The Schneider Electric Marathon De Paris 2019, Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mike Barlow

I suppose it’s about time I wrote a race report, I’ve been a member now for 2yrs and so far, managed to dodge that obligation, well I can dodge no more…

In my mind the Marathon is the pinnacle of running achievement, it is what I have aspired to since being a child and witnessing my Grandad knock out several as an Elswick Harrier. But as life unfolded, and my only running achievement since school was a 2:01 GNR in 2004, it appeared that particular ‘dream’ would elude me.

Fast forward 14ish years…I had (once) mentioned to Stef that I would like to do a marathon, well she’s not one to forget things like that! A chance conversation with another Strider, lead Stef to making a speculative application to the 2019 Paris Marathon (on my behalf and without my knowledge!), assuming it would be a ballot like London, she gave it a go, and to her and more importantly my surprise it was accepted…

When I got over the shock and realisation started kicking in, I needed a plan, so I summoned the wisdom of the search-engine, and after much sifting, I settled on a 16-week sub-3:30 Runners World training plan, I decided to bin the first 3-weeks as I was already up to the mileage required from week-4. So, after 11-weeks of hard mileage, the 2-weeks of tapering began, and as predicted the onset of ‘maranoia’ took hold, I felt nowhere near ready, but as I chatted to those with far more experience than me, I put my faith in their wisdom and cracked on with the reduced miles, enjoying the protein and carb loading days (note to self: red wine is not carb-loading!)…

We arrived in Paris on the Friday, loads of time to get settled, get sorted and relax, fast forward the boring bits…

So now I’m in the 3hr15 pen, freezing cold and nervous as, the atmosphere was tense, I was playing over my race-plan, discussed with and amended by Allan at the awards night…8mm for 5 miles, then 7:30 for as long as I could hold on for…The Lord Mayor of Paris said something in French and I assume, started the race…

After the elites and wheelchairs had gone, the 3hr lot shot off, we then made our way down, this is it…I’m off, this feels ok, a glance at the watch, slow down…I settled around 7:50 (I’m sure Allan wouldn’t mind) felt good, people were tearing off passed me, don’t get lured into a race within the first mile, Got a cheer at 1-km from Stef, gave a wave and a smile, then concentrated on following the green-line…Mile-1 flashed up on my watch 7:41mm (oops), it’s near enough…As it turns out, that was my slowest mile of the race. So as the miles unfold, I check my pace, feel comfortable, I’m taking water at every station and food where available, I have gels, salt chews and gummy things given out at the expo, I feel in good shape…but as I approach mile-10, my right foot starts bothering me, right on the ball under my big-toe – Heat lead to pain, a feeling familiar to us all – blisters!! Typical, I had read a quote that became my mantra, ‘The first half you run with your head, the second half with your heart’. I thanked my head and summoned my heart, it was at this point I also told my Grandad I needed him…

I passed the half-marathon point in 1:33, great, I’m going well, feeling good (apart from the foot which I’m ignoring!) and now I can count down the miles…You would think that given I am running in one of the worlds most beautiful cities, I would be reeling off landmark after landmark, but apart from the river and the Schneider Electricity HQ (race sponsor), I can’t remember any of them, I didn’t even appreciate the majesty of the Arc de Triumph at the start line!

Anyway, as I get through the 20-mile mark, two Parkruns left, I’m feeling ok, still got a couple of gels left for ‘the wall’…The last 6.2 miles, was pretty brutal, do not pay any attention to Strava, the elevation in those final two Parkruns was greater than anything I’ve ever done before, a cruel trick by the organisers!

I complete one of the two Parkruns, I’m still moving, still ok(ish), one Parkrun left, omg I think I’m actually going to do it…I can hear the cheers from the crowds at the finish line, 2k left…1k…350m I get a massive cheer from Stef and a couple of complete strangers with her…I see the line, just keep going…nearly there…I’m on the green-carpet, and throw myself over the line…I did it…I look at my watch, 3:12:40, I hug the man next to me, that moment of a shared achievement, monumental, I hear my name, and look to see Stef beaming, emotion envelopes me, I’m walking in a haze, I just want to get out and see my wife, I collect my T-shirt, medal, other bits thrust into my hand, then I notice the escape route, I head out and scan the crowds for Stef, she flies toward me…I did it, hun, I actually did it!

So, will I do another marathon? Probably

Would I do anything differently? Definitely, I would not consult the internet for the answers to my questions and definitely not for my training plan.

Would I recommend the Paris Marathon? Yes, the crowds were great, not masses of people, but decent pockets of support (it was Paris-Roubaix grand depart also), rock bands, steel drum bands, jazz bands, shouts of Allez allez allez, great volunteers, well organised, easy to get to start and so I’m told, some beautiful architecture en-route.

To all of you that have advised, encouraged, helped and inspired me over the past 2-years (some of you may know who you are, others will not) I owe you a massive thank-you.

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6 thoughts on “The Schneider Electric Marathon De Paris 2019

  1. Bloody well done Mike with blisters too! Hope the vino helped afterwards and your feet have recovered, AND you still want to do another!!

    1. Thanks Jean, I can confirm that a few glasses of Vino Collapso certainly helps in recovery! And yes, I will do another marathon.

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