I can’t believe it. I’m here, I’m in Paris, France; I’m running the 2017 Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. I am so blessed to be here, I’m so blessed that I get to experience this, and I’m so blessed to be with my best friend who lives here. Before I left LA for Paris I was one of eight (8) runners interviewed by my friends, Paris Road Runners for their blog. I was very honored to be one of the eight runners they interviewed. You can find my interview here. Lets talk about what you really want to hear, everything about the Paris Marathon.
Expo and Bib Pickup:
I can’t believe it. Its here; I’m picking up my race packet, my bib, and its now all so real. It never becomes real to me until I get the bib in my hands. I had my passport, my medical certificate all ready and I presented it in order to get my bib. I was so excited to get my bib.
I got my bib, saw the finisher’s shirt, and finishers medal that was on display. Then I found the wall of fame (participants). I found my name and made sure that I got a picture of me pointing to my name. Over 57,000 participants, the wall was huge.
You have to walk through the Asics booth in order to get inside the rest of the expo. I bought myself an Asics Marathon de Paris hoodie, one of the best souvenirs I brought home with me. Asics also had a photo booth and a pace band that you can get. There was food and drinks there, it was like a big party. It was a lot to take in, and a lot to see that I didn’t even get to see it all. Its easy to spend an entire two days at the expo.
Marathon de Paris (April 9, 2017):
I was super excited and nervous at the same time. Race day was here, and in a few short hours I’ll be crossing the start line with over 57,000 runners from 144 countries. The Marathon de Paris is now one of the biggest marathons, and one of the most prestigious in the world. I can’t believe I’m running it. It felt like a dream, and I was expecting to wake up any minute.
I took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, the start and finish line for the marathon. While I was getting off the Metro I met two awesome people from the U.K. and we hung out together. It was great to hang out and have good conversation with Jane and John.
Waiting at the start line was the most nerve wracking moment, its the build up of anticipation. I was excited to toe the start line, I was excited to run Paris, I was excited to tour Paris by running, I can’t say it enough, but I was excited. The corral I was in was set to start at 9:50am, Jane grabbed my hand, as well as John’s hand, we squeezed hands and wished each other luck. We crossed the start line and we were off and running.
My hamstring had been hurting since the night before marathon, so I was taking it easy. I was feeling great, I was 4 minutes off from my target pace, but I would still be able to pull around a 5 hour marathon time, easy. Running on the cobble stone streets was amazing, seeing the monuments, it was extremely difficult not to look around. There was always something to look at and admire. The water stations were at every 5k, so we were going 3.1 miles, in the heat, before we got to an aide station. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you see a ton of people constantly on the side sitting in the shade trying to cool off, and others suffering from heat exhaustion, its a very big deal.
I was on mile seven (7) when I noticed five (5) race medics on the course. A runner had passed out due to head exhaustion and was being treated. Less than a quarter mile away, two more runners were also being treated for head exhaustion. All three runners were transported by ambulance off the course to receive medial attention. This scared me.
I was one mile away from the half marathon point, running on Avenue de Gravelle, I looked at my Garmin Forerunner 235, and I was at a time of 2:24:15. I was excited, and feeling fantastic. I was running with a woman named Christina, who complimented the back of my shirt saying that she really need to see the Angel wings. She was from New York, so we were happy about that. She was telling me about the New York City Marathon, how’s she’s doing marathons on all seven (7) continents. We were keeping each other positive, in the right frame of mind. We made sure to stay with each other.
A person working for the marathon approached us on a bicycle informing us that we needed to pick up our pace. They are opening the roads up to the public, and the marathon has a six (6) hour time limit. I politely informed him that according to my Garmin, which I started the second I toed the start line, that I’m currently at 2:26:45, how can the six (6) hour time limit be upon us. He said that the time limit starts when the Elite Men start at 8am, not when the last runner crosses the start line. Ah, that makes sense now, and I was glad that he took the time to explain everything to me.
He said we can continue on with the marathon at our own risk. There is a green line that outline’s the course. All we have to do is follow the green line and it will take us to the finish. It was at this point that I regretted carrying no cash, and not carrying my Visa card on me like I usually do. We were told that they were pulling all volunteers off the route and closing all the water stations. This was not good, since the marathon told us there would be plenty of water stations along the course, there was no need for us to bring water. I had no water, and no way to obtain water.
With no money on me, and not knowing where I was which meant I had no clue how to get back to my hotel, I decided to continue on with the marathon. It was a major risk, but I was stubborn and continued on. From Avenue Daumesnil I mad it to Bd Bourdon which lead me to Quai des Celestins. I was running along the river, La Seine, that runs directly down the center of Paris.
As we continued in people were clapping, saying “Brava” and “”Bon courage” to us. They were also telling us to be brave, and telling us we’re doing great and to keep going. We were running on Quai des Celestins where you see the Notre Dame. Then it turns into Voie Georges Pompidou further up where you see the Musee d’Orsay. It was amazing to see people who were out enjoying their day, stopping to give us encouragement, well wishes, and support. I thanked each and every one of them. Merci!
As I was continuing along the marathon route, I was able to hit aide stations that were slowly, and I mean slowly breaking down the tables. Volunteers stayed and kept fruit, and bottles of water for us. I was eating two oranges, a banana, drinking a bottle of water, and grabbing two to go.
When I hit mile 18, (Av. President kennedy) I could see the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful. I can feel the heat getting to me. My lungs were hurting from breathing in too much hot air, and it was difficult to push air in and out. My back, right under my shoulder blade, was hurting me. I was grateful that from the first water stop I was taking two salt pills every 30 minutes to help combat the heat. My hamstring was hurting, but I was still able to do a jog comfortably. Three people came running up to us with cold bottles of water, and were giving them to us. They said “Here, here, take this water. Its cold. Take them” they handed me three bottle of ice cold water. It felt so good to drink cold water, what little water I had was hot.
I was on Av. de Versailles turning onto Bd Exelmans and I knew we were entering Bois de Boulogne. A park with a lot of trees and shade. I was happy for shade.
At mile 22 I was on Av. de St-Cloud, and I was literally freaking out. I wasn’t hitting the wall, but freaking out. The heat was bad, I couldn’t cool down and was saving the little water I had. Once I got to Allee de la Reine Marguerite, two volunteers, holding oranges, offered us oranges and told us there is water up ahead. I took three (3) oranges, and drank the little water I had left. I grabbed three (3) bottles of water, and continued on.
Am I going to make it. I had to say goodbye to Christina. I couldn’t keep up with her pace, and I had to slow it down so that I had a better chance of making it. I was so grateful she stayed with me to help me along with the other women running close to us. I continued on, and it is getting more difficult to take a deep breath. The streets are heavy with traffic, aide stations are slowly breaking down so that means there is no medical at the stations. I was very scared, and I was finding it difficult to keep from crying.
As I slowed down, I found it easier to breath, so I decided that it was a good pace. I had just passed the Fondation Louis Vuitton on Av. du Mahatma Gandhi when I saw a women wearing a Sparkle Athletic skirt and she was very colorful. As the police were telling us to get out of the street because the street was open to the public, I crossed the street and started walking with her. We introduced ourselves, because of her occupation I am not using her real name. Her name is “Katrina” and she is from the U.S.A. We were talking about how we don’t know what happened to our pace, we don’t know how it fell apart, and so on.
We walked together the last 1.2 mile of the marathon. Walking with “Cat” helped out a lot. At this point I was breathing fine, and the pain under my right shoulder blade was going away. I was so ready to be done and cross the finish line. All I could think about was going to my hotel for a cool shower.
We reached Rte de Suresnes and were jogging to Avenue Foch, where the the finish line was. We could see the finish line, and we were so happy. We discovered that the finish line just closed three (3) minutes prior to our arrival, and we needed to go down to Exit C. While trying to make it to Exit C, we got a lot of misinformation from the marathon officials and volunteers. As we were walking around it hit me. I finished the Paris Marathon. I broke down and started crying. I was happy that I finished, I couldn’t believe I just ran Paris, and I was in so much pain from my left hamstring that I couldn’t hold it back.
We finally made our way to Exit C, and the volunteer told us that we couldn’t get a medal. Another runner from Canada told the volunteer that there are still medals there, and he let us through. We ran as fast as we could, saw the medal tent, and ran straight to it. A volunteer saw us, opened up the trunk of her car, and started to grab medals. She put the medal around all of us necks, and congratulated us with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. That was the best congratulations from a volunteer I had ever received and it made my heart sing. It was at that moment I chocked back tears of joy. She had told us that they had ran out of finisher shirts and didn’t have enough for all the runners, but to email the marathon for one. She gave us water, and banana’s. She really took the time to talk to us, made sure we were ok, made sure we could get back to our hotels, and she really took care of us.
Cat took a photo of us at the finish line with our medals. We thanked her for everything and started to walk toward the Arc de Triomphe. A guy was packing up the water, and asked if we’d like some water. I said yes, please. He handed me four (4) bottles of water, and gave me oranges. We made our way to the Metro, slowly. I was so grateful for being able to walk that last mile with “Cat” and about 10 other runners who were ahead of us. I am grateful to have made it to the finish line, I am grateful to have received a medal, and I am grateful to have made it back to my hotel room. Cat and I said our goodbyes at the Metro station as we were jumping on separate trains, and we exchanged email addressees.
Once I had made it back to my hotel room, showered, and cooled off, my back (right under my right should blade) stopped hurting and I was breathing with ease. I was feeling better. My body couldn’t cool itself down, and my body temperature was high.
At my hotel room, all I could think about was how careless I was by continuing on with the marathon. It is something I should not have done, I should not have put my health in jeopardy like that. the outcome could have been completely different. I was lucky, very lucky. It was a reckless decision, I felt, on my part. At the time time I couldn’t believe I had just ran and finished the Paris Marathon. I ran one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was an amazing experience, it truly was.
I have had previous experience with this heat thing before, during a training hike in Griffith Park, and during the Long Beach half marathon back in 2015. My doctor told me it was slight heat exhaustion because my body was unable to cool itself down.
I made the decision that I will never, never, put my health in harm’s way again. Next time I will find shade, sit and cool off. If, after that, it gets worse, I will seek out a medical tent and opt out.
A very special thanks goes out to all the volunteers who stayed out with bottles of water and fruit. I was so grateful, and appreciative. Thank you all so much. Merci! A very special thanks goes out to those who were still at the finish line. Thank you so much to the lady who gave me my medal, and made sure myself, and my fellow Runner’s were ok, and taken care of. Thank you to the gentleman who gave me the four bottles of water. I really needed it, I drank all four bottles, and ate all the oranges he handed to me. Merci!
I don’t have regrets, but when I look back on it all, I wouldn’t do anything different. It was an experience I will never forget. I will run the Paris Marathon again, and I will be better trained and prepared.
Tips for Running the Paris Marathon:
Tip # 1: Heat Training; its a must, a major must. It is hot on marathon day, the sun was constantly shining down hard on us runners and always right in our face. Train in all kinds of heat including high humidity. Remember the three (3) runners I saw on mile 7 who passed out due to head exhaustion?
Tip # 2: Bring water!! I cannot stress this enough. They place their aide stations every 5k, combined with the heat, you don’t want to go 5k before grabbing water.
Tip # 3: Bring salt with you; you’re gonna need the salt to help combat the heat and muscle cramps. I was taking two salt pills every 30 to 45 minutes, but with how spread out the aide stations were, that made it difficult as I was conserving my water. Bring plenty of salt with you.
Tip # 4: Start in an early corral; you’re gonna need the early start. The time limit starts at 8am, so get into an early corral. It will also help you out because you should have plenty of time to finish, but you’ll start out in cool weather, and you won’t be in the high heat for the entire duration of your race.
Tip # 5: Time, Time, Time; make sure you are comfortable with running, at the slowest, a 5:30:00 marathon time. This marathon is one of the toughest marathons in the world, and it is also the most beautiful in the world. Being good on your time will allow you to fulling enjoy the finish line festivities.
Now that I know just how the Paris Marathon is, how they do their time limit, the course, the heat, etc. I know how to better prepare for it. I feel guilty for being stubborn, and putting my health in jeopardy in order to finish, but in the end I finished. I got to experience the Paris Marathon. The course is extremely beautiful and it is a challenging course, a difficult course.
I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to run the Marathon de Paris. Yes, the marathon beat me, but that just leaves me determined to beat it. I have to redeem myself. I am not sure when I will run the Paris Marathon again, but i know I will be well prepared.