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Paris Marathon 2013 Race Report

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The goal going into the Paris Marathon was to help pace The Girl.  The idea started last fall, before things got a bit hectic in our lives.  Between her working 12 hours a day and running/opening a small business, and my travel schedule – it’s been a busy winter.  So we modified our goal slightly to simply enjoy the day and still be married at the end of it.  Except being the moderately competitive folks we are, we ended up having a reasonably achievable time-goal to shoot for.  Figuring getting The Girl a  Boston Qualifier time of 3hr 35 minutes would be a nice to have.  And then we (and our Coach) sorta decided we could definitely run it faster.  So we aimed for 7:45/mile splits (4:48/km), which would have us finish in about 3hr 22m.  Seemed doable.

But before we get to the race, let’s start at the beginning.

Packet Pickup:

Packet pickup was open on Thurs/Fri/Sat, and we decided to get it out of the way Thursday evening right before closing at 8PM.  It was only a 10-15 minute Metro ride over to the convention center:

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Inside the place was completely empty for check-in.  They were ready to check-in 50,000 runners, and we were literally the only ones there:

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We took care of our medical certificates and then were soon into the expo:

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The expo was without question the biggest running expo I’ve seen anywhere, outside of the Boston Marathon:

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Look, they even had ‘Sport Lingerie’!

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We wandered around  a bit, checking stuff out.  I noticed that all of the major sports technology companies were there:

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Brooks even had this photo booth with various props.  Obviously, we utilized them:

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We checked out a few more booths and then made our way out.

Here’s the loot from the registration bags: A re-usable tie bag, a towel (seems common here), a bunch of other race papers, our bibs (timing chip on back of bib), a sponge, a plastic poncho for the morning, and a race manual:

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Finishers t-shirts would be (logically) given post-race.

Off to the start:

You’ve gotta love the efficiency of the Paris Metro system (when not on strike anyway).  We left our house about 75 minutes before the start of the race.  We walked 5-8 minutes, took a Metro for 10 minutes, and then were at the bag drop-off area within another 5-10 minutes of walking. Very solid.

Getting into the bag dropoff area included a wee bit of a walk.  Probably at least a mile round-trip.  Essentially you had to walk to the finish line, and then back up the finishers chute.  But, the bag dropoff was super-efficient.  So we weren’t too worried.

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I will note that the number of port-a-potties was far below the required number for 50,000 runners.  I could probably count them all without going more than double-digits.  As a result people were pretty much going to the bathroom (#1 & #2) everywhere.  Trees, shrubs, in between cars…or just out in the open.

We also noticed a substantial number of people seemed to have these thin white suits on.  Sorta like biological weapons protective suits.  But disposable.  And warm.  And brilliant:

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Don’t worry though, even if you don’t have a biological weapons suit, you can still just use a bathrobe from your hotel:

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After leaving the drop-off area we were back up at the Arc (Arc de Triomphe) and headed down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.  The back of the pack was closest to the Arc, while the start line was closer to Concorde (down the hill).  We jogged about another mile to the start line.

Each of the starting corrals was based on expected finishers time, and they were well guarded.  Here’s the view looking back:

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We had initially been seeded in the 3:00-3:15 (total time) corral.  That was based on when we signed up last fall.  Of course, life got in the way, and we were now aiming a few minutes slower.  Since you weren’t able to change corrals, we just simply waited at the very back – which put us pretty close to our goal time. You can see the metal gates separating the corrals behind us.

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The only thing that we thought was pretty poor here was that for some reason they closed the gates to the corrals a few minutes before the start of the gun.  This meant folks were literally trying to climb over very wobbly fences.  Saw a few falls.  Quite frankly, there was ZERO reason to block runners from getting into the corrals.  They belonged there, and the race hadn’t started.  And there was nothing in any of the manuals saying you had to be there by a certain time.

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With that, let’s get running.

The Race:

The starting gun went off with the same lack of fanfare that we’ve come to realize is normal here.  Nothing other than the mob starting to move forward slowly.

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Except, our mob didn’t move forward.  See, the corrals were split again in half by barricades.  The left half emptied, and then our half emptied.  Once the left side was cleared, sweepers quickly moved all the trash out of the way.

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Pretty cool, and efficient.

About 4 minutes from the starting gun, we headed on forward and passed under the starting line.

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Looking around after we started running, there were really very little runners to dodge and weave.  The starting corrals were very well done in that they gave tons of space – especially compared with the bazillion lane wide Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

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The goal of the first few miles was merely to race according to race plan and not go out too fast.  But starting at the back of the corral, this was super-easy.  No dodge and weave, no pushed pace.

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Shortly after leaving the Avenue des Champs-Elysees we passed Concorde (big spear thing), and then were alongside the Louvre.

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Like the Paris Half-Marathon, there’s TONS of bands out there.  Most fall into the camp of drum groups, dance groups, brass groups, or rock bands.

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Our first 6-7 miles (10-12K) up towards Bois de Vincennes went really well.  Fairly good for pace, a touch fast here and there, but pretty solid.

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Oh, by the way, here’s the course route:

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I had fastened on a spare GPS watch and paired it to The Girl’s heart rate strap in the morning.  This allowed me to keep an eye on her HR and ensure it was roughly in the range our Coach wanted.  In a lot of ways, pacing The Girl is sorta like trying to ride a bumblebee at the rodeo.  She has a bit of a mind of her own sometimes when it comes to pacing (yes, I’m looking at you, Ms. 5:00/mile first-half-mile pace on a certain 10K race).  And further, I liked how she tried to convince me this morning at about the 1-mile marker that her race plan had her HR 10 beats higher than it really was.  Thankfully, I had re-read the plan just before heading out the door that morning. ;)

To the right of the watch below is the SPIbelt, packed with gummy bear gel things.

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Of course, it’s not purely about HR in a race.  That’s just one aspect.  We were using HR mostly as a limiter.  And while she mostly slightly exceeded that limit, her perceived effort was very good.  That’s obviously a substantial risk though on an endurance event like a marathon where perceived effort is always easy the first 1/4th of the way or so, especially coming off of a taper.  But, I worked with the little bumblebee I had. ;)

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The park was fairly straight forward and mostly flat.  There are some false-flats to be aware of, but we’ve run up there enough to know where they are – and thus not get too concerned when things seem slightly harder or easier than they are:

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And of course, more bands and a few folks in uniform too:

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Coming back down out of the park you’ll get yourself some nice downhill time:

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Then, before you know it you’re passing the half-marathon marker.  Woot!

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By this point we started working out a nutrition system where I’d get the nutrition (basically just a water bottle to split) and she’d just stay on the blue-brick road (more on that in a second).  This worked out fairly well as it minimized her need to deviate and get caught-up in the fray of the aide stations.

The aide stations had bottled water like the half-marathon:

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Additionally, they also had oranges, bananas, sugar cubes, and a few other random things:

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And, every once in a while there were the sponge bath stations.  They had given you a sponge with your packet, which you were to utilize should you wish to give yourself a sponge bath (for cooling down):

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As for the blue-brick road, it was actually just a painted line.  They painted it on Thursday/Friday along the entire course.  The paint marked the official route, and was pretty close to being a near perfect race line.  I talk a lot about running courses correctly (and explaining why your GPS watch will almost never read exactly the same course distance).  This made it very easy for folks who wanted to zone out and just run.  There were some opportunities to optimize the route slightly – primarily around tight corners.  But overall, it was very solid.  My Garmin ended up at 26.31 miles.

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They noted that with the high traffic, in some areas the blue line will only last a few days (painted), and in other areas considerably longer.  It explained all this in the athletes guide.  I guess I should be happy more folks don’t read it, because it made following the blue line relatively easy (versus if everyone had known about it and crowded it).

Speaking of other random things.  There was this:

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Yup, a team of guys running with an Eiffel tower.  Apparently it happens each year.

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And these two from Vittel (water sponsor)…

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But back to the race…

So we passed the half-way marker and rounded past Bastille (nearby us where we do interval loops).  From there we finally dropped down along the road next to the river:

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This was nice in that we were now largely in the city’s core, and the spectators really picked up – completely lining the course.

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About 1.5 miles later (about 2.4KM) we entered the tunnel.  This entire span (tunnel and river road) is actually open to runners on Sunday’s and holidays in the warmer months.

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There were even mile markers inside the tunnel:

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My GPS switched over to the footpod providing speed and distance information.  And while it wasn’t calibrated spot-on, I just kept it at the same number as when I entered the tunnel and it switched over.

We exited the tunnel along the Louvre, and quickly saw one of our Parisian friends and his son.  Hi Caspar!

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He shot these photos of us (The Girl is in purple, and I’m in a long-sleeve grey shirt):

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Awesome stuff!

At this point the route rolls up and down through various underpasses along a small stretch of speedway.  Including the tunnel where Princess Diana died.  Though, I wasn’t paying much attention to it at the time.

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And then the Eiffel tower:

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After the tunnel it was mostly flat until we ascended slightly towards Longchamp (large park area on the Western side of Paris).  At this point it was about the 6-8 miles out (~10-13KM) from the finish.  Things were going quite well on the pacing front, though The Girl’s right knee was really hurting her.  She felt fine otherwise (both aerobically and her legs), so it’s always a bit of a bummer when sharp pains slow you down and you feel fine otherwise.  Nonetheless, she kept on pushing and were really only losing a handful of seconds per mile.

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Once hitting the park area it’s a bit of a relief.  You just mentally need to focus on wandering through the park back to the Arc.  Relatively straight forward.  And for the most part, it’s fairly flat here – or even some downhills.

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Around mile 23 The Girl’s knee was hurting a fair bit more, and she wanted a quick second to stop and try and stretch/adjust things.  This happened to coincide with a Coca Cola stand (non-official).  Brilliant!  Coke is well known to provide a good boost when things are getting rough.  And this was perfect timing for The Girl.  I got her that and we were soon off.

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Note that many Ironman and endurance events serve Coke.  Typically served flat though (this wasn’t).  The one important thing to remember with Coke is that once you start – you CANNOT stop taking it until you finish the race.  If you do stop pre-finish, you’ll crash pretty quickly.  Coke is pretty much a last resort item.  Given there were only three miles left, I figured we were good.  Typically a small cup will give you about 2-3 miles worth of instant energy.  And I figured the last mile would be covered by excitement anyway.

The last few miles were pretty easy terrain wise, just a gentle downhill section on wide avenues:

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Then, just one last turn!

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Finally – the Arc was in sight, with the finish far before it:

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This was sorta akin to in the Boston Marathon making that final turn down the home stretch with gazillions of fans lining the street:

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Interestingly, a few folks tweeted at me the day before that they had installed these pads that took the runners energy and converted it into electricity.  And a few hundred meters before the finish line, there they were:

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With that, we made the final push towards the finish.  There wasn’t any particular time goal (nearest minute/etc…) that made sense to sprint for (and cause injury), so we just kept it steady with a slight uptick.  About a minute/mile faster over the last half a mile.  Not too much.

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And behold, the finish!

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We finished up a time of 3hr and 27m, and are still happily married.  I’m really proud of how she kept on pushing through.  And even more so that she knocked out that time on as minimal training as she could fit in with everything else she’s been keeping in the air.

On my side, the race was a good opportunity to see how my pacing would hold up at longer distances.  My training has been largely tied to hers.  About the only substantial difference is I’ve been doing cycling as well (and now swimming).  So my running doesn’t quite have the top-end speed on the aerobic side that I might normally have, but I do have a really solid base (mileage).  The cycling though (through intervals/etc…) has helped hold up the aerobic side.

So I was definitely very happy that I ran the whole thing in a Z1/low-Z2 heart rate.  With only a few seconds above Z2 when I swung back to visit a tree in the park.  Now the next three or so months will be layering in the speed side of that through the usual painful intervals.

Post-Race & Finish Area:

After crossing the finish line we waddled up towards the Arc (off in the distance):

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There were a surprising amount of French TV crews still present, interviewing folks, shooting video of participants collapsing post-finish into medics, and the like (no really, they really enjoying getting shots of people going kaput).

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The finish area first had you grab some water, then your t-shirt.  You didn’t get that at packet-pickup, solving the race-day bad-luck issue of wearing your finishers shirt for the race itself.

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Then there was a large stash of food.  Though strangely, I can’t find my pics of it.

And finally, your medal:

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After which you were able to go and grab your bag and change.  I’ll note that unlike the Paris Half-Marathon, the bag pickup here went unbelievably quick.  We waited for our bags for perhaps…12 seconds.  Compared to nearly an hour in line last time.

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With that complete, we took a picture or fifteen:

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From there we continued waddling up the hill to the Arc.

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Upon arriving we saw runners attempting to cross the circle of death via the post-marathon slow-walk.  Many a marathon runners were nearly lost here.

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Our plan was to Metro home.  Seemed efficient.  But then we saw this little Tuk-Tuk truck and negotiated a solid deal back to the house.  Being a beautiful sunny day, this seemed way better than our continued walk to the subway, then standing on the subway, and then walking home some more. :)

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With that, home!  And then, a few hours later, right off to the airport. :(

Fun notables:

At the last second before heading out the door I happened to notice the WASP ANT+ data streamer sitting on the floor charging.  I decided to grab it and toss it in my backpack.  While I didn’t have a good place to stash it while running (weather was too warm for a coat), I decided I’d play around with it post-race.

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So upon finishing and grabbing my bag, I just let it roam and pickup ANT+ enabled heart rate straps and footpods.  And I suppose, anything else ANT+ it saw along the way.

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In total, for the few minutes in between when I picked up my backpack, and then when I managed to get out of the secure area – it picked up some 241 ANT+ heart rate straps.  Along with 60 ANT+ footpods.  I didn’t have any data logging going on.  Instead I just was in browsing mode.  It would have been cool had I had a good place to stash it along the course and just let it log everything that went by.  Purely to see how many folks were wearing ANT+ HR straps.  I’ve gotta say, I wouldn’t have thought the number would have been that high given how short a time period we’re talking about.  Additionally, I tend to see a higher ratio of non-ANT+ devices here in Europe.

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Still, cool stuff.  You can see some of the values shown.  These were the last known values before it dropped out of range.

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With that, thanks for reading!  Have a great week ahead!

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89 Comments

  1. Excellent report! I was quite surprised to overtake you at km 15. There arent too many people at paces sub 3:15 taking photos, so… it had to be you!!! and had to whether you are Ray ;-) and i believe those were the only words i said… hehe

    In any case! Great you had a good race. And that the Girl did her Boston qualifying time. I did the same last year in Berlin, so this marathon was just to enjoyand enjoy Paris. My planned tempo (in the preparation of the half IM) was somewhat slower than my finish time, but i really ran without the problems and HR was just a few beats higher than planned. And the temperature was just perfect!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Matty!

      It was great to see you out there! And congrats on the finish!

      Reply
  2. Josh

    Is it wrong that the picture that most made me perk up was the one showing you wearing the Philadelphia Marathon shirt? Because, well, Philly!

    And congrats to the both of you on that race. I’m a little jealous that a sub 3:30 marathon time barely got you out of Z1. I have the same pacing problem as The Girl and I’d have been sucking wind by the halfway mark, lol.

    Reply
  3. Geoffrey

    Well done guys!
    I ran the 2011 marathon and you really reminded me a great things… :-)

    Reply
  4. I freind of mine told me she was watching the race on TV and that reminded me that it was on, but I had to much on my plate to follow the race, so I didn’t know what was happening, Thank for your report.

    So is it Boston nest year? That give you guys a lot of time to get in to shape and for you girl to run a really good time…

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      We actually haven’t decided on the Boston front. This winter was miserable from a weather standpoint here, and training motivation to run every time in just about freezing temperatures with rain almost every day was low. Given Boston is basically the same time as the Paris Marathon, we’ll see.

      Reply
  5. Stavros D

    Congratulations Bobbie!!! Great effort!!

    very nice report, as always Ray! nice photos!

    Reply
  6. Congratulations to the both of you!
    Very pleased to see you on the KM27.
    I hope you’ll keep good memories of my town ;-)
    A very nice report,

    Reply
  7. Great way to spend a sunny weekend!

    Reply
  8. Congratulations Ray and the Girl, a nice result. And nice to read another story than a Garmin- or whatever-review. You took a lot of pics along the way.
    Maybe I’ll put Paris on my wishlist as well. First I have to complete my first M next weekend. ;-)
    Greetings, Dick

    Reply
  9. Bruce L

    Well done guys, you make doing a marathon look (almost) enjoyable!
    Ray, you mention that your foot pod kicked in when you were in the tunnel. Is this automatic for Garmins? If not, have you written about that function anywhere?
    Thanks for your help.
    Bruce

    Reply
    • Scott M replied

      Many (and maybe all) Garmin devices will automatically switch from GPS to footpod for distance when the GPS signals are lost.

      Reply
    • Bruce L replied

      Thanks Scott, I’ve not noticed, but then I tend to do relatively short road underpasses.

      Do you know if they will do it automatically at the start of a run? Getting GPS reception when starting a run in the city wastes way too much time, never mind the GPS elevation issues!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Bruce-

      Many GPS watches support it, but all the Garmin’s definitely do. It will automatically failover to footpod speed when GPS speed = zero.

      On your other questions, no, definitely ensure you have satellite signal before starting. While it will use footpod speed, it’ll greatly impact your ability to get the satellite at the beginning. In fact, sometimes you can run 45 minutes and never get it at all. :-/

      Reply
    • Bruce L replied

      Thanks Ray, I’ll just have to get better at the GPS jig!

      Reply
  10. David Cooke

    I ran in 2 minutes behind you – great to see the photos. What a brilliant day it was. Thank you Paris for an amazing marathon! See you next year!

    Reply
  11. Amedeo

    Congratulions to both of you.

    I think it could be fine if The Girl will write an her race report ;)

    Reply
  12. Bravo !
    Reportage très intéressant (very interesting report).
    Merci !

    A little souvenir here : link to myamazingparis.free.fr (extracted from the blog)

    Congratulations
    Jean-Charles

    Reply
  13. Mpod

    Freaking amazing! Your report, your taking care of your wife, your heart rate at such speed, and the ability to take pictures while running?
    Thanks for the inspirational write ups.

    Reply
  14. David

    Great race report full of great pictures as usual! And yuo also managed to finish the marathon under 3:30 and almost “without breaking sweat” :) Congfratulations to you and the girl!

    Reply
  15. Katie S.

    Congratulations to you both! Your dedication to making sure The Girl had a great race was sweet and inspirational. Thanks for the race report!

    Reply
  16. Jo

    Great report. I did the race yesterday and had a slightly different experience due to being further back, but mostly this captured a great day. Thanks and amazingly done.

    Reply
  17. Bert

    Cool report, great to relive the experience!

    Just a little tip (some people might find it handy):

    I changed waves (3.45 -> 3.30) at the Running Expo helpdesk. They just give you a sticker version of the requested color code to cover the one that’s on your bib.

    Reply
  18. I’m surprised a non-US country has mile markers.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, it was nice to see them every mile. I had seen them over the past few weeks painting the every-5 mile markers. But didn’t expect to see them every mile as well.

      By the same token, US marathons tend to show kilometer markers, though usually only the 5K/10K/15K/etc… markers. Still, definitely a nice touch.

      I had read in the athletes guide that there were some 5,000 Brits, and another 1,500 US folks coming over – so it does sorta make sense to cater there.

      Reply
  19. Brett

    Congrats to both on the fast marathon finish. Go enjoy some tasty cup cakes on the house!

    Reply
  20. Rem

    Great Report , a very pleasant read as usual. And congrats to both of you for the race.

    I did run it too… but not that smooth and far from my target pace.
    But still happy to finish marathon, so it was time this sunday to “celebrate” with a few Nice bertie’s cupcakes :-)

    Reply
  21. Rob

    Awesome race report. Congrats to you and Bobbie. I really wish I would’ve run it now. 2014?!?

    Reply
  22. Tosin

    I paced my wife to a half marathon last year and was basically her sherpa for the majority of the time. Just like you I’m amazed we are still married afterwards, especially with some of the trials and tribulations we experienced along the way (primarily the heat, my wife hates heat). Congrats to both of you!

    Reply
  23. Mark

    Inspirational – thank you! Brings back great memories from when I ran it with friends in 2001. I’m 4 weeks out from my 10th marathon and still trying to hit 3:30. We’re all busy these days, so your results are impressive! Congratulations.

    Reply
  24. Fred

    Very well done. I just wish I could go that fast and take pictures at the same time.

    I fueled up at the Cupcakery on Friday afternoon and can report for your readers that the salted caramel edition makes for an excellent pre race snack. Your wife makes some delicious cakes.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Glad you enjoyed! Salted caramel is sorta my favorite as well. :)

      Reply
  25. Dr. D

    Great story – felt like I was there with you! Good to hear Bobbie made the BQ time too.
    I am heading north for the 117th edition on Monday and looking forward to it.
    Happy Trails to all runners…..

    Reply
  26. Rebecca S.

    The Eiffel tower guy ran the Chicago Marathon 10-10-10.

    Reply
  27. Hi Ray,
    I’m steve and I flew over from Oz for this, my first marathon. I’m pleased with my 4:23:50 and look forward to reducing it. Dr Molly, my Lass gave me a Garmin for Christmas after reading and re reading your excellent review. It helped a lot. I’m glad you ran Paris because I didn’t stop to take photos and would like to lift a few of yours please to add to my own storyboard or fb – as an aide to explaining the route and my own journey. Would that be ok with you? The pics I’d like are a couple of the exit area, the drummers, fireys, tunnels, and food stands (which , whilst I found a bit odd and was going to avoid, I ended up banana-Ing from.) any how, I’m happy to credit your photography work but wanted to check with you first?
    Steve D

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Steve-

      Congrats on the first marathon, that’s awesome!

      Yup, no problem at all with credit. Thanks for asking!

      Reply
  28. nicole

    Thank you so much for posting this fantastic story. I ran my first marathon, not near to both of you unfortunately. I have sent your story to my family and friends to give them an idea what it was like. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  29. Manu

    Ray, The Girl – excellent race report and congrats to the finish! :-) I absolutely like the summary with all your pictures.
    One question: At the beginning I thought, The Girl must have taken off her compression socks during race, because one pictures shows her with socks and the pictures taken by your friend shows her without. But then I realized that she was actually wearing them only on one leg. How come? :-)
    Cheers!

    Reply
    • The Girl replied

      Hi Manu,
      Good eye catching my single compression calf sleeve. I have a terrible left calf muscle that effects the performance of my entire left leg. The compression sleeve has been the only thing that seems to contain the strain (although it was still pretty bad come mile 20+). I had an awesome sports performance physical therapist back in Virginia that took care of it, but since moving here I’ve 100% depended on the compression sleeve and ice! As for the other calf, I’m kind of superstitious… So since it isn’t giving me any problems, I didn’t want to temp it with a second sleeve!

      Reply
    • Manu replied

      Thanks for your comment! :) All the best for your left calf then.

      Reply
  30. Sil

    Great race recap! My husband and I ran it too -first marathon for both of us. Great city and very nice course.
    Congrats for you two, and this is the first great recap of the Paris Marathon, I had been looking for something like this before but couldn’t find any, good job!

    Reply
  31. Matthieu

    Thank you for the pics and report. I was there actually, it was my first marathon. I was aiming at 4h00, well I failed, ending in 4h17. Kilometer 35 was killed me!

    Still, a excellent race and a lot of memories. See you next year !

    Reply
  32. dECEIT70

    Great job at painting a vivid picture of your marathon, Ray! 42,195km under 3h30′ without even breaking a sweat – congratulations to you and The Girl.

    Even if i’m not a marathon kinda guy, i’m planning on tackling the Paris one next year – that’s if (and only if) i’m not doing any early season long-distance triathlon (Lanzarote IM?)…

    Reply
  33. stewartkirkham

    Great report Ray! We thought it was a really well-done race. Hope to do it again someday. Cheers!

    Reply
  34. Davide

    I was in the very back pack, aiming for a sub 4h and finished at 4h07′. Everybody has is limits (soon to be brocken :-)
    It has been fun anyway. Paris is always Paris :-)
    Congrats on your report and race (and to The Girl too!)

    Reply
  35. Caferey

    Great RR and well done to the girl for getting her Boston time with her HR so low. I rem passing her just after the 30K mark, but my heart rate wasn´t as low! She really stood out what with the hat and the arm warmers – I thought she was American because of them (not that popular in Europe) I guess she feels the cold easily?

    How does Paris compare to the mega events you´ve done back in the US? On a par? Or a work in progress? I ran it last year and I think it was much better organized this year. Only gripe is that there are no energy drinks at the aid stations, but it won´t stop me from running it again next year.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      We found the Paris Marathon very well organized, and a solid event. Like anything, you can have minor quibbles (i.e. lack of toilets or the fence issue), but beyond those, it’s good.

      There are differences that we see in European races compared to US races – and honestly the biggest one is just the frequency of water is lower. So instead of every 1-2 miles, it’s every 2.5-3.1 miles. As long as you’re prepared for that, then you’re good. What we (and others) did was take the water bottle with us a bit, giving us water between stops. Since it’s far more water than needed for just one water stop, it works out.

      Also, as you noted, there are no gels/etc on course, just some ‘snacks’. For us, we had our own, so not a big deal.

      We didn’t notice any issues on course, though our friends running closer to a 4hr marathon did note that water seemed to be getting scarce by time they came through. It’s unclear if they ran out of water, but they suspected that finishers closer to 4:30+ may have had issues with that. But again, I can’t confirm that.

      Overall, we’d definitely do it again.

      Reply
  36. Tim

    Ray,
    How about a link to your Garmin data?

    Speaking of heart rates, I’ve finally learned that a 45 year old guy shouldn’t be hitting 200 bpm. I found Phil Maffetone’s website and read about Mark Allen’s success using it, so now I’m learning patience running and riding at 140 bpm. After 3.5 months I’m starting to see improvement. No more 14 min paces- I’m knocking on the door of 12 min/mile and wondering when I’ll get back to 8′s. I’d be curious about your experience with heart rate training.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sure, here ya go: link to connect.garmin.com

      Note, the first 29 minutes the HR strap was super-wonky (as you can see). Given this was the easiest section, I know my HR was probably in the 135-140ish range.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As for HR training, I do most of my runs based on HR zones. There are some paced runs, generally closer to a given race (i.e. running race pace, and/or track-style workouts at faster paces).

      The biggest thing as you noted is that initially it’s ‘painful’ from a slowness standpoint. When I first started out, I was probably 3-4 minutes slower than what I was a few months later. I’d say about 3-4 months before it really set in.

      Reply
  37. Stephane

    You guys totally crack me up. Unbelievable. Mentioning about not having trained properly, flying every week or so for work.. and clocking a sub 3:30 marathon like if it was a 15 minute jog on a treadmill. Seriously, the pictures of you during the marathon are just priceless, did you actually even sweat one drop ? :-)

    Reply
  38. Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Boston marathon: what a barbarian act to harm those people looking for healthier life in an event like this!

    Reply
  39. Graham Reeves

    Hi,

    Nice to read your race report, brings back good memories from a week ago.

    I managed to run in 3 hours and 8 minutes, and hopefully qualifying for London next year. Nice to see some good pics as I tend not to look around much when I run, luckily the landmarks are rather large in Paris so you can’t really miss them!

    I was slightly disappointed with the amount of spectators along the route, it felt a bit flat at times.

    Graham

    Reply
  40. Great report! I was in the same starting block and finished 1 min behind. This was my first marathon and I’m curious of the pacing you did, personally I ran to fast in the first half (1:41) and suffered quite a bit in the end. Did you do negative split or same pace all the way through ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      We just paced a rough 7:45/mile pace for the first 13-16 miles (with a few miles being slightly faster), and then hit a bit of slowness due to the leg beyond that. So it all kinda evened out.

      Reply
  41. Patrick Chi

    Great report!

    Reply
  42. Jorge Tostado

    Nice work. View your report it’s like remembering all again.

    Felicidades

    Reply
  43. Jorge M

    Hi Ray, from Portugal

    Lovely site/blog. Came into it looking for a running watch. I always keep coming back. And recommending it. Seems like we´re in the same places. Paris Marathon 2013 (lovely report), South Africa (my mom lives in the nort), Major Marathons USA. If you pop into Lisbon, pm me. We can have a run and chat.

    Reply
  44. Sean

    Nice choice with the Philly shirt!

    Reply
  45. Hugh

    I am hoping to get into the Paris marathon in 2014. Is it a lottery type entry? much like NY or London (I’m about a 4hr:30 min runner…therefore not fast by any means.

    I tried to get into London but realized the day after the entry opened, it had closed in 11 hours.

    Any insights into the marathon you could be provided would help out greatly.

    Schneider Electric just sent me an email saying registration opens in October, but didn’t given an exact date. I don’t want to get shut out again line London.

    Thanks everyone

    Hugh Armitage

    Reply
    • Graham reeves replied

      Paris is a first come first served basis, I recommend signing up as soon as it opens to get the cheapest slots, it usually opens mid October they will publish the date nearer the time.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Hugh – Just to add onto the other two…

      It’s not quite as crazy as some events in the US (or London) where those sell out in minutes. However, I’d grab it in the first day or so if you want to be 100% sure.

      Reply
    • Margaret replied

      Thanks for this. I just got “picked” to run it and wondered if it’s really that hard to get into or if this lottery is a ploy to get people signed up earlier.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Definitely a ploy by the looks of it. Kinda totally stupid if you ask me.

      Reply
  46. Bonjour Hugh,
    Go to: link to parismarathon.com
    Skip the first sentences to go to “How to register”. The process should be the same for 2014. The first quota (lower price) of entries is rapidly sold out but after that, you have some time but you will pay more…
    No lottery.

    Have a look here: link to parisrunningtour.blogspot.fr if you are interested by the Parisian competitions.

    See you in Paris!
    Best regards
    Jean-Charles from Paris Running Tour

    Reply
    • Hugh Armitage replied

      Thanks Graham, Jean-Charles and Rainmaker

      I did get on to the website as soon as it opened on September 16th and was able to get into the first 8,000 entrants so it only cost 70 euros. Thaqnks for all of your comments they helped a lot. See you in Pais next april

      Hugh

      Reply
  47. Andy Ford

    Just found this while looking for something else to do with the expo. The Paris marathon this year was my first ever road marathon (I normally stick to fell running but did three road maras in seven weeks for charity) had a target of 3:30 and did it in 3:31 so I was very happy with that. Reading the above and seeing those pics has left me reflecting on that whole weekend with a huge smile, great work!

    Reply
  48. Danna Vitt

    Great finish and great blog! Thanks for posting such great pics. Would you allow me to use 2-3 pics in a video recapping my (and my sister’s experience) in running the Paris Marathon?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sure, no problem.

      Reply
    • Danna Vitt replied

      Thank you very much, DC. We will give photo credit. I LOVE that shot from the start line, looking back toward the arc … you definitely captured a moment there!

      Reply
  49. Luc

    Registered for 2014 Paris marathon! I’ll be in Paris for 4 days,Fri-Mon. Any suggestion what area to stay in, for light strolls during the day, without having to wake up on Sun. at 4 AM to get to the start line?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Generally speaking I’d stay somewhere between the triangle that makes up Notre Dame, the Arc, and the Eiffel Tower. In doing so you’re close by all the tourist items, as well as the race. It also makes for nice enjoyable evening strolls too in those areas.

      Reply
    • Luc replied

      Thanks for the suggestion, I hope that the cupcakes shop is in the triangle for my carb loading!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, it’s about 100m away from Notre Dame.

      Reply
  50. Hugh

    Just had chance to read your chronicle of this year’s Paris Marathon. It was great!! I’m registered for next April’s event and looking forward to it and even mores after reading you story. Good job and thanks again

    Reply
  51. Ralf

    Hi, I just signed up for Paris 2014 – reading this report was really useful and informative of the start/finish area. It’s hard to know what to expect in those areas otherwise if you haven’t done it before. Thank you, looks like you guys had a good time.
    Question, if I may? Was it a really cold day…lots of hats and longsleeves?

    Reply
  52. It wasn’t too cold, but it started off a bit cooler. The Girl tends to get cold a bit easier.

    Reply
  53. Fabulous report! It’s because of your report that I have foolishly convinced myself I can run it in 2014 and have signed up! I only came here to read a garmin review! Damn! :)

    Reply
  54. Louise

    I’m running Paris Marathon this year and after reading your blog (which is great by the way) I’m slightly concerned about the number of tunnels you run through and therefore lose satellite coverage. I have a Garmin Forerunner 910XT that I use regularly while running, and I know I’ll lose GPS when I go through the tunnels and I’m worried I’ll mess up my pace because of it. You mentioned a footpod (which I don’t have) – is this what I need for my watch to maintain my mile pace?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      For the FR910XT, I would recommend a footpod, since it doesn’t measure pace internally otherwise without GPS. That said, the unit will draw ‘straight lines’ between the entry/exit points and account for the distance. So while you wouldn’t get pacing info in the tunnel, it’ll play ‘catch-up’ otherwise.

      From a course perspective, there’s a bunch of smaller tunnels (10-30″ or less). But really only one major long tunnel (2-4 minutes), which is along the river near the Louvre.

      Reply
  55. Ally

    I love this blog. I’m running Paris in 2014. Did you train with a camera so that the weight would feel the same to you? Or did you just bring a small camera on the day of the race and keep it in your SPI belt? I would like to take pictures along the way, to document my first marathon, however I’m not sure logistically the best place to keep the camera so that I have quick access to it without having to fiddle around trying to reach it and end up slowing my pace. I’m also worried about the tunnels and losing coverage. Right now I train with an app called run keeper. I’ve also used map my run. However both rely on GPS signal. So I’m not sure what will happen when I reemerge on the other side of the tunnel. I guess it will just pick up where it left off, however in the end my app will only show that I ran 22 miles or something like that. I guess I should just use the app for pace, and not worry about actual mileage since I can just use the signs. However I wish there is a way for me to know what my average pace was per mile without it being messed up by the tunnels. What does a foot pod do for you?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi Ally-

      Yup, I train with a camera all the time – mostly for posts, etc… While training on long runs I’ll wear a CamelBak to toss it in from time to time, but most of the time it’s in my hand. I also have a SPIBelt, that I usually use in races in case I want to stash it away. That works well, as long as the camera isn’t too heavy that it bounces around.

      With tunnels, it depends on GPS. For most apps, it’ll simply resume at the other side and draw a line between the two points – essentially covering the distance.

      A footpod provides pace/distance in the tunnel. Most GPS devices will switch over to it once GPS drops out, and then resume when GPS is back. This gives you pacing in a long time. If you’re just concerned about the distance side of things, then in most cases the app will simply connect the dots and you’ll be 98% fine for that segment.

      Reply
  56. Andy Warrender

    Great report Ray. Re the tunnels, in London I had the auto stop feature on (no foot pod) on my then Garmin 305 in 2012 and disappointed my Garmin said 3:44 but of course official time was longer (3:47). Still a PB and I went sub 3:45 in Manchester (3:44) and Chester (3:40). I now train with Garmin 610 but stopped using the heart monitor as I tend to listen to my body -nod the soft strap was causing some discomfort. Is it worth getting a foot pod … Without autostop and knowing the timer feature would be right it would just affect a couple of mile split targets (and overall avg pace) and not current pace outside the tunnels… I would just have to be careful in the longest tunnel not to go too fast or too slow?? Must admit the average pace feature I like a lot and will be targeting 8:15 for sub 3:40… Would a foot pod rectify this discrepancy as well as keeping my pace in the tunnels?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I’d look at turning off auto-pause for the race, which should help a bunch. The unit will automatically look at GPS for the distance of the tunnel and simply ‘connect the dots’, once you exit. If the tunnel curves slightly (as it does in Paris), you’ll only get credit for the straight portion.

      As for having pace in the tunnel, the only option with the FR305 is the footpod. I know that in Europe you can find the Geonaute ANT+ footpod for fairly cheap, which may be worth looking at. It’s typically sold at Decathalon.

      Reply
  57. Thanks so much for this RR! I’m running Paris this year (will be my first marathon) so I’m super anxious. Your post is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I wasn’t going to run with my iPhone but after seeing your fantastic photos I may have to reconsider. Thanks again!

    Reply
  58. Michael

    Ray,

    Any idea where to get GU in the Paris area? I have been to Decathlon and they have powerbar gels but I can’t seem to find GU anywhere. I know I can order online, but I thought I’d see if you knew of any accessible stores here to buy them or something similar. Not really a fan of the powerbar gels and I was hoping to buy more before the marathon this Sunday…

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Funny you ask, we’ve looked as well, as The Girl likes it. No luck. We import from the US. That said, last year Gu was at the expo, and if you ask nicely, I’m willing to bet you’d be able to get some from them.

      Reply
    • Michael replied

      Gotcha. Thanks for the info. I’ll try it out.

      Reply

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