Friday, 2 October 2009

27/09/09 Race Report Paris Versailles

1. Assignment: 16k race in Paris Finished in 2:16. Not particularly fast, but not last either.

Here's my "diploma"

2. I did it! And I learned a lot about racing out of town. A lot more preparation is required than going down to the beach!

3. Pace Assigned: 8min/km first 2-3 km, then 7.5min/km, then at 12k, whatever I want. Slower when warmer. It was warm, and I was slow. Here's what my new toy (the garmin) recorded:'>'>

Ave. Pace:

first two km: 8:22 (talking with other people on the course)
next ten: 8:38 (in the sun and UPHILL!)
last four: 8:03 (I picked it up finally!)

I felt really good at 12km and was finally able to pick up my pace. This part of the course was in the woods and cooler. Most of the race was really sunny and I was covered in salt by the time I finished. I started in one of the last waves of the +17,000 runners. In hindsight, being as slow as I am, I should have started earlier if I wanted to hear any of the music playing along the course. At the beginning of the race, I slowed to walk with an older woman who was walking the race. She had flown all the way from Calgary for the race. I also took a lot of photos.

I just felt like I had legs of lead, however. It was tiring to travel and walk all over Paris looking for the sports hall where the packet pickup was being held. There are two "Palais de Sports". So, one lesson learned was to "map up" routes before traveling and leave luggage at the hotel before going on the packet hunt. I did stop for a chic hair cut and a delicious roasted chicken while out, however. So I kept a good sense of humor, particularly important. I burst out laughing when I finally got to the correct sports hall only to find myself locked in the bathroom stall when the door malfunctioned! Thankfully, I jiggled my way out of having to call for help.

There were so many participants that the starting waves of about 350 took more than 90 minutes to launch. I walked around and took pictures instead of crushing into the chute. Eventually I walked to a crepe stand and got some more breakfast when my stomach started growling. I packed my own sports drink/nutrition. I am glad I did because although the course offered water and powerade, only water was still available by the time I arrived. I made peace with running in last place for the short time I was last. I realised afterwards that being slow and starting in the last wave exaggerated my place. I took walk breaks, but felt fairly disorganised for the first km - I carried my warm up clothes up to Versailles - After the difficulty to find the packet pick up, I just didn't have the wherewithal to get up early and hunt for the drop off location near the Eiffel Tower before the race. Other people simply discarded the clothes they wore in the rather cool morning. It was a strange sight. Lots of runners wore garbage bags too. This must be typical because dozens of rag pickers descended with bags to collect the clothing.

About Porta-Potties. I haven't figured out how much to drink in the morning to be able to avoid those nasty things. Important lesson learned. Never use a porta-potty after someone has spent an unusally long time in one ahead of you. It's worth waiting for a different one to become available. I suffered along with several other gals who went first. I should have paid more attention to the looks on their faces when they came out.

The course was mostly urban roadway. I dislike the litter created by the runners. There were close to a billion French kids out picking up after us, though. They had uniforms that made me think of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I said thank you a lot. I received lots of cheers, including from the bored-looking traffic controllers! They gave me a boost of spirit. And whenever I remembered where I was (running from Paris to Versailles) I GRINNED!

I ran with all the courageous people - the ones who aren't as fit or young or fast as the others and who have the courage to still show up and run - middle-aged women like myself, overweight folks out to change their lives, grey-haired warriors still going strong, survivors of all manner of challenges. It took a lot of mental effort to keep going sometimes because my legs felt so useless. I just couldn't find my groove - the temperature and the grade I think took their toll. Today I have more muscle soreness than usual, so I feel like I gave it an honest effort. Also, looking at my heart rate chart, I can see that my heart rate matched my perception of effort. So, I didn't hold back. I still really would like to turn into a runner instead of a jogger. I know I am a runner, but I hope you understand what I mean. I told myself I'm a baby runner, having been at this "seriously" or at least regularly - maybe religiously is the right word - for only nine months.

It was also really challenging to focus on the race so soon after pacing during my husband's surgery. I had to take him back to the emergency room for pain relief only a couple hours after bringing him home from the hospital on Thursday. We were there until nearly midnight - me thinking this was supposed to be the pre-race night of the "good night sleep".

All of the training exercises you gave me to do really helped me to prepare myself - especially the 800m repeats - they have - for me anyway - a mental component that helps me go past the discomfort and the limiting beliefs into the beyond. My eyes are tearing up again with gratitude for your help.

Well, that's enough out of me. It's my son's 15th birthday today, so I will close. Attached are a couple pictures you might enjoy. My favourite is with one of the volunteer girls at the finish. I told her next year it was her turn to run.

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