Thursday, 13 April 2017

Marathon de Paris

Ever since my first road marathon in Valencia in 2012 my aim has been to beat 3h. On my first try I didn’t have a goal, I just went and run on feeling. No time goal, just running for the experience. Plan was not to push before 30k and enjoy the race. That’s what I did and it went ridiculously easy. I ran 42,2k in 3:01:11. My official time was a few minutes slower (3:03:21) due to some zigzagging on the way and thus a longer distance (42,6k). Anyway I was within sub 3h schedule up to 37k, which made me think that with a bit of training I could easily run it some minutes faster. Now I’m not that convinced about the easiness anymore.

After Valencia I’ve had a few tries and a few failures. A year later I ran Florence marathon in 3:06:41, which was obviously a huge disappointment. Maybe the route there was slightly slower due to sharp turns and cobbles but I also went off too fast in the beginning. I was a minute ahead of my target in the half way and ran out of energy much earlier. I managed to run 30k within sub 3h schedule but lost loads on the last 12k. I realized that the key to a good finish time on a marathon is a steady pace.

After Florence I haven’t really had a chance to beat my goal before now in Paris. Last two years I’ve struggled with injuries and haven’t got to the start line uninjured, so getting there in one piece was already an achievement. Training towards Paris wasn’t smooth and unproblematic but at least I managed to get to the start line. I had some niggles on the way but reacted fast and cut my long runs short when needed. I just tried to avoid risks at all costs. My longest training run was 32k so I wasn’t sure how I would survive the last 10k. Still, I was quite confident because I knew I had trained better and more marathon-specific than before and I was in fairly good shape.

I did the preparations as well as I could but some things you just can’t control. For instance, when I went to pick up my bib number the day before, there was an unexpected stop in the underground and I got to walk some extra miles just because the train wasn’t working. Not optimal, especially when my morning run had already been a few kilometres too long, and the Italian restaurant, where we went for dinner, was also further away than I had hoped. Nevertheless, I was feeling good and optimistic when standing on the start line.

Starting at Champs-Élysées with Arc de Triomphe in the background was pretty amazing. I ran the first half controlled and steady in 1:29:08, just as planned, with all four 5k splits within 10 seconds. I was still feeling quite alright at that point but I was sweating heavily. The weather was well over +20C and just getting warmer and warmer the longer we got. After doing most of my training in sub zero temperatures I just couldn’t handle the heat. I believe it became harder than it should have because of the weather and therefore I burned more energy early on than necessary. I wasn’t able to replace the liquid and salts I lost through sweating and I started to faint after 25k.

Sami was yelling at me euphorically at 28k, just before the Eiffel, but it didn’t help. He was sure I was going to beat my goal but I knew I wasn’t. I was just getting slower and there was nothing I could do. I was able to hang in there for 30k but not further. The remaining 12k were really painful with stomach cramps and empty legs. 3:00 pacers passed me around 35k but I couldn’t accelerate. I tried but nothing happened. I just watched them to vanish in the horizon. During the last 10k I was constantly thinking about quitting so I’m kind of proud that I didn’t. I finished 52nd among 10339 women. When you put it like that it doesn’t sound too bad. However, my time 3:06:37 was 6:38 slower than I had hoped for, but when you change to jogging the minutes pass fast. I was really looking forward to not having to train for another marathon but now I may need to postpone that. Oh dear.

Whether I continue with marathons remains to be seen but right now I’m enjoying the recovery and looking forward to get back to trails and forests! After all it’s there my hearth lies. I have learned to like the simplicity of road running and the easiness of seeing progress and measuring yourself but in my hearth I’m still an orienteer. 

For the vibes, check out this video

Pont Alexandre III 
Sunrise over Seine
French breakfast

Less springy legs today

Finisher t-shirt!