Saturday, 27 April 2013

Paris Marathon 2013: On setting a PR and enjoying every single stride along the way!

This is kind of a long-awaited post. I had to post it a few days after the race (Which was on 7 April). But better late than never here it is: 

I arrived in Paris on Friday and went straight to the running expo. Getting the bib number and race bag took only a few minutes. I spent a couple of hours hanging around the expo and had a meal at rice party. Everything looked perfectly organised. From the sponsors stands to running products and marathon booths.

Saturday spent hanging around with some friends and visiting a couple f museums. I had a suspicious pain in my hamstrings which was worrying me a bit. Kind of those little pains that you don't usually pay attention to during your training can make you quite nervous before a marathon.

It was quite cold on Sunday morning. The race was due to start at 8:45. I took the metro at around 8 and got to the nearest station in 20 minutes. From there though it took us around 15 minutes to get out of the station as it was too busy. Then I had to drop my bag somewhere between the start and finish line. And it turned out to be farther that I thought. So I ran to baggage drop area and came back to the start line just in-time. That turned out to be a great warm up! Here is a little tip for anyone who participating in such massive events: Give yourself plenty of time! I had to stand there for quite a while before the race starts for our group. I belonged to 3:45 group which turned out to be one of the largest groups. We started moving through the start line, and when I crossed the official start line the race stopwatch was already showing 31 minutes!

Heading to the start 
Crowd at the metro station

50000 runners!
50000 people were running that day. There was literally no time that I could not see a massive number of runners in front of me. And from my position it shows that I could only see one third of the runners and the rest were behind me. The whole atmosphere was kind of surreal. You feel absolutely small being among some 50000 like-minded people running in the streets of Paris.

When I woke up in the morning I still had that pain in my hamstrings but after running around 10 km it faded away just the way I was expecting it to be. I was running almost effortlessly and was trying to pace myself not to run too fast. You are quite likely to go too fast, too soon in events like this. There is a massive rush of adrenaline and a great vibe. You need to control yourself and conserve your energy.

Around 5K. Could hardly feet better!
Somewhere around 25k I suppose
The refreshments were something you could only find in Paris: water, bananas, oranges, raisins and sugar cubes every 5k and sport drinks only at one station after half-way mark. It was very well organised but because of the mass of runners it often gets a bit difficult to reach for a drink and you had to walk for a few steps. As a part of their sustainable strategy they had provided some bins to drop your empty water bottles for recycling. But the bins were so close to the refreshment stations (around 50-100 meters) that you wouldn't have enough time to drink up and bin your bottle. So the water bottles ended up along the kerb.

I had trained quite hard for this marathon and I was expecting a PR. But the whole thing went really smoothly and that kind of surprised me. For the first time in a marathon, I had a strategy. That was sticking to a comfortable pace until 35km and from there speed up and finish strong. If I want to compare Paris marathon to Frankfurt - When I hit the wall - I ran the first half almost 2 minutes slower than Frankfurt marathon but this time I managed to run the second half of the race only one minute slower than the first half. Finally I crossed the finish line in 3:49:56 and was absolutely chuffed!

Now it was time to recover and get ready for the next challenge!

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