It was a fantastic day.
I don’t look back at my training and feel the same way though. I remember finishing my 18 mile training run, sitting on the bottom of the stairs (in tears) calling my husband and kids to come and look at my visibly in spasm calf muscles. In retrospect my training regime was probably more painful for my family than me. Did I say thanks guys?
The day of the Paris Marathon. I don’t think I have ever been so nervous. I know I was nervous because I had to use the portaloo (twice) and I never normally let myself do that. If you’re a runner or have ever been to a music festival you’ll know why!
Anyway it was a gloriously sunny day – bright blue, cloud free skies and a temperature of 25 degrees. And that was a problem. I had trained over the winter. In England. Cold. Rain. Fog. Very occasional sun that I remember and very little heat.
A hot day. Keep hydrated. Drink more fluid.
Luckily the Paris Marathon is fantastically well organised with plentiful drink and food stations providing water, oranges, bananas, raisins and even gingerbread which I sadly couldn’t have as I have wheat and exercise induced anaphylaxsis. Yes there is such a thing. I was diagnosed in December 2015. For me it means I have to run with an epi pen and not eat wheat for 4 hours before and after exercise. For exercise also read a fast walk. Some people are a lot worse off than me with reactions triggered by exercise alone and including just mowing the lawn or even crocheting.
We head across the start line and I remember my anxiety lifting, it was just good to get going. We set off at a steady pace boosted by ripples of encouragement from people running next to us and spectators at the side of the road.
Mile one and we spot the support team, Husband, son, daughter, niece and nephew shouting their support. Already really nice to see friendly faces.
It’s a fast course. Wide, flat, traffic free streets punctuated regularly with well known sights and monuments and bands playing a range of music from drums to jazz. Your legs automatically start moving to the beat of the music. We have to keep reminding ourselves to ‘slow down’ or ‘we’ll never make it all the way round’. Not making it all the way is not an option.
It’s all going well. We’re making great progress. Sticking at a pace which will get us to the finish in just under 5 hours. Its my first marathon so my only goal is to run all the way. A time of 5 hours therefore seems pretty respectable. Besides I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if I had to be on my feet for much longer than that.
We head through Bastille where there are a few sticky, or should I say slippy moments, because of discarded banana skins. Not too bad though as another impressive part of the Paris Marathon is their commitment to recycling. There were bottle and fruit recycling bins at all the drink stations,
We’re in a more residential area now and heading toward the zoo. Its starting to feel warmer and there’s no shade. Still full of energy and feeling in high spirits I chase my sister down the road squirting a water bottle at her. I’m feeling quite cheery.
Now we’re running beside the river and heading back toward the Place de Concorde. Loads of people on the riverside cheering us on. I can’t but be envious of their ice creams, chilled glasses of wine and pints of beer. We then get sent through a rather long underpass. It’s dark and rather disorienting but offers some welcome respite from the sun. At about 15 miles we hit the Place de Concorde and I find myself desperately trying to spot our support team. I realise that seeing them has helped keep me going. You have no idea what a boost it gives me when I see them all sitting on top of the wall of an underpass. Husband looks relieved to see me. We give them the thumbs up and continue with renewed energy.
We need it because we are heading back out of the centre. There are less people which means less support. And it’s getting hotter.
Approaching 20 miles I start to feel some aches and pains. Not unexpected because its a relatively flat course there’s little variance in stride or muscle usage and of course its also quite a long way! We never actually hit 20 miles in training so still feeling this good is a welcome surprise. But just past mile 20 and I suddenly start to struggle. Have I hit that wall?
Mile 21. Stomach cramps. I feel really bad. I’m sick. But I’m not stopping. Lots of people have sponsored me. I’m running for Thames Valley Kings Wheelchair Basketball Team.
The next five miles I’ll be honest are not particularly enjoyable. Walk. Run. Vomit. Repeat.
We made it! Albeit a little slower and a little later than planned. A huge thank you to the various marshalls and first aiders for offering me advice, water, tissues and a lift. Special thanks to my sister who stayed with me so we crossed the finish line together.
I’ve done it I say. I don’t feel the need to do it again.
But it is like childbirth. The pain is forgotten.
I’ve got unfinished business…