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Paris Marathon — It’s Here!!!!

4 Jul

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C’est arrive! I couldn’t believe the day had finally come! I registered for this race back in early May/late April last year and it seemed like forever ago. This was going to be my third marathon in 6 months – something I have never done before! It was also going to be my TWENTIETH marathon ever!

I slept in til a bit after 7 – this would give me time to have breakfast and then take the 15-20 minute or so walk to the corral with plenty of time to spare. Plus. Nerves. In order to get my medal and the t-shirt, I was going to have to PR by at least 3 minutes. I honestly can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, but I would bet there was some meat and cheese involved. And probably a croissant…and coffee 🙂 After running back upstairs to brush my teeth and gather my things I was as ready as I was going to be.

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As we came off of our small side street onto the Champs Elysee, I realized that THIS was the starting line!! Like…less than a 5 minute walk from the hotel!! Score!! Eydie and I hung out and took some pictures.

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Then my camera died so I handed that off to E to take back to the room. I also gave her my post-run bag since I realized I wouldn’t be walking anywhere near the finish to drop off. The only thing in there anyway was my meter and some flip-flops! My pockets were filled with GoGoSqueez and some SunRype fruit strips and I was all set!

The weather was already warming up but I kept my jacket on, figuring I could tie it around my waist if it got to be too much. The plan was to stick to my intervals 1:1 and to check my sugars every 5K or so. Which of course is a great plan when you don’t get caught up in the excitement of the starting line! I mean, people, we were running down the middle of the Champs Elysee. In Paris. FRANCE!! The mood in the corral was incredible! I was in the last corral – rose – for people who planned to finish in over 4.5 hours. There were probably about 10,000 people in the corral! But it wasn’t crowded at all.

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And to start the group off, one side of the road was sent off first, followed by the other. Lucky me, I picked the early group!

The start was downhill on cobblestone. So good, but tricky! Once I got the initial burst of adrenaline out of my system I settled into my intervals – and noticed that when I would walk, every now and then another runner would pass me, tap me on the shoulder and shout encouragement!

Along the way, as we passed landmarks, there were signs telling us “Louvre coming up on the left” or “Eiffel Tower that way” with an arrow 🙂 We ran past castles even…

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Aid stations were every 5K – and they were STOCKED! Tiny bottles of water, piles of oranges, piles of raisins and…piles of SUGAR CUBES! For the first 2 or 3 I just grabbed water since I had my pocket supplies. Eventually when my sugar started dropping I would grab a sugar cube and a bottle of water.

At one point I passed a woman who was wearing a shirt from a race sponsored by my favorite Houston grocery store, HEB, so we started talking. She was over it by mile 10 or so. She was running 2:2’s and didn’t think she was going to make it in time. I told her I was doing fine with 1:1’s and I was actually really close to the timing on my 6:15 pace band. Eventually she pulled away with her friend and I kept on with my 1:1’s for the most part. I was having some pain in my right foot so took a few longer walk breaks.

Even though I was kind of obsessed with the time, I did enjoy the course – lots of variety and many many landmarks! I do know I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, mostly due to my camera not making it onto the course with me. I’m pretty bummed about that but I guess it gives me a reason to run this again, eh? I did manage to get a few though!

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Around mile 18 I was passed by the Paris equivalent of the runDisney balloon ladies 🙂

 

And I wasn’t alone! There were still a bunch of us out there, from all over the world and the camaraderie was always present – lots of encouragement all around!!

At about Mile 20, I saw my friend from Houston again and we ended up walking the last 6 miles or so (yes, I know it’s 6.2….but we didn’t walk ALL of it!) and talking – turns out her mom lives down the street from my dad and her running group runs on the bike/walk path that I use when I’m down there. It’s a Small World after all…isn’t it!!

She was resigned to the fact that we would miss out on the medal and I was kicking myself for walking…every now and then we’d jog. When we turned the corner onto the Rue Foch and came face to Arc with the finish line I said “Well, it’s time to sprint it in!” So we did. Finish line crossed and new friend hugged – and while I didn’t PR, we were only about 4 minutes past the cut off time.**

So imagine our surprise and DELIGHT when we heard someone yelling for us to come get our medals!! And THEN, he said “shirts are right down there”. Oh my gosh! I can’t even put into words how happy I was that I was going to get my medal and shirt!!

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I texted Eydie to let her know I was finished and where we could meet! She had rented a bike and rode around Paris for the day. She needed to drop off the bike and then make her way towards the Arc de Triomphe.

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But first, a picture….

After meeting up, we headed back to the hotel so I could get a shower (where I discovered some AWESOMELY horrible chafing from the shorts on my skirt) and then the plan was for an early-ish dinner. We found a nice little Italian place around the corner – it looked kind of fancy so wasn’t sure my leggings/sweatshirt outfit would get us in but within seconds the doorman had us seated with a glass of wine on the way!

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It was a nice dinner and I think I really relaxed for the first time in 6 months!! And, turns out that the woman at the table next to us was also from Houston – and lived probably no more than a mile from Eydie. I now am compelled to insert this here:

After dinner we took a walk through our fancy-pants neighborhood and took a shortcut to view the Eiffel Tower.

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Then headed back to the room – tomorrow was going to just be a loose day of sightseeing and taking my medal for a walk!!

**I haven’t looked but I’m pretty sure I show up as a DNF on this one. But, I *did* finish and it was AWESOME!!!!

 

 

Saturday in Paris – Breakfast Run, Breakfast Fun

4 Jul

We woke up on Saturday, ready to get out and get our 5K in!

Eydie had decided back in the fall that she’d like to do this with me so when registration opened we were on top of it!! NB: This would be her first “official” 5K – and quite likely the first 3 miles she’d run voluntarily!

I thought it would be fun for us to Sparkle on this run, and then back in February I decided to grab some Flowers for us to wear.

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Flat Anne and Flat Eydie

We went with the turquoise Sparkle Athletic skirts and after a “consultation” with the awesome ladies at Fellow Flowers, I chose the Orange flower. “Fiercely United”. Eydie and I have been friends since first grade and through anything that comes up, I always know that there is someone I can count on. If you saw us on paper, we’d probably be quite different. But as is often the case, it works!

We had our pre-breakfast run breakfast in the hotel. I’m pretty sure that the official fuel of any 5K should be a tender flaky croissant with Nutella. And coffee. Lots of coffee! There was another woman in the breakfast room who was also running the 5k AND she was from Houston! Our ‘waiter’ at breakfast each day was a HUGE fan of TX basketball, specifically San Antonio, so he was excited there were so many Texans in the hotel that weekend!!

We headed down towards the Arc de Triumphe where the run was going to begin.

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The flags of our countries – USA and Texas

It was pretty cool running through a small part of Paris –

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Oh look! There’s the Eiffel Tower…in person! Right There!!!

After much trial and error, we were able to get a pretty awesome “jumping picture” –

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Timing is everything. We did not have timing here….

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Almost there….

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Et – Voila!!

The 5K was great fun even with the drizzly crowded weather – though when we got to the finish there wasn’t a lot of the Breakfast portion available (we remedied that with a stop at a cafe on the way back to the hotel!).

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Cappucino

 

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What’s that? Another croissant?

After a shower and a change of clothes we headed out to check out a couple of places Eydie had researched – one of them was one of the oldest cooking supply stores in the city!

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This place definitely caters to the local restaurant crowd – but…O. M. G!! I was wishing I needed a tenth of what they offered!! There was definitely a plan in place to return!! I had found something I’d been coveting for awhile now!!

Later in the afternoon we decided to head back to the hotel and grab some dinner. I had 26 miles to run in the morning and she had to keep up!!

Naturally, as we climbed out of the Metro on the Champs Elysee, it was pouring rain! And, contrary to my usual nature, I was prepared with an umbrella!!

Now, my normal pre-marathon dinner is all about the meat and potatoes these days. I’ve done okay with some meatloaf and potatoes. Or, a burger and fries. That didn’t seem to be in the cards, so Italian it was. Some pretty amazing gnocchi. And, it’s a pretty good guess that I had a glass of wine too 🙂

After dinner we just went back to the room to veg – and watch the German versions of some of my favorite crime shows! I set the alarm for 7 just to make sure I’d have time for breakfast

After all, I didn’t even have to be in my corral until 9:50!!

Up next, The Big Day!! The plan was to go in slow. Isn’t that always the plan? I was shooting for 6:15 which would be a record for me by 3 minutes and would get me the t-shirt and medal I had traveled so far for!!

Paris Marathon Expo

19 Jun

Once we got checked in to the hotel – the super lovely Hotel Powers – the first order of business was to hit the expo. And have some food!!

But first, it was REALLY time to change clothes and freshen up!! The weather in Paris was a bit warmer than we’d expected! Luckily Eydie had something in her carry on to change into and I brought a couple of my favorite new SkirtSports skirts so in no time we were ready to head out!

We had a super fancy key to the room and I will admit that it took us a while to figure out how it worked!! 🙂

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We did eventually figure out how to lock the door!!

After figuring out what Metro ticket to buy we hopped on a train and ended up, eventually, at the right stop! And the race excitement started to kick in!

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Food first – we found a cafe across from the expo venue and had salads. After asking for the bill several times, we gave up, left money on the table and headed across the boulevard to what was billed as “The Running Room”

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Salon du Running. The Running Room. And so the excitement begins!!

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Separate entrances for runners and non-runners…but we all ended up in exactly the same place!

As expos go, this was a darn good one. As large as NYC or Marine Corps but it didn’t seem as tight and packed with people. They had a massive board with all the names on it and we found mine! Always prepared, Eydie had a highlighter with her so we defaced the property!

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Really. You can’t see it, but my name is there!!

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Yep! There it is!!!

I picked up my number and my swag – which was more than what has been given out at US events lately!

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Water bottle, rain vest, gummies, sport belt (not pictured cause I forgot!), pistachios

We also grabbed our shirts and ‘Merica flags for the breakfast run the next day. I stopped by the runDisney booth, but it was tough to get someone’s attention – and boo for me since I heard they were giving out some cool luggage tags (sad face)

I picked up my pace band and location postcard from the Asics booth – which was pretty cool since Eydie could use the card to – hopefully – meet up with me along the course!

 

 

Since it had been a long day we made our way out of the hall and back to the Metro. When we got back to our neighborhood, we wandered and found a market where water and wine was purchased 🙂 Late lunch meant we weren’t hungry, but we WERE tired! Plus, we had a big early day the next day!!

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Flat Anne and Flat Eydie for the Breakfast run!! #RacingtheDream

Breakfast run tomorrow!

Paris Marathon – Day 2

14 Jun

So, I just am going to throw this out there – I hoard my Frequent Flier miles. And really, the reason I do is because I vowed a couple of years ago that I would never fly to Europe in coach again! I hold on to the miles knowing that an opportunity would certainly come up soon!! Good thing I don’t go to Europe too often.

Part of the plan is to get the best “use” out of the fewest miles possible. That means, for me, searching for the “super saver” deals – that meant that on my trip to Paris I would be flying out of…Washington DC. In my opinion, the drive down is a small price to pay overall!

As I posted here I started the day off by dropping off my pal at his Nanny’s house and headed to DC. I headed to Dulles about 4 hours before my flight since I figured I’d spend most of my time in the lounge (yet another reason to use those miles to upgrade for an international flight!!)

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Some of the ‘snacks’ available in the lounge…let the eating begin!!

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Why yes, I think I *will* have some shrimp cocktail, thank you!

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A light snack before my flight

I had chosen to fly out in United’s Global First cabin– which gave me lots of room for sleeping should that happen!

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The pods…

I’d read a lot of reviews online of the service so that I would know what to expect. Based on most of what I had read, I shouldn’t expect much, particularly from the cabin crew.

Well, I must have lucked out or something – there were 3 flight attendants in our cabin most of the time and they were nothing but awesome! Naturally, my wine glass was never empty – except when I was drinking the after dinner port with my cheese course.

So the meal…started with the usual (haha – I say that like I fly first class all the time!) hot nuts. Cashews and almonds. None of those pesky peanuts for us 10 special travelers.

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A warm appetizer of coconut shrimp with tabbouleh and mango chutney Then soup. A really yummy chicken enchilada soup. Up next, salad. Not one of those plastic prepacked salads for me – fresh tossed with my choice of dressing. I was getting full so I skipped the croutons! The main course that I selected was beef short ribs. Tasty but not amazing (Anne, when did you become such a food snob?). And to finish, the aforementioned cheese course. You’ll be surprised to learn that I skipped – yes, skipped, the ice cream sundae. Really, I couldn’t have eaten another bite!

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I thought they might have gone overboard with the utensils….

 

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My coconut shrimp!

 

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The crouton-less salad…

 

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Mains…

While dining I watched a couple of movies – Night at the Museum and something that was apparently not too memorable! After that I kind of flipped around and at some point dozed off for a little while after changing into my sweatshirt.

Before arriving in Frankfurt, we were served a small breakfast of fruit, granola, yogurt and breads. Before I knew it it was time to say goodbye to our wonderful flight crew. One of the French flight attendants asked if I was staying in Germany or going on and when I told her I was going to Paris she mentioned that she lived just outside of Paris (later on, I saw her on my flight from Frankfurt to Paris!)

When we got out of the plane in Germany, to get to a connecting flight we had to walk WAY to the other side of the airport, up and down stairs and then through security again. Which was a bummer cause they took away my big bottle of water 😦 Once through security it was another long, hot hike to the gate.

EVENTUALLY I made it to Paris, grabbing a couple of shots of the Eiffel Tower – off in the distance in the haze.

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Really, it *is* out there!!

 

One at the airport I grabbed my bag and waited for Eydie’s arrival – she’d been delayed/canceled/rebooked/delayed but eventually arrived! Her luggage, however, did not. After filing the report and letting the airline know where to deliver her bag, we hopped in our pre-arranged shuttle for a long tour of Paris, dropping off other visitors!

After we arrived and freshened up, it was time to find some late lunch, early dinner and hit the expo!!!

Paris Marathon – Day what?

14 Apr

So, I haven’t been able to keep up as much as I wanted, but trust me, I have a long flight home so maybe then I’ll get a few done!

Meanwhile — enjoy a couple of pictures from the week so far…

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This is how my flight started…

 

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Did a 5K Saturday morning..almost done!!

 

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Did a 42.2K on Sunday…couldn’t really jump at the end!!

 

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And then this happened….

 

 

 

 

 

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