Well, it has been too long in getting to this but here I am. Shamed into it, I must admit that I have been not touching my computer much since we got back from France. I have been doing some Faces updating in the new iLife 09 iPhoto, I've been playing a lot of iPhone games, and I have been doing a whole heck of a lot of gardening, playing with the boys, and general chores around the house.
So, first off, if you are not hooked in with me on Facebook I have shared the race photos in my Paris Marathon Photos Album. Check them out for some cool photos of the beginning when you can see almost the entire 31,000(ish) racers.
How was the race I get asked. Well, it was awesome. It was a ton of fun, I set PB (Personal Best) of 4:14:30 which is 14 minutes faster than my first (an only other Marathon) last year. You can get detailed stats from here if you are really that interested in times and such. If that does not work search the Paris Marathon site results page, my bib was 22002.
Here were some highlights from the race.
First, I was standing at the start and wondering why all these guys were lined up in a star (4 lineups converging) formation. I figured they were getting some freebie since there were lots of stuff being given out. Nope, they were standing in line for the open air (as in no doors) mens urinals. Open air urinals became a theme throughout France on the trip.
Filed under the Pay Attention Department. While running the streets of an unfamiliar city (well at least Paris) you need to keep you wits about you and your eyes scanning ahead of you for racers veering around obstacles. I watched one guy do a head of heels (literally) and face plant (a technical biking term for using you face as a brake) as he ran into a mid-thigh high traffic pillar, meant to direct traffic around a mid-road traffic light. Can you say ouch? He actually got up and continued running. Man, that's guts, determination, or stupidity if you ever saw it.
Again, from the Pay Attention Department, there are cat-eyes on the road in France. What are they? They are little reflective caps about a half inch high in the middle of the road which are along the white dividing line. They are there to help drivers in the night time to see the dividing line (in rain these must be a godsend, I wonder when we will ever see this type of thing here in Canada) and they also act to jolt you into realizing that you started to wander across the lane into oncoming traffic (again we could use that). OK, so this guy is running along by the Louvre about 10 feet in front of me and to the left of me. Admittedly everyone is rubber necking all over the place checking out the sites this early, maybe 3 km, into the race. All of a sudden, he hits one of the cat-eyes and one, then the second of his sneakers just launch off his foot, heading in our general direction. He is tripped by this and does a remarkable slow motion attempt to catch himself, but nope, flippety flip he goes. I passed him, as did the crowd of cattle we were, while he was grabbing his recovering and grabbing his shoes. To continue? Hell who knows, but this is why the numbers I saw showed about 37,000 starting and only about 31,000 finishing.
Under the, "Did you read the small print, hell the large print even" Department, yes, I heard someone saying to their friend, "I ran a couple 10 km runs, this should be no problem right?" Ya, sure a Marathon is only 42.195 km, that is only like 4 times my 10km practices. No problem? I think she may have joined the other 6000 that DNF (Did Not Finish).
This just in from the Unpleasant Spaces Organization, when in a city where a Marathon is being run, avoid the sub-way and public transit for a couple hours around the end of the Marathon. Trust me, a sub-way car full of runners is a high "like gym-bag stinky" zone. Move along by foot please, nothing you want to smell here.
While running a Marathon there are many decisions that might weigh on your mind and these will be tougher than the physical aspect of the event. That is until the physical and mental start to work in tandem, like when you feel your pulse racing, your heart feels like it is ready to pound out of your chest, and you take a quick pulse + watch check. Only to go, "Holy Heart Attack waiting to happen, Batman! SLOW THE HELL DOWN!" That was about the 32km mark. I slowed it down a bit since I was thinking, finish and be happy I ran this, or blow up and drop dead? I will take happy I finished. Beating my PB (Personal Best) was a bonus.
When traveling with family, be realistic. You are going to be touring, you are going to be walking, and you are going to be carrying kids around. I decided to have fun, not be a strain on my family by leaving them to sit on the couch and relax before the big day (thereby driving them nuts, mostly my loving wife who would have had to wander around Paris with a 3yr and a 9 month old). Instead I prepped before I left by trying to get in a couple days of touring/walking at home with our youngest in the child carrier and backpack. This way I would at least be used to that before I left. I also said the hell with style and just brought my current 2 pairs of running runners. I used though alternating so that I spent the day on the best platform for my feet while we toured Paris.
Would I run Paris again? Yes, but not for like 30 years. There are so many other places to run, Paris was an awesome experience, the sights were amazing, the atmosphere was electric, and there were lots of little things that make it stand out in my mind. But, we are on this Earth such a short time, I want to see new places and as such I got the idea from someone to run a Marathon in a city for each letter of the alphabet. So far I have completed O(ttawa) and P(aris). So, I have not committed to this yet, but it is an idea I will be revisiting. Heck, come to think of it M(ontreal) and T(oronto) are so close ;-)