My three half marathon of Paris

12 March 2022

I ran the Paris half marathon three times: 2017, 2021 and 2022. Three very different adventures and three very different weather!

  • Half marathon of 2017

  • Context

My first half of Paris was that of 2017. It turns out that I won the bib only 2 weeks before! It was only my second half marathon and no official race (and little running) since the previous one in Porto-Vecchio. So I resumed running painfully during these two weeks, having trouble reaching 15km but regardless, I was very motivated! I told myself that it would necessarily be easier without the corsican elevation…

For a start the recovery of the bib was the obstacle course. Endless queue at Vincennes in the rain… While once inside, very few people! It set the tone for the conditions of the next day, that’s for sure!

  • D Day

On D-Day, the weather was: storm! Deluge, big gusts of wind, in short, no time to stay outside! And I pity the musicians who had to play for us in these conditions with a mini shelter. I had read that it was better to run in shorts in these conditions because wet leggings are too unpleasant and “heavy”. And I had also planned gloves and rain jacket. Either way, no matter what was on my back, I would end up soaking wet and freezing cold. By the time I walked from the subway to the starting line, I was already soaked. The organization let us leave in advance as arrivals so I didn’t have to wait “in addition” which was not so bad.

The race went well, I prefer it to a warm one, that’s for sure! My biggest problem has been my hands, but I don’t always wear gloves when running. But I walked away with them, they got soaked quickly leaving my hands frozen for the rest of the race (I took them off at one point but not sure that was the right tactic as I couldn’t put them back on afterwards because too wet).

  • Result

Despite everything, I don’t have such a bad memory of the race itself, I did a time that satisfied me completely at that time: 2h28’57” or 12′ better than in Porto-Vecchio I especially have bad memories of the aftermath. I didn’t have the courage to take off my wet t-shirt on arrival, I just put a dry sweater on it. And I can tell you that metro line 1 to get back to La Defense is very long… I shivered all the way! When I got home, I made another mistake: forcing myself to eat. I was even worse afterwards!

  • Half marathon of 2021

  • Context

After returning from Australia, I had a hard time getting back into running. It was hard, I had lost everything… Despite everything, I persevered and I set myself the challenge of this half-marathon. Which exceptionally took place in September and not March. But I struggled despite everything to run more than 10km…

The route was changed and the “direction” to go through Vincennes reversed and above all we left and came back to Paris, I was eager to test! The recovery of the bib was at La Villette, much more practical as well. With the heat announced, I asked to “move forward” from a SAS because the last ones were leaving after 11 a.m…. (With the Covid, the departure spacings were more consistent so they took longer).

  • D Day

On the other hand, the advantage of leaving late is not to get up at dawn! On the other hand, seeing the first to arrive when you are still in the metro, I find that it is not very motivating… Arrival at Bastille, impossible to cross, I had to make a big detour and I did not see the toilets made available before departure (I did not leave a deposit). Quite annoying for me! Not knowing if the camelbak would be authorized (finally yes), I had just taken in hand a big bottle of water (I generally drink more frequently than ravitos, especially when they are 5km apart, I would come back).

During the race, I was well aware that I was struggling more than I should but I didn’t quite have my senses, it was only afterwards that I was able to realize what had happened. I had a very bad heat stroke. Fortunately for me it didn’t go any further, I was able to react and not push too much.

From the first km, there’s a little issu: I can’t bear to listen to music, it gives me a headache. Which is very unusual for me! Everyone is looking for the smallest passage in the shade, even if it means going from the right sidewalk to the left sidewalk all the time. Then the hill rue de Charenton which is already not easy to pass. At 6km, first ravito, I spend time especially to go to the toilet. It was then difficult to resume. Already a break of a few minutes is not very good in full effort and then the toilets being in full sun, it was a real sauna! I still take a bottle of water, to drink a little (and save my own bottle) and also especially to spray myself with water!

In Vincennes, I put myself quite a bit on the small paths by the side of the road to enjoy as much shade as possible. And I’m already alternating running/walking, my right leg having struggled to start again, it hurts me for 4-5km after the first refreshment. At this time, I am in the west, having a little trouble finding my bearings geographically. I know I’m in Vincennes but I can’t imagine it.

Then comes the 2nd ravito just before the Château de Vincennes, I still suffer from the heat of course but I’m happy because it heralds the return to Paris. There are already a lot of people who are stopped on the edge, victims of the heat… It’s not very reassuring!

Avenue de Daumesnil was a nightmare! Luckily the market cleaning services sprayed us with their garden hoses to refresh us. But I almost walked the whole way! I resumed the race only after, downhill. I hear volunteers say that with the conditions, they have extended the closing of the streets to give more time to the runners to finish.

Arrival at Bercy I think that’s where I really realize how badly I was. I recognized the Bercy building but in my head I didn’t understand how I got there… Yet it’s an area that I know (the arrival of the A4 motorway, the concert hall, etc.). I had run out of water and at km 19, I decided to stop running for good. Indeed I have no more energy, but I feel that my body would not be able to eat. And above all, I need water! The emergency services are overwhelmed, discomfort every 200m is not reassuring at all and I have enough lucidity to tell myself that if I continue to try to run I will also collapse..

  • Rssult

I painfully crossed the finish line after 3h25’24”. Very clearly big supply problems on this race. A lot of countries provide more frequent supplies than 5km. And with this weather it was even dangerous for us to have water only every 5km Admittedly the open fire hydrants allowed us to refresh ourselves regularly with a small shower, but it is almost “dangerous” because refreshing ourselves should not abstain from hydrating ourselves and I think some of them got caught in the end. I’m glad that I arrived in good condition in the end…

  • Half marathon of 2022

  • Context

This half-marathon is a “revenge” on that of 2021. I registered very early, just a few days later in September 2021. It is also my first race done by following the training plans of my running coach suzzyone. I started my “running restart” in October and my specific semi preparation in January. I was able to extend the distances to be comfortable over ten km with a program of 3 running sessions per week. I continue in parallel to see Marine and go to the gym (supported by my company, I would be wrong to deprive myself of it!).

The course was the same as in September but I would see during this one that I didn’t remember everything having been a little stunned in September… The collection of the bib was done again at the large hall of the Villette. Surprise some of the t-shirts were from last year but you could still choose one of another color. Still no samples, they are reserved for the finisher (with a bag). Given the chilly weather, I did not change SAS to leave earlier, very happy not to wake up too early on the way!

  • D Day

For the first time I tested the gatosport at breakfast (bought when picking up the bib). Normally we don’t test anything new on the day of a race but since I never eat the same thing in the morning and it’s very digestible I found the risk quite low. In the end no digestion problem but I felt hungry at the first ravito. However, I also took a compote when dropping off my bag at the locker (I use to do this before a sports session).

This time I don’t miss the toilets at the start so as not to have to stop at km 6 (I did well there was a long queue then). And I’ll go directly into my starting area which was beginning to fill up although the front area hadn’t completely left yet. I had planned a jacket and my camelbak but despite that, the wait was quite chilly!

In the first km I quickly got a little too hot. I decided to remove my jacket at the first ravito only (forced to stop to remove the camelbak). The hill rue de Charenton goes pretty well and I realize that there are still quite a few false flats going up before the ravito, I had forgotten them!

At the first ravito being hungry so I take my 2nd compote and a little water. I take this opportunity to take off my jacket and the headband over my ears. I must have done the wrong thing and dropped it because I couldn’t find it once it arrived… Overall I feel good, I don’t have any particular pain in my tibia (unlike in recent days, cryotherapy helped me a lot!). In addition to water there was gingerbread but I’m not a fan at all so I didn’t take.

I continue quietly to the 2nd ravito, just before the Château de Vincennes. There were then bananas, I take 2 pieces and a gel, knowing that I was going to approach the avenue Daumesnil I wanted to have my batteries charged. I don’t know if it was “too much” or if my body struggled to go further than in training, but I wasn’t at my best around the 13th km. My feet were starting to ache and I felt my legs very heavy. I felt like I was not moving forward.

Before the start I told myself that it was ok if I walked av Daumesnil and at the exit of the tunnels. So I started the ascent of av Daumesnil serenely. Not necessarily a fan of market smells but hey it doesn’t last long 🤗. Seeing the arch of 15km I said to myself “go I run until there at least”. Then then I said to myself that I would be so proud of myself and to announce to my coaches that I had managed to put everything together that I continued! At the 3rd ravito, still having water I said to myself that I was going to take only a piece of banana. I finally also opted for a little isotonic water (but bad taste…).

Arrival in Bercy, it’s good there I recognize where I am unlike September. I tell myself that I try to run the first whole tunnel and I will see! Finally I ran the 3 completely without stopping which is not so simple with all the people who stop walking in the middle everywhere… I must say that it still hurts my legs and that the last km were not easy. I saw with joy the sign km 19 where I had stopped running a few months before. Then comes the town hall and finally Bastille!

  • Result

You should know that I did not look on my watch for the “time” and “pace” data during this semi. I started the 21.2 km countdown (a bit of a margin) and I just knew how much distance I had left all the way. I followed the green line as well as possible to cover “only” 21.12km in the end (against 21.57 in September when I was looking for shade from right to left). And this in 2h49’32” or 35 minutes less than in September!

Small disappointment at the finish (but in fact I had already seen it by crossing finishers earlier), it was the same medal as in September! But the bag had changed (it must be said that in September we had already had the 2020 bag…). I’m still far from my record (2h25) but I’m delighted to have done it all without walking (just stops at ravito). It’s already a big win for me because I wouldn’t have bet it at all…

No pain in the shin at the end (a little the next day) but rather pain in the toes. And I actually feel my right Achilles heel quite well. A small contracture of my right hamstring bothered me a bit during the race but nothing dramatic!

  • And then?

The next step is yet another big challenge for the end of the year.😊 probably with intermediaries! And why not a 4th half marathon of Paris next year😉.

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