Veni vidi vici. I came, I saw, I… not so conquered. Sorry Julius.
Paris! – You were hot, you were sunny and you were stunningly beautiful, by any standards and a particularly picturesque backdrop for a marathon course. But you were also a toughie and a hottie, and you certainly got me (and I dare say, a few others…) seriously hot and bothered and in a whole lot of trouble. A beautiful lady, indeed.
So I don’t bore you For your reading pleasure, I’ve divided Paris into the bit before the race, the bit of a race and the bit after the race.
Back to the Beginning
I arrived in Paris two nights before the race, which was both lovely and tactical, as I was anxious to avoid stiff legs and all the weird physical goings ons that usually happen to your body after you’ve been flying or travelling a long way. Apart from the bus to the airport driving PAST me at 6am in the morning and an utterly terrifying start to the day, all travel went very well. Made it to Paris and found my hotel not far from Place de la Republique, which turned out to be a great location.
I stayed in Hotel Taylor on Rue Taylor, which is located between the Strasbourg-St Denis and Republique metro stops in the 10th Arrondissement. Very handy dandy altogether. The hotel was very nice and quite reasonable, although I had to change rooms because the room they had me in initially was very warm and the thermostats in all the rooms were fixed (why?) to an absurd temperature. They were a little dismissive and unaccommodating at first but then they moved me to a room on a lower floor and that helped massively. I’m not a complainer and I’m the least demanding person but it was pretty uncomfortable and after not being able to sleep at all the first night, I knew I needed to sort it out before the marathon. One day without sleep is okay but a few nights together combined with running a marathon would be sheer torture… But if you’re looking for a hotel next year for Paris, I would recommend this one. Great location, good quality and not too expensive.
Salon Du Running: Running Exhibition and Registration
After settling into the hotel and unpacking, I popped back on the metro and headed over to the Parc des Expositions where the Salon du Running for race registration took place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I had heard that this was going to be a huge exhibition and was warned to be careful not to spend too much time on my feet here. They were not kidding.
The Salon du Running was MASSIVE. First up on entering the Parc was security, which was good to see and then bordering both sides of the giant entrance hall, were medical certificate checkers. Fair play to the organisers, there were plenty of checking stations and staff so queueing was minimal. The staff were assiduous in going through the medical certificates to make sure every requirement had been met, before then going through your ID and confirmation letter. I was glad I had been so particular about all of this before leaving… Once stamped for approval, I was sent to the next part of the hall to collect my number and then on to pick up my sac (nice green backpack!)
After sorting the business end of things, I rambled around the hall, drooling over all the gorgeous running gear (which you’re really not supposed to do to save your legs for the big race, but they do make it so tempting here… and I had set myself a time limit 😉 ) The exhibition was great with pretty much every running brand represented and a running track lining the middle of the hall that looked great. At the end of the track was a big screen and projected onto the screen were messages to individual runners as they approached the area surrounding the screen – the GPS in the timing chip (I presume) picked up people as they come close – very clever people 😉 and that was good fun. There was also a large wraparound sign with the words “Paris Marathon 2016” written across it with the letters being made up of the printed names of every single 57,000 (plus) registered participants. So simple but good craic.
The only real criticism I’d have of the expo was that there were virtually no discounts on gear or shoes. Every stall and brand seemed to be charging full price on everything. That’s poor, lads. Only exception was Kalenji who had some great deals. I picked a cap up from them as it was incredibly wet on Thursday when I arrived and I figured one might be needed. I couldn’t have been more wrong on that point but more of that later. 6.99 for a good quality running cap? I’ll have one of those thank you very much!
The bag itself? Cracking. Uber light little backpack in fluorescent green which I would realistically use for races or when I’m on my bike. More handiness. Inside the bag? Fairly sad. A bag of pistachios, a teeny bag of Haribo (you know the ones 😉 ) , another teeny bag of jellies, a blister plaster and a whistle. The blister plaster and the Haribo were the only saving graces of the goody bag but really and truly, it was fairly mean. Needs work. Please.
Friday in Paris was absolutely stunning. The sun came out, the temperatures shot up and the city became my playground. My first time in Paris, everything was new and everything was wow. I visited the Louvre, gave some love to Vermeer, Titian and the Mona Lisa, of course, and thoroughly binged on the magnificent architecture of the gallery buildings. The courtyard outside, the famed pyramids, the gardens, the views, the symmetry… all amazing (in the true sense of the word) and I absolutely enjoyed all of it. Except that as this a post about preparing for a marathon, I should mention that I walked too much. Way too much. I could hardly stand by the end of the day-not kidding. It’s all so mesmerising that you just get sucked right in and before you know it, you’re on 25,000 steps.
I deliberately put the Louvre on my list for Friday as I reckoned on Saturday being a total rest day before the race on Sunday. Just as well!
After over-exerting myself on Friday, I was determined to keep movement to an absolute minimum. I did a short easy 2 mile shake out run in the morning and then chilled out in the hotel (watching cycling and french Grey’s Anatomy!) before collecting my folks from the metro station who were travelling over to cheer me on and spend a few days en Paris. We went for coffee and then they headed off to be tourists while I retired to the hotel to be boring rest. I used my time very productively and found an Italian restaurant in my Lonely Planet guidebook which was one metro ride away.
I know, I feel you looking accusingly at me asking me what was I thinking of picking an Italian restaurant in Paris? I have one word for you. Marathon. Are we good now?
Les Amis Des Messina is just a couple of small blocks behind Faidherbe-Chaligny metro stop and when we got there it was…full. Luckily, one table hadn’t shown up for their booking so the very kind waiter gave us their table. The food was delicious and the restaurant was just gorgeous. Think small, atmospheric, authentic Italian, with a modern edge. Excellent service and beautiful food. To be recommended.
Morning of the Race:
My alarm did not go off.
Tune in tomorrow to find out if EatAndRunThis made it to the start line…