Thank you so much to friends and family far and near who supported me along the way to complete my 3rd Paris Marathon (4th overall) on Sunday morning. Over the weekend, every other minute I received an email, text, or phone call to say “Good Luck” and it truly meant so much to me (and still warms my heart). So thank you. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all of you, so huge hug, kisses, air kisses and high fives!
This time around, instead of doing a recap of the whole marathon (it is the same kind of emotions — success, heartache, determination, etc…), I am going to tell you what worked and what didn’t work. If you are considering running a marathon, pay attention!
* The #1 thing that worked for me was making a friend on the course. I prefer to not run with headphones (the moment you put on headphones and listen to music, you are drowning out the crowd, and I wanted to be present), so to keep my brain occupied, I would look at / examine / attempt to cheer on my fellow runners. Finally, at mile 9, I saw a woman running at a solid pace, wearing a pink Garmin watch (the watch that 99% of hardcore female runners wear). So I ran right up next to her, asked if she was American, and proceeded to talk her ear off. But let me tell you, it worked. We ran together from mile 9 to 22. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Seriously — unbelievable. We didn’t even exchange our names until mile 12, but we just clicked. I told her about my life, she told me about hers. She pushed me, I pushed her, and I would not have been able to do it without her. She was my entertainment, my music, my energy! Just the fact that we were runners (eeks, called myself a runner) connected us. And now we have a bond. So cheesy, and so true (and yes, I already emailed her and we are in touch!) And talk about inspiration, my new friend is almost 50 and typically runs 3:20 marathons.
* The beauty of Paris. City is flipping gorgeous. The blue perfect skies, the old ornate buildings, the cobblestone roads, so beautiful, so picturesque, so unlike any other city.
* The weather. Sunny, blue, crisp, not too cold, not too hot. Perfection.
* The right attitude. Reminding myself that running a marathon is a privilege and not a punishment. I am alive, I am healthy, I have a goal, and I am going to do it. I had a hip injury going into the race, and that really caused anxiety and nerves (I am not fun jet lagged / pre marathon / anxious, let me tell you that), but I kept on repeating to myself, “I am so lucky to be doing this race.” Period. I can do it because I set my mind to do it, and therefore, I am going to do it. And I am doing it.
* My mantra. Every year, I pick a saying and just repeat it to myself (First marathon: “If I gave birth to my kids, I can run a marathon” Second marathon: “Nothing is permanent, everything is temporary” Third: no need for a mantra with the crowd and electric energy of New York City). This time around, it was “Slow and steady wins the race.” I went out and knew I was hurt, knew that the winter training had been extremely difficult and challenging, so I wasn’t racing this marathon, I was simply out to enjoy the sights and appreciate the art of running. So I went out slow and steady, and won.
* Believing in myself. I have the tendency to not give myself enough credit. I never think I am smart enough, pretty enough, accomplished enough, and running gives me that self confidence and courage. I am good enough — I have put work and heart into it, and I am doing it. I am good enough, I am strong enough, and only I can get it done. No one can do it for me. You dig deep down, you find that belief, and you do it. And so I did. And it feels so good. I am really so very proud of myself. (and thank you for letting me share that with you all).
What didn’t work:
* The crowd’s energy. Sure there are spectators, signs of support, and bands (apparently 100 bands along the route — 1/2 of which seemed to be on break — typical French) — but in general, it is just a lot of people running on the same street and some people watching the cattle herd. No one really gets INTO the race. People are half-fast clapping (if they are EVEN clapping to begin with) and really couldn’t give a rat’s ass if you are running or not.
* The runners’ energy. Runners didn’t really support one another! Which shocked me! Hello — we are all in the same place, attempting the same goal, so where is the love and support for each other??? At one point, I saw a runner wearing a NYC marathon shirt, so I yelled “GO NEW YORK CITY MARATHON” and both he and the rest of the runners looked at me like I was insane. I was just trying to generate some energy. But nope, didn’t work out so well.
* The cobblestone roads. Running on them is hard. Imagine biking on a gravel road or driving on sand — it just feels that much harder.
* The water. The French think you only need to drink water every 5 kilometers. (For reference, at the NYC marathon there are water stations every mile). Due to the limited water benches, I really had to pace out my intake of water
* The French hosing people off. The marathon was on a “hotter” day for running a marathon — only in the 60s but the French were concerned about overheating, so they were spraying down people with hoses. You could run around the downpour (barely) but there were so many puddles and inevitably you would dunk your foot in the water. My feet were soaked the entire race because of these damn puddles. And now I have three blisters between my toes. Unfun.
* Boulangeries are closed on Sunday! How can I eat my favorite jambon-beurre-fromage-baguette when every boulangerie is closed. Truly heartbreaking.
* Winter training. Especially on the east coast this past winter, it was tough. Freezing temperatures, epic snowfalls, bitter cold. It made the training period hard, mentally and physically. I was down on running, upset by the weather, and didn’t do the number of runs I should have or wanted to do. But it was impossible and I just couldn’t fit it in. I did a handful of 15 and 17 mile runs on the treadmill which is never that fun, and 20 miles in 16 degrees really is tough. So it was a hard training period and difficult to prepare.
What I did differently this time from all previous marathons:
* I let go of expectations. I didn’t check my watch (I seriously did not know my time the ENTIRE run) and I just went out to run. I lived in the moment and I clicked off the miles 1 by 1. Check — mile 8, check mile 22, check where the hell is 26. But I did it, one mile at a time. No checking my watch, no pressuring myself, no getting upset, no competition, just one big long run.
* My food intake. I used sport jelly beans the first two marathons, and now am a big believer in energy GU. Way to go. And Salted Caramel GU — damn, used it at mile 22 for the first time, and that is like pure dessert. Go out and buy it and gulp it down for a dessert. So delicious. Promise! I take GU at miles 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 22. 5 during the race, and I felt it was the perfect amount.
* I took two aleves at mile 22. And boy did it help me — mentally and physically. Could have been a placebo effect, but it worked and 5 minutes later, my quads hurt less (my quads were pounding from miles 15-22 and just killed. They still kill) and I had more pep to my step.
So there you have it, done and done. 3rd consecutive Paris marathon in the books. Now on to get faster at shorter distances, find a new goal, and continue to believe in myself. As far as marathons go, I am not done with them. I love the endurance, the depth, and the courage. I am doing Boston 2016 and NYC 2016, but until then….just taking the time to let my quads rest (and get back to a normal size, damn they are super huge horse legs)..