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Paris Marathon 2013

Paris Marathon 2013

At 43 years old, I am now the proud owner of not one, but two Paris Marathon finishers medals. On April 15th 2012 I completed my first marathon in 3 hours 43 minutes, the story of which is HERE. This is the story of my Paris Marathon 2013.

Marathon Plan

I returned with a plan to run under 3 hours 30. My goal was plunged into immediate jeopardy however, before any earnest training began, when I suffered a severe attack of sciatica in September. My whole lower left side was affected and I had tingling in my toes for months after the initial pain had subsided. Even now, I still suffer a tight left calf after running, as a result.

By November though, I was up and running, so to speak. I had decided to join a running club, as I thought this might improve my motivation to train and push me a little harder than I might ordinarily have done. I am now a regular runner with Worthing and District Harriers and proud of it. I’ve certainly run out of my comfort zone during training sessions and I have received tremendous encouragement and support from the coaches and other runners.

Salon du Running

I’m lucky that my brother in law lives in Paris, so running the marathon there is pretty straightforward from a logistical point of view. It’s also very easy to convince the wife! We took the ferry from Dover on Thursday and I ran a final 10k from La Defense to the Arc de Triomphe and back on Friday evening. It was cold but not freezing.

To run the Paris Marathon 2013, I needed a medical certificate which is presented for validation at the Running Expo. I attended twice. Once on Friday to do the formal business. My certificate was duly accepted despite my GP listing my date of birth as 11/11/2013 and I collected my race number from the 3:15 section. Another thing learned from last year was not to get stuck behind slow runners. I opted to start in a faster pen in the hope that I could maintain a decent pace whilst not hindering those faster-than-me runners too much!

My second trip to Running Expo, with my daughter, was primarily to meet my Twitter training buddies. As it happened, due to one thing and another, no one I recognised turned up. I read afterwards that one or two had turned up, but I hadn’t seen them. However, my daughter and I had our picture taken wearing funny hats at the Brooks stand. We ate rice at the aptly named Rice Party and I purchased a Garmin Footpod, partly to measure my cadence outdoors or distance and speed whilst running indoors or through long tunnels, but mainly because I’m a gadget geek.

Race Nutrition

I have gained a lot of experience, particularly with regard to race nutrition since my first marathon and I arrived at this latest challenge better prepared. I know my stomach doesn’t like gels and what I have found works for me in training is to take one GlucoTab tablet every two miles with a mouthful of water. The tablets only contain 4g of carbohydrate but they seem to have sustained me during my 20 mile prep runs in Worthing and Hyde Park recently. As back up, I packed some Clif Shot Bloks, just in case.

Another concern for me was maintaining my pace. In training, I had run a maximum of 20 miles and managed to run faster than 8 minute miles for both. To run a 3:30 marathon you must run 8 minute miles. However, we all know that we tire in the final few miles of a marathon. We also know that, in a real race, the distance covered is very often well over 26.2 miles. Last year my Garmin told me I’d done around 26.5 and those extra metres count when you are within seconds of a target time. So my plan was to run at 7:50min/ml all the way and see how I felt at 21 miles.

One could not ask for a better marathon location. Paris in the spring. Fantastic. The weather had threatened to be awful as it has been for most if 2013, but on the day itself, the sun shone and the sky was blue. It was, just, perfect. My wife had the still camera and my brother-in-law was in charge of filming. They were ready. I was ready and the atmosphere was as good as I remembered from the previous year. 40,000 people ran the Paris Marathon 2013. It’s huge, and they all line up on arguably the most beautiful avenue in the world with the Arc de Triomphe as a backdrop. I joined the 3:15 pen, which was really quite near the front. I was amazed after to see that it took some people over an hour just to cross the start line. Incredible. Once the gun went it took me just 7 minutes to cross the line. As my pen went forward over the line I stayed back to use the toilet (there are little portable urinals in the start pens). So in fact I crossed the start line virtually alone.

Paris Marathon 2013

I can honestly say I felt really good almost the whole way round. I took in the scenery much more than I had done the year before, I concentrated on my nutrition and hydration much more than last year and I made sure I waved at the video cameras and still cameras en route. I ran at 7:50/mile and faster almost all the way. I did tire and slow a little in the final 5 miles, but I didn’t need to walk at all and because my pace had been so good in the early part of the race, by mile 21, I knew a sub 3:30 time was in the bag. I took one Shot Blok at mile 18 and drank a small cup of coke around mile 22. When I crossed the line in the glorious sunshine in 3 hours 28 minutes and 19 seconds I felt fresh as a daisy, which prompted my wife to suggest I should have tried harder! She is probably right. I could perhaps have beaten 3:25 or 3:20, but I had a plan and I stuck to it. Next time, I’ll have a plan to beat 3:15 and I’ll stick to it again.

I will certainly be back next year and for many years whilst I continue to love running, love Paris and for as long as my brother-in-law lives there! As well as the video of my race above here is the link to my official ASICS VIDEO. That’s it for the Paris Marathon 2013. Give it a ‘like’ and please share it with your friends.

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