Paris Marathon 2011

Paris Marathon 2011. Round 2 of the Parisian race. This year I was returning as a supporter for Emma who was running her first marathon. Although her training hasn’t been good, she was determined to give it a go.

We arrived in Paris on the Saturday morning and headed straight to the Expo to get registered. The nerves were setting in for Emma but the sun was out and the race was set to live up to the previous years experience. After a quick sleep in the afternoon and an early meal with our friend and fellow runner Sean, we hit the sack to get ready for the early start.

We woke early, got dressed and fed and then it was off to the start line. Thankfully we were staying close to the Arc De Trimphe so it was a short walk to the start line on the Champs Elysee.  With 40,000 competitors registered, it was worth getting there early. Emma and I started in the same group to ensure we could run the whole way along. I was the mule carrying her Gu and carbo shots so I had to make sure I was there from the start.

With the faint sound of the starting gun, we started to shuffle forward. We crossed the start line, pressed start on the Garmin and we were off. Emma set off at a cracking pace which carried all the way down the hill and passed the Louvre. After a quick loo break in Starbucks, we carried on our way weaving in and out of the other competitors keeping a steady fast pace. I tried to pull Emma’s pace and save her energy for later in the race but she was too excited and pushed on through the 10km mark, through the 15km mark and up to the 20km mark. We were on pace to do under 4hrs which is a a great time for Emma who has done limited training.  Every 45 mins we had a Gu or some shot blok electrolytes and drank water at every station. I was worried the pace from the early part of the race was going to come back and haunt her.

At 30km we were still running strong but at 32km, Emma hit the wall. In fact she face planted into it. She lost all her energy, her legs started to cramp and then she started to panic. It was the first time she had felt this feeling and it was a huge shock to her. I fed her Gu’s and Jelly Beans to get her glycogen levels back up and tried to get her to push on. She was really struggling though and I thought it could be the end of the race for her. She is one tough cookie though and her will power made her push on no matter how slow we had to go. 10km may not seem a long way to some but when you’ve hit the wall, 10km feels like a marathon in itself. She was close to breaking down and her legs just weren’t responding. We pushed on, slowly but surely. By 35 km she was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. She knew it was again possible for her to finish.  Run a few hundred metres then walk for a while and then repeat.

At 37 km she was through the wall and we could run for longer periods of time. The pace was a lot slower and a lot of people were passing us but the fact that the finish line was in sight made her keep going – one foot in front of the other. After 41kms the crowds were thick and the finishing line celebration could be felt in the air by everyone. I too was looking forward to the finish line but not as much as Emma. We rounded the final corner and headed for the finishing banner. She put a huge smile on her face and we crossed the line together in a great time of 4hrs 15mins. I was so proud of her for sticking with it and pushing through to the finish. She’s one tough cookie and she loved it! She now wants to do another one… this time she’ll train for it and see if she can go for her original goal of 3:30.

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