Paris Marathon 2015 - part 2

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!

read part 1 here.

Running across the start line in Paris was surreal. There was no ceremony, no countdown or big bang, I just jogged over the line and suddenly I was running a marathon. I had to pinch myself, I couldn't believe I had the nerve to do what I was doing. After a week where my legs had felt like lead I was now flying through the streets, I felt so good, it was truly my day. 

Heeding the advice I'd so urgently sought from other runners I kept an eye on my pace, but also let my body lead. I had utter confidence in what my legs were doing, it sounds arrogant but I knew that my training would pay off. I can't begin to describe how that feels, it was the most surreal and natural feeling. It proved my belief that if I train for something I can do it, that those hours pay off. 

The course in Paris is beautiful, and theres something epic about running in that type of environment. It feels a little bit naughty, like you really shouldn't be running down the middle of the road in such an amazing place. I've always said it feels like running has given me the keys to the city, and on 12 April 2015 I felt like I owned those streets. It was amazing. Amazing is a word that comes up a lot when I talk about Paris.

One of the things I'd heard about Paris was that there wasn't tonnes of support. I have to admit I'm not someone who need a big crowd when they're running, I just need a fantastic atmosphere...and Paris really delivered. The atmosphere the city created was electric. The combination of beautiful streets, languages from across the world colliding as they cheered, the way my body felt, and of course the firemen with their bird's eye view, created the perfect energy, it lifted me, it made me feel like a rockstar. Which is exactly how you should feel during a marathon.

^mile 17, waving like a starfish in the top left corner^

For 20 miles I flew. I felt strong. I felt like I was doing the most natural thing in the world. Those miles confirmed that I'd made the right decision when I took up endurance. Even thinking about it now, nearly two weeks later, I'm lifted, that's how good it felt. Again I can hardly begin to explain. 

As I entered the 20s things started to get harder. My quads and hip flexors started to hurt, they felt tight and bruised, I've never felt anything quite like it. My focus kicked in and my head dipped down as I pushed forward and my limbs burned. Just six miles to go I reminded myself, less than I'd run on a Friday night after work. A totally achievable distance. I had tunnel vision, nothing around me mattered.

Somewhere around mile 22 my legs developed an agonising numbness, I could barely propel them forward, and despite pushing like I've never pushed before, they stopped. They literally stopped. I walked along the edge of the course, dug out my emergency sweets, had some water and took a painkiller. I talked to myself, I steeled my thoughts and I plugged in to an audio book as a distraction for the last four miles. I gritted my teeth and pushed, I forced my legs to move, each step was a monumental effort through sheer agony. 

For the next four miles I walk/ran oblivious to anything around me. All I could think was that running was the fastest way to the finish line. Biting my lip through steps, pushing and swearing, forcing my body to do what it was utterly capable of was the most phenomenal experience. Running is what made me realise what I was capable of, but this was on some other level. I still can't believe that's what I'm made of. It makes me want to push even harder to see what else I can reveal. 

The first sight of the finish line took me by surprise. I rounded a corner and there it was. It was virtually touching distance. My legs knew it, they sped up, lifting higher and throwing me forward. I was sprinting! My pain was forgotten and I was sprinting to the finish of a marathon.

Falling over the finish line was the strangest thing. I'd imagined I'd be wrecked with emotion like I was in Birmingham, but I wasn't, it felt like what I'd just done was entirely right and natural. I wasn't shocked that I'd just run a marathon, and I immediately knew I wanted to do it again (and again, and again). Which is exactly what I'm doing on 25 October 2015


post edit: my time was 04:29:58...exactly what I was aiming for.