They call Paris "The City of Love," but I call it complicated. Here are the things I loved and hated about running the 2013 Paris Marathon.
Trying to fall asleep the night before a marathon is like trying to fall asleep the night before your first day of school. You are so nervous and excited that you squirm around in your bed all night not able to fall asleep because you are wondering how the next day is going to go. I hope I don’t drink too much that I will have to go to the bathroom during the race. Please God, let me run without pain. What if I don’t make my goal? What is it going to feel like when I finish?
As soon as I landed myself into a deep sleep, it was time to get up for the race. I am not a morning person and normally I hit the snooze button a couple times before waking up, but this morning countless butterflies in my stomach lifted me out of my slumber. I raced to the bathroom proceeding to put on my racing gear that I had already set out for myself the night before. A smile lit across my face as I read the weather card left out on the marble bathroom counter by the night housekeeper; “50 degrees and cloudy.” No runner can ask for better running weather, especially considering it was unseasonably cold, windy, and had been raining since we got to Paris. Yes, it is a 50/50 shot that if you do the Paris Marathon you may get rained on, but I gambled and won!
I must say getting to the 40,000 runner starting line wasn’t a problem because I was staying at the Four Seasons George V and the hotel was located around the corner from the Champ Elysees.
I was with my favorite French Mademoiselle Stephanie Coutrix, her pal Tim Natividad, and my biggest running fan, my fiance Julian. Since I had recently had an injury, I didn’t care about my time. My goal that day was to finish the race without injury. Steph and I had a strategy to stick together for the first 13 miles. Tim was doing his first marathon and had a pretty audacious goal, so he left way ahead of us.
The Champ Elysees starting line was EXTREMELY crowded, and bitterly cold. Despite the forecast stating it would be 50, it was 32, but it was also 8:45 in the morning. We waited, waited, and waited a painful 45 minutes, packed in like sardines before we were released to the official starting line like a herd of cattle.
By that point I felt I had to pee! I was so annoyed, especially when I saw men peeing in the streets! Ugh! So not fair to be a woman at times like these. Oh well, we were off!
Five things I loved
1.The never boring landscape and scenery truly captivated me in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
2.The music and entertainment will waltz you through the Paris Marathon route. I even heard steel drums around mile 5 reminding me of the Key West Half Marathon I did in January. One of the most unbelievable sights I came a crossed was a man drenched in sweat because he was running with a 10 ft. tall Eiffel Tower on his head. There were even two live French bunnies racing in front of me.
3. Running alongside one of my best friends. If you are going to do this race, definitely do with a friend.
4. Viva Mexico! No lie everywhere I go I am asked what my background is. If you don’t know me you are probably thinking that question too. I am proud to say I am Latina! While running along the Seine River I was so excited to see my fellow Mexicanos cheering me on along the sidelines.
5. Crying when seeing the Eiffel Tower. I always have one moment during a race where I get emotional and this was it for me.
Four things I hated
1. The smell of horse poop in Floral Parc , if you are looking for a place to run in Paris this park is incredibly scenic. Hopefully you have a nose that can tolerate the smell.
2.The cobblestone streets were a thorn in my flesh. Sticky, slippery, madness, particularly when the water stations were posted in areas with cobble stone streets.
The most dangerous area was after passing the Eiffel Tower right before you come to the carousel; it’s the corner of the Pont d’Iéna and Quai Branly. There is a water station that has orange slices thrown on the floor and and the street becomes narrow. It’s a horrid mess.
3. My Garmin Forerunner 210 running watch failed me in a series of underground tunnels. Make sure your running watch can power through anything. Good thing I did think of a plan B. Not only did I use my I-phone to take all the great photos you are seeing, but I also set it as a timer at the beginning of the race.
4.The obvious crowd, to many runners. Someone even pushed me!
Pain was kicking in after the half marathon mark. Steph and I both stopped to take some Advil.
I liked the plastic mini bottles of water that were handed out instead of paper cups with water that I am use to having in the United States during races.
After 18 miles and seeing the Eiffel Tower I was ready to be done. My body was feeling strong and I do believe I started picking up the pace. This was a premature mistake because at mile 23 the pain was agonizing.
I closed my eyes and pictured myself running the loop in Central Park, something I have done over a thousand times reminding myself this wasn’t any different. The last 3 miles felt like the longest 3 miles that I have ever ran in my life. I was in a very quiet wood thicket, a wide open street, where all I could think about was turning the corner and seeing the Arc de Triomphe. At last my victory was in sight! I don’t usually do this, but I raised both arms in the air as I crossed the finish line. After 4 hours and 13 minutes later it was over!
I regret that I didn’t get an opportunity to savor the wine that was provided just before the end of the race. However, the Paris Marathon was well worth the trip!
One last omission. I urinated in public! At mile 6, Steph needed to pee. She jumped in line in front of the port-o-potty. I was in such a frenzy and just couldn’t hold it any more when I notice a few women run behind the port-o-potties and let it flow out. I let down my shorts and did it too.