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Adam's Paris Marathon Race Report (Read 114 times)

Adam_McAllen


Beer-and-waffle Powered

    Since I'm in the lab, running experiments and I should be writing my thesis... RACE REPORT TIME (seriously, I need to be more productiveUndecided)

     

    This weekend I was in Paris to run the “Marathon de Paris”. In the midst of a disastrous 2012 (in which my mileage was cut considerably and I missed an entire month of running two separate times) I attempted to run this race last April, but I dropped out after 9 km to take the metro home. So I wanted another kick at that can. Plus one of my old co-workers was running it and I had a place to crash with my ex-roommate. It also would have been nice to meet up with Docket_Rocket (who I’d missed in Berlin) but she ended up having to cancel her trip to Paris. (Better luck next time!)

     

    Leading up to the race

    Although I’m feeling healthy now, I’ve been pretty tentative about ramping up the mileage high enough to sustain proper marathon training. And when I do feel anything slightly “off” it’s been really easy for me to just take time off out of worry, so my mileage hasn’t been great. And since my mileage hasn’t been great I’ve been hesitant to try any tough workouts. Long story short, I wanted another few months to get ready for this race.

     

    After my last marathon in September where I took photos and was just happy to be cruising along without hip pains I wanted to actually race this one. Unfortunately I also didn’t want to crawl the last half due to going out to hard. ButI hadn’t been getting in the workouts/races that would give me an indication of a goal time. This left me in a somewhat awkward situation regarding goal times and eventually I just set the goal to be able to finish strong, and hopefully in the 2:50s. I knew that at some point my legs were going to die, the only question was “where?”

     

    Then I found out that two of my buddies from my old XC team were going to be in Paris that weekend and my goal was revised to “you know you’re not in the shape of your life right now, so let’s be honest and aim to arrive at the start line in one piece”.

     

    Expo

    I got into Paris on Friday afternoon and headed over to expo to pick up my bib. As soon as I got off the train I started seeing Asics ads for the marathon. The city doesn't seem to get behind the race as much as NYC, but it was still nice to see something. This one says “surpass/outdo youself”.

     

     

    I thought I would be really efficient and just head straight to the door of the expo once I left the tram, but it turns out they used a different pavilion this year, so I went to the wrong place and then lost about 20 minutes trying to find the right one. Eventually I did and was pleased to see that the Marathon de Paris was taking a stereotypical Parisian attitude...

     

    (“42.195 km in the most beautiful city in the world”, Europeans do this weird thing where they use commas as a decimal point)

     

    There were 50,000 registered runners but I was there pretty early on Friday so they expo wasn’t too busy and I had no problems picking up my bib and then some gels for the race (way too expensive). The course map looked pretty sweet! It really hits a ton of the well-known monuments.

     

     

    Saturday
    Since I was able to get my number on Friday, I was able to spend the day doing tourist stuff with my friends (one has never been to Europe, and the other had visited Paris about 10 years ago). We rented Vélib bikes for 1.80 EUR ($2.36) for the day, which was a pretty awesome deal/way to see the city. After dinner my friends wanted to go out for a beer because “it’s Saturday in Paris”, I knew it would be expensive... and there was that marathon-thing too, but I went out anyway. We met up with my old room-mate for “Happy Hour”, where I paid 4.50 EUR ($5.90) for a pint of one of the worst beers I’ve ever tasted. The server came back a few minutes before the end of Happy Hour and said that if we wanted anything else at that deal we’d need to order... I might have made a face and said no way.

     

    I was ready to head back to the hotel, but my roommate wanted to show us another bar (9.00 EUR – $11.80 for a pint of Guiness!), so we went there too. We finally left at like 12:30 and made our way back to the hotel. I thoroughly regretted wasting that much money on just a few beers but thankfully I wasn’t feeling drunk at all.

     

    Quote from my friend that morning: “we’ll be your biggest cheerleaders out there tomorrow”

    Quote from the same guy at like 1am : “you’re leaving at what time? Fuck, we’ll meet you at the finish line”

     

    Sunday

    Since my bag-check wasn’t in condition to wake up early (see the quote from last night), I just went to the race in the shorts/singlet/arm-warmers/gloves that I was planning to race in. It was about 2C at the start and it was really cold walking to the metro, but I knew I'd be fine during the race. Naturally the trains were full of runners so I talked with some Americans (I forget from where exactly), I don’t know if it was the short-shorts/singlet or what, but the one woman said “ooooh you must be fast, what’s your goal time”? So I said that I was going to go out at 2:56 pace and see how I felt. The woman then referred to me as elite and it was slightly awkward because I didn’t want to explain that I’m a looong way from pro, nor did I want to agree to being called a pro. So we then just talked about how the aid stations are really spaced out (water and fruit every 5 km and one place to get PowerAid at 22 km) here compared to back in North America.

     

    I misjudged how much time I needed to get into my corral (it was also much much less of a gongshow to get in than I thought it would be, it was actually incredibly smooth... hats off to the French for keeping that organized). So I had about 45 minutes to stand shivering in the corral as my warm-up attitude was “even if I warm-up now, I’ll get cold again once they close the corrals... plus, 42.2km is plenty long enough to get warmed up.” I noticed that the number of shaved legs in my corral heavily outnumbered the number of fuel belts.

     

    <I did not take any photos of European guys with shaved legs>

     

    At 8:45 we were off, down Champs-Élysées, definitely the most famous street in France. In total 39,967 people crossed the start line.

     

     

    I felt infinitely better than last year (where I only really started the race because I wanted to at least line up and run a few km) and the first km clicked by in 4:20, a little slow for 2:56 (which is 4:10/km) but I didn’t mind and just assumed I’d naturally speed up as I warmed up. I crossed 5 km in 20:45 and was feeling great, but got a little worried around 6 km as I’d split the last three km too fast. I couldn’t seem to get the pace on target and kept running just a bit faster than I wanted to. Eventually I just gave up and figured it was too late to adjust anyway. I came through 10 km in 41:16 and then 15 km in 1:01:50.

     

     

    When I rolled through the half-way point in 1:27:11 I got visions of a 2:54 in my head, but even then I was thinking “I hope a 6 minute cushion is enough”.

     

    I split the 27th km a bit slower than the others (can I say my pace had a Z-score of 2???) and thought to myself “so it begins”. Thankfully this race is pretty well supported, so there were a ton of spectators all over the place, and since the race is so huge I always had a pack around me. By about 30 km I was already counting down the distance to the finish, which is less than ideal. At 32 km I was saying to myself “Puuuutain de bordel de merde, je fais qoui? Il faut que j’aille dans un resto (ou bien un bar), il serait plus sympa que cette course !”. I resisted the urge to really slow down but in the 33rd km I lost some time to a pit-stop. I'm not going to lie part of my reasoning for stopping then was that "I had to do to the bathroom" could have later been used as an excuse. But after I started running again I was really glad to have stopped, I'm sure if I hadn't, I would have needed to stop later anyway.

     

    By this point, I knew I wasn’t running 2:54 but thought I could still break 3:00 depending on how bad the fade was. But at the same time I didn’t have faith in myself being able to actually push it hard at the end, so I hesitated to pick up the pace and just kinda kept running more slowly. Eventually I noticed the 3:00 pace team was at my side and I told myself that I couldn’t let them go. Then I realized that they would have started behind me, so they were faster than me chip-time-wise so I’d need to speed up and kept trying to do that from 39 km onwards. At 40 km I knew I had about 10 minutes to run the last 2.195km, but I couldn’t do the mental math so I just assumed I needed to run harder... but I actually slowed down a bit. After seeing the 41 km marker I realized the 3:00 pacer was still near me and that I actually needed to pick it up. Knowing that the finish wasn't too far finally allowed me to get my legs going at faster than a 4:00/km pace and I finished at 2:59 on the dot.

     

    Here are my splits for the race. I've never seen a race so well marked as this one. Every single km AND mile was marked with a thick line across the road, a painted label and a flag on either side of the road. Overall I'd say I'm fairly happy with my time, but more content to have actually picked it up and finished hard. Now I think I'm not going to run any more marathons without getting some serious mileage into my legs.

     

     

    I'm going to have give myself kudos for not fainting in order to get the attention of the gorgeous “Croix Rouge” volunteer stationed near the finish line... ahhhh French girls. The post race food was predictably lame (rasins, fruit, water and PowerAde) and so was the finishers t-shirt (insanely thin), but I thought the medal was decent. The organizers also mixed up the “Exit A” and “Exit B”  flags, but that was ok for me because I’d forgotten which gate I’d told my friends to meet me atRoll eyes. So I spent a good 25-30 mins walking back and forth between the two exits, trying to spot my friends through the fence. In retrospect, I think this was amazing for my legs, as in previous races I’ve stopped moving pretty soon after finishing and then felt really stiff later. Eventually I found my friends and we hit up McDonald’s for some greasy post-race food.

     

    As it was the last full day in Paris we couldn’t just sit around all day letting me recover. So my friend and I took a walk down to La Bastille. Here's the park between the hotel and La Bastille.

     

     

    Here’s me in front of the traffic circle and monument.

     

     

    On the way back we stopped for cappuccinos and then some pastries (where the girl behind the counter got pissed at me because I translated my friend’s order separately instead of putting it all on one bill... just wonderful service).

     

     

    By the time I finally got into bed the day of the race I was pretty dead. Then the next morning, we headed back to my apartment in Belgium where we could properly celebrate (and two Rochefort 10s for the price of one pint of that crap I had in Paris ain’t that badBig grin).

     

     

    Overall, I’m very happy that I was able to pull it together and close out hard in a marathon. Even though I’ve yet to hit one with a decent training cycle under my belt I feel like I’ve at least learned a bunch that will help me when the time does come.

     

    I hope you guys enjoyed the report and photos. I should get back to start writing that damn thesis!

    In the words of my late-coach : Just hang in there, relax... and at the end of a race anyone you see.....just pass them


    Bad Ass

      Congratulations!  I am glad you are happy and that you performed well, but I'm sad that again, we didn't get to meet.  This is on my 2014 list already and DH has been warned we are going, job notwithstanding, so maybe I'll get to see you next year (if not in Paris, somewhere!).

       

      Speedy!  Great job.

      Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner

      Blog

      "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

      happylily


        Thank you, thank you, thank you, Adam, for finally writing your RR!!! I knew your awesome finish time already but I kept my mouth shut, waiting for your report. Smile Now I'm going to read the whole thing and enjoy the great pics. Big grin

        PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013

                Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013

        4 years racing, 16 marathons, 16 BQs     

        scottydawg


        Barking Mad To Run

          Wow...you are SPEEDY!   That is about my half-marathon time, lol.  Congrats!  Great report, nice photos -  whole lotta people in that start photo! - and nicely done!

           

          And while you were in Paris, glad you did not go In Seine.  Big grin

          "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt

          Brrrrrr


          Uffda

            Adam, it's always really fun reading your race reports. Thanks for sharing.

            - Andrew


            Hip Hip Hooray

              You write a great RR!   Excellent work on the race, speedy speedy.

               

               

              Quote from my friend that morning: “we’ll be your biggest cheerleaders out there tomorrow”

              Quote from the same guy at like 1am : “you’re leaving at what time? Fuck, we’ll meet you at the finish line”

               

              This made me chuckle, lol.

               

              Buelligan


                Great thread.  I spent a few years growing up in France when I was a kid.  I'd love to go back.

                 

                Congratulations on the sub-3 marathon.  Very impressive.

                  Nice.

                   

                  Why cant we get normal sized bottles of Chimay like that?

                  PR's : HM 1:51:15  -  5K 21:27

                   

                   

                  Adam_McAllen


                  Beer-and-waffle Powered

                    DR - Thanks, that's cool you've got it lined up for next year (make sure you register the day it opens to get first-tier pricing). I don't know where I'll be next April, but I'd probably run a different spring race. If I'm in France I might actually go volunteer.

                    happylily - Haha, you're welcome. Good luck in Boston!

                    Scotty - Thanks. I'm glad I didn't end up in their either... it's pretty nasty.

                    Brrrrr- Thanks, I'm glad you like reading them.

                    Oski - In hindsight it makes me laugh too, but that close to the race isn't when I want to start redefining all the logistics.

                    Buelligan - Thanks. That's cool you lived there... where exactly?

                    Rollcast - Thanks. What size of Chimay do you get? The big (size of a wine bottle) ones?

                    In the words of my late-coach : Just hang in there, relax... and at the end of a race anyone you see.....just pass them

                    Buelligan


                      Buelligan - Thanks. That's cool you lived there... where exactly?

                       

                      Fountainbleau, not too far from Paris, but a lot more rural.   We traveled around France quite a bit, but Fountainbleau was our home. My parents didn't care for it much because they said the French were too snotty to Americans, but I loved it.

                       

                      When we moved back the US, we brought our little French car back with us.  That SIMCA was a real piece of shit.

                        Great race report and what a fabulous finish to hold off the pace team and go sub 3! Awesome race and nice post-race photos during your walk! By the way, you're either a giant or those are some seriously undersized pastries.

                         

                        Also, never underestimate the power of pre-thesis work ... it's actually more important that the writing itself Wink Been there, done that.

                        Train smart ... race smarter.


                        SheCan

                          I always love your RRs with all the pictures.  Congratulations on being you, and being so fast, and living the European dream!    I mean, congratulations on your marathon!  Great job!

                          Cherie

                          "We do not become the people who this world needs simply by turning our backs on anyone we don’t like, trust, or deem healthy enough to be in our presence. "  ---- Shasta Nelson

                          happylily


                            Adam, you ran a 42,195 km long race in 2:59?! You must be the universe's fastest being! Shocked LOL...Seriously, though, with a 2:59 finish time, you are up there with the fastest of the fastest, on both RW and RA. Congratulations, I'm so proud of you!!!

                             

                            “Puuuutain de bordel de merde, je fais qoui? Il faut que j’aille dans un resto (ou bien un bar), il serait plus sympa que cette course !”.

                            Aww, now you think in French! So cute! (not the cursing, though, haha).

                             

                            I noticed that the number of shaved legs in my corral heavily outnumbered the number of fuel belts.

                            And I bet the majority of shaved legs belonged to men. When I lived in Paris, shaving wasn't all that popular among women... It was considered an American habit. But that was a few years ago. Hopefully, things have changed a bit.

                             

                            On the way back we stopped for cappuccinos and then some pastries (where the girl behind the counter got pissed at me because I translated my friend’s order separately instead of putting it all on one bill... just wonderful service).

                             I see that courtesy hasn't changed...  Big grin

                             

                            Well, you're right about your legs having done an amazing job in this race with the less than perfect training. You did absolutely fantastic and it points to even much faster times in the future. Are you thinking of Boston in 2014? I'm glad you also got to enjoy some time with your lazy friends. Lazy friends are sometimes the most fun to spend time with. :-) All in all a great race, great finish time and a great weekend for you. And an awesome RR for us! Your humour and your beautiful pictures (they make me miss my time spent there) always entertain us. Thank you!

                             

                            NOW GO BACK TO WORK!!! Big grin

                            PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013

                                    Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013

                            4 years racing, 16 marathons, 16 BQs     

                              Way to stick it out for a sub-3. You sure write a great report. I felt like I was right there with you, too tired to do that mental math for the last 2.195.

                               

                              We want shaved leg pics!

                               

                              congrats.


                              Bad Ass

                                I'm waiting for their email saying when registration will open but if you hear, holler!

                                 

                                DR - Thanks, that's cool you've got it lined up for next year (make sure you register the day it opens to get first-tier pricing). I don't know where I'll be next April, but I'd probably run a different spring race. If I'm in France I might actually go volunteer.

                                happylily - Haha, you're welcome. Good luck in Boston!

                                Scotty - Thanks. I'm glad I didn't end up in their either... it's pretty nasty.

                                Brrrrr- Thanks, I'm glad you like reading them.

                                Oski - In hindsight it makes me laugh too, but that close to the race isn't when I want to start redefining all the logistics.

                                Buelligan - Thanks. That's cool you lived there... where exactly?

                                Rollcast - Thanks. What size of Chimay do you get? The big (size of a wine bottle) ones?

                                Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner

                                Blog

                                "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

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