Welcome to my running blog. I am currently training to run two marathons in April 2011 - Paris and London - to help celebrate my 30th Birthday. I often get asked about my training methods so thought would write a blog so you can see what it takes -also it provides me with a momento of the last few months of my twenties! In addition to the personal challenge I will be raising money for charity - please see my fundraising page for more details:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Week 14 Cont: Enjoying the brass in Paris

Tick.  First Marathon completed. 3hrs 20mins. Next up London.

Sunny Paris
And how did the weekend go? Tres bon since you ask. J’ai  arrive a paris on the Friday night feeling relaxed and rested after a chilled week of training.  Saturday nous sommes promenade from cafe to cafe and manger beaucoup de crepes pour le carbo loading. Un petit relax in the jardins in front of le tour Eiffel followed by a charming trip along the seine dans un boat. Lots of soleil and not a cloud in sight. Tous le monde ( parents, sister, partners, parents neighbours etc.) decamped to a belle Italian restaurant in the evening to fill our bellies with pasta ahead of the big day. And so to bed filled with a certain I don’t know what or even a little je ne sais quoi.

(mange tous Rodney  mange tous– but that’s enough of the cod French for now),

The Marathon
Up early for a breakfast of museli, a couple of bananas, nuts and orange juice. Running clothes on with attractive emergency poncho to keep out the early morning chill and into the metro to join the forty thousand other runners all rendezvousing at the Arc de Triomphe. What a start to a marathon! Lining up on the Champs Elysees, the rising sun lighting up the whole of Paris before us. The only downside was the lack of toilets – queues for miles for the few portacabins that were provided. As usual at a running race the thousands of over-hydrated people made use of any available wall or shop window turning one of the poshest streets in Paris into a giant urinal. Herded into our starting pens we had a few words from the mayor of Paris and a moment of silence for the victims of the Japan earthquake and then we were off!

The route meandered through the centre of Paris, past many of the major landmarks, out through a large park to the east of the city and then back, along the bank of seine through the Bois de Bologne and finishing just short of the Arc de Triomphe. The wide streets meant there was plenty of space, however, compared to other marathons, there was a scarcity of water (only every 5k) and only one measly sports drink station. On the upside there were plenty of bananas, oranges and raisins at every water stop as well as hoses spraying down the runners at regular points. I had my stash of gels to keep me going through the last few kilometres.

The front of me - in red shirt and glasses

My arse.

As this was my first of two marathons within a week my aim was to get round in a steady 3hrs 30mins. My training has all been for a speedy sub 3 marathon so my main aim was not to get carried away with the crowds and excitement and go too fast. For those of you avid blog readers you may have noticed I get a little competitive and in a marathon with so many people around it is very easy to keep trying to overtake. There is a real ebb and flow of runners even though the majority of people around you are aiming for a similar time – keeping focused on who you are keeping pace with is essential. Luckily technology is there to help and the instant feedback that a GPS watch is invaluable with speed readings rather than the old fashioned method of trying to calculate every mile in your head. One downside is the modern runner relies too much on this and when we went through a kilometre tunnel chaos ruled as everyone lost satellite connection and watch pace alarms started beeping left right and centre.

The views were fantastic and the sun was out but not too strong and there was a preponderance of brass bands round the course – by my reckoning more brass than water stops. The crowds were thinner than for London and New York and less vocal. Luckily I had my travelling band of supporters armed with cobweb brushes cleverly transformed into Union Jacks. The night before a plan of attack was drawn up and I knew where on the course and what side of the road to be on to see the GF! Chasing round after runners is a pretty tough task and the GF and Jason, my sister’s boyfriend, had the whole family to cheer on at various points. They did a brilliant job and helped break up the tedium of all those miles.

Post Marathon
Finished in a slightly faster time than expected – 3hrs 20min but felt good. Mum and Vicky, her long time running partner, beat their target time of four hours by a couple of mins and dad was four hours on the button. Little sis, in her first ever marathon, stormed through the majority of the course but an injured ankle scuppered her final few KM – was a brilliant performance from her. Everyone together we decamped to a beautiful square to enjoy the sun, sample the delicious French food and enjoy a well deserved wine or beer.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to do a race with the whole family. Mum and dad have been inspirational to me in many areas of my life, with running being one of the more obvious. They have never pushed me to run but I have always felt inspired by their obvious enjoyment and dedication to it. Ever since I can remember dad has been running - he also took me to watch my first London marathon a good twenty years ago. Mum took it up once we had grown up a bit and didn’t need constant looking after – and has promptly stormed round every imaginable distance often finishing in the top three for her age.  Great to run the race with them and also have little sis there as well and celebrate together afterwards.

Legs felt decent afterwards – managed a walk around town. Luckily GF's french cousin had joined us so took us on a trip to the Musee de Orsay and a few more café stops. I enjoyed a cheeky glass of wine and some more crepes before heading home on the Eurostar.

Round one of two done – a week of eating, sleeping and stretching ahead of me. Bliss.

Mum, Dad, Me and VIcky at the finish (waiting on a pic including little sis - will be in a future blog!)

The whole crew enjoying a relax in a Parisian cafe.

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