A Monday night Parisian long run and a look at the gear I ran with

Tonight marks the beginning of my official training schedule towards the Paris Marathon with The Girl in April.  Lately, I’ve been free-wheeling it a bit on the training schedule, with both work travel and just getting adjusted to Parisian life having taken a bit of a front row seat.  This afternoon though, I dug out the December schedule from coach and dove into more formality in my training.

The scheduled run was a bit under 2 hours wandering around Paris.  I ended up slicing it a touch bit shorter because I didn’t realize I even had a long run until…well…about 30 minutes before I went outside.  I thought it was a trainer ride on my schedule.  My bad.

At any rate, here’s what went out the door with me.


And here’s the textual rundown and explanation:

1) Upper left: Alpha Bluetooth Smart HR watch – I’m testing how well this compares against traditional HR straps.
2) Upper middle: Garmin FR610 – it’s the traditional HR data gathering device, and my pace display for tonight’s run.
3) Upper right: ANT+ heart rate strap.  It happens to be a PowerCal strap, but that’s just because it’s what I have paired.
4) Middle: iPhone with Wahoo Fitness app (new beta).  I use the Wahoo app because it’s the most complete for post-activity data analysis.  By far.
5) Middle Right: 1 Euro.  Bathrooms aren’t free in France (or much of Europe).  A Euro ensures I’m good to go.  Literally.
6) Middle Far Right: Our house keys. Yes, that’s a little Eiffel Tower. My keyset has it on it. It ensures that when there is a ‘who’s key’s are lost’ fiasco – I can clearly state mine aren’t.
7) Left: Camera.  It’s what I use to take pictures on the run.  It’s waterproof and all that jazz.
8) Lower Middle: PowerBar Energy Blasts.  Nutrition.  It’s what I’ve been using lately.  They seem to work.  Mostly, they just taste awesome.
9) Bottom: Spibelt.  It holds all that junk.

As noted above, the Alpha HR watch feeds the data to the Wahoo app.  It does it via Bluetooth Smart, so no dongle needed.  I also have a ANT+ variant as well, that can feed data to Garmin devices etc.  Since the Alpha doesn’t record the data, so it has to go somewhere.


Note the armband goes on my right arm (photo below to show you the HR values being transferred).  Once I start running, I don’t bother to touch/deal with it.  It’s just gathering data.  You’ll generally find that I don’t like to mess with stuff once I start a workout (see my note yesterday about watching Mythbusters on the trainer).  I just want to workout.  I know, sounds odd coming from me – but that’s how I am.


Ok, with that background taken care of – I feel it’s important to post a pre-run photo of The Girl.  Here’s her new addition – a blinky light.  Well, actually, it didn’t really blink. So really, I suppose she just looks like a confused Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.  But, since she avoided any person-vehicle incidents tonight, it must be working.


It was about 6PM when we headed out, so not too early in the evening, but not too late.  About perfect for long-run time.

Of course, the first thing that’s always on the agenda is getting GPS signal.  No matter which device I have, it’s all about waiting outside near stall #5.  These are the green boxes along the river that books/postcards/photos are sold in.  I’ve gotta write up a Paris blog post about them sometime.

Unfortunately, my previous window trick doesn’t work in our apartment, partially because the window is northerly facing instead of southerly, and partially because our apartment here was apparently built to withstand a nuclear blast or something.  Concrete a mile thick.  No signal.  Anywhere inside.


With signal taken care of, off I went.  I started off going south-east along the river (away from the tourist areas), mostly to build up some early mileage and get into a rhythm before having to dodge pedestrians and traffic.  But, I don’t like to go too far this way at night as eventually you hit some industrial area that isn’t quite as nice.  I should point out that The Girl had already left off on our own route, at her own pace.

As I looped back up I crossed the river and found rush-hour traffic still going strong.  Below next to the cars is actually where we often do intervals  Despite how it looks, it’s awesome ground with virtually no pedestrians (because of the cars).  There’s a brand new path just finished a month or two ago, in between the cars and the water.


After passing the Louvre (though, this time I skipped going into the inner area with the little glass pyramid), I eventually came upon the Ferris wheel that we rode two weekends ago.  Since then they’ve add a ginormous Christmas tree.  The scale is hard to understand in this photo, but it’s basically as tall as the wheel.  It’s kinda nuts.


From there I turned and ran up the Avenue des Champs-Elysees (that’s where the TdF finish is).  They’ve got this unreal Christmas village thing going on for a good ways, before turning into a gigantic light illumination scene.

Of course, taking a photo of this while running at night doesn’t really work as it turns out:



At the top is the Arch.  In theory, I could try and cross the road and run back down the other side.



In reality, I actually found it easier to run all the way around it – crossing probably 8 more streets.  But each street is relatively small, so it’s pretty easy to cross while running.  And if traffic is a problemo, then I just do lots of little loops:


From there, I headed back down the craziness of Christmas village.  One could very easily get distracted here – potentially so much so that finishing the run would seem silly.


With the Avenue complete, I made the turn towards a tall golden doohickey:


I was running up above the river along the street sidewalk, but I quickly made my way down along the river itself.  This is because there’s no bridge crossings to deal with.  Bridge crossings mean you have to wait for cars and stuff, whereas along the river is nice and quiet.

Below, passing the Bateau Mouches – which is the big company that runs tour boats up and down the river.  It’s really fascinating.  We see this boats every day all day from our window.  And night.  In fact, one just lit up our living room a few moments ago (they have big spotlights on both sides of them to illuminate the buildings).


Just after passing the boats, the clock struck 7PM.  In doing so, the Eiffel tower turned into a giant sparkler.  See on the hour every hour (at night) the whole thing blinks and shimmers for a couple minutes.  Then it goes back to being normal again.  Like a little dance.  Minus the movement part.


And while the tower was doing its dance, so was my stomach.  Not having planned for a long run meant that food during the day wasn’t quite timed correctly.  A bathroom was urgently needed.  Like, no can run until bathroom found type urgent.

Now in DC, I can tell you every portapotty within a 20 mile radius of the house.  Every.last.one.of.them.

But in Paris, I’m still finding my spots.

Tonight, I found a new spot – right below the base of one of the legs of the tower.  And this one is brilliant.  It’s an underground bathroom that’s FREE!  That’s crazy here in Paris.  Plus, it’s staffed and bright and shiny and clean and everything else that most bathrooms here aren’t.  It’s awesome.  I might just walk over there every time I have to go…just because I can.


With my bathroom venture complete, I made a loop around the grounds of the tower, tacking on an easy car-free mile.  From there, I headed back towards home along the banks.  It’s around here that I ran into The Girl.  Or perhaps she ran into me.  Either way, we crossed paths.


A couple miles later the towers of Notre Dame were within view.  Along with the crazy blue structure they’ve been building for three months in front of it all.  That thing opens up on Friday.  We’ll talk about that next week.  I think it might sparkle too.


With Notre Dame in view and then soon behind me, my run was complete.  Before I get into my next photo though, I want to point out that dryfit shirt below.  I actually have no idea who sent it to me.  It showed up in our US forwarding address a month or two ago, with no return address or other information.  Just a shirt in an envelope.  Someone within the sport tech industry I’d suppose (since that’s who has that address).  Tonight was the first run with it – worked well.  So whomever you are, thanks!

And since I know you’re all dying to see my awesome Neapolitan ice cream hat,the real purpose of the below photo.  My sister in law got it for me, and it’s pretty rockin’.  It’s even got ear flaps.  Big ones.


Here, let me give you a better view:


And just like that, my post is complete.  I really can’t top a topping of ice cream, can I?

Thanks for reading!


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  1. oldSAP

    Hi Ray, i’m training for my upcoming 1st full marathon this january but im having trouble with food intake. once i reach 25-28k mark i usually lose it, so i decided to take a few gummy bears with me (i’ve only drank water before) and tried to eat them on my 18k mark. my problem is i develop gas when i took those gummy bears. so my question is:
    1. can you suggest any other energy food/gel/etc that might not affect my stomach
    2. at what distance do i have to start taking them in to preserve my energy level

    thank you for your time

    • Mathieu

      Hello Ray
      Funny you’ve come to those parts, I work just near where you live and often run on “les quais”, just where you stand on the picture for example is one of my favorite spots (from there to Tolbiac and back, there’s a six mile run, did it on monday).
      If you’re ok for some idle chat sometime, I’d be happy to say “hi”. Could talk about running itineraries (I also wonder where you’re gonna ride your bike : as I used to ride a lot in the parisian area, though I had less time with kids lately, I could give you advice). Hope you enjoy Paris anyway

    • Damien

      Hi OldSAP, I can suggest you some products that I take when doing a marathon.
      Overstims Malto is to take the 3 days before the marathon to make a good stock of sugar.
      Overstims gel Coup de fouet is a portion of sugar very concentrated, you can bring 3 or 4 of these little portions in your pocket and take them every 10 km.
      Sorry for my poor english… 🙁

  2. Bert

    Cool! I’m running the Paris marathon as well…

    I was planning on paying the Cupcakery a visit to refuel afterwards, but I guess it might not be open then 😉

  3. Bert

    By the way, I think this might be redundant for you, but maybe it could help other aspiring Paris-joggers who are not regulars to the city yet … and who are also looking for easy-access toilets!

    (I know they helped me a lot when I was living in Paris for a few months last year)

    All over Paris there are free “Sanisettes”, in total about 400+ little grey/brown toilet houses where you can do your thing (both things, accessible equally to men and women). They are cleaned and sanitized automatically and they are, as you can see on this map (link to equipement.paris.fr), quite abundant inside the Péripherique.

    There is even a smartphone app to find the nearest one!
    link to play.google.com

    • DC Rainmaker

      Indeed, those ones are our favs. I knew about the one on the opposite side of where I was, but didn’t know about the other one closer to where I was. Great app though – saving that (and the map).

  4. RigolleM

    The Wahoo Fitness app looks different then my version? Is this a BETA version?

  5. Dan

    The blinky light I use is …. link to amazon.com

    It’s small, light, clips on to my gloves, road id, shorts, etc.
    It blinks or remains steady.

    Cheap too … you know, more money for ice cream

    My running bud calls me Flash.

  6. Jared

    Hate to be one of those internet guys who just comments to correct, but I’m guessing that’s a SPIbelt, not a SPITbelt. Unless that’s a new thing/feature, in which case, where’s the review on that?!

    Thanks Ray. Your adventures are refreshing.
    From a fan that just left 4 yrs in Europe to come back to the US of A.

    • DC Rainmaker

      Eek, fixed! Funny, I wouldn’t have thought that either would have got the green light from spell-check. Go figure!

    • Jared

      Oh, I forgot. You all should join us at the Marathon du Medoc. I ran it for the first time this year, and it is the most fun 26 miles on earth.

  7. Rob

    Doens’t that sound like a lot more fun than a regular marathon: http://www.traildeparis.com ? You even have to climb the Eiffeltower in the end of the 80k run!! Have fun 🙂

  8. I am excitet for your Alpha Mio review. Will you also try to use it while swimming?
    I understand that the ANT+ HR straps do not work int he water due to the water density reducing the range to almost nothing. With the MIO you can put the 910XT/310XT right next to it and hence should be able to recrd HR in the water.
    BTW, why do you do a 2hr long run on a weekday? Isn’t it common to do long runs on the weekend.. crazy europeans…

    • DC Rainmaker

      RE: Mio and ANT+ to another unit

      Yeah, that might work. A bit awkward/wonky of course, but technically it’s worth trying – interesting idea.

      As for a weekday (Monday), it’s primarily because The Girl has her CupCakery closed on Monday’s, so it’s realistically the only day she can do it easily. Otherwise she’s trying to jam it in either rather early before work, or potentially late after a long day standing.

      That said, many coaches have moved to weekday long runs as it separates the long-ride and long run, which most see as beneficial. I’ve almost always had my long run on a Tuesday, with my long-ride on a Saturday. It’s easy to do a 2ish hour run on a weeknight, compared to doing a 4-7 hour ride on a weeknight.

  9. Robert

    The Christmas market is good fun. Do they still have the guy carving bits of wood with a chainsaw? Well done finding a free lavatory, I’ve never managed that.

  10. Kasey

    I used to have the same Eiffel tower key chain! I got mine on my first visit in ’98

  11. Attila

    What are you doing on long runs for hydration? Do you have a bottle drop or are there fountains?

    • DC Rainmaker

      Normally I’d take something along (water). This time..uhhh..yeah.

      Usually when I run shorter I’ll hold a water bottle, and if longer, a CamelBak.

  12. I would have loved to see the Garmin trace of your 2h run. I always find Paris so small, that it would have been cool to see how many arrondissments you covered 😉 Last time I tried running in Paris I ended up doing the Paris Marathon, which definitely violated the Ray Running Rule #1. That’s OK, it was pretty awesome.

  13. Harry

    I use this little light:
    link to hollandbikeshop.com
    In holland you can get them in nearly any retailshop for around 2 or 3 euro’s. Red one on the cap, white one on the glove for the dark stretches of road.

    Ray, thnx for sharing your impressions and review.
    From a dutch fan.

    • Michael

      I found the “same” lights in the dollar section at the Target in W-S, NC. Bought two sets, but haven’t had a need to try them yet.

  14. Hi,

    Getting my Alpha watch soon, how long is the battery life on yours ?



  15. Davide

    I’ll run the Marthon de Paris too! Hope I could spot you… but I’ll be some km afterward in the slow motion sector 🙂

  16. craa22uk

    Bateau Mouches – this is a french term for river boat, Fly Boats in literal terms.

    Fin d’ecole!

  17. barry

    hi ray I know you talking about your cheap mittens in your gear review for when it’s really cold. However what do you do when it rains and it’s really really cold like 40 degrees do you have waterproof mittens do you have a recommendation thank you so much