Sunday, 4 March 2012

Semi de Paris

This was where my attendance at running events started a year ago so it was great to be back here again this year.  It's the 20th anniversary for this event and they pushed the boat out.  The organisation was very slick (again) and the changes to the bag drop and provision of a running shirt rather than a cotton one were very welcome.

I arrived earlier than planned and with much less sleep than I'd have liked. It's common not to get a good night's shut-eye before a race, apparently.  I went with a very light breakfast this time, just a few biscuits, and this served me well.  The weather was cool and very cloudy but remained dry.  I put on my poncho (really a bin liner with extra holes in), got rid of my bag and was in the start area for my time group almost an hour before the start.  I was very glad of the poncho as, while warmer than last year, the breeze was very chilly.  The warm up animateurs were quite fun and the time passed quickly.

To ease the bunching in the early stages of last years' race, the start for each group was staggered by a minute after the departure of the previous one.  This meant that the pace was much more even throughout.  My group (Target: 2 hours) crossed the start line over 20 minutes after the elite runners had set off and I decided to follow the pace of the meneurs d'allure (pacemakers)for as long as I could. 

I warmed up over the first 3k as usual, managing to keep to the pace.  Once I was up to running temperature, I eased gently ahead of the pacemakers at a speed that didn't feel forced.  The woodland for the first 7k was lovely and the grim streets that followed over the next 3k were more or less as I remembered them.  Except that the massive hill I encountered last year at 8k seemed much less daunting this time around.  All that training must be doing some good.

Passing Place de la Bastille for the first time and then along the banks of the La Seine was great and all was right with the world.

And then I fell at 14k.  There was a  raised divide in the middle of the road and I didn't register people moving aside.  My own fault, really, as I was distracted by some particularly enthusiastic cheering and was trying to see what was going on.  I got back up and by the time I was back at Place de la Bastille I was pretty sure no major damage had been done.  I don't remember much of the next 3k as I spent it distracting myself from bruised knee and skinned palms.  Ah, the healing power of mental arithmetic.

The reverie ended when the meneurs d'allure went past me at 18k and the fatigue began to hit me hard.  Suddenly, I realised that I was in with a shot what for me would be a really good time.  I literally put my head down and gritted my teeth.  The last three km were hard.  Harder still knowing that all I had to do was let up the effort level and I could coast home to a new personal best.  But I'm pleased to say that I stuck with it all the way and hope to see a 2 hour time in the official results.

Fantastic event made all the better by doing my best.  I just hope I don't come to regret the enormous efforts here when I do my first marathon of the year next week...