It really did seem like all the odds were against me in the lead up to Paris.
Back in December, I hurt my IT band and didn’t run for 2 months. ln early February, I attempted 5k. Great, I was ready to start training for Paris! 9 weeks to train - fine.
BUT, the day after my first 5k back, I got covid. Another 2 weeks and I didn’t run.
Okay, so now I only had 7 weeks til Paris marathon. It was pretty evident that it wasn’t going to happen and if it did, it would be a slow gentle plod round the city.
I built up my weekly miles quite quickly and although I was coming back from an injury so I was cautious, my legs felt unbelievably fresh and well rested!
I managed to squeeze in a 17 and 20 miler and a couple of easier track and tempo sessions. No sooner had I got to a 78k week, I had to start tapering!
The week leading up to the marathon was also full of work and health stresses. And then the journey to Paris was delayed. So all in all, I didn’t have high hopes for the marathon to say the very least!
But let’s get to the good part!
So it got to Sunday. It was absolutely freezing but a lovely crisp morning. I’d bought a cheap jumper and foil to wrap myself up with at the start. As soon as the race started, I threw it off and very quickly warmed up.
The first 5k of the race was filled with ‘allez allez allez!’ as we ran through the city centre out towards the first park. My GPS wasn’t working properly but I had Susan Kennedy’s wise words ‘don’t go off too fast’ in my head. However, after about 5 miles, I gave up looking at it and just ran based on how I felt. And in all honesty, I felt amazing! So I kept going. Sorry Susan!
I became a mathematician and in my head, was frantically calculating timings of distance rather than pace which I guess kept me occupied because before I knew it, I had reached half way. We left the park and headed back into the centre along the river Seine.
I had broken up the race into four 10ks. Well, I was into my third 10k now. This meant at mile 17, I would see some of the kids I teach back in London with a ‘go Miss Yentis’ sign - their dad ran it in an incredible 2:38! It meant that at mile 18 I would see Sam cheering me on and with my Powerade! As I saw him he shouted, ‘slow down you still have a lot to run!’ But I couldn’t! I was having too much fun!
I reached 32k and I still felt fresh. Only 10k to go! Round the second park then it won’t be long til we see the finishing line at the Arc de Triomphe! Let’s do this! By now I was an expert at quick mental maths and worked out that I would finish under 3 hours 40. My original goal was 3:45.
As I came into the final 3k, I could not stop smiling. I pushed on and found some speed in my legs. I crossed the finish line in 3:36! London GFA?! What!? So many emotions!
Reading the messages from the Hoopsters chat and the Facebook and Instagram comments just highlights what an incredibly supportive and inclusive sport running is. I am still completely overwhelmed and stunned. I also am in absolute agony and cannot move my legs!