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Paris Marathon 2010 Recap – Geek Turned Athlete

Paris Marathon 2010 Recap

Let me just start off by saying that I am still in shock that I ran a marathon on Sunday. In Paris. For my first marathon.

Let’s start on Saturday, shall we? Saturday, bright and early at 7am, Renee and Leah picked my sister, mom, and me up from my house, and we were on our way to Paris. After 5 hours of driving, we finally made it to our hotel in time to hit the expo to pick up our race packets…


Here was the race route:


When I asked for my race packet, this old man was giving me a hard time! He was cracking me up. He asked what was wrong with me, and I said that I was nervous. He said, “Well, just don’t run it then.” Then he started laughing. I said that wasn’t an option. He was so matter of fact. He was so right though!


Katie and I, excited to get our numbers!


We stopped to grab some eats at the expo. I was sort of disappointed with the expo. I know this sounds cheap, but there usually are a lot of samples that are given out at good expos, and there were hardly any given out at this one. I was expecting a lot from this expo since the race had 40,000 people in it.


After the expo, we walked around for a little bit…


And came across the Eiffel Tower…


And spotted this weird sign.


We have no idea what this building is.


We finally found some food after walking around for a few hours. We ended up eating at an Italian place for dinner. It was amazing.

I’m sure that walking so much was not a good thing to do before the race, but I had a great time walking around Paris with my family and friends anyways. I was really sick to my stomach just thinking about the race though at this point.


After sleeping for about 7 1/2 hours thanks to Tylenol PM, I woke up and started putting on my gear: running socks, shoes, timing chip, race number, garmin, sunglasses, ipod, running shorts, running shirt, and HR strap. I was shaking as we walked downstairs for breakfast. While everyone was eating from the beautiful breakfast buffet at the Hilton, I sat with them drinking loads of water and eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana. I wanted a roll with eggs and bacon so badly, but my stomach had been bothering me for the last few days that I decided to just pack something that I knew would go down just fine race day.

The 20 minute metro ride to the start was nerve-racking. I was shaking and nauseous the whole time up to the race. I get severe anxiety before races. I hate it. It is annoying. I wish that it would stop.  I kept repeating to myself that I was there to have fun, and I needed to stop putting so much pressure on myself.  I was literally almost in tears before we left to get into the 3:45 corral.  I’m not kidding.  My friends started laughing at me, “Are you starting to cry?”  “NO!”  But I was. 😉

Here are Katie and I right before we got into our time corral. It was so cold outside (38 degrees), and I didn’t bring pants. I knew that I would warm up after I started running. I was so nervous because I had signed up for the 3:45 corral instead of the 4 hour corral. What was I thinking? I can’t run this marathon in less than 4 hours let alone anywhere close to 3:45.  I had pneumonia, lots of traveling, and a re-injured sprained ankle. I’m NOT that fast.

See my scared sh$%less face?


Almost time to leave our family and friends! I stripped off my long sleeve and handed it over before taking some more pics.


So happy my mom and my sis were there. They had never seen me race before. :)


We stepped into the corral, and then some of the nervousness went away (just slightly though). There was one porta potty in the corral complete with a huge line. I had to pee so bad. There was a girl that was peeing next to the porta potty with her friends holding a jacket in front of her. I was NOT that desperate to pee.  I was shaking instead because of the cold and my nervousness.  They started playing It’s Going to Be a Good Night by the Black Eyed Peas over and over. We danced and just laughed. It felt great to get rid of the nervous energy before the race. Well, I will just try to get around 4 hours. Who cares if I am in the 3:45 corral?

Here we all were just waiting:

Then, all of the sudden we were off! It wasn’t a particularly fast start at all. Actually, I had never been in a race this big, and it took us 10 minutes just to get up to the start line. We were walking over clothing, trash bags, and water bottles filled with pee. The men had it easy, I guess.

We finally started running and dodging people and still more and more pee bottles and clothing. The cobblestone was wet with I don’t know what and slippery. We passed the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre, and I knew that I was so lucky to be running my first marathon in Paris.  All my nervousness faded away.



Katie is a FAST runner. She qualified and ran Boston. I thought that I would just run with her for the first few miles, then let her go off and do her thing and proceed with my own pace. This was my first marathon after all, and I did not know what was going to happen or how I was going to feel during the race. After 5 miles, I was still with her dodging people. She told me that I didn’t need to push myself so hard, but I still felt good. I’m still not familiar with my ideal pace during races. I didn’t know how I was going to feel after 10 or 15 miles running at our pace, so I agreed to drop back… Or at least I tried to. My legs were fine, and I was smiling enjoying the sights. We passed by the Place de la Bastille. She looked back a mile later, and I was still behind her. I started to wonder what would happen if I just stayed on her tail and held on for dear life. All my nervousness was gone, and I was just running. And it was fun. Who would have thought that running at my lactic acid threshold would be fun?

The miles ticked away. I almost forgot that I had to pee so bad until I laughed at one point and almost peed myself. I needed a porta-potty quickly! I started noticing men just peeing on the side of the road. The envy started to grow inside of me. These men are so lucky. They can just whip it out whenever they want and pee. This course is sexist! No bathrooms for the women!

We finally came up on one at mile 10. Yes, at mile 10. I guess the French women don’t have to pee that often? WTF?! After waiting for 2 minutes to use the restroom including being almost tackled and knocked over by 3 other runners (they practically put the porta potties in the street with the runners) and relieving myself, we were back on our way.

We hit up the next refreshment booth as well. Let me just say that cool oranges and water while running a marathon tastes like the best thing in the world. It was so refreshing, and I can’t even describe how satisfying they were. I bit into the nice juicy orange slice, and juice ran down my chin. I smiled and enjoyed every bit of pulp that I could get out of the rind with my teeth.

We entered a long, dark, stuffy tunnel around mile 15 after Notre Dame, and the runners moved closer to one another. We weaved in and out of the sweaty, stinky runners wishing the tunnel would end very soon. Fresh air was BADLY needed. The tunnel opened up into hundreds of spectators. I heard there were 100,000 spectators for the race, and I believe it. My family and friends were waiting for us at mile 17. Here is my mom holding my sign up for me ready to cheer me on!


Imagine my friends’ surprise when they saw me running with Katie at mile 17. They were all expecting a 4:10 or 4:30 hour marathon out of me.  That is my sister yelling at us, and mom saying, “All right!” at the end.  It cracks me up every time I watch this video!

I still felt great at mile 17. Then, mile 19 hit. I suddenly felt intense pain in my feet. I felt a huge blister on the middle of my left foot. It was sticking to my sock and ripping off of my sock with every single step I took. I tried to ignore it. My breath became labored as my body was not used to running at it’s LT for this long. I grew quiet. The conversation STOPPED.  My legs felt numb, and my feet felt like bricks. It took all my energy just to lift my bricks feet off the ground to take a step. Katie yelled, “Girl, if you have stuck with me long, you can finish with me!” I kept repeating to myself: I am NOT of my body. I am NOT of my body. I started focusing on getting through the crowd and cheering other people on. It actually helped.

At mile 22, my energy came back and I knew that I could finish this thing. Katie fell back. Her calves were bothering her, and I started repeating my mantra outloud to her. I (yes, I!!) actually pulled her for almost 2 miles.

Then, my stomach starting bothering me. BAD. It took every muscle in my lower body to not poo myself. I’m not kidding. I started desperately looking around for a porta potty. NOTHING. There was one at mile 25, but I had to choose between possibly poo-ing myself or stopping and not being able to start running again. I chose the first option. I had one more mile to go, and not only did I have to contend with my legs and feet hurting like hell, but I had to focus on not letting my bowels go amuck. It sucked. It sucked a lot. It was not fun, and the last mile by far was the hardest of the race. When we rounded the corner at the .2 mile mark, I could see the Arc de Triomphe, and my body started shaking. The crowd was going wild yelling “Bravo!  Bravo!”  I guess there were a lot of Italians?  We were almost at the end. I started crying. It was more like sobbing, except no tears came out- a dry cry.

Just as quickly as it started, the race had ended. All of the sudden, my stomach was fine.  Once I stopped running, this immense overwhelming happy feeling took over my body.  I was in shock that I was a marathoner. And… I did it in 3 hours and 49 minutes.


The website said 3:51, but I’m going by my garmin time since we still were walking when we passed the start, and the porta potty wait time was ridiculous! With all the weaving in the crowd, we ran .38 miles over 26.2! Insane. Here are my splits from garmin connect.




Avg Pace

















































































































Right after meeting up with the family and friends, we headed to a cute little bistro for wine and FOOD! I really wasn’t that hungry, but I knew that I had to eat. It was great rehashing the race with everyone.


It started to get really cold, so everyone gave me extra pieces of clothing that they had, and I turned my little poncho into a skirt. it was really classy walking around Paris looking like a bag lady, but I didn’t care. I just ran a marathon. I could wear whatever I wanted as far as I was concerned. Maybe that was the wine talking though.  😉

I need to start having more confidence in my athletic abilities. That self doubt tried to sneak it’s way in before and during the race, and I did my best to kick it out. I am not the same person that I was in high school, and it has been 8 years. I need to get over that nerdy “I’m not athletic” state of mind, and run/bike/swim towards my athletic dreams.  My body has never held me back from my goals.  It has always been my mind.


I wanted to thank a few people that helped me accomplish this race. I couldn’t have done it without you all.

My husband, Steve: You are my number one fan, and I love you. Thank you for being my rock, and letting me know that I am crazy for not believing in myself as much as I should.

Mom, Kimmy, Leah, Renee, Katie, and Hattie (my cheering squad): Thank you so much for being there for me and expecting nothing but my personal best from myself. Thank you for encouraging me through my tough training runs, providing healthy competition, and just plain making me laugh!

Blog Readers: You guys are awesome. Thank you all for supporting me as well through my ups and downs with training. All your supportive comments are appreciated. I read every comment and am thankful for every one of you!

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Jenn Soine March 29, 2011, 11:02 am

    I came across your blog page when I was searching Paris marathon tips! I can’t seem to find much and would LOVE any tips you have on the day of or having family see you during the course! I am running on April 10th and getting nervous! Congrats to you by the way on a killer finish for the race last year!
    San Francisco, CA

    • Nicole March 30, 2011, 3:15 pm

      Make sure that you pee before you get to your corral. There are porta potties in each corral, but trust me, the lines are still bad. Watch out for people (women included) peeing on the ground around you.

      My family just took a look at the map of the course and compared that to the metro map of the city. I would plan it out the night before so they can jump on the metro and pop out at various access points.

      I would have your fam bring some extra clothing for you. We had all of ours back at the hotel, and I was cold from my wet clothing and the wind. You will be fine during the race, but last year it was chilly after we got done.

      It is mass chaos after the race. Make sure that you discuss a meeting point for afterwards. My friends/family told us they would meet us at a specific tent, but there were multiples of the same tent. Be specific. I know this might suck, but if you can carry a cell phone with you so you can call them when you are done that would be best. We didn’t, and ended up having to search for an hour and a half for my family. Do you think you would be able to find your fam in a sea of 40,000 runners and 100,000 spectators easily? Just think about it. Have fun!!! That is so cool that you are able to do it!!


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