This one though never got off to a good start, on Wednesday after the club run I came home with the dreaded man flu. This was no ordinary strain but the tyke that left you laid up on the sofa begging for the grim reaper to come and take you away. By Friday and dosed up heavily on pills I attempted to get off the couch and see how things were. I came to the conclusion that although I was Ill I would go to Paris to watch if nothing else. My train was booked my hotel was booked so I decided to just go and see how the land lay.
I joined the Virgin tilting train from Crewe before dashing across the city to the Eurostar terminal. In the mean time I bumped in to several joyful souls whom were on their way to the monopoly run with the club. I left Crewe at 8-30 and arrived in Paris at 2:45 local time, which in itself was worth the journey a fantastic testament to modern day travel. When arriving in Paris I had the journey from hell to go and pick my race number up. The expo which resembled the Trafford centre for runners was a way away and carrying my luggage with me wasn't ideal. Eventually with my medical certificate handed over which they were very strict with I was given my number and goody bag.
I returned to the hotel to make the second mistake of the trip, that being going to walk the streets of Paris for a few hours. I don't know how far I travelled but my legs ached along with my man flu symptoms things were not good. Pizza Hut and a good few refill lemonades and I was ready to hit the road home and tuck up in bed in my 5* hotel.... Ok 1/2* hotel but it was nice and cosy and very close to the start line.
The alarm call from the 1970s bed stead had me awake with breakfast given and on my way to the start. It's a strange way of starting as there are 50000 plus runners with staggered start times. The race kicks off at 830am but my start time was 9-50 am. But I had to be in my pen oink oink by 9.20 this then meant that I had a 30 min wait before going anywhere just standing upright. Good job it wasn't raining then, well no actually I wished it was as instead we were blessed with abnormal sunshine and heat for this time of year and with starting so late I would be running through the mid-day sun with no shade.
The route was to be lovely with many explorations in to fine Paris regions and the sites of such gems as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame in the distance as well as a nice run from the arc de triumph along the Champs-Elysées. Eventually underway I set off at a very slow pace just taking it easy due to the man flu and trying my best to ease myself in to it. It wasn't happening I was already struggling with aching legs and
I hadn't gone over 8 miles yet. Therefore I decided to opt for a change of tactics, Gordon once told me that the difference with distance running is that you can change tactics whereas with short distances it's all over before the end. Therefore with that in my head I opted to try and do mile intervals, I would run a mile at about 9 mins and then recover with a 1 mile 11 min mile run. This would at least help me get something out of the race, although now the heat was playing its part and the illness hindering me I was on 10 plus mm and sadly just watching myself grind to a slow waddle. Next tactic was to play the crowd, use them to my advantage with some Allee alle alle, go go go that I learnt in Medoc.
Although this was entertaining for me, I await the striders website to be littered with complaints about a bald headed shuffler annoying the locals In Paris. Alas it was now all over, any hope of a PB went when I came down with the flu, in my heart of hearts I knew this was not going to see my first sub 415 marathon, however, I had lived in hope that a miracle was in the offering. My next goal was to ensure that I ran the whole thing with no walking.
As I ran through some tunnels and some lonely park I started to think that the crowds although very good when they were there, they were not what I expected for such a big city marathon. There were long sparse areas of no one no cheering no shouting, just nothing. Then before you knew it you were back amongst it with back slaps high fives, come on Paul go Sandbach etc etc being shouted and fantastic jazz bands.
At approximately 18-20 miles my legs were shot, my temperature was sky high, I ached all over and knew that I was in real danger of recording a DNF at the Paris marathons, one that I had looked so forward too for such a long time. My option was to knock it in the head, slow right down or even walk. I opted instead to just cry and cry loud, yes you read that right. Every bit of pent up emotion that I had in me over the past god knows was coming out. I went with the usual this is the last one ever, no more running; take up snooker dart or anything even golf!!!!
Before I knew it I had clocked over 39 km and it was only then that I knew that I was edging the finish and would somehow, anyhow, get over the line. Eventually as I came towards the line and the glorious finish with packed crowds I simply ran through the finish line, grabbed my medal, grabbed my bag and kept running to the metro station, back to the hotel, showered ate and ended up back on the train and home for midnight.
This was a great experience despite not being well, it really is a nice fantastic marathon on a great route with great support. The fact the train had me there and back all in a weekend was great. Sadly I was obviously not as well as I should have been and maybe should not have ran but I did.
Next stop London.
For more information visit the race website.