Tag Archives: Paris 2014

Paris Marathon 2014: The Video

After the marathon, I bought the official photos and videos from the event and edited them down to produce my own personal memory. I posted it on Facebook originally, but thought it would be good here too. I hope you enjoy it.

Make sure you watch it in HD!

Paris Marathon 2014: The Aftermath

So as part of the deal to go to Paris, I told the missus we would go to Disneyland Paris for 2 days.

Always a part of the plan, I asked a stranger to take a photo of us in front of the Cinderella castle. Then I did this.

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100% unstaged, this is the actual moment I proposed.

And she said yes.

Paris, you have a lot to answer for!

Paris Marathon 2014: The Build Up

With many of the big marathon’s you have to go to an Expo to pick up your race packet, and Paris was no different. It was only complicated by the fact that we had to go there directly from the airport, complete with our massive suitcase of luggage (We only took 1 big one in order to save EasyJet charging us for two smaller ones!) to the back end of Paris on the metro, complete with all the stairs said Metro had to offer! Not perfect marathon prep admittedly. The missus offered to do the suitcase lugging and I eventually agreed – But I looked like a proper insensitive idiot, walking around scot free while she lugged the case!

There was a bit of a queue to get in – there were some 36,000 runners to get through, but it was all outside in glorious sunshine.

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Once inside everything ran like clockwork. I had to take my medical certificate to the first desk to be stamped along with my “Convocation” and ID. This is the source of much confusion. To run a race in France you must be cleared as fit to run by a doctor. I managed to talk my doctor into giving me the all clear for a mere £15, but some expect you to take up a private hour session with them for a full medical! others happily sign it for free. So it’s hit and miss. The convocation is basically your order form/receipt saying who you are and that you paid for the entry. Once this is all stamped I headed over to the desk to get my packet! Very exciting. Walked straight up and came away with it.

The next part was trickier. I wanted to change my starting pen time to Sub 4. It’s all very well me thinking that I MAY be able to get sub 4, but if I start in the 4h15 pen, I’d be slowed up massively by the traffic. I had mentally prepared a story as to why I wanted to switch, in case there was some resistance. Aside from the terrible queuing system for enquiries, I needn’t have bothered. I said I wanted to switch to sub 4 and they just gave me a sticker! And that was that!

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We wondered through the expo and picked up my goody bag – and what a bag it was! A lovely green branded drawstring bag containing nuts, a sponge for some reason (Which I’d find out later!) the usual leaflets and rather nicely, a head torch!

The Expo was a runners paradise, anything you could think of was there. In hindsight I wish I picked up a paris marathon tee shirt or two. We didn’t spend too long there, but did manage to get a couple of nice snaps at the “Finish line”

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And there was a giant wall you could sign. I can’t remember what I wrote, but I doubt it was anything too profound.

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And on the way out I got a photo of my official (Ha!) pace car!

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From there we bimbled back to the hotel. Lugging that stupid suitcase! It was blessed relief when we made it, though the hotel was small, it was clean and tidy and good value. The staff were lovely and helpful too. I’d recommend Hotel Boissiere, its close to the metro and very good value.

We spent the afternoon in Paris seeing the sights. I want to keep this to a running blog so will spare you the details, but we had a good walk along the river, put a lock on the bridge and walked through the grounds of the louvre, before heading back to the hotel, stopping for a good pasta feed on the way.

It wasn’t until we were back in the hotel room that I really got nervous. Lying in bed trying to sleep in a strange bed wasn’t the best way to get into marathon mode, but I eventually drifted off for a precious few hours before that 6.00am alarm call.

I woke up and went downstairs. I had some instant porridge pots I’d brought with me where I could just add hot water to, and the hotel were kind enough for me to use their kettle for me to smash in 2 of them. It was just what I needed. I was a curious mix of nerves and excitement and the missus was probably driven nuts by my behaviour. I got into my race gear. I looked good! She took the piss out of my union jack vest, but as far as I was concerned I was competing on international territory! It was my duty!

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We left the hotel and I was noting the temperature – it was cool but not cold, and more importantly dry. The forecast had been predicting rain all week but it looked like we got lucky. She was carrying the bag with all my stuff – saving my legs for me. I had brought a bin bag and had a cheap Primark long sleeve tee shirt on to keep warm, but it wasn’t necessary that day. We got onto the metro and the majority of those there were runners. We were a reasonable way out on a minor line but there were still a few dozen.

We had to change lines to get on the right train to the Champs Elysses where the start was – and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The train and station was rammed with runners, as we got off we shuffled our way out into the sunlight in time for a quick snap.

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We were a bit early. We headed toward the finish to show the missus where it was and I had a pee on the Champs Elysses – a very weird experience! I loaded up my gel belt and we headed for the start pen. The marshals were very good at getting people in. It took time, but they made sure no-one got in that shouldn’t have. She got a quick photo of me and then I started shuffling into the start pen.

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This was it.

Paris Marathon 2014: The Preparation

I regularly look back on everything that led to the Paris Marathon in retrospect. It many ways it was the greatest journey I had ever undertaken and looking back on it now its still hard to argue against.

Every year for the past 3 years I’ve entered the ballot for the London Marathon. Usually I receive my rejection and forget about it, but in the autumn of 2013 I’d been running consistently for 9 months and had my 2nd half marathon in a couple of weeks. After a few moments deliberation, I decided “Sod it, I’ll do another one!”. The halves had been great challenges for me, but I am always looking for the next one. For no other reason than to maintain the focus and determination I had already developed and ensure I had a target to follow up on.

Within an hour I had discussed it with the missus and we’d settled on going on a long weekend in Paris, taking in all the sights and after the marathon spend a couple of days in Disney. Everyone wins! Within a few moments I’d booked the flights, the hotel, and was signing up for the marathon. It asked me for my “Predicted finish time”. I didn’t know what to put. So I went to www.mcmillanrunning.com and entered in my predicted finish time for the upcoming Cardiff Half (An ambitious 1:57:59) and that fell in line with around the 4:15 – 4:30 mark. In the end I only ran 1:59:xx in Cardiff but I figured it was close enough.

I know the date, and I knew the goal. But how was I going to get there? I needed a plan. I spent ages looking for a training plan that was right for me. I know I wanted to run 5 times a week (Compared to the 4 I was running presently – I felt I needed to step up the game!) and I wanted to run 5 x 20 mile long runs. The closest I managed to find was the Bupa Intermediate Marathon Plan, which I modified a bit to do more 20 mile runs.

Some of the terminology was a bit mystifying. I didn’t really know what Intervals were, or what my training paces were meant to be. I found the training paces calculator on McMillan Running and was faced with the realisation that I had no idea how to monitor my paces! I’d been using Endomondo on my iPhone, but looking at that all the time would have been a pain in the backside. So I made the executive decision that I needed a Garmin. Yet more research and money later (So far this marathon had reached the £700 mark…) I had the brilliant Garmin Forerunner 220, which I’ll review some time.

The great thing about the Forerunner 220 was that I could program my “Workouts” into the calendar and sync them to the watch! So I could go for a run and the watch would tell me how fast to run, for how far, or for how long! It would beep at me when I was under or overdoing it, and I could analyse the data in minute detail afterwards. Great for a stat addict like me.

So the building blocks were coming together. I took the Marathon date and worked backwards. My training plan started before Christmas! Well, if I needed to stop being indulgent over Christmas then the prospect of dragging myself 26.2 miles round the streets of Paris was a big enough incentive.

Then I came across a post on the Runners World forum. People were saying how a 1lb weight loss could make you faster by as much as 2 seconds a mile. In my head I figured that meant if I lost a stone or more I would be faster. (Looking back now I can think… well durr! Of course you’ll be faster there will be less of you to carry around). This gave me some added resolve to renew my weight loss efforts.

Training wise, i stuck to the plan meticulously. Despite Somerset having the wettest, most miserable winter on record, I pounded the pavements when the plan told me to religiously. I hit all my target times, paces etc except for a handful of sessions, and only had to drop one run from the whole plan. I experimented successfully with gels so I knew what to take on race day, I ran long and I ran far. I worked harder than I ever have before.

At the same time, I was logging everything that crossed my lips into MyFitnessPal. The combination of the two was working and I was losing weight like never before. I felt good. I researched race day nutrition and bought supplies to take with me to Paris. I tested. I OBSESSED with every detail.

Oh, and I bought an engagement ring. Shhh!

Part of my training plan was to run a half marathon warmup race a few weeks before. I signed up a long way in advance to the Fleet Half Marathon. This event deserves its own review, which I may well do when I run it again this year! What a great event. My target, to be on track with my 4:15:00 marathon plan was to run 1:54:xx. But I felt amazing. I went out at around 8:10 a mile and felt comfortable. After the first smaller lap I was still comfortable. It wasn’t until around mile 11 until I struggled, but by that point I knew I could hold on! Quick mental arithmetic meant I could go under 1:50!! I gave it absolutely everything! There was a horrible hill before the final 300 yards and I reached the summit spent. Just the downhill section to go for less than a regulation track lap. From somewhere I managed a kick and sprinted to the end. I stopped the watch. 1:48:35! I was absolutely ecstatic!

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Unfortunately, I had no-one there at the finish line. The missus was unavailable and I’d driven myself. But I’d never felt anything like it.

I only had one week left before the taper.

All the training had been done.

I was fit.

I had just set a massive Half Marathon PB.

Could it be possible to go around Paris in Sub 4?