Paris Marathon Race Recap

Two porta-loos is NOT enough for 7,000 runners.I’d been warned that the loos at the start of the Paris marathon were a bit of a shambles, but I was reassured that there were quite a few loos in the starting pens. Sadly, queuing for 35minutes and missing our purple start time proved that this was not the case.

Apart from the loo debacle, the start area was well organised, the metro easy to navigate (although no free pass for runners- I was glad to have Tom with me to pay for my metro pass on his card!), and the start time prompt. I managed to meet up with Billie easily, however we then discovered that they were checking bib colours for start zones and turning people away. Luckily, no-one was checking the barrier between starts, so Billie hopped over and met me in the aforementioned loo queue.

Paris Marathon Race Starting Pen

We started near the back of the 4hr green start, crossing the start in glorious sunshine, with large smiles across our faces. Marathon number 3 had begun!

Paris Marathon Race Recap
Running the Paris Marathon Race
 Our plan was to run 8.50-9.10 min miles, to bring us over the finish line in just under 4 hours. We enjoyed the views, chatted and cheered on other runners. We were seriously excited to be running through the streets of Paris, passing sights such as the Place de la Concorde, Town Hall (Hotel de Ville) and the Place de la Bastille.

Having said that they were at mile 5, my parents and Tom seemed to pop out of nowhere, handing over my sunglasses and wishing us well!

As you can see, Billie and I were in very similar outfits- both wearing lulu run skirts and pink tanks.

Mentally, I’d split the race in to four parts; the first few miles through the Paris streets, the first park, the second section on the Paris streets along the Seine, then the final park. I’d been prepared to hate the parks, as they’re supposed to be lacking in spectator support, but they were glorious in the sun.

I took my first salted caramel Gu at 5 miles, and a second at 10 miles. They are 100% more disgusting when warm. Speaking of fuel, we had to be really careful running through the aid stations that we didn’t slip on a banana or orange skin, get hit in the face by a flying water bottle or get barged out of the way by someone trying to grab some water. I was glad to have my hydration pack with me so that I avoided most of these minefields.

Paris Marathon Race Recap

This is my entry for a selfie with a hottie mid-marathon– what we luckily didn’t capture was his see-through white shorts (no underwear at all underneath there!)

The course had become a little congested at this point as we hit some bottlenecks and overtook a number of runners. (According to the app we overtook 10,000 runners!) I was already 0.3 miles over the course distance from dodging.

Tom and my parents were waiting just after the 13 mile marker-love this photo!!

Halfway through and still feeling great. We were completely on track pace wise at this point, running back past the Bastille and along the River. I was pleasantly surprised by the vast amount of support along the course, particularly as a number of local people we’d asked weren’t even aware that the marathon was happening! Loved having lots of spectators shouting my name and cheering.

I’d been dreading the tunnels, having heard they were quiet, bleak and depressing. Well, obviously the organisers heard previous runners complaints and pumped music and lights throughout the tunnels. We loved them, although I definitely did not love the steep inclines out of the tunnels.

We popped out just near the Eiffel Tower! This was the best of a few attempts at an Eiffel selfie!

And then things went downhill for me (unfortunately, not literally).

Billie told me that at this point during her first marathon she wanted to die, and I realised I really didn’t feel great. I kept the smiles up to see Tom and my Mum at the 30km mark before plugging my headphones in and turning the music right up. I was really hurting, and with 9 miles still to go, it was not a good sign. Billie and I agreed to keep pushing but that we would go ahead if one needed. Although I kept her in sight for as long as I could, I soon lost her in the crowd.

Once we entered the second park I was in pain. My legs were hurting, I had on and off stomach cramps and my arms were sore from being elbowed and jostled by a number of runners along the course. My pace was creeping up too 9.15, 9.24, 9.37, 9.17.

At 40KM I knew I wouldn’t be finishing with a sub 4, so I had to decide whether to give up and slow down or push through. I knew that I’d be disappointed with my time, but also that I would be annoyed with myself if I didn’t give it everything I had. I kept pushing, feeling the pain in every step. A lot of people were walking by now but I forced my way around (and through) them, 0.5 miles up on the markers now. Mile 25 was a 9.07 pace, but it wasn’t enough. I crossed the line, stopping my Garmin dead on 4.00. I later found out my official time was 4.00.37.

Immediately after crossing (pushing my way over the line as people, including myself, have the tendency to stop dead the moment they cross), I sat on the floor and cried. I cried because I felt like I’d failed. I’d cried because I was so close. I cried because I never felt the euphoria that I did throughout the New York Marathon. And I cried because it hurt so, so much.

Pulling myself together I found some water, orange slices and the very fetching green ponchos, and made my way to meet up with Tom and my parents (where I cried some more, or maybe sobbed would be a more accurate description).

As Tom rightly said though, I only decided to make this a sub 4 effort about 3 weeks ago (changing my plans when Leah was injured). I wasn’t trained for sub 4, in fact my training has been anything but stellar. I haven’t stuck to a plan, I’ve been slacking on workouts and eating more crap than usual. I pushed myself as hard as I could, but I just didn’t have the hard work to back it up. If anything, my grit and determination were tested to the limit, and I am incredibly proud of myself for not giving up, even when I hadn’t reached my goal.

I am so pleased that Billie made her sub 4 goal- crossing with 13 seconds to spare!! What an awesome race buddy. I am also incredibly proud of all the girls that completed their first marathons, Leah, Lissy, Charlie, Steph and Sian! It was such fun training with them, and enjoying a drink with some of them afterwards! Also a big thank you to Tom, my Mum and Step-dad for their massive support throughout my training and particularly on race day.

26 Comments

  1. 8th April 2014 / 8:23 am

    Oh Charlie, I know you must be disappointed but seriously I think you’re amazing! You’re such an inspiration and you should be so proud of yourself 😀 loving the photos too, looks like a gorgeous day for it xxx

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:04 pm

      Aww thanks Beki, that means a lot!

  2. 8th April 2014 / 8:24 am

    You did awesome! xxx A friend of mine did sub 4 – she did the first half in 9.30-10 min mile and smashed the second half in 8-8.30 min/mile. My coach says this is how you do it. Start slow – finish strong. You will do it next time – come on you were only seconds away. Don’t let something silly ruin it – you did amazingly well! x

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:04 pm

      I am terrible at negative splits- definitely something to work on! Thank you!

  3. 8th April 2014 / 8:35 am

    A huge well done for your marathon. I know it’s impossibly hard to do and I’m guilty of doing exactly the same but try not to put too much pressure on yourself. 37 seconds over 4 hours? That’s incredibly impressive. Something thousands of marathon runners will only ever dream of! You have taken off nearly an hour since your first marathon, so celebrate, don’t cry!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:03 pm

      Thanks Mary, I sometimes forget how far I’ve come already and end up focusing on how far i want to go!

  4. 8th April 2014 / 10:37 am

    Dang girl I am so proud of you! You trained so hard for NYC and this is what you were able to do with call it, 4 weeks of hard core training. 🙂 You’re awesome! You’re also my inspiration. 🙂

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:04 pm

      <3

  5. 8th April 2014 / 12:55 pm

    You did SO WELL!! A sub-4 is easily within reach for you. Fantastic race recap too.

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:02 pm

      Thanks lovely lady x

  6. 8th April 2014 / 3:49 pm

    Amazing job! I understand your disappointment, but I am so impressed with you. I am a much slower runner and this has inspired me to keep pushing for my own goals and not get discouraged. Congratulations!!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:01 pm

      That means so much, honestly good things come to those who work hard! keep up the good work!

  7. 8th April 2014 / 4:45 pm

    Great running. I know you’re disappointed but to choose to go for a sub-4 only 3 weeks ago and to miss it by such a tiny amount is amazing!! I really hope you can look back and be SO proud at how hard you pushed and what you achieved! Brilliant running!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:01 pm

      Thanks speedy lady!

  8. 9th April 2014 / 12:13 pm

    You pushed through the pain and finished! Great job and nice pictures! The clown guy was super creepy though!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:01 pm

      I know he was just a little bit weird!

  9. 9th April 2014 / 7:26 pm

    Well done Charlie, you did awesome- no way should you be disappointed! I’m sure you’ll smash sub-4 next time!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:00 pm

      Thank you!

  10. 12th April 2014 / 10:00 pm

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You ran a freaking marathon!!!!! You finished! You live to tell the tale!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:00 pm

      Thank you, I know I do sometimes need to remember how hard and how far 26.2 miles is!

  11. 12th April 2014 / 10:00 pm

    Nice one dude! You ran Paris faster than I did!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:00 pm

      Thanks lovely!

  12. 13th April 2014 / 4:44 pm

    Very well done! I think you did an excellent job and I really admire how you pushed through at the end. You’ll get sub-4 for sure on the next one!

    • 16th April 2014 / 4:00 pm

      Thank you, it’s made me so determined for sub 4 next time!