Sunday, 6 March 2011

I am The Half-Marathon Jogger!

Completed the Semi de Paris in about 2 hrs and 45 minutes.  The official time will follow in a couple of days, apparently.

This was completely unknown territory for me in many ways.  It was my first organised event, first run in an unknown area, first try at this distance.

Got up at about 6am.  This was a couple of hours after I woke up but I just couldn't get back to sleep.   Had a sensible breakfast (porridge, bread, jam, juice and coffee).  Then I went to find the start area.

The weather was beautiful but temperature was only about 3C (37F).  I just joined a stream of people all heading in the same direction and, unsurprisingly, ended up at the start.  I know I'm just starting out but I was struck by two things.

Firstly, that people were running up and down to warm up.  I didn't even know if I would be able to finish, so I really wasn't going to be doing any of that and planned to warm up by jogging the first couple of km at a nice easy pace. 

Secondly, so many people looked so very cold and unhappy.  I know I'm overweight but even so.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and all was right with the world.  Why did these people all look so sour?

Finding the fatties enclosure (OK, the start area for those with the slowest expected finishing time, I passed through and walked gently around to stay limbered up.  At least, as limbered up as I was ever going to be, anyway.  I think I arrived to early and I had far too much time to think.  Not only worrying about the ordeal ahead but also, watching others in their groups, feeling utterly alone.  In a crowd of 30,000 people.  Which was very weird.  I'm a confident person usually but I guess this was a long way outside my comfort zone.

Eventually, the race started and, after only 10 minutes of walking/jogging, I crossed the start line.  Yes, really.  It takes quite some time to get to the start when you're at the back.  Adding to the fun was debris and detritus on the road left by those ahead.  Bin bags worn as temporary protection from the wind, jumpers, hats, gloves, drink bottles and sundry other stuff.  I guess a good part of the entry fee goes into the tidy up following the event.

At this point, I have a bit of a gap.  There were, apparently, several kilometres through the woodland near the start.  All I really recall about this was the large number of people pausing to pee by the roadside and the fantastic bands and other entertainers by the side of the road.

Once out of the woods, I really enjoyed the run through the streets past the Place de la Bastille and along the banks of the river.  As we turned away to the North, we rounded a corner and all I could see was an endless uphill.  I resolved immediately not to slow to a walk, whatever the cost and, although I ground my way slowly up the slope, it was always jogging.  I really had to dig deep for this and I was more relieved than triumphant when it was done.

From here on, I began to get a lot of pain from my right foot on the ball and the heel.  Also, my energy ran out.  It was an utter slog from this point forwards and I just lurched along, aiming only to get to the next corner, traffic light, refreshment station, etc.  Those stations were an absolute life saver and were the only place that I walked.  I probably ate too much of the fruit on offer, starting too late and then overcompensating.

The last few kilometres were a real test of endurance, each longer than the last.  Most crushing of all was the increasing stream of people jogging back the other way with their finishers medals.  That last kilometre was endless.

But... I did finish.  And then, in the excitement, I had to go for a walk to burn off some nervous energy I could really have used 30 minutes before.

I wish I could say I was overjoyed or consumed with any emotion but I'm just terribly weary.  I am going to have a coffee and then some food.  After that, I will look at the damage to my feet which I am dreading.  Then I sleep.