[This post has been re-written to replace my first Paris Marathon recap blog post from May 2016, which was unfortunately lost after my blog was mistakenly deleted. Sadly, I also lost all the wonderful comments and well-wishes that followed this memorable post.]
Paris. Beautiful, lovely Paris. I adore everything about this city – the charming buildings, the heavy traffic, the rich history, the bustling residents, the effortless fashion, and even the droves of annoying tourists. I have dreamed about the day I would be able to run these streets and feel my own painful history fall behind me as I pushed past each mile. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Jordan and I arrived four days prior to the race, allowing my body to get acclimated to the time difference and take in all the sights. We did quite a bit of sightseeing but I also scheduled time to recover from the toll that traveling would take on my leg.
The trans-Atlantic flight wasn’t an issue at all for me because Jordan and I traveled in First class. We know how to work the credit card reward systems, and we have been banking points for about four years to be able to travel in luxury. I slept with my leg elevated for most of the flight, which allowed me to manage my swelling very well before, during and after the flight.
The rest of the week we walked and navigated the metro system throughout Paris. We visited the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Catacombs, the Musee D’Orsay, the Pantheon, and also ate plenty of yummy food. The weather was cold and rainy the first couple of days but it was not too unpleasant.
Friday evening we made our way to the expo to turn in my medical certificate and obtain my race number. The atmosphere was exciting inside the expo with all the vendors and marathoners rushing to make last minute sales and purchases. The convention center where the expo was set up was massive and very well organized. After picking up my packet, I bought my favorite flavor of GU and a new hand-held water bottle from one of the vendors before the expo started closing for the night.
On race day morning, the weather turned from cold and rainy to slightly cloudy and cool – a beautiful day for a race. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be in Paris on such a picturesque day, and running a marathon through those historic streets. Our hotel was right down the street from the Arc de Triomphe where the race began. Once I got into my corral, I tried to soak up the excitement and surroundings, disbelieving that I had finally made it after nearly a decade of dreaming about being here. Jordan went to the start line to wait for my corral to pass the start line and hopefully get a few pictures of me.
The first six miles lead us past the Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, Place de la Bastille, and the Chateau de Vincennes. This part of the race was the most fun. I felt fantastic and couldn’t stop smiling. My pace felt easy and I wanted to high-five every little kid I ran past. I actually believed that I was going to stay on track for my goal time… then I hit the halfway mark.
I still felt good but I knew that I needed to slow down my pace in order to stay in the race for the next half. My goal at this point was to just keep running, and especially keep enjoying the race. There was still so much ahead of me that I was excited to see – the Seine river, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and finally the Arc.
Honestly, my spirits began to wane once I hit 17 miles. My pace was slow and my legs were heavy. A lot of people were walking but the crowds and spectators were incredible. I heard my name called out by spectators every minute or so which made me want to keep pushing. (Our names were printed on our race bib.) I am so grateful for those spectators during the last leg of the race.
After passing the Eiffel Tower, all that was left to see was a beautiful park which was mostly uphill. I walked/ran this last leg and couldn’t wait to be finally done. At this point, all I wanted to do was go back to my hotel room and go to sleep. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement.
However, once we hit mile 24, the spectators went crazy with loud cheering and music, and even encroached on the course to push along those sad runners who were defaming the course by walking. No one was allowed to walk those last miles in their opinion.
I had never been so happy in my life as I was when I finished this race. It felt like closure on all those negative and limiting thoughts and memories that I had been carrying with me for the past decade.
As Jordan and I were walking back to the hotel, he turned to me and asked, “You know what this means, right?” I didn’t understand and asked, “What?” “You can’t ever use your leg as an excuse to not do anything again,” he replied. I passively nodded and said, “I know.” He then stopped and repeated, “No. You can’t ever use your leg as an excuse again.” He knows me very well, that I have a tendency to doubt myself even though I have been able to do hard things in the past. He didn’t want me to forget this moment. His statement has stuck with me since returning home.
If you are wondering how my leg withstood the stress of traveling, sight-seeing and running a marathon, I think my leg performed fantastically. This is a picture from the morning after the marathon: