, I had run the entire race.
I’m already looking forward to my next marathon in Honolulu. Training begins this summer and I plan to train smart and hard. I’m claiming a 4:30 finish!!!