This is what was in store for me between Paris and Versailles :
I had never done this race but was very excited. Hills don’t scare me much so I wasn’t too worried about “La Cote des Gardes ” (Gardian Hill) that everyone talks about, although on the above graph it looks pretty darn scary.
As usual, I set everything out the night before. It was supposed to be in the fifties, but warming up around 11 a.m. which would be in the middle of my race. So I opted for shorts and a short sleeve shirt instead of long running tights.
Due to excitement I didn’t sleep too well so got up very early. I had my usually go to breakfast of coconut flour pancakes, half a banana, almond butter and two big mugs of coffee.
For a race start at 10 a.m., I left the house around 7:45 to be sure I had time to figure out where I was going and drop off my bag at the bag check. As I take public transportation, the excitement starts immediately and builds because runners get on the subway at every station. There is an almost tangible excitement in the air that I love about Parisian races. This one did not disappoint.
I arrived early, not too many people were there yet.
I used the porta-potties and went to drop off my bag. You drop them off at a truck (vestiaires = coat check), which takes your bag to the finish line.
I then used the porta-potty again while waiting for a friend. This time there was a loooooong line, despite a very large number of them, and I started getting quite cold. There was no sun but some wind. I started regretting not wearing my running tights or keeping a throw away tshirt. I met up with my friend, sporting her garbage bag for warmth.
She kindly gave me another one she had.
I continued to be cold while she waited in line to drop off her bag. We met up with another friend and eventually headed over towards the starting line, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. We were still really cold, there was some wind and the sun hadn’t made its way to us yet. The sky was beautiful and I was counting down until I would be in the sun.
Once we were surrounded by the other runners, things got a bit warmer. At least we had the three of us to keep each other warm.
The race started at 10 a.m. There were 25,000 people registered and they were letting 350 people start every minute. It was a first come first start basis and we were in wave 25. Once we were off, we each ran our own race, my 2 friends much faster than I am !
The first 5 km were flat. You follow the Seine river, through the 15th district and into the suburbs. Once we started we were immediately in the sun and I heated up instantly. Those first 5 km were great, I felt good about my time (6:45 per km) and was pain free. Faithful to sticking to Galloway’s run/walk method, I did stop and walk a couple times for one minute. As my body needs time to heat up and get going, these short walks work well for me.
At km 6 I knew what was coming. That major hill. It is 2 km long, all uphill. Well, I ran the whole thing (avg pace 7:20 per km). I was so happy when I got to the top I stopped and took a picture :
I immediately came to a food / water station and this was really the only down side of the race. The street was quite narrow, there was food & water on both sides, but an ambulance was trying to get through so you had runners trying to stop for something to eat / drink, other runners pushing to keep running, the ground riddled with orange peels, the ambulance slowly driving. It was not a pretty site.
Eventually the crowd ran faster than the ambulance and the runners broke free. Then I had a great surprise. We soon started running through woods. The hill had been in the sun, so the cool woods were welcomed. There were some more hills and we eventually came out in a residential area (avg pace was 6:50) This part of the race was great. I eventually made my way downhill, towards Versailles. The only thing I didn’t like was the last mile or so. It seemed never ending. Long & flat. I did do the last 2 km in under 6:00 pace.
I finished in 1:48:07 for 16 km (10 miles). I finished 1 322 our of 1 750 in my age group and 4 609 out of 6179 women. My watch says 15,85km for 1:45:50. I have no idea how, but I stopped my watch at some point (I think to take the above picture) and forgot to start it up again. Grrrrr. No one to blame but myself !
Overall, I hadn’t set a time objective, I just wanted to experience this race that everyone was talking about. I would definitely do it again.
What I liked (besides the race route) : smooth logistics
- To meet other runners / your family it was extremely well marked with names of cities (let’s meet at “Athens”, at “Berlin”))
- The organization was without a hitch. We had a ton of information before the race. Easy bag drop off at the start, easy bag pick up at the end.
- Enough potties (of course there are never enough, but there were a lot), enough food & drink
- Great signage
- No waiting in line for anything (besides the potties a bit)
- I am very grateful to the race organizers for finding me a bib to officially buy. Like an idiot, I forgot to send in my race registration and discovered a week before the race that I was not signed up. So while it is officially me who raced, by bib was that of the person I bought it from. But I am ok with that. Its my medal !
The only things I didn’t like :
- That last 1,5 km that were never ending. Nonetheless, a huge smile on my face
- The fact that the race doesn’t actually finish AT the Chateau de Versailles. I just assumed it did but we were quite far away. This picture was taken after walking 500 meters towards the chateau.
- The signage to take the train back to Paris (not the race organizers fault). I felt it wasn’t well marked and we ended up walking an extra 2km trying to find the train station.
By the time I made it home it was 2:45 p.m. and I was starving. A nice glass of wine, big steak and yummy dessert from a local bakery that is to die for. I deserved it !
Already looking forward to next year !
I am linking up with Hoho runs and Misssippipiddlin for their Weekly Wrap up link up, #8 this week ! Be sure to check them out and share the blogger love with all the other fun ladies doing the link up !