Chester is one of the intrepid team who recently took part in the Paris marathon. Here is a blog from him
“Saturday 7th April – Travel disruptions were going to be a factor this weekend after receiving a text from Eurostar the day before Sandra and I were travelling, telling us that our train home on Monday had been cancelled due to the rail strike in Paris! Fortunately managed to reschedule for the Tuesday morning and got a relatively good priced room for the extra night.
A nice early 3.45am wake up ready to catch the 5.20am train from Hastings to Ashford International ready for the 6.55 to Paris Gare du Nord… It’s quite a strange experience to be stepping on a train in England to step off around central Paris! We had already checked which Metro line we required to get us to our hotel, line 4, which was not running from Gare du Nord as there was maintenance work being carried out on the line at that station. Another minor setback which resulted in a 10 minute walk to Gare de l’Est which fortunately took us straight to our destination. After checking in it was straight to the marathon expo to hand in my medical certificate (a requirement for this marathon) and to pick up my number and running bag. I, of course, couldn’t resist buying the special Paris edition Asics whilst at the expo… Hoping they’ll last me a fair while! After the expo we decided to make a reconnaissance trip to the finish to arrange where to meet Sandra after finishing, more travel confusion ensued but did mean we got to travel on a double decker train to right beside the Eiffel Tower. We managed a good few sights that day with the added wrong turn here and there including some little gems we weren’t expecting. After dinner and a little walk around the outside of Jardin du Luxembourg we were ready for an early night, Sandra’s phone claiming that she had walked over 33,000 steps! It’s as good a warm up as any the day prior to a marathon I suppose!!
Sunday 8TH April MARATHON DAY!!!
Another early morning rise at 5.45am to start getting prepared for a 26.2 mile run. After suitable fuelling and triple checking I had all that was required we headed off to join the other runners on the Metro. It was quite strange getting off at Place de la Concorde and walking up the middle of the road on the Champs Elysees with absolutely no traffic, quite an experience in itself. After a quick espresso at a café and the usual smothering of tiger balm on my legs (forgetting to wash my hands before the going to the toilet!!!!) I was ready to head to the start. The temperature was 15°C for the 9am start so knew it was going to be a warm one, with no chance to acclimatise running in the UK as the temperature hadn’t been that high since the beginning of November. With an action plan of running at a pace of 8.40 minutes per mile, was completely ruined by the fact that my Garmin decided to tell me that I was running at 1.40 minute/mile pace! So for the first few miles I was having to rely on the average overall pace which of course doesn’t give a great representation after 4 or 5 miles of your current pace. Inevitably I could no longer rely on that so continued to run at what I felt was a comfortable pace to see me through to the end. The heat did start to take its toll on me and after 3 hours of running and just over 20 miles I felt my energy levels were really low, even though my legs felt good and had the distance in them I took a walk break for 10 minutes. When I continued running I did feel the benefit of taking a break and felt like I was flying as I was passing by many other runners, when in fact I wasn’t really going that fast it was just they were running quite slowly! I took another walk break with just over 5k to run which I was slightly disappointed about, but that soon dispersed when I was seeing casualties strewn around the side of the course. When I found the momentum again I finished off the last 2.5 miles running, even though soon into that I felt the energy levels drop again. The fact I couldn’t push for a fast finish showed that I’d basically given all I could and came in at the time of 4:01:52 and really enjoyed running this beautiful and well supported route. The time was outside of what I was hoping to get, which seemed to be common across other British runners that I’d spoken to, but am happy overall considering the most miles in any one run I’d completed since the beginning of October was 11 miles… After getting back to the hotel and showering we headed to Montparnasse tower for a lovely view of the Paris skyline and the chance to survey the marathon route from above. This had all the benefits of the Eiffel Tower except it was less expensive, there was no queue and the view of Paris included the Eiffel Tower! We then had the opportunity to visit Jardin de Luxembourg from the inside, all the while trying to put back in all the calories I had lost.
Monday 9th April
Our final full day in Paris started with us finding a café who served the best espresso we’d had on the trip before heading to the Batobus tour, a hop on hop off boat trip along the Seine. The first stop was what we were really interested in Ile de la Cite, the island where Notre Dame cathedral is situated. We had the unexpected surprise of a very short and fast moving queue so were inside this stunning cathedral within 2 minutes to take the tour of the inside at our own pace and appreciate just how beautiful it is. After leaving we took a wander around the cathedral to take a close look at the outside, to then have an even greater surprise to see a very short queue for the Notre Dame towers. The day after running a marathon, there I was walking up and down around 400 steps, as good a warm down as any I suppose! It was certainly worth it though to get up close to the famous Gargoyle’s. After a lovely lunch we continued walking around Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis before heading back to the Batobus and continuing the rest of the tour of the Seine. The day was rounded off with dinner then drinks in the hotel room, whilst viewing the hundreds of photo’s we’d taken.
Tuesday 10th April
After check out our trip home started with rush hour Metro, which is pretty much the same as it is in London, every man for himself before the feeling of being a tinned sardine! Due to the French rail strike the previous day the Eurostar at Gare du Nord was having technical difficulties which resulted in us standing in a queue for an hour with the train being delayed half hour before leaving. Due to technical difficulties in this country, the train was not stopping at Ashford so we had to travel to Ebbsfleet and take the train from there to Ashford. After a 40 minute wait we were finally on our way to the last leg of our journey, but that was another 40 minute at Ashford before finally being homeward bound on the Hastings train, arriving home around 2 hours later than anticipated… That did not put a dampener on our trip which we thoroughly enjoyed and would love to visit again and no doubt run the marathon again as it was my favourite so far of the 6 I’ve ran, so many great building to look at made it so much easier to run.”