Paris Versailles 16K Race Recap

This is what was in store for me between Paris and Versailles :

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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 :

 

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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 !

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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.

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  • 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 !

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The only things I didn’t like :

  • That last 1,5 km that were never ending. Nonetheless, a huge smile on my face

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  • 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.

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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 !

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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 !

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Comments: 24

  1. Jennifer September 28, 2015 at 3:39 am Reply

    Congratulations!! Looks beautiful out (despite the early morning cold). I like how they named the “meet up locations” with City names. Very cute.
    Jennifer recently posted…Friday Five – Upcoming Fall ActivitiesMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 8:19 am Reply

      Very cute & very practical !

  2. Karen September 28, 2015 at 10:49 am Reply

    Congratulations on a great time! That is quite an uphill climb and a very cool starting spot 🙂
    I always use the Gallwoway method in a race if I start feeling fatigued, I keep my timer just in case 🙂 That quick break is always perfect.
    Karen recently posted…Training and Drop Back WeeksMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:00 pm Reply

      Thank you ! I would love to hear about your Galloway experience. Did you train following the exact program ?

      • Karen September 29, 2015 at 12:43 am Reply

        I have never trained solely Galloway, but I have done a lot of training runs with my Gym boss. I have set it for 4 x 1 . I use that method in the heat when I am having a hard time, the walk break is a perfect so I can regroup. I have turned on my timer and ran two half marathons that way because i t was such a hot day. I feel better mentally to keep a rhythm going 😉
        Karen recently posted…Training and Drop Back WeeksMy Profile

        • Karen - French Inspiration September 29, 2015 at 8:49 am Reply

          Thanks ! I too am training with the 4 run / 1 walk. I am going to try it out in a half marathon I have end of October. Glad to know it has worked for you.

  3. Mary Beth Jackson September 28, 2015 at 11:10 am Reply

    congrats on your finish! How exciting and what a beautiful race 🙂 I can only imagine! Nice recap, I always wondered if a race would be different in another country. Funny how they just start so many runners at a time and off you go! FUN!
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…I am Back! Ciao, come va?My Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:11 pm Reply

      The biggest difference for a race in Europe versus the US is that you need a medical certificate, citing you are apt to run. I have only run one race in the US and there were lots of strollers. Never seen that in France, but maybe in smaller races.

  4. Debra September 28, 2015 at 12:58 pm Reply

    Congrats on a great race! It looks beautiful in Paris! That elevation chart does look a bit scary, but you handled those hills.
    Debra recently posted…Weekly WrapMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:09 pm Reply

      I was glad I looked at the elevation chart before and knew what to expect.

  5. HoHo Runs September 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm Reply

    25,000 is a really big race. That chart looks intense! Sometimes they can be deceiving but that one definitely has a huge hill. It sounds like you powered up without any problems though. Congrats on a great race Ninis! Ha ha. (I assume that’s a name printed on the bib.) It looks like the weather was perfect too. I appreciate your continued support of the Weekly Wrap.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Weekly Wrap #8My Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm Reply

      Yes, my name was Ninis for the day, short for Anais. 🙂 25000 was a lot of people. Because they didn’t let people start according to estimated finishing times, there were always a ton of people on the course. I caught up with people, people passed me, people running my pace…it wasn’t overly crowded, but definitely dense. Thanks for the link up !

  6. Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home September 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm Reply

    I’m so glad you got to run this one!!! And that dessert…

    Do you ever get tired of seeing the Eiffel Tower? I don’t think I would.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Marathon week 10: Run this TownMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:06 pm Reply

      Glad I got to run it to. At the top of my list for next year. And No, I never get tired running by the Eiffel Tower….. ever. 🙂

  7. Kelli September 28, 2015 at 3:32 pm Reply

    Nice race! That hill looks intimidating, for sure. I had a ~5K run this weekend with a huge climb for most of the 2nd km. I kept running but the pace wasn’t fast. I was happy I didn’t walk, though. Good job to you for toughing it out and then taking a photo of the accomplishment!
    Kelli recently posted…Crazy Amazing WeekendMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:04 pm Reply

      I knew my time wouldn’t be that great, but I wanted to come away with a great accomplishment and running up that 2km hill did that for me.

  8. Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin September 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm Reply

    Wow that was a big race! I’m so very glad you were able to run it, that sounds exactly like something I would do! Is this common to start at 10AM? On average here it’s 7-8AM starts mostly, but we did start at 5AM for the one in Tupelo because its still so hot in MS then. Thansk for sharing your race recap on the Weekly Wrap, and thanks for you continued support.
    Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin recently posted…Weekly Wrap #8 – Wedding FunMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:03 pm Reply

      Races usually start between 9 and 10 here. Never (rarely) earlier. Not sure why. Probably because it would be too dark. Thanks for the link up, I always look forward to catching up with all the bloggers.

  9. Darlene September 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm Reply

    Again I am drooling because I want to run in Paris. Wow, what a hill. Your time was great considering.
    Darlene recently posted…Monday Running UpdateMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm Reply

      Yes, I was pretty happy with it. As it was the first time doing that route, I really wanted to enjoy it.

  10. Carrie@familyfitnessfood.com September 29, 2015 at 4:55 am Reply

    Wow! Great race. Such a fantastic location, so glad you were able to get the bib. I’d run up that hill for some wine, steak and that dessert too. YUM!!
    Carrie@familyfitnessfood.com recently posted…Friday Five Fall FavoritesMy Profile

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 29, 2015 at 8:47 am Reply

      Indeed, after race fuel is great motivation to push through !

  11. Rebecca Royy September 29, 2015 at 5:14 pm Reply

    Hi…first time I’ve been to your site. Nice post!! Love races in ‘exotic’ places. Probably not exotic for you.
    We went over to Barcelona one time and ran a giant race through the city and the Olympic Stadium – which was awesome.

    I have my heart set on the Istanbul Marathon. You get to run in 2 continents!

    • Karen - French Inspiration September 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm Reply

      Thanks for reading. I recently ran in Istanbul, I LOVE that city. Check out my post : http://frenchinspirationblog.com/running-in-istanbul/ (or in the travel section of my blog)
      It might be crazy with the hills though… not sure about a marathon there but to visit it is fantastic.

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