On March, 4th, 2018 I ran my first half marathon in Paris. Here is my review from the sign-up website, up to the finish line!
I always hated running. I remember the running sessions back in middle and high school in January, when we had to do this thing called ” endurance ” for a school grade. I do not remember how long I was running for, but I had cramps everywhere in my body and hated that. We also had a couple of jump hurdles (by a couple, I mean a 3 months period) from which I was really scared. Anyways, I ended up with an F in running (and therefore in sports) in high school for the final exam, so I am not quite the athlete buddy kind of person.
I then started the BBG from Kayla Itsines a couple of years after, in order to lose weight and tone my body. At first, I did not see any changes because I was skipping cardio (smart me hehe). I then checked which cardio was the most effective and I began to run. The first time I (seriously) stepped on a treadmill, I ran 1km in 11 minutes, I was all sweaty and I could not do more. Then, slowly, I started to run longer and faster, to the point where I did 1km in less than 5 minutes (I only did it once!). I heard about a Toronto Nike 15Km for women and I was willing to participate. I got the information too late but the idea of a run stayed in a corner of my head. Last year, as I signed up for the gym, I was receiving newsletters and one dealt with the Paris half marathon on March 4th. The further I ever ran was 10km but I decided to sign up!
I signed up in October and looked up to a few programs on Pinterest and all over the internet and nothing seemed to fit to me. I found all the programs pretty weird, as it dealt with HIIT after a 5km run, or a 10km run followed by a 7km on the next week (I mean why would you run less if you ran more the week before?). Moreover, all the programs started 4 to 8 weeks before the marathon. Therefore, I started to train with my “own program” which consisted of 2 HIIT workout of 30 minutes each during the week, + a 10 to 15km run in the weekend. I ended up doing 15km once or twice because it really takes a long time and my weekends are pretty busy. However, I ran 10km quite a lot and it now feels easy on my body.
Preparation time went by way too fast, and there we already were, time to go the Fitbit half marathon village to get the bib. We had two days to get it, either on Friday or Saturday. Since it is on the other side of Paris, I decided to go on Friday night. The village was hard to find since a bit hidden in the park with no direction but at least I got a good overview of the starting and finishing lines. The village was well organized: I gave my medical certificate (if you are willing to do more than one run in the year, make sure to make copies of it, because they do not give it back). Then I got my bib, exchanged my timing (2 hours instead of 2h10 to be in the same start session as my friends) and a t-shirt (I sometimes wear S, M, and L and the M size was great for me). We exchanged our thoughts and feelings for the big run and I somewhat was reassured to see that I was not the only one stressing out. We had the opportunity to buy mix trails, Fitbit watches, and running equipment. It was fun and unreal to see how big the village was and how marketing a run can be. We did not have time to take pictures with is one of my regrets.
I did not do anything on Saturday to allow my muscles to chill (except preparing my workout clothes). On Sunday, I woke up at 6:30 am, got a good protein packed breakfast, made of a tiny cup of matcha tea with soy milk, and a bowl of protein powder mixed with water, a big banana, and some peanut butter. I then went to the train station to meet my friend and we took the train together to the other side of Paris. We arrived there pretty early, got rid of our bags and headed to the starting line. I heard that the marathon was like a big party in Paris and that was true, there was music, everybody was super excited and moving everywhere, there were some warm-up activities, and everybody was in a good mood. We stayed a bit in our departure sessions before starting to run and they gave the starting signal. From there, everybody started running and the first kilometer arrived fast. Then 2, then 3… at the first 5km, there was the first refueling. I was feeling good, so I did not take anything. On the way, there were people encouraging us and bands playing music. It was great and motivating, especially under the rain! At 10km I took a bottle of water and a small half banana. Refueling is tough because people do not want to stop running so everybody was pushing everybody, going in different direction… very overwhelming. I quickly drank as much as I could (splitting water everywhere) because the trash boxes were not far from the food supplies. The same thing at the 15km refueling, except there was some cakes! I almost turned around to pick up some cake, but I did not. It started to be hard around the 17th km. I also understood at that point that I was going to run further than I ever did. Around the 19thkm, I decided I should either stop to walk or eat my half banana (that stayed in my hand for 9km!) I peeled it and ate it. It melted a tiny bit in my hand so it was easier to chew and swallow while running. I managed to find a bin to throw my banana skin. Finally, I started to really slow down without stopping running while I made it to the final 21.098km. I wish I could have sprinted at the end but I had a pain in my chest so I was too busy bending to keep running and breathing.
My mom texted me a bit before I finished to make sure I was still alive so I texted her while walking to the last food supplies and towards the medal. I was really stunned, not quite sure of what happened, but I knew I made it. I was so proud of me. I grabbed my medal, a big bag of food and a raincoat, a bag of chips, a fruit paste and I headed to get my bag. They could not find it so I had to wait a bit under the rain. Then I found my friend who helped me carry everything. He told me to stay where I was while he was looking for our 3rd friend and to eat something because I was not looking alright. I put my raincoat on and ate the “healthiest” cookies I could find among what they gave us. We then headed to a restaurant downtown Paris to get something to eat in order to fully refuel.
It was honestly amazing, very well organized. I am happy I participated and proud to be a finisher. My playlist was amazing and I enjoyed every song I put into it. It was my first run and I found very motivating to run while a ton of other people also run at the same time and pace. People were overall nice except a few who pushed people in order to get ahead. I do not know if I will do another half marathon but it was an incredible experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to try because I had an amazing time. If you want to see my medal and my timing, visit this page!