After 125 days of preparation, April 3rd, 2016 finally approached and it was my time, amongst 57,000 other runners from across the globe, to trek 26.2 miles along the scenic Paris course. Prior to race day I had my fair share of stresses with an International move, one too many injuries and illnesses, and events outside my control including a neighboring terrorist attack on Belgium. Compared to my other marathons, my mind affected me more than my physical ailments resulting in my hardest and longest duration of completion, going 19 min beyond my goal time, but I completed it!
Luckily I had a strong support system. My dad and sister flew in from Boston and for their first time in France, ever. Dorothy visited from London with her friend from Rotterdam. Julien’s sister, her partner, and their almost 8 month old daughter watched along several points on the route as well. I also received many texts and messages from friends far and wide. And of course I have to give the biggest thanks to my finish to Julien. Without his ongoing support and encouragement during the last 6km, I know I would have walked the rest and called it a day. He was right there beside me even though he could have finished long before me. And you have to give this guy props, he shaved almost 30 minutes off from his previous marathon 2 years ago. This guy rocks and I love him so much!
The day before we went to the Expo and received our neon green goodie bags with hardly nothing in it (sample of Tiger Balm, candy, and a whistle?!). Asics sponsored the race, but going on the last day you are left with either XS or L merchandise, so I didn’t end up purchasing anything. I did meet up with the kinesiotape people to get a roll to try to calm my newly onset sciatica that came about a week before the race (which I do think helped). We did lose my dad for a good 30 minutes but eventually found him at the only exit in the building and promptly discussed it’s time for him to upgrade to a smartphone instead of a flip phone, just in case of emergency. We enjoyed an Italian dinner that evening and a beer or two to calm the nerves and went to bed around 10pm for a 8am wake up.
The elite started at 8:45am while the last wave went off at 10:15am. We were in the last wave. The day was anticipated to be warm and sunny and it was. The hottest finish I did was in Chicago in 2011 at 72F in which I experienced dizziness for the first time during the last two miles. This time was around 66F and not a cloud in the sky. It wasn’t terrible as we were taking two water bottles at each 5k water stop. I felt great leaving L’Arc de Triomphe with only minimal left hamstring/sciatic irritation that numbed out through the first 5k and where we saw my family before Bastille. We continued to cover solid ground but had to break my rhythm for my first ever pee stop during a run and there were no porta potties or restrooms available so a side walk, small barricade and a family helped to provide some coverage. We picked back up our stride into to the first park with a magnificent view of Chateau De Vincennes, but unfortunately it was being renovated. At this point I realized I won’t need my music which I wasn’t using due to the sights and people watching around me. We made our way out of the park and enjoyed bands playing every so often. Crowd support is light on the route but not barren. We felt good going into the half way mark and then running back toward Bastille where I saw Dorothy and her friend amongst the bigger crowd support on the route before the finish. At this point we start to see the bigger monuments like Notre Dame, Musee D’Orsay and Eiffel Tower as you go in and out of tunnels for a good 5k (from 25km to 30km). The tunnels started to bring about a challenge as you got a break from the sun but you lost spectators and you had to deal with continuous rolling hills into and out of each tunnel. Also, having started in the last wave we were starting to have to weave around slower packs of runners or at this point a lot of walkers. I think the hills, weaving, and heat started to catch up with me and I felt my wall around 35km right when we saw our family again before heading into the second park. In this park is when I crashed hard at 40km. There was only one stop with sports drink and I think this was part of my problem. I had no real replenishments of electrolytes and I was flushing my system with a lot of water, which I also needed due to the temps. I’m happy to say I had no real cramping or GI issues but the mental process worked in overdrive to get me through the last 30-45 minutes. Finally, we crossed the finish line which always brings me happy tears of joy because 1) I completed another goal and 2) I don’t have to run anymore. Finishing always brings about an bursting emotion of relief and pride. Here we received our finishers shirt (at this time they had also already run out of some sizes) and our medal. We received water and a few snacks like apple or banana but the finish, just like the expo bag, was little to be desired. We met up with my dad and sister for a finish picture back in front of L’Arc de Triomphe and tried to go out for a beer in the area but wasn’t having a ton of success due to most bars being closed. We decided to take the metro back (which was free) to our Airbnb at the Republique and go out around there.
Unfortunately, for the first time ever following a marathon, my heart rate was through the roof. Up to an hour following the finish my heart rate was fluctuating between 88-110 bpm with increased capillary refill times and feeling faint. For the first time ever, I had to self treat and lay on the floor for 25 minutes with my feet elevated and downed two Powerades which I think seriously saved me from an ER visit. Once I got my HR down, capillary refill returned to normal and I wasn’t feeling faint, you can bet I was at the bar celebrating with a couple of pints with everyone.
I have since run 10k for the first time yesterday, 9 days following the marathon, without any pain! I’m very excited to have my weekends back and start a new workout regime of weight training and yoga with still a couple runs a week. I think my next race will be a half marathon but nothing definitive yet. Send me your race suggestions!
I’m proud of my finish and enjoyed my break from running and exercise as my family stayed in town for 12 days and we traveled a shit ton from Paris to Amsterdam to Champagne region to Germany. I’ll cover these trips next blog!