Monday, March 5, 2012

Semi-Marathon de Paris

Well, the weekend is almost over and what a great weekend it has been! We came for the Half-Marathon, but we did more than just that.
On Friday, two friends and I took an early train to Paris to discover where we would be staying... it was an apartment owned by a friend of a friend, so we were kind of taking a risk renting it, since we hadn't paid anything and we had never met the owner. But all was well, and the apartment was great! It has been so nice to be able to unpack our stuff and leave it everywhere, opposed to a hostel when you have to keep everything together. Plus, we got to actually cook real food! And nap in the afternoon.
Chilling in the apartment

Our little kitchen

Loft bedroom

Sink and shower
So on Friday, we spent a lot of time just chilling in the apartment. I went on an adventure to pick up my race kit, which involved a few metro rides and a nice walk through a park. I picked up my kit, which had a cool t-shirt, a sweatband, some energy food products, some flyers, a magazine, and of course my race number! I wandered through the expo a bit but didn't buy anything.
After making a delicious dinner of shepherd's pie, we got ready for the evening. I have a friend who lives in Paris, so we met up with him and a few of his friends to go out. It was actually really fun, and also funny; I guess the thing to do in Paris is have a drink on one of the bridges, so we got a couple bottles of wine and sat on the love lock bridge, with the Eiffel Tower sparkling on one side and Notre Dame lit up on the other. It was pretty cool to be hanging out the Paris way. After that, we tried to get into this one place but there were too many of us so we ended up elsewhere, but had fun all the same.
On Saturday, we slept in a bit and took our time getting ready, before heading out for a little walk downtown. We walked on the main street, saw the Arc du Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame, and even discovered a Canadian pub, where we stopped to warm up.
on the Champs Elysées

Arc du Triomphe

Eiffel Tower

The love lock bridge
The weather was typically Parisian, grey sky but luckily no rain! After we took a break at the Canadian place, we met up with my friend again and he took us around a little bit, just in his neighbourhood. Afterwards we saw an interesting movie called Chronicle. Not a movie I would usually see, but it wasn't bad. The filming of it was really interesting because it was all in 1st person. We headed back to our apartment to make some dinner and welcome our other friend, who was just up for the night because she was going to meet her parents at the airport the next day. We had a good dinner and then I tried to go to bed early to be well rested for the big race. Of course, I woke up often to make sure I hadn't overslept, but it was alright. I had a decent sleep.
We decided to leave at 8:15 for the run, and I am glad we did! The metro was very busy, and we actually didn't make it onto the first one...
It was really busy.
Mostly everyone on the metro was going to the race, so at least we didn't get lost! When we got the the race area, we lined up for the porta-potties.  There were not very many for 30 000 people, and we waited about 45 minutes for one! I then had to strip down to my shorts and t-shirt and take off for the start line so that I didn't miss it. It was a little chilly, so I had to jump around for a while to keep warm. There were so many people, and we left in waves, so I actually walked right up to the start line, then spent about 10 minutes just dodging people and trying to set a decent pace. I had a bracelet that told me what my split times needed to be in order to reach my goal, under 2hours, and for the first few km I was too slow because of all the people. Eventually I made up time though.
Ready to go!

Almost at the start line.
The first 10km were actually pretty easy. I felt good and not tired at all. The route was awesome too! The first 5km were in the park, and then we got out and into the street of the city. There were little bands and orchestras playing along the route, and lots of people cheering. Probably the funniest part was when this older woman decided to cross the street in front of the runners with her bread. Everyone was yelling at her to look out and move, but she just waved them all off as if to say "I was here first." I thought it was funny. Anyways, like I said the first 10km went by quickly and were pretty easy. The next 5km went by a little slower but still weren't too difficult. It was the last 6km that were hard!! They went by so slowly, especially when it got down to the final 3km or so and I was counting down. My legs were feeling pretty tired, but I just kept telling myself "mind over matter, God over mind." That was my mantra. Because it would have been really easy to just give in to your body being exhausted, and even if you have a strong mind, it is still easy to not be able to keep going. Finally the end was in sight and I gave it my all. It was a really incredible experience crossing the finish line, along with all the other people. My parents have done quite a few half-marathons in the past years, and I have always said that I would never be able to do one. Well, never say never! I even made my time goal and my goal of not stopping. My time was 1h57min. I was very happy. I picked up a poncho and my medal, and then stuffed my face with oranges, apples, a sugar cube, and some powerade before finding my two friends, who were nice enough to buy me a rose in congratulations! It was awesome. It felt so good to finish that run.
Awesome friends!

So tired, but so happy!
We came back to the apartment, and I took a nap and a very long shower. In the evening, I actually was able to walk so I met my friend downtown for dinner and a movie. Then I went to bed nice and early. And now here I am, with incredibly sore legs and an awesome story to tell. I will probably have to leave earlier than normal to make my train later, because I have to switch metros a few times and my legs are not really loving stairs right now... in fact they are hating them. My parents told me to walk down the stairs backwards would help, but I don't really think I can do that in the metro. I mean, there are definitely some weird people there but I don't really want to attract any unwanted attention!
We will be sad to leave the apartment here, but of course it is always amazing to go back to Nantes, our favourite little french city. Hard to believe we only have1 month of school left, and less than 2 months in France.
Thanks to everyone who encouraged me in my run! I couldn't have done it without you!

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