Paris Marathon Review – 2015
Lets cut to the chase, I missed my time once again. A crooked ankle, a cry of “merde” around 12.5 miles put pay to that. Now I have gently introduced my failure, gentle as right hook to the temple, I shall talk about the Paris Marathon.
I love Paris. I booked Paris on the back of it being recommended by fellow Flyer, Lloyd Richardson, and was really looking forward to it. I booked it after failing to hit my time in Amsterdam last year and I trained as well as I ever have over the winter months. I was really looking forward to this. I had agreed with with the “significant other” that we would make a long weekend of it, and even had French lessons.
This was going to be my weekend, please the other half, grab a sub 4 hour time, impress the locals with my grasp of the lingo. Mangetout Rodney – I was ready. Well one out of three wasn’t bad? Paris in the spring time is beautiful, stunning in fact. We arrived on the Eurostar to beautiful sunshine at Gare Du Nord Station. We traveled via the Metro straight to our Hotel, which was in the stunning 16th Arr. Immediately Holly was impressed with my hotel choice and skillful navigation of the Metro! Tick One!
We then headed to the Exbo to collect my race number, and as with all large marathons, it was well organized and easy. A few pictures, duly posted on Facebook – you all know the drill by now. Statements of “I’m ready” and “here we go” in some tired attempt of Churchillan rousing statements. After boring my Facebook friends with picture after picture it was all about the sightseeing.
This is where my grasp of the language would shine or so I thought… I did OK, but was convinced I sound more like the Policeman from “Allo Allo” every time I asked a question. However, I seemed to be making sense – much to the surprise of Holly. The problem was, whenever I asked something in French, I was met with what can only be described as a wall of sound – not that I let on of course. I just nodded and pointed in the rough direction, said “Merci” and bounded off confidently – “Its this way” completely ignorant to what had been said to me but I seem to blag it so well I could have been mistaken as fluent in french and everything Paris has to offer. We even stumbled upon sights we were not looking for – you know big buildings followed by me saying “ah yes that’s Notre Dame, and that’s “Marble Arch” type thing. Tick 2, well at least a half point – until she reads this.
Before I go on, we were pleasantly surprised to find that nearly every Parisian we met was warm, friendly and very charming, not fitting the stereotype of the mardy, shoulder shrugging nation at all. We genuine felt very welcome in one of the worlds finest cities. Although, everyone smokes, you name it, cars, drains, Policemen, cats, so you do end up wondering through plumes of smoke everywhere you go.
So on to the race itself, I had nice relaxing Saturday, we visited the Eiffel Tower had an easy massage at the hotel and we went to bed early, I was ready and relaxed. I was exchanging messages with Flyers who were equally preparing to run Brighton back home. Looking forward to it, I just wanted to get started. So I awoke on the morning full of pre-race nerves but raring to go. Just the usual ritual of pre-race kit check, gels, toilet, eat some soreen, check kit again, check start time, toilet, re-check kit, check metro journey route, watch TV, toilet and finally ready to go.
I traveled up to the start line on the Champs Elysees and was greeted by a mass of people – more than I have ever seen before. I walked to the bag drop, and back to the start and despite the mass of people, it was all so easy. I was in my pen 30 mins before the start, and itching to go. Everywhere I looked there were different nationalities from all four corners – French, Swedes, English, a horde of kilt wearing Scot’s – I assume a horde is the right collective noun, and next to me the most annoying couple of girls from Liverpool. Squawking, cheering at everything, I was trying to get some kind of focus, instead I was checking my gels had not be lifted by a couple of scally’s! I mean they cheered at everything like they were at a concert – a group of Swedes would walk by “Yeah Schweden” or the Helicopter would fly over “Loock Marian – we could be on tele” wooooohoooo yeahhhh – love ya mam” The best one yet – a group of Mexicans with Mexcian flags draped over their shoulder – “Go Indiaaaaa” Oh dear – F$$$ off I thought!
Anyway the race started and were moving slowly to the front before passing over the start with the French equivalent of Davina Macall screaming words of encouragement through a loud speaker. Now, this sounds like I am moaning, I am not, I have grown accustomed this sort of thing at races – OK I am moaning. The race meanders through the French capital and it was beautiful, but hot – REALLY hot, easily 23 degrees, but I was in fine shape, hit mile 5 – time check, bang on. Had a gel. Mile 10 – check again – spot on. This is where I saw seasoned drinkers, and “great geezers” Tim Shea and Nigel Pointer, of Pitsea Running Club, as always Tim was smiling away, and Nigel was off talking to someone and giving big shout outs to anyone who was nearby or would listen. They are really great guys to catch up with at any race.
I left them to continue my strides to Marathon greatness. We hit the first of two long tunnels, one of which where Princess Diana died – spooky, nah just get on with it. This is where it went wrong. I rolled my ankle. Did not trip, did not fall just a bit of “oops” ah it will be OK in a minute, but the pins and needles would not go. I slowed, and slowed and then stopped just past the music pumping DJ. What the hell?! I sat down, in bit of daze, stretched it, got up and tried to continue – 20 yards – that’s its. It’s over I said to myself – I cant do this over 14 miles. I sat there for a few minutes just not sure what to do. What do I say to people? What do I say to all the Flyers – like it was as big news as when Diana died that night in the very same tunnel. You think the world is watching right? Or maybe that is just me at that moment, but either way I was done.
Then a Portuguese girl (very pretty) came to me and said something to me, I did not understand, I just said “non non” I cant run gesturing to my ankle. She then said in English, “but you can walk” and physically grabbed me by the wrists and pulled me up to my feet. I trotted for 200m before I was back walking again, and it hurt, but was more numb that a bone protruding through my foot type pain. The Portuguese girl had long ran off – but she was my Florence Nightingale.
I decided, balls to it, I will finish, and I will do so and enjoy it. So I did, over the next 14 miles, I had a number of conversations with my internal monologue. Many people who know me, will tell you (if you listen) I will argue black is white, and I was doing this in my head – I had a realization, god I am annoying I thought. I kind of found an acceptance, and proceeded to walk through Paris taking in the sights the sounds and generally watching my time grow greater and greater.
Even then at the halfway stage I was still on track for my target – I had a little laugh to myself at this point. It was nonsense to think I would get any sort of time, but trying to power walk and cut corners was still running through my head. What a moron! I saw Holly at mile 20 who gave me the pep talk I just did not need. “I have not put up with you training for 4 months to watch you walk” if it was not the fact she was sat next to two Americans I would have exchange a better response than – “I am not in a good place”.
Anyhow I did finally finish some 5hrs:10mins later. Not that I was too concerned, no bravado, no feeling sorry for myself I was just content. I don’t really know why – I just did not feel too put out. I know I have been running well all year, and the time was well within my legs, so not my fault I felt. Just one of those thing? Running Gods? Easy Excuse – maybe but I just did not worry. This is no X-Factor type of “I have been on a journey” or similar self physiology 101 crap. I was just OK with it.
I checked in on Facebook to see a whole splattering of PB’s coming in from the Flyers from Brighton, and they had a great day. I saw few posts asking how I got on. Some had followed me on the app – so I had the unenviable task of confirming my latest failure. Of course, everyone was supportive as they naturally would be with messages of “at least you finished” and “well done” at “least you kept going” All well meaning, but just does not really cut it, you feel annoyed and low but I was equally pleased to see the positive results coming in from Brighton it took the sting out of my day. A bad news sandwich type of story that Politicians pump out on a daily basis.
You know “NHS is getting more money” then “The Army has only one bullet left to defend Britain…..and it was left on a train” followed by “Lollipop women to get pension” type thing.
I was proud that I finished, I hated the failing, but I was and am still not wanting sympathy over it – and duly got none from Holly. Fair play.
I loved Paris and loved the Paris Marathon. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to do a large city marathon. I have one eye on it for next year. As I type this I have already an agreement in principal for a marathon at the end of year, with one swollen ankle being nursed I can say its not that bad, will probably be back out on run this week. It would be better for the record books to say, major break, or foot almost fell off – but it would be lying. Just a sprain, bad enough to stop me running – that’s about it.
However if I get asked about my time in Paris – I will stare into the distance with a faraway look, and just say ” You weren’t there man, you weren’t there”