Paris Marathon: 3rd Times's a Charm

The bling...

It all starts off great. Standing in the corral you look behind you, thousands of colorfully-dressed runners set against the Arc de Triomphe, as 54,000 marathoners barrel down the Champs Elysées. It’s surreal.

I approached the starting line and too the opportunity to empty my bladder once more – the last time I’d do it for several hours. And we were off, running past Mayor Hidalgo towards Place de la Concorde, along rue de Rivoli, and past the Louvre. These first few miles are exhilarating as people from all over the world cheer you on in different languages. Then the thoughts start running through my head...

Mile 1 Already? OK by me.

Mile 2 Mexican and British tourists should be cheering for me, too, right? We're almost the same...

Mile 3 Helloooo firefighters.

We set off towards the Bois de Vincennes, with a little hill work set in there. Thankfully I could keep pace with my TomTom. I was holding steady, maybe just a little slow, but I wanted to finish strong.

Mile 4 Thank you sir for shouting, “Bryan is not in zee kitchen today.” Thumbs up to you.

Mile 5 These sunglasses were the best purchase in a long time.

Once in the woods, the crowds thinned but spirits remained high. With fewer people to cheer us on, I started focusing on my fellow runners.

Mile 6 Selfie stick on the marathon, lady? Really?

Mile 7 Oh hey, a castle.

Mile 8 It’s getting hot. I want sugar. How many chews do I have? Math is hard.

Mile 9 So much farting going on this year. This path has great acoustics…

As we were approaching the end of the park, the sun was working its magic and I started to feel my energy drop, but my time was still on par for a sub-4 hour marathon, easily. All I wanted was a “3” at the beginning of my final time.

Mile 10 More trees…if I traveled from Brazil for this, I’d feel cheated…where the hell is Paris?

Mile 11 Get us out of these woods…cue Sondheim. Additionally, kudos to that man who just face-planted and got up without missing a beat.

Mile 12 Weeee spectators again! And downhilllll to boot.

Mile 13 Now the real fun starts…

As we re-entered the city and hit the halfway mark, I felt good. The firemen had hosed us down a few times (it was hot!) and I was drinking at every stop. Paris feeds and waters you a lot, so I took advantage of it.

The gear...

Around Place de Bastille, I saw my cheer squad again and prepared for the worst stretch of the marathon.

Mile 14 Don’t start thinking about why you are doing this, get out of your head.

Mile 15 But, seriously, *why* did I do this again?

Mile 16 I hate Paris for making us run up hills and through tunnels. GPS is officially thrown off, thanks.

Mile 17 Hey now that’s a good looking tower! Time to eat that expired Power Aid gel.

At this point I was beginning to slow down, but I was still making good time. Then I feared that the 4 hour pacer would pass me, and I kicked it up a notch a bit. Fear’s good for that.

Mile 18 There’s the 30 km wall! 12 kilometers left…almost single digit kilometers left...

Mile 19 Why is that man holding a sign protesting the public radio? Not the time, dude.

Mile 20 Into the woods again! Cheer squad soon! Why aren’t the tranny hookers here cheering us?

Once in the Bois de Boulogne, the end was creeping near as my energy reserves were faltering. I just wanted to finish and so far that 4 hour pacer didn’t pass me (but two 3:45 pacers did!). My clock said I was fine, so I kept going strong. I saw my cheer squad a bit after mile 21 and realized I was close, but I could not stop at all, not even for a few seconds.

Mile 21 YES cobblestones. Thank you 19th century!

Mile 22 Sir, this is not the moment to let your unleashed dog try to cross a marathon’s path. He is terrified and more importantly, in my way.

Mile 23 Don’t celebrate yet. You’ll walk after the finish line, but let’s get there first. Let’s see if you can sing “Let it Go” for 9 minutes, OK go.

With three miles and some change to go, you could hear the other runners huffing and puffing in silence, but the spectators grew more numerous as I kept pounding at my pace. Yes, they were right, the worst was behind us. But three miles at this point was still a good haul, and I just visualized running up and around the canal like I do every week….

Mile 24 Need we really stretch that man’s leg so that he screams in bloody agony while the rest of us are trying to finish alive? Not inspiring.

Mile 25 If that throbbing in my head causes my brain to explode, at least I won’t have to run anymore…

The shirt...

And then I heard the crowds at the finish line. Well before seeing them, you hear the roar and the announcer beckoning you to the end. It’s the longest mile you’ll ever run but the most rewarding

Mile 26 Oh my god I might have actually done it…but don’t check until you cross that line!

Finish line Ahhhhhhhhhh….breathe, breathe, breathe, OK check your watch and….THAT’s a “3”!!!

I only shaved a measly minute off my Chicago time, but I can justify that because Paris is a harder course and less exhilarating than Chicago. Having broken by 4 hour wall in Europe, I’m hopeful for something even better in Berlin this September…