One of the most beautiful cities in the world…why not run there. It would be exhilarating and beautiful. So, when I entered the lottery for an entry and got accepted, I HAD to go! Coming off a neuroma in my left foot and a bike crash, I knew I needed help to get me to the finish line. Of course, I signed up for another season of coaching with RipIt Coaching and a plan was formed.
Being a tad OCD, I read the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon Rules inside and out. This is all I had to work with: “Participants will have a maximum time of 6 hours to complete the course to the finish line. After passing the limit vehicle, competitors must comply with traffic rules - rules of the road.”
I told my coach the time limit and Duzy put me through the paces to complete the race somewhere between 5:30/5:45. Through one of the coldest winters, I pushed through 10 milers in 10 degrees – BRRRRRRR – , speed work, intervals and 16 mile treadmill runs to meet the goal.
Despite all that, It wasn't meant to be for me. The race book/rules said you had 6 hours to finish before the race closed. I was under or hit every pace mark set...until the half. Why? What the race rules didn't tell you was it really was only for people who would finish in 4:30hrs or less - every one else was I their own. At mile 8 (from pictures below looks like it was really at the 10k), they started tearing down everything including the timing strips and opened the course to traffic. By mile 10, we all had to get up on the sidewalk. After 3 miles of dodging traffic, pedestrians and bikes and stopping for lights to cross the street, I knew I would not make the cutoff. I called it at mile 14, when it was just way too much to navigate traffic and the only way to know where to go was follow the trash.
This is the only picture I have that kinda shows what I was talking about. I didn’t really even notice that this water station was empty and they were folding up the tables. I was just happy I was hitting my paces and was feeling good. Hind sight…there was nobody there, just trash and people packing up. I snapped this picture and ran on as I had on me all the nutrition I needed – push on.
I was so disappointed, but I had a great Half. I ran one of my best half marathons in years…in fact, I PR’d every single mark along the way (fastest mile, 5K, 10K, 15K) and I had a BLAST in Paris.
What were my thoughts when I got to Mile 14 where my Mom, daughter and BFF were? I was crying. I was demoralized. I spent from mile 11-13.1 sprinting from block to block hoping I would have the lights in my favor but more often than not, I had to wait for the light to cross traffic. I kept losing time. I have never felt more alone – even with other runners struggling along with me – we were all silent in our thoughts. You could see it on our faces – the frustration, the mental juggling, the fighting off tears that would surly fall if we spoke out loud about this debacle.
Team USA at the 5k Breakfast Run
My BFF, Val, was the first to call it for me with, “You said you do all this because you love it and it’s fun, right?”
“Yes”, I wail, slipping into hysteria.
“Nothing that you love and is fun should make you cry. We are done. Let’s find the metro and get some wine!”
Erin pulls out her iPad and gets the FireMarshall on FaceTime. She pans the area showing the traffic and debris and the man who made this journey possible was like “OH HELL NO! We are not running in a foreign country in traffic. You are done, now go and enjoy the rest of the trip.”
As we walked to the Metro, I was not the only one who called it, as there were many others on the platform and on the train. Alas…
If I had known that the course would shut down like that, I would have finagled my way into an earlier corral, like a few others did (and finished in 6:30) so I would have a closed course to run on and still make the finish.
Would I do it again? Probably not. Would I recommend the race? Yes. It’s beautiful, relatively fast/flat course – long gradual up hill, but it is a long gradual down hill too. However, take heed of what happened to me. If you are in the hare class – have at it. If you are in the turtle class, get yourself into an earlier corral (which means you have to “fudge” what time you plan on finishing or play dumb when you get there and sneak into an earlier corral – SIGH).
What did I learn from this experience?
- This journey is MINE! As long as I’m having fun and achieving MY goals, I’ll keep on keeping on.
- Stop comparing myself to everyone else, their achievements and their milestones. It’s THEIRS. Mine are just as awesome!
- Do the things, distances, races that I want & love. Get better at those, move the goal post, PR & master those events before setting my sights on that sparkly bigger event just cause everyone around me is doing it. DO ME! FOR ME!
What’s up next…
Sunday – Columbia Half Marathon! (Race Ambassador in DA HOUSE!)
May 17 – Columbia Traithlon