Hello beautiful people 😀 😉
Super excited today to share another “Running around the world” piece today (No idea what i am talking about? Check it out here)! I know, I know…it is not Tuesday but I got this a few days ago and had an opening today and it was too interesting and nice not to share! So today’s piece is from Bethan, who blogs over at A pretty place to play, and I met her a few weeks ago 🙂 She is a really cool person and I am sure you guys will love her piece as much as I did!
Let’s see where we are going…
I never thought I’d be any sort of runner, let alone a marathon runner, but sometimes life proves you wrong. After months of pushing the idea to the back of my mind I took up running three years ago tentatively jogging around my neighbourhood after dark questioning whether I’d taken on a bit too much by signing up for a 10k. During those slow starter runs something unexpected happened – I fell in love with running. I’d struggled for years with confidence and self-worth and running was showing me what I was capable of. It was amazing. After that first 10k I started to test myself a bit more, I got braver, I figured if I could run 10k I could run a half marathon, and if I could run a half marathon I could maybe, just maybe run a marathon. The final straw came when my friend Leah ran Paris Marathon in 2014, I decided if she could do it, well then I could do it too.
I knew that I wanted my first marathon to be big (figuring that if things got tough I could rely on crowds of supporters to keep me going), ideally flat and somewhere special. London was out of the question because it’s hard to get a ballot place and I couldn’t commit to raising thousands of pounds for charity, but Paris seemed much more viable. Paris is an amazing city, easy to get to from my home in London, is flat and fast and crucially has tonnes of supporters along the whole route. All of my boxes were ticked.
I entered through the ballot system which at the time was slightly redundant as you were pretty much guaranteed entry, which was great for a nervy first time marathoner (I like to know well in advance what’s ahead of me!). Thankfully my parents decided to travel to Paris to support me and took care of accommodation – my Mum found a great hotel within walking distance of the start line on The Champs-Elysees. I’d definitely recommend trying to stay as close to the start line as possible, it definitely made my race day morning more relaxed (well, other than when my mum suggested a short cut…but that’s another story).
As with most big city marathons Paris Marathon kicks off with an expo – it’s the stuff of runner’s dreams, there’s every bit of kit you could imagine, and you get to play with all of it! I’m really glad I made time to hang out at the expo, it was fun to explore, mislay my parents (I think my Dad got distracted trying to work out what the deal was with Powerbars) and pick up some souvenirs (I still get a bit of a kick when I drink coffee from my marathon mug, although that could be the caffeine). Around the marathon there are also all sorts of shake out runs and pasta parties you can go to, although as I was with my family I decided to take the opportunity to hang out with them instead.
So the race itself! The race itself was magical, I honestly don’t think I’ll ever have a race as good again. Bouncing around in the pen at the start (expect to see lots of people peeing – the one down side of Paris is a distinct shortage of porta-loos) I wasn’t nervous or excited, I just felt calm and ready. There was no fanfare, the crew just removed the fences and we started walking, walks turned in to jogs and then, suddenly, I realised I was running a marathon. It was truly surreal and wonderful. The miles flew by, locals and visitors gathered at the edge of the course, not in the numbers you see in London, but enough to make me feel really special. Fire engines flanked the course, their ladders suspended above the road with firefighters in gleaming sliver helmets perched on top singing and cheering. All the big sights were signposted for runners to see (and you could download a marathon sightseeing podcast – how cool is that?!). It all just blew my mind.
Paris is an amazing city to run in – whether it’s the full marathon or a shorter race. It’s a beautiful and at every turn there’s a mind blowing sight to feast your eyes on, and take your mind of any pain you might be feeling around mile 23! It’s truly magical, and definitely the place to go if you want to challenge yourself somewhere really special.
Huge thank you to Bethan for sharing her story with us
Till next time with other exotic (and not) running destinations!!
Any one who has a running story from ANYWHERE in the world that would like to be part of these series is welcome!! Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send me atweet or a Facebook or an Instagram message! Also if you would like to connect with other runners from all over the world you can join our -open to all- Facebook group 😀