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I booked this race before I had my hip diagnosis. Flights and hotels were booked so it was an easier act to persuade my other half (and the generally sensible one in our house) that I was still going to do the race, if only as a final tick box to complete the Marathon, IM, Ultra collection. I promised that I wouldn’t overdo it
Arrived in Paris feeling good, a couple of days of wandering around the city and Versailles left me a bit foot weary and the hip was niggling a bit (shhhh) but woke up on the Saturday fairly relaxed with a tingle of excitement and no fear.
Registration was in a marquee at the foot of the Eiffel Tower which was a short walk from the hotel, then a walk to the nearest metro station to get the train to Yves St Laurent which took about 40mins or so and then a coach to the race start in the middle of a big park. All very slick.
First impression, everyone is French! All of the announcements are in French, the signs are all French, even the toilets were French. (Composting toilets, go in with a bucket of sawdust – smell free, amazing). Mooched around the start for an hour or so drinking what was labelled as “English breakfast tea” (it really wasn’t) and madeira cake.
Lined up in the grassy start area and made sure I was standing about a quarter of the way back thinking that was probably where I was going to finish, 12noon strikes and the gun goes and we’re off! Many folks seem to be going a bit too quickly so just let them go and tried to keep to a steady pace, across the grass and then onto a hard trail. It was quite narrow in places, which was good for keeping the speed down. Next few miles were moderately undulating and pace bounced around between 7:55 and 7:40mm (with one at 7:26 tut tut) for the next few miles, a couple of short sections of road and a footbridge with lots of steps up were the only deviations from runnable hard trail.
I randomly asked a guy who pulled up alongside me if he was British, I’ve no idea why I did but he was, which was a pretty good guess considering that there were only 20 or so of us out of 1300+. (and no, he wasn’t wearing union jack shorts). He said his target time was 10hrs and I thought, hmmm, either he’s going too quick or I’m going too slow. I suspected it was the former.
I remember a couple of larger lumps of climbing but nothing strenuous at all, reeled in lots of people through that sectionand then down some steep steps and into the first aid station at about 14miles. I was feeling fresh and just added more powder and water to my 2 water bottles and off again.Bumped into a French guy who I’d chatted to briefly in the first stage and he said “that’s the easy bit over with”. How true that turned out to be.
Shortly after leaving the aid station, we were confronted with a long climb which was barely runnable for 50 metres or so and then it was hands on knees marching up the hill time. Very tough work then some sharp downhills on technical terrain and then another long march up a steep climb, and repeat and repeat and repeat. L Still taking over people but it is small disparate groups now rather than a continuous flow.
Started to feel blisters on both my feet at about the 15mile point, oh well only 35 to go!
Not sure how long that went on for but it was pretty brutal and then I started to feel quite hot so was concentrating on rationing my drinks and managing the energy levels. The heat started to get to me about this point too but had a bit of a psychological lift at about mile 28 when I got my first glimpse (at the top of yet another hill) of the city and the Eiffel Tower which marks the finish line. The cruel organisers then detour you away from that view, up more steep steps and into the 2ndcheck point which stocked only water. Really flagging now and glad for a brief rest to top up the bottles. I realised that I was caked in salt by this point so popped an electrolyte tab into one of the bottles and off again. In the opposite direction to the tower! Bugger.
Relentless hill climbs follow, it was all becoming a bit of a blur by this point. I know that when I’m struggling at the end of hot and long race I go deaf in my right ear and can hear nothing but my breathing rattling around my head. It is not a good sign. There’s still a long way to go and yet there it goes. I’m still passing the odd runner though and although my pace has dropped (and my Garmin lost the signal for half an hour in the woods!) I know I’m still on track. Lots of solo running now and having to keep a good eye on the markers. Feel sick.Another hill and the cramps start in the hamstrings so a change down in pace. Get going again and then the calves seize up. Bah. Find a manageable rhythm and stick to it up and down the sodding hills.
3rd checkpoint at 35miles (more miles than I’d done in any single week since September 2012!) and they have Coke!Lovely stuff. Couple of cups necked down. Had enough of gels and energy bars and can’t stomach anything solid now (despite the tempting array of cakes, fruit and nuts on offer). I sit down here for a couple of minutes and meet up with my French buddy again, quick exchange and I’m out again feeling a bit groggy but concentrating on just keeping moving.
The course is dotted throughout with people cheering and enthusiastically saying things in French and I engaged with them a lot in the early stages but I am now reduced to the odd grunt, wave and a mumbled “bonjour” as I shuffle past themup more long climbs. It is hurting now. Cramps are frequent, several stretching stops are required and my left ear has also gone and is now roaring with every breath. The salt in my eyes is making it hard to see and there are tears in my eyes from the stinging. I must have looked lovely. But I’m still running.
Keep moving forward and then at the final checkpoint at 42miles. More food on offer but I opt again for coke. “wouldyou like some hot soup?”, “no thanks, but do you have a bicycle?” was my response. Only 8 miles to go!
Top Tip – putting coke in a sealed water bottle and then running through the woods with it creates a fantastic coke fountain over your shoulder when you vent it – great fun and amused me greatly.
Dropped through the woods now and can feel an overall descent despite the odd undulation and suddenly, I am on the road and before long, I’m running along the Seine. A few miles to go, it’s starting to get dark, a small group of particularly speedy chaps pass me and I pass a guy who’s walking but other than that I’m running alone and making good progress and the pace has picked up. A few odd deviations and switchbacks as the course moves from one side of the river to another and suddenly there’s the tower! It’s still a good couple of miles away but what a lift that is. Really starting to work hard now, there’s a niggle in the back of my head that says these may be some of the last miles I’ll ever run so I’m going to bury myself to make them count. Really close to the tower now and starting to feel fairly euphoric, it will be close to the 8hr target and then…. The sadists send you off to the left, to a massive bank of steps, with an escalator running along the side of it which of course, you aren’t allowed to use – arrrghghghgh, the cruelty!
Dragged myself up the steps using the handrail, up ANOTHER set of steps and then on the road again up a hill and a sharp right turn. Shallow descent now for a few hundred meters and the tower is on my right, sharp left and into the finish area with a sprint finish in front of theTrocadero.
Exhausted, utterly spent and complete elation.
8:06:28 - 110th of 1320 and second Brit J
Post race – body was fairly wrecked, difficult to eat, constant cramping, couple of hours sleep, lots of pain and shuffling about the next day to the airport and home. Back in work like nothing has happened.
Other people just don’t get it. That’s one of the reasons why I love it
Fantastically gruelling report Slokey. 50 miles and I hope that you predicted 8:06:28. Can't go letting the side down.
Back into work like nothing has happened? Yeah, right. I bet you looked at stairs through different eyes today.
Report. Of. The. Year. Absolutely brilliant. I have nothing but admiration for you, Slokey. Recover quickly and well.
Tom and Martin appear to be pretty straight and ethical guys - why not tell them what you think? Motivating people to get out there is good, but some people lack perspective & existential self-awareness and will delude themselves into believing that they are "better" than other people if they fill in an unverifiable tick-list in a "creative" way. Pointlessly so. Just saying, happy to be shot down in flames.
Anyway - Birch...cracking miles for a VOG
Gul - motoring, more to come
PMJ - if you are really on the edge, tiptoe backwards. You are obviously much better at pushing yourself than most, but you've worked too hard over the winter to risk crash'n'burn.
Only 154 miles for me in March, with all my niggle aggro, compared to 249 in February, 276 in January and 234 in December. Obviously I hope I don't pay for this at VLM...
Xpost Slokey - massive respect for that. You are a true ultra runner.
Wow: amazing report, Slokey. Lived every coke-drenched step with you! Chapeau, indeed
Slokey - Great report! You Zee man!! 50 very hard miles!! well done! good show, and great photos!
the pain is already forgotten. Blisters, I used the lift this morning for the first time in months!
Wow. I can safely say that does not make me want to do an ultra, but great report! I particularly enjoyed "everyone is French!"
263.65 miles for me in March, not all at once though.
I don't want to do ultras and I don't want to do Jantastic either.
Well done Slokey
Ultras are where you really find out what you are made of. The answer isn't always pretty or easy to live with, but Slokey has totally done the biz there, despite everyone else being French.
Fabulous work SJ, but still doesn't make me want to do one
A great adventure and a top report Slokey.
Two runs for the week gone were enough to decide I will at least join the VLM fun run. I Won't count my March mileage to avoid deflating my new found confidence.
Awesome SJ! Love the pics too.
314 miles for me this month. It would have been my highest monthly total ever if I hadn't missed a 15 mile MLR due to cat emergencies. Ah well.
Slokey's report makes me want to do that Lit!
The hardest event I've ever done was a team mountain marathon with 11 peaks of 2000ft or more. Its a Forces event and the hard men teams were not too impressed by a team of bored housewives (as we described ourselves!) and spent the whole way trying to beat us. The aim of the event is to get around in one piece and sub 7 hours is the target most try for. The first year we predicted 9 hours and finished in 6:50. The second time it was grim and snowing, even in the middle of summer. Of 120 teams that started only 70 odd finished and we finished in 6:17 in 14th place overall.
The feeling at the end was something I've never experienced before - pain worse than worse than childbirth, all I wanted to do was cry but didn't even have the energy to do that. But at the same time I felt really proud.
Slokey's report reminded me of it.
SJ - Cracking report and stunning pics. Very impressive but haven't convinced me it's a good idea. 80 mins is out of my comfort zone never mind 80k!
Menn, OO - What are your race no's for Paris? Eurosport coverage starts at 07:30hrs Sunday.
Fantastic effort Slokey, that really is inspirational. Puff that chest out, you've earned it. The trouble with France is it's full of jonny foreigner and their weird toungue, well done for picking up some of the lingo.
Great miles from Speedy and a fair few of you too.
Leslie H, you started off the year pretty well but you seem to be slacking a bit now. Nice HM pb btw.
Gul that's a great sub 40 solo effort from you.
Glad to hear you're back on track Minni.
As far as Jantastic is concerned, I'm pretty devastated. I put my heart and soul into it, never missed a run, clocked all my long runs, was honest with my parkrun over achievement.
It's like a kick in the balls to have our moment of glory stolen by a bunch of lying, fecking cheating Conker parkrunners.
I may write to the Newbury evening news and vent my outrage. Bastards!!
Anyway, I managed a cheeky 6 miles tonight to ensure I hit 200 miles for the month. Not a big deal maybe but I have also driven from Newbury, Berkshire to Newcastle for a 20 minute meeting and then down to Sheffield for some more work related stuff before being wined and dined by a couple of salesmen.
Dedicated, that's me.
Keep sane folks, nearly there now.
Minni wrote (see)
Slokey's report makes me want to do that Lit! The hardest event I've ever done was a team mountain marathon with 11 peaks of 2000ft or more. Its a Forces event and the hard men teams were not too impressed by a team of bored housewives (as we described ourselves!) and spent the whole way trying to beat us. The aim of the event is to get around in one piece and sub 7 hours is the target most try for. The first year we predicted 9 hours and finished in 6:50. The second time it was grim and snowing, even in the middle of summer. Of 120 teams that started only 70 odd finished and we finished in 6:17 in 14th place overall. The feeling at the end was something I've never experienced before - pain worse than worse than childbirth, all I wanted to do was cry but didn't even have the energy to do that. But at the same time I felt really proud. Slokey's report reminded me of it. Great Pics!
Me too, Minni! Let's sign up for the Paris Ecotrail 2015! SJ - loved the report and the photos are outstanding with the view of the Eiffel Tower behind you in the night. I really would love to do that race. I met MrE while working in Paris and would love to race there. Did it take much navigating or was it easy to just march on without worrying about whether to turn left or right at the second fir tree in the woods?
Lorenzo - yes, BST is annoying for that reason, but only takes a month to catch up again. I agree that 10 miles @ 7:10 will be fairly comfortable - it's the 26.2 @ 7:10 I'm worried about!Abbers - nice start to the taper.PMJ - nice stats - shame the gout has robbed you of those last 3 miles.Leslie - very impressive mileage, although 281, 282, 283 would be slightly preferable!Poacher - great to hear March went so well.GM - I agree the calculators are not worth paying much attention to. I don't think I'd be able to race 10k in 38:xx at the moment, but then again I'm not training for a 10k. As this will in effect be my first marathon, it's going to be hard to gauge a realistic MP.SJ - I'm exhausted just reading your report! Totally incredible effort - huge congratulations to you. Nice pics too.Speedy - 314 is pretty awesome anyway.243 miles in March for me in 1day9hrs45mins33secs = 8:20m/m.14 mile progressive to start April, from 9:07 to 6:34 m/m.
Wow Slokey - I hadn't appreciated that the course was so hilly. Fab stuff. Ultra run, ultra report, ultra performance!!
Reading it does make me want to have another stab at an Ultra (Comrades 2015?) but I'm not sure that I'm up for this Parisian hell, despite loving Paris as a city!!
I take my hat off to everyone on Jantastic who knows their body far far better than me. Predicting 1:34:45 for a 10 mile run and getting it spot on - awesome. Predicting 2 hours dead for a half marathon and running it in, er, 2 hours dead - wow! With these powers of prediction, why don't these people just do the lottery every week?
And doing the predicted run on a treadmill somewhat defeats the object of the exercise unless you're planning to do a race on a treadmill!!
On the other hand, it is supposed to be a bit of fun and to help keep a focus on training during a time when it's sometimes easy to feel demotivated and invite the CNBA fairy round.
Has it worked for me? Yes. Am I going to worry about other people manipulating the system just to feel good? Not in the slightest.
Ended up with 236 miles in March, followed up by a ladder intervals session this morning.
I've only been averaging 180 a month.
But I must not panic. I won't be far off 3:15 I'm sure. Hopefully. Everything crossed.