Paris Marathon 2015 - part 1

I RAN A MARATHON!! After months of preparation on Sunday 12 April 2015 I ran 26.2 glorious miles through the streets of Paris. It was the most amazing, and ultimately natural, experiences of my it's only right I share the story in an epic multi-part race report! It's your reward for sticking with me through the last few weeks of radio silence!

12 April 2015 had been marked in my diary for nearly a year. I mean, it's mark in my diary eternally as it's my brother's birthday, but 12 April 2015 was different. On 12 April 2015 I had some serious business to attend to. On 12 April 2015 I was running a marathon.

I'd always said I'd never run a marathon. Actually, I'd always said I'd never run, but that's another story. At first I'd said 10k races were more than enough. Then a half was the perfect distance. I never fathomed that a marathon would be in my future. It felt so unattainable, so far, so like something other people did. Other people who were better runners than me. Other people who had more determination. Other people who were willing to get up early and train in all weather. I didn't know that one day I'd turn out to be one of those other people. I didn't know that one day wanting to run a marathon would feel like the most natural thing in the world. It's funny how things turn out. 

Here's how it happened. At some point last year I was reading an article in Women's Running that Liz Yelling had written about marathon training. Attached to the article was a plan. A really realistic plan, aimed at women with busy lives and written by a woman with young children. Something inside me started to click, maybe I did have time to train for a marathon. Maybe it was within my grasp. I filed all thoughts of a marathon under 'maybe' (with a sub category of 'scary') until the spring. Then something amazing happened. I watched several of my friends run marathons. I watched in awe as women who were just like me took on 26.2 miles and absolutely killed it. I realised that if they could do it then so could I. So I did. 

The week approaching my marathon was a bit weird. A lot of changes had happened in my life, and if I'm being totally honest running a marathon wasn't at the forefront of my mind. I knew it was going to happen. I knew I had trained. I just didn't have the time or energy to devote a lot of thought to my taper period. So instead of over-analysing my carb intake (as I had planned) I found myself traipsing around house shares late in to the night looking for a new place to live. On reflection this was probably a good thing, it took my mind off what I was about to do, and also gave me a memorable anecdote to share with the households 'interviewing' me.

^pacers prepping^

By the time I arrived in Paris on Friday morning I was a bundle of nerves. I veered between being unbelievably excited and feeling like this whole marathon business was a very bad idea (while still smiling at the thought of what I was about to do...). In equal measures 26.2 miles felt doable and impossible. It was the strangest feeling.

^final kit preparations with my Dad^

Standing in the start pen before the race I felt strangely calm. People swirled around me, trying to get to one of the two portaloos or squatting to pee behind a large jumper held up by a friend. Others chattered, making small talk in multiple languages while they adjusted their laces and made sure their cap was just so. I just stood there. I prayed a little. I took a couple of pictures. I text my friend Becca, two start pens ahead, to wish her luck. But mostly I just stood there. I felt very calm. It was surreal and wonderful all at once. 

Quietly marshals started to remove the fencing at the start of the pen, and gradually my wave started to walk towards the start line heading down the Champs Elysees picking our way over disgraced belongings. The pace quickened to a jog and unceremoniously I crossed the start line. I crossed the start line with no big bang, no count down, nothing. Suddenly I was running a marathon and it felt like the most natural and amazing thing in the world!

Stay tuned for part 2...