Ok, the moment everyone has been waiting for! I’ve had so many emails asking when I was going to post my race recap and I have to be honest. I have felt so out of it since coming home. Just really behind on life so it’s been hard to actually find the time to sit down and recall EVERYTHING. I’ve done my best and probably will kick myself when I recall more after I hit published, but that’s the way it goes I guess! So here it finally is, my Paris Marathon Race Recap! If you didn’t get a chance to check out the first part of the trip make sure you read that HERE!
Ok, so when I last left you were were at the day before the marathon. We had spent a LOT of time sight seeing the first two days and I was definitely worried about my legs. Especially since I made some poor footwear choices. I chose to wear a pair of ballet flats which were totally comfortable, however they had NO support. By the end of the day my calves and shins were hurting. I mean hurting. I discovered muscles that I had forgotten about. I was worried. We headed back to our apartment so we could scope out a good place to eat for dinner. Obviously we wanted something that wasn’t too crazy so we didn’t have tummy issues the next day (My SIL ordered cuddlefish and squid ink risotto…ummm, no thank you). We decided on an Italian place. Great food, terrible service. We didn’t get there until about 8pm (I wanted to be in bed by 10) and the service was incredibly slow. Now, things do take longer in Europe, we knew that, but we watched 4-5 tables come in after us that came and went while we were still waiting for food. Our food finally arrived and it was delicious but then we waited almost 45 minutes for our check. In Europe you are expected to ask for your check, they won’t just bring it to you. So we asked for it and it still took 45 minutes. We finally got up, left money on the table and walked out. I’ve NEVER had to do that before. Anyhoo, we walked back to our apartment and Lisa and I started with our pre-race rituals…
I was very lucky and had a friend who had a portable ultrasound, so that is what I’m doing on my tendinitis that was screaming from walking in crappy shoes. And Lisa doing stim on her calf! And I ALWAYS have a glass of wine the night before a big race, takes the edge off!
Our original plan to go to bed early was squashed and we didn’t get into bed until almost 1am. Luckily our start time wasn’t until 9:30!
I laid out my flat mama to make sure I had everything. The race really messed up my bib…they had my last name on my bib instead of first and had me representing France instead! And notice I went with the good old standby pants I always wear instead of those cute pants from Athleta that I had been testing out. I just love all of the pockets in my 110% knickers. I’ve worn them for both MCM’s and figured why change it up, play it safe.
We woke up on race day, got all of our stuff together and had our pre-race breakfast. I had gone to the grocery store and grabbed some bagels and I had brought individual servings of Justin’s Almond Butter (I had intended to bring English muffins with me but forgot).
We got our game faces on and then headed out for the start line.
The start line was literally about 1/4 mile from our apartment which was HUGE!! I would highly recommend for anyone going to do this race in the future to stay close to the Arc de Triomphe! It made race morning so much less stressful. No worries about transportation and how long it would take to get there which is a big stress relief on race morning.
So let’s talk about the race itself. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I have never run an international marathon or ever experienced a 6 hour time difference. So I knew this was going to be a wild card. Traveling, lack of sleep, not having the same nutrition that I usually do (hello pre race ritual sweet potato fries). Expectations were set low, but I was hoping the excitement and adrenaline of the race would give me a boost that I needed. I would lie if I said I didn’t have a time goal for the race when I first registered. I always have a time goal. But once I got there I knew that I would be throwing it out the window. My running buddy Lisa (who dragged me across the finish line at MCM) had also been dealing with a calf injury and wasn’t sure what was in store for her. I committed to sticking with Lisa and just having a good time. So we just decided to embrace the fact that we were running in FREAKING PARIS and were going to have fun and throw our time out the window, and that’s what we did. I’m not going to talk about our splits, because they really weren’t important. And I’ll say that my time was the worst marathon time I’ve had at 4:49, but it was THE MOST FUN I’ve ever had in a race before. And to me, that’s all that mattered. I didn’t even give a second though to the time which was extremely refreshing.
With 50,000 runners you can most definitely bet there were corrals. I had very high hopes when I first registered for this race and signed up for the 4 hr corral. Lisa signed up for 4:15 so we were a bit worried about how the corral systems worked and the ease of moving in and out of them. Well let me tell you now, they were strict. There was a gated entrance into each corral and you walked in single file and your bib was checked by race volunteers/organizers. It took a while for us to all move in single file. We tried to sneak Lisa in, she was wearing a trash bag to take the chill off, but they made her take it off and show her bib. They said it wasn’t a problem for me to move back, so that’s what we did, we headed into the 4:15 corral which meant another 30 minute delay in our start time. They let you enter the corral about 30 minutes prior to your corral gun going off.
This was the “line” waiting to get into the corral…
The view from inside the corral looking AWAY from the start line….
The view from the corral in front of us after it had emptied…
I had read blog after blog talking about how there weren’t enough porta potties on the course which lead to just total defecation on streets to include pee and poop. I was really kind of grossed out to hear that and couldn’t imagine it being possible. The only porta potties at the start were in each individual corral. There were about 8 for each corral, staggered amongst the length of the corral. Another good reason to stay close to the start…use the bathroom at your apartment BEFORE you leave for the race! I didn’t find the potty an issue during the rest of the race however, there were about 8 porta potties set up about every 2-3 miles.
The race starts on the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysees, a beautiful cobblestone street.
You run slightly downhill around the Place de la Concorde…kind of felt like I was in DC staring at the Washington Monument…but not.
and then turn onto Rue de Rivoli which is a flat road that runs by the Louvre and the outside of the Place de la Bastille…
Around mile 3 I spotted an MRTT buddy!! She’s been in my chapter for several years but we had never met! I spotted her from her MRTT decal that was on the back of her shirt!! I yelled out to her and we couldn’t resist a running selfie (excuse the double chin)!
There were water stops and food stations approximately every 5K or so. The water stops were different from the races in the US in the fact that they give you entire 10oz bottles of water instead of cups. I actually liked that, I could save it for later in my hydration vest if I wanted! The food stations were stocked with oranges, bananas, and sugar cubes which was awesome. My one issue with that was that the cobblestone streets became extremely slippery with orange and banana peels that were thrown on the ground. We had to be very careful to not slip and bite it. The road was pretty disgusting through these stations with bananas and wet stuff being kicked onto my calves as I ran through. I only remember seeing an electrolyte drink stop once however, but don’t quote me on that as I had my camelbak filled with Nuun and wasn’t too concerned with it. Crowd support was AMAZING. The streets were lined with people for most of the race until we entered the two park areas.
Another neat feature was the Fireman support…they were amazing. There were stops along the way with firefighters holding their hoses and squirting water out onto the runners. It was a fairly warm day, so it was well needed. At the expo we were given sponges in our swag bags. I was a bit confused by that when I first saw it and then realized what they were for during the run. They had buckets of water set up to dunk your sponge in so you could sponge off and cool down. LOVED the idea…too bad I didn’t bring the sponge.
The bands were amazing. In fact they kind of put Rock N Roll to shame. I would say there was a band about every 1 mile. I never put in my headphones until about mile 24.
After passing the Place de la Bastille, we did a wide loop of the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city. Crowd support definitely died down here and this is where I first started noticing people jumping off the course and peeing and pooping on the side of the road. Yes, you heard me right…people were pooping right off the side of the road in plain sight. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so grossed out. I even saw a girl wipe her poopy butt with her hand, wipe it on the ground and pulled up her pants..gag. I mean I’m a nurse and I’ve seen a lot of shit (no pun intended), but I’d never seen anything like this occur in public.
After we were exiting the park we came back into the city we reached the halfway point and ran along the beautiful Seine river. We were actually running pretty well during the first half with our splits under 10 min miles, but it was at the halfway point that Lisa started to hurt. She told me to go on without her but I said no way. I was sticking by her. So from the halfway point to the finish is when the fun really started! Running along the Seine was absolutely beautiful.
There were several long tunnels that we had to run through that left a little to be desired, but they had entertainment inside the tunnels with laser lights, a DJ and huge screens with live music playing.
So excited to see the number 26…..OH, wait…..that’s Km’s, not miles….boo…
Shortly after coming out of this tunnel, I was walking on the edge of the road and almost stepped in a pile of human poo with a maxi pad next to it. That would have to be my biggest complaint about the entire race…..that and the horrible body odor. Apparently Europeans don’t like to wear deodorant. The body odor was SO BAD I was nauseated several times because of it.
Another crazy thing…the pedestrians and the spectators. Don’t get me wrong I loved the crowd support but there were many times that the runners were bottlenecked because the spectator would encroach on the course and literally only allow 3-4 runners across! I hear this happens a lot at the Tour de France as well. And the pedestrians? Holy heck, they didn’t care, they would just try to cross the street into a pack of runners and not care. Like we were expected to stop for them, so crazy!
We then ran into my sister-in-law and friend that were waiting for us to cheer us on! They both live in the UK and had come over for the week with us!
Here is where the shenanigans start…. our friends challenged us to get some fun pictures, and one of them happened to be get a picture of a mime! Lucky us we found one
Notre Dame Cathedral…it’s far away in this pic, but just behind the bridge behind my head you can see it.
Ahhh, the Eiffel Tower. This was one of our longest stops. I think this was between mile 18-20.
I ended up with a side stitch that is very rare for me, but the only thing that helps is by doing some abdominal stretches. I have found that the wheel pose does a great job. I’m pretty sure I got some very weird looks…
And this was one of the coolest things ever….A massage station right in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero. There were people massaging peoples legs and feet who had cramps and applying Icy Hot to them…very cool touch (literally).
Batman….ha! And i’m just taking a close look at the picture on his tshirt….he didn’t speak a lick of English, but notice who is on his shirt.
We started stopping at all of the Km signs. I had heard there were only Km signs and no mile signs so to set my GPS watch for Km’s. I didn’t end up doing that and there were in fact Mile signs as well.
Ah yes, the wine station. We found this around mile 23 and there was no way I was passing this up. Had it been much earlier I probably would have… but at the end?! No way was I missing out on some wine!
Things started getting crazy with the clowns…
Coming up on 42Kms!!
Official Finisher’s photo! You can bet that I bought the official photos, although I was a bit disappointed because none of the photographers were set up near the big sights such as the Eiffel Tower. So if you look at the photos, the only thing that will show someone it was Paris was my bib. They were pretty reasonably priced also, only 37€ for all of them. The Euro is almost equal to the dollar right now, so that’s a pretty good deal if you ask me, compared to MarathonFoto or other US race photography companies!
I will say the food at the end of the race was a bit disappointing… I was hoping for some nice chips or cookie or bread product (but that’s just my preference). They had bananas, oranges and raisins and a sport bar.
Isostar must be a European brand because I saw tons of people carrying it.
I loved that they gave you a finisher shirt at the end instead of at the expo. It made you feel like you really earned it.
Our super speedy MRTT friends waited for us to finish at the end which was awesome. They waited around an hour for us just so we could get a picture and congratulate each other. THAT is just another reason I love MRTT.
The bling! I was underwhelmed when they officially released the medal a few weeks before the marathon, but it ended up being pretty cool. And it’s not really ALL about the bling I suppose
After the lack of finisher food I was about to GNAW my arm off. We found some food trucks outside of the finisher chute. Of course I wanted to eat ALL the food and was craving a burger and fries…and a beer. Apparently in Paris, you get your burger on a baguette with your fries on top. Interesting way to eat it.
This race was AMAZING. I enjoyed every second of it. It was the first time that I’ve actually taken the time to enjoy every mile vs racing and I must say it was very refreshing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a very goal oriented person so I don’t see myself racing this way all of the time, but there is definitely a time and place for this kind of running and THIS was it!
- Super easy packet pickup
- Amazing, beautiful course running by the Louve, Bastille, Eiffel Tower, Seine, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe
- Great crowd support
- Paris–nuff’ said
- entertainment was awesome
- Fairly flat course with a few gradual inclines
- In the Big 5 of World Marathons
- Only 1 sport beverage stop and that was at the 30Km mark (didn’t bother me because I carry Nuun)
- although the course was great there were a lot of spots where the crowd encroached on the course causing a big bottleneck effect
- crowded, hard to ever break out of a crowd
- water stops were only on one side of the road which got extremely crowded with 50,000 runners
- cobblestone streets were slippery (not all of the course had cobblestones however)
What is YOUR favorite race experience and why?