Report from John Davis
Last year, I made an agreement with my partner, Debbie. I would enter the London Marathon, which Debs thinks I should do ‘because it’s ours, & it’s one of the biggest in the world’ &, when I got my rejection, I’d get to enter the one I really wanted to do, Paris.
That’s how it turned out and, despite a knee injury messing up my training & giving my a terrible last 10k, I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for this year’s event pretty much straight away. No knee ligament problems this year but an obstinate cold that lasted from the end of November through to the end of February again played havoc with training, to the point that I knew I was unlikely to match last year’s 4 hours 19, despite my optimistic prediction last year of 3:45.
I thought, ok the train this year, presuming it would make life easier but, with a landslip at Guiseley, our train being stranded at Shipley by a rogue emergency cord signal that wouldn’t let the train go nor the guard open the doors to let us out, & my London train also being delayed, I thought my problems were over once we approached Kings Cross but, while still have on that train, I got notification that my return Eurostar had been cancelled by SNCF strike action. I got a rearranged booking, but that misses my London-Leeds return, so I’ve had to shell out for that & wont get back until around 10pm, with work the next day. Probably flying from Leeds-Bradford again in future.
My hotel, at least, is a success. Learning from last year, I made sure my stay, while right on the far eastern edge of Paris, has lots of places to eat & was on direct metro lines to both the start/finish of the race at Charles de Gaulle Etoile, & to the Exposition.
Saturday, I finally managed to find the location of the Paris Parkrun (thanks to hooking up with a couple of runners on the way who’d been given detailed instructions – it’s not the easiest to find!) & added that to my list of ‘tourist parkruns’- very lovely, if slightly convoluted woodland route, & then made my way to the expo. Far too much time on my feet, & buying some tat & back to my room to veg for a bit until a rather nice, if carefully chosen, meal. It is Paris, after all, & it would be rude not to.
So, this morning’s breakfast of an orange & a couple of pain au chocolat, & the train to the start. Pretty perfectly timed, early enough not to panic, not so early as i wasn’t exhausted with nerves before the start. Didn’t manage to start the Garmin until a couple of 100 metres into the run (typical) & then settled into a steady & comfortable pace, learning from last year when I hared off too quickly & regretted it pretty sharpish.
Made the effort to take note of the sights as I counted down the km, Bastille monument, Chateau de Vincennes, Hippodrome, Bastille again, Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel, but was starting to struggle again. I’ve not had much option in the last month’s training for warm weather acclimatisation & it was *very* warm again today. Last year, my race all fell apart at the last 10k as we climbed from the river (some on cobbles) & into the Bois de Bouloigne, & I felt a bit ropey again.
Then, at 7km to go, a pace-runner went past, with his 4hr sign waving above his head. I’d started with the 3:45ers & he was approximately 15 minutes behind setting off so, if I could keep up with him, I might be close to a 4:15, slightly bettering last year. I couldn’t, not for long anyway, but the injection of pace was just what I needed & I kept pushing, telling myself how much distance I had left in fractions of a parkrun to motivate myself!
I got 4:24 dead, 5 minutes slower than last year, but I have no regrets. Despite being slower, & not being quite as crocked as last year (though I’m in quite a bad way!), I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have gone any faster & I know I really emptied the tank for those last 7km.
L’année prochain j’y va de nouveau!John Davis, apparently French now, according to my race bib.