Today, Sunday March 11th, marks the one week anniversary of the Semi-Marathon de Paris, 2012.
At 10am last Sunday I was standing in a big crowd of people, anxiously waiting for the announcers to call my group (the 2 hour group) to the starting line.
And before I knew it, we were off.
It was a good race, to be honest. At least, it is in my memory. Never have I given birth to a child, I ASSURE YOU, but I can’t help but think the experience is somewhat like childbirth. While you’re doing it, it is the most grueling thing of your life and you honestly think you could just stop and potentially keel over, but you keep going. And when you look back, you think it wasn’t so bad after all. And you think about doing it again. Next year, maybe.
If I adapt that timeline to my future child-birthing experiences, we’ll be in big trouble.
The race was hard. For quite a few reasons.
I wasn’t in the best shape. I’d trained pretty consistently for the past 3-4 months, but as the months advanced, I started to get burnt out with running– and stressed with work. So there were 2 long runs that I shirked in favor of more interesting things to do… like sleep and time spent with family. And while I don’t think those decisions made a huge difference at Race Day, I can’t help but think that they contributed. Plus, I focused more on just general mileage training instead of doing pace and tempo runs. My lack of speed workouts definitely added to the Race Day difficulty.
I didn’t have the best mentality. Going into a race, it’s important to be excited. I mean, why else would you have been running 10+ on Sunday mornings, simultaneously nursing a hangover, for the past 3-4 months? But towards the end of my training, I got burnt out. I’ve already mentioned that. Plus, I knew I’d be running it alone. No family at the end cheering me on. And all my friends had more important things to do. I’m not being passive aggressive, it’s true– I wouldn’t have wanted to subject anyone outside of a blood-relation to chasing me around Paris. So I wasn’t that excited for the experience. I just wanted to get it over with.
I’m pretty sure I was in the middle of a stomach bug. Ever since Saturday morning, I’d been having a hard time keeping food in me. I knew of a GI infection that had attacked a friend of mine, so I was worried I had the same issue. It was HORRIBLE. One often forgets how awful it feels to not keep anything in you. And I don’t mean throwing up, either. Yeah, that’s right. Other direction. My friend Gordon told me that night, as we ate Pink Flamingo pizza (my attempt at carbo-loading), that I was probably just nervous and I would be fine the next day. Well, I was. Until the end of the race. Ever seen that moment in the Sex and the City movie when Charlotte has the little accident? Well, I had the same feeling. Only I managed to hold it. There was actually one point where I swerved off the road in the direction of the woods because I didn’t think I could handle it, but my legs wouldn’t stop moving and my brain couldn’t think of anything else but the finish line.
Old running shoes. So I bought them in September. Early September. I probably need some new ones. I’ve been told one should change running shoes after ever 300-400 miles, or about ever 5-6 months. Depending on how much running you’re doing. In retrospect, I’ve run a lot since I got those shoes, and I’ve been noticing signs of wear during runs leading up to the race. The shoes just left my feet feeling weird. And now, even though I’m only doing 2-3 miles at a time, I just notice weird little aches and pains here and there. I only have about 2 months left in Paris, however, so I’m going to wait to get new ones when I get home. They’re much less expensive there. And I’m not one to risk my physical health by trying to cut costs, but I just have visions of walking out of the local running store in West Hartford with a fresh new pair of Asics. Is it weird to say that it’s a favorite pasttime of mine?
The metric system. I’m used to thinking of half marathons as 13.1 miles. The French, however, think of half marathons as 21.1 kilometers. And since I’ve been tracking my training mileage in, well, miles, it was hard to mentally convert kilometers to miles. Though I certainly tried! (And that definitely helped take my mind off the race.) But it’s hard to know how much of the race you have completed when you don’t know the kilometer equivalent of 13.1 miles!
All in all, however, it was a good race. I finished it. I ran the entire time. I pushed myself. Really, what more could I ask for? Except for a mother and and aunt (and cousins!) waiting at the finish line with a car ready to take me to the Flying Biscuit Café. I was surprised by my time as well– it was much better than I expected or wanted! 2:09:51. 2 hours. 9 minutes. 51 seconds. I guarantee you (because I don’t remember exactly) that it’s almost exact, slighty after, or slightly before my previous half marathon time. WAHOO! That’s great! I was seriously expecting to come in at 2 hours 30 minutes. But like I said, I pushed myself. Had I been in better shape, and had I pushed myself the same extent, I can only imagine what my time would be!
Next year, perhaps?
Oh and about the whole pooping thing… while it didn’t happen during the race, it really and truly almost happened on Rue Saint-Jacques afterwards. It took an enormous amount of willpower and muscle (I’m being serious) to keep that from happening. Though they say that you’re not a real runner until you’ve pooped your pants!