Race recap: Semi Marathon de Paris

Ahhh!! I’ve been so bad! Sorry people for the lack of posts and things from me! It’s been a busy and internet-less two months in Chislehurst, but still. It’s been way too long depriving you all from my traveling updates and training on the road and I apologize.

You’ll be happy to know I made it to France! I am in Paris, the city of love, and I am in LOVE. I am so excited to live and stay here for the last month of my training before my big race, the Paris Marathon. After running the half on Sunday I have some major work to do, especially if I’m going for a PB. Or even better yet a sub 4 hour race.

I just ran a race in Paris!

I just ran a race in Paris!

January was all about training and finding my way around London, trying to meet new people, and find a yoga studio to adopt me. While February was all about the Olympics, working, and of course training. I did find an amazing studio, Breeze Yoga, I was regularly attending, I kept up with my running mates at the Reebok FitHub meeting twice a week for our +10k runs. All of a sudden living in Chislehurst was staring to feel like home. One thing, however, which was not going according to plan was me beginning to lag behind in the long run department. I knew this was no good for my half marathon coming up, but getting in 40-50k a week felt like I was getting the job done at least. After Sunday I realize this was not true. I kept hearing Alice’s voice in my head telling me how important the long runs are and it’s not so much about the overall mileage. See Alice, I’m still thinking of you! And I miss you too!

Semi Marathon de Paris wasn’t my goal race so instead of going out and givin’er I decided not to be too hard on myself for feeling under prepared and run the race for fun. Enjoy the sights of Paris and just have a good go at it. Of course I would want to run another sub 2 hour half, but it wasn’t a proirty to do so. But when I saw my time of 2:04 I wish I had made it a priority after all. Oh well, I guess you can’t win them all. If anything when I finished the race I definitely had more gas in the tank – which was a bit of a surprise and a tad frustrating. I learned my lesson and now I know for next time that extra push is worth it in the end. It is better to go for it (but being smart about it) than not. All the things to learn as a runner.

So what was good about this race? Well for starters, it was in Paris! And the route was just lovely. Starting and ending in Parc Floral de Paris we looped through the east part of the city, ran along the water for a little ways, ran along busy, beautiful streets then back to the park. I loved it. The crowd support was also amazing the entire time. Running along stretches of caf├ęs and bistros people were everywhere, out enjoying their cigarettes, baguettes and coffees while cheering. It was so French and so great! The route was also pretty flat. Another bonus. Cecilley and I, along with the 40,000 other runners, lucked out completely because we had the absolute best weather. A run is always better with crisp air and sunshine. The day was gorgeous, I couldn’t help but be happy with my race overall. I felt good the entire time and I wasn’t sore afterward. There wasn’t a period of time where I wanted to stop, or felt like I needed to, I was well feed (Cecilley took great care of us in that department) and well hydrated. I had a positive feeling going in and I was excited to run. All of which prepared me for a good day. For the run that almost didn’t happen, I deserved a good day.

Cecilley and I in pretty Paris! It's time to celebrate my birthday and the fact we ran our race!

Cecilley and I in pretty Paris! It’s time to celebrate my birthday and the fact we ran our race!

Yup. You heard me right… For the run that almost didn’t happen. Let me explain.

With every race there are going to be a few not so great things about it. I have accumulated a few complaints through the course of the day, but only a few. Here’s where the trouble began for Cecilley and I apparently if you’re running any race in France you require a medical certificate from a doctor giving you consent to run. I did not know this. Maybe all European races require a medical certificate I don’t know, but learn from my mistake and make sure you have this prior to to picking up your race kit. Lucky for me my cousin is a doctor (thank you, Eric!) and sent an email indicating I am physically capable to run the race, but before his note came through Cecilley and I were freaking out. What was supposed to be a casual shake out run, the day before, to the expo turned out to be a few hours of hectic running amuck trying to track down a doctor to sign our papers. Given it was Saturday, we were having terrible luck. Once my home support came through Cecilley and I zipped back to the expo before closing to claim our bib numbers and race packs. They ran out of race packs. I was not impressed. So after all that we didn’t even get a shirt or a few samples.

Not only did the race not have enough shirts apparently they were in short supply of food and medals too. This isn’t a good sign when you know how many participants you have running beforehand.

Areas the race could improve on is its overall organization. Make sure runners know what’s going on and what they can expect. The race began at 10am (not a bad time to start) but the fact they sent corals out in waves of gapped time (again not to our knowledge) meant that Cecilley and I didn’t start until and hour later. We were waiting around for what felt like a really long time. If that’s the case let people know their group start time in advance to better prepare and cut down on the number of people before and after. The water stations were also a bit of a miss having them spaced out at 5k intervals which caused way too much commotion. Stations were also set up on just one side of the street. Another recipe for a runners pile up. I avoided the water stations at all costs, not because I didn’t need water, but because I was afraid of getting trampled on! These runners were intense. I have to say of all the races I’ve participated in this one was by far the most pushy and aggressive. Even during the run I found it hard to settle into a groove and maneuver around people. It’s to be expected for obvious reasons, but for some reason it felt different.

No Paris recap is complete without a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the eve of my birthday!

No Paris recap is complete without a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the Eve of my birthday!

I don’t want to sound like a terrible complainer because the good parts of the race diffentately out way the bad, I personally feel with fewer participants this could have been a much smoother operation.

Next up for me is the Paris Marathon with just over a month to go. Now that I have a better idea of where I’m at – I felt good and on track for a good marathon time if I had to of run further on Sunday. The goal now is to find a new place to train from and live, possibly find myself some new running companions, and get my long runs in each week. This is very important from here on out. And of course learn some French along the way. Bonsoir! (Or bonjour wherever you happen to be!)