Lest you think I somehow ended up running the Paris Marathon with your knowing, sadly, I did not. But my super wonderful friend Katie did (she was my teammate and roommate when I ran Ragnar last year) and after I went through her pictures and amazing captions on Facebook, I asked her if I could steal them and turn them into a blog post and she said yes!
Katie also makes and sells amazing (seriously, amazing) run skirts – if you’re interested check out her Etsy shop or Facebook page! And if you see me running in a skirt, it’s most definitely one of hers!
So, sit tight, because this is quite possibly the most amazing marathon recap ever.
[Tweet “An epic Paris Marathon recap by @ChaseThisSkirt #WildWorkoutWednesday”]
If you’re interested in what it’s like to run a marathon – here’s the story of my first marathon. Grab a drink and take a seat because I took a photo at every marker! I also captioned all the photos with whatever came to mind – beware: there are flamingos, wee trees and canadians.
Morning of the race – a beautiful sunrise. I’m staying in Bussy-Saint-Georges with friends about an hour by train outside of Paris. The train was relatively empty when I boarded but kept getting more and more crowded with marathoners as we got closer to Paris. It was really cool seeing all of the running shoes on the metro platforms as the train pulled into each stop.
One of the first things I spotted in the metro station [Charles de Gaulle Etoile] was this giant flamingo. Like a 7 foot pink bird! I didn’t think people dressed up for this race, but I was mistaken.
Follow the flamingo! Metro station was packed with people with one purpose – to go smash 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers!
I caught up to the bird, he had a GoPro around his neck too
The finishers area and bag check were on Avenue Foch. People often like to say “Where the Foch is the finish?!”
Bag check was super easy and I was there early enough for my start that I could wait 30 minutes for a bathroom.
Walking down Avenue Foch towards the Arc de Triomphe. I found it funny how we were given these “keep warm bags” that said “Jogging” on them. I saved mine and wore a broken hoodie instead. Some runners [myself included] really don’t like being called a “jogger” even if we are running at a slow enough pace to be considered “jogging.” It’s probably because “running” means you are serious and “jogging” implies meh, I’m just screwing around? Who knows. No J-word for me though, no matter my turtle speed.
There was still traffic in the circle around the Arc and people were dodging it to take photos in the middle. With fresh legs, it’s no problem but it was kind of funny watching people try to get out there after they’d finished the marathon.
I opted for a photo outside the traffic circle. Ain’t got time to get hit by a car before my first marathon.
The starting line was along the Champs-Elysees. It was a nice little warm up walk. Finding my entry point to my corral and getting it was a little crazy. The entry was about one person wide with people checking bibs to make sure you’re in the right spot.
I eventually got in and joined the rest of the sardines. I saw two girls from the US who were dressed like full-on French maids – they were hilarious and awesome. I saw them dusting people off during the race
In the starting pen looking back up the Champs-Elysees at the Arc de Triomphe. I felt like I’d already covered a great distance! How much longer do I have to do??
Corral selfie…because you certainly don’t give you phone to anyone you don’t know to take a photo!!
Note from Ange: I need to get my hands on that visor!!!!! Okay, maybe not Katie’s, but one like it! 🙂
I left a little piece of the OC Marathon and Half Marathon at Paris! It was meant to be, even though this is my favorite hoodie. In May of 2014 the OC Half was my third half [also 3rd in 2 weeks] and I bought two of these hoodies after the race – which was weird, because I rarely buy two of the same thing. Three days before I left for Paris, I snagged one of the hoodies on a piece of furniture in my house and broke off the zipper. It was unfixable so I thought it was meant to be that I wear it as my warmup coat and leave it in the corral. Very happy I still have one at home!
Men, you have it so easy here. There were Wee Trees everywhere!! In the corrals they were abundant, while there was about one portapotty for women.
Walking up to the starting line – there were men dancing in cages in the middle of the corrals too which I swore I took a photo of but I can’t find it. Okay and they weren’t really cages, but some women and I were joking about it. They were just dancing in a raised, fenced-in area. Whatever, LES HOMMES DANS DES CAGES!
It was just about time for my corral to start! This was a full hour and some change after the official start of the race. I was considering not taking any photos because of the strict time limits for this race and I was worried it would add too much time and prevent me from getting a medal and the finisher’s t-shirt at the end! But then I said screw it, I’m taking photos. AND I’M GETTING A MEDAL!
Almost at the starting line!
First kilometer! or .62 of a mile. I had not really come up with a photo strategy yet but I was like hey first K is cool.
We ran down the Champs-Elysees to La Place de la Concorde, which sadly no longer as a ferris wheel. I know this was taken down years ago, but it was there the last time I was here!
Well if I took a photo of km1, I also need a photo of mile 1!
Okay why not a photo at km 2? Uh oh, I sense a pattern here. My running strategy was run 3 minutes, power walk 1 minute. If I stuck to this, I would be able to come in well under 6 hours, which would have been golden. I had written notes to myself on my phone I could check during the race if I needed motivation and one of them was “Stick to the MFing intervals from minute one!” Yeah, I neglected to do that for the first few miles. I was just super excited and got caught up in it all. Quelle surprise.
Les Pompiers! Firemen! I was quite tempted to yell “Enlevez les t-shirts!” but I didn’t want to typify that crass American. Would have been nice though 🙂
Les Pompiers! Firemen! I was quite tempted to yell “Enlevez les t-shirts!” but I didn’t want to typify that crass American. Would have been nice though
Yeah okay so I decided to take photos at every km. When is the next time I’ll be able to run Paris? Like in 16 years when my youngest is out of the house? It’s been almost that long since I was last here anyway
Still running at mile two, whoops.
The date! This guy was very interested in the sign
La Tour Saint-Jacques – rue de rivoli
This was one of the first bands out on the course. There was beaucoup entertainment and hardly a dull moment.
Only one km until the first aid station!
Yay three miles! Just out for a little sunday run I told myself
Km 5! Approaching the first aid station! I was really excited to see these stations. I came in a few minutes early of my target
The flamingo!! He stops for aid stations too! I was very excited to see him and his handler. He was actually doing this. And running faster than me.
At the stations, we were given full bottles of water, which was so great. Probably the best aid stations ever. There were orange slices, banana thirds, raisins and sugar cubes! Even though I was feeling fine, I made sure to take an orange piece, banana, water and sugar cube. The water was great for rinsing hands off after eating the sticky food.
Note from Ange: I’m pretty sure I’d have wanted to die if I had to run a marathon with sticky orange-ness on my hands.
So many spectators everywhere!
It might not get better than running in the streets of Paris with 55,000 of your best friends.
There were also hose stations! I thought it would be fun to run under the water so I did, then I realized uh oh – water on clothes = chafing! Noo! I wasn’t too wet, but used my arm warmer to dry off the parts of my skin I got wet. I took video too, iPhone got a little bit soaked but kept on ticking. They gave out sponges in our goodie bags that some carried with them so you could dip in the water buckets too. I just used the buckets to rinse my hands later on.
This bird is flying! I think this was the last time I saw him. He really did fly.
A fun distraction is to try to do km to mile math in your head when you kind of suck at math.
One thing I wrote in my phone notes was “Don’t even try to do maths!!!” Yes mathS, plural. I do things to give me a laugh. I tried doing maths anyway and it kept me occupied until I got to the next marker when I had to start over my mathing skillz.
If I were doing “just a 10k” I’d almost be done!
A beautiful park with a little lake! Despite all of the wee trees earlier on, many folks pulled over to use nature’s wee trees.
Note from Ange: Katie messaged me on Sunday about people relieving themselves on the wee trees and said she considered taking a picture for me, but thought it might be pervy. I appreciated the lack of photographic evidence 😉
Now I just have to do like three more of these and I’m done!
L’arc de 10km!
And this was where I almost ended up like a cartoon character. Despite the amazingness of the aid stations, this was the downfall. Banana peels and orange rinds mixed with water! How one runs though it without slipping I have no idea. I couldn’t run it, I couldn’t even power walk it. I had to slowly walk with my head down and I STILL slipped on stuff!! Literally, slipping on a banana peel.
Note from Ange: probably would have bailed here.
But I made it to km 11 anyway without falling on my cul
The weather was pretty good, could have been a tad cooler, but I didn’t feel like I was overheating at any point. It was raining the day prior so this was good!
Hey guys, if we were running a half marathon we would totally be more than halfway by now!
Mile 7! Some of the snack I packed in my camelbak were pixy stix, gummy bears, GU, a little clif bar, sports beans, clif blocks. I really had no clue what I would want and didn’t want to be without. Training runs are just so different from the real thing. I had craved all of this things at one point or another during a long run so I figured I would just bring them all.
Chateau de Vincennes! Under a bit of construction. As it turned out in the end, I didn’t even bust into my litany of snacks. The aid stations were all I needed! But I’m glad I had everything with me just in case.
A lot of the entertainment were these awesome drum lines. They kept a great beat!
Note from Ange: Was it approximately 180 bpm? 😉
Bonjour from km 12!
Hosing station! This time I veered far away from the hose. Water would be nice for a second, but its chafing properties stay with you for many many km to come.
Hi there mile 8. I had my headphones and ipod prepped and I think this was the first time I had used them since the metro ride. There was a lot going on and I wanted to “take it all in” as they tell you, but sometimes music helps you pick up the pace.
Km 13, still going at the proper clip, maybe a bit faster.
Far in the distance you there were 5 people running in costumes – there were two “felons” running ahead with a “sheriff” lady chasing them, then two more felons behind her. They had signs but I couldn’t read them nor could I dart over to go see.
All they needed were some basset hounds!
Km 14. I’m at km 14. One thing I definitely did not train for was running through plumes of smoke from spectators!
Can you meet me at like mile 20 and give me a ride? Thanks.
Drums and dancing!
Passed mile 9, yay. Some other stuff I threw into my camelbak – aside from the 2L of water it does carry – were biofreeze, nuun and some salt pills. I was planning to use the nuun if I needed to bring something other than water since they don’t have energy drinks at the aid stations, only at km32
I think I got a little bored here and I am not sure why. We were running through a beautiful park.
There were tons of people, I’d run this distance many times before but something was just lacking.
So I found the famous blue line and stomped on it for a while. I also think here was the first time I applied a little bit of Biofreeze to my knees. On longer runs, sometimes I get a weird twinge that goes away after a half mile. I didn’t want to take any chances with it and just started rolling on the Biofreeze when I felt it come on!
Remnants of the aid station. I tried fast walking through this one and almost slipped again!
I can’t say that I keep up with French politics but this is a thing here too!
A very fancy and rainbowy km 16m
I was not expecting fabulous gay cheeleaders, but they were totally awesome. It reminded me of races in California
10 miles, no biggie. It’s like almost kind of half way right? 10 + 10 = 20 and I’m running 20-something miles. Yeah? Bon
Note from Ange: Yup, sounds like appropriate run maths to me. And also how I do my long runs.
Km 17 party
Note from Ange: I prefer partay.
Overalls are stylish again, people!
Note from Ange: my 16 year old self rejoices.
Mile 11! Of the 1300 Americans running [out of 55,000 total registered] I felt like I met half of them! At this point I people who were practically my neighbors! They were asking about the skirt I made ala Chase This Skirt and we got to talking about where we were from. Two of them lived in two towns flanking mine! Small world!
Drummers gettin’ down. I kept my phone in a waist pouch and loaded the camelbak with everything else. I wanted easy phone access since that would be my camera!
km 18! I had made a list of stuff I had on me in my phone so that I could look at it and see what food I had on me so I didn’t have to use my mind too much.
I finally noticed these markers on the ground for the kilometers. It made you feel like you were running across a finish line every km!
Km 19 finish line!
“At least you’re not at work” Clever girl
Mile 12. if I just do the exact same thing over again, then plus a measly 2 miles, I’m set. Not a problem.
Merci Vittel! Kilometer 20! The total distance hadn’t sunk in or I was very good to not let it permeate my thoughts. I knew that I couldn’t let it get to me otherwise the thought of 26m/42k all at once would easily take me down in one step. I really just took it one km at a time. Although often just 3 minutes at a time during my run intervals.
These guys. My favorite spectators. The one in the middle may or may not have been passed out. They were just chilling in the middle of the road trying to hand out beer. I was tempted to take it, but I’ll save the beer for after. OH and taking beer from strangers passed out in the street? Not the best idea I’ve had. There were also guys handing out glasses of wine within the first 5 kms, it was hilarious.
Aaaand mile 13 approaching…
Half marathon! HALF HALF HALF!!
That be 21 kms. Thumbs up, I made it halfway. Longest I have even done in a race.
Apparently I had to point to the “semi” sign to let you all know it’s there telling you it’s just a semi at this point
The km 21 finish line! Or the km 21 starting line
These kids on scooters would zoom up and down the race, giving high fives, yelling “Allez, allez!”
Oh how I wish that Leo, Chris, Brad and I’ll even take Zack were waiting for me at the finish.
And now 22km. Uncharted race territory.
Running down Avenue Daumesnil toward Place de la Bastille
Getting closer to la Bastille
“26.2 is nothing… which beer do you want at the finish line?”
Not sure why I was so focused on la Bastille. Maybe because it was a big thing I saw off the in distance and it was a mini accomplishment to finally reach it? The first 5k mark was just on the other side of it too.
Mile 14 and a banana stand. I think the Bluths may have been a sponsor too.
I loved these drum lines.
Note from Ange: had to.
Mile 23 and some dudes with an American flag in the distance. They were cheering on all of the Americans, yet had French accents.
Jenn reminds me of this every time I have a big race. It made me laugh that one of the maybe 4 signs in english said this!
I found myself very funny at this moment.
Note from Ange: this pretty much sums up why Katie and I are friends.
Starting at km 24, I started to notice how they had these pink cardiac help signs at the aid stations. It’s a bit scary seeing those, knowing that they do get used. I hadn’t seen runners down so far so that was a good sign.
Mile 15 started us running along La Seine
I think this band was trying to play some Elvis. I can’t recall why they were all in lab coats either. I think things were starting to get fuzzy.
But I decided to give La Seine the thumbs up because it’s La Seine? I’m not sure why. The lady in the background is clearly not entertained.
Notre Dame is peeking its way over the buildings across La Seine
This was the beginning of a series of tunnels along La Seine.
Km 25 being under one of them.
A timing mat! Hooray! It’s communicating with everyone sleeping in the US right now!
It was a really beautiful day today. It began to border on a little bit hot, but nothing close to the hot races I’ve run at home.
These cheerleaders loved my skirt! They were dressed up pretty fab themselves and were doing cheers before we headed into a very long tunnel.
I was rather excited for the impending tunnels. I read tons of recaps on this race and people said how they’re like “disco tunnels” with basically a rave happening inside! Some external energy would have been great!
The lights were on, as if last call had already happened. There was a big electronic screen above, but it had been turned off and was getting broken down. Not sure why as there were plenty of people still running and no where close to the cutoff.
Oh, there’s one laser. Yay.
Km 26 in the discoless-tunnel
Note from Ange: stupid discoless-tunnel.
This tunnel reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who where all these flying cars got stuck on the underground interstate for years. Years and years and years. Turned out it was for their own good and actually their survival, spoiler alert. There was no end in sight in the Doctor Who tunnel and I felt this tunnel would never end either. It was getting a bit hot and stuffy and I just wanted out!
So there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
And a new kilometer at the end of the tunnel!
With every passing kilometer it began to feel unreal. Unreal that I’d done 27km, however many miles that was – it’s still a ton of kms
Unreal that I was passing mile 17. Did I really just complete 17 miles? No way.
There were a few tunnels we ran through, pretty sure one was the tunnel where Princess Diana died, but I didn’t remember it at the time. This tunnel however still had some disco left in it! It was mostly dark with a DJ remixing some Rhianna. He saw me taking a photo and waved.
Coming out of that tunnel we were greeted with a km 28 marker.
Running along La Seine with the Eiffel Tower in view? Amazing. Nothing could go wrong. Everything is bon.
Note from Ange: this seems like the perfect time for a musical interlude.
Or is it bon? This was the point where I wanted to puke and quit. Right here. I was mentally complaining to myself left and right. I told myself “stfu kt, there’s the damn eiffel tower, snap out of it!”
I hit mile 18 and I really just wanted to hurl on the mile marker then quit. I didn’t do either thank goodness. Was it those sugar cubes getting it me? I don’t eat sugar like that. Was it nerves? No, I’d already come 18 miles, nerves are long gone.
km 29 – I pulled out my phone and went over my “You’re not actually dying” note to motivate myself. It consisted of short phrases to hopefully keep me moving. Stuff to make me laugh. And a list of all the snackies I had in my camelbak.
“Focus on the finish, not the discomfort.” – an adapted quote from Marathon Martin [that’s how you are known in my house!] I heeded his words and repeated them to myself until I saw the next km marker. Martin originally told me “focus on the finish, not the pain” which is also true, but I was channeling some of my Hypnobabies positivity training and couldn’t let the P-word into my lexicon that day. Because then all I’d hear was “pain” and focus on that – so “discomfort” was about as far as I could go. And it worked, I really was not in any pain, just temporary discomfort.
“Smile and take a photo with the Eiffel Tower! Don’t let them know you want to quit.” I prayed to the marathon gods to just get me to mile 20 and I would take care of the last 10k. That’s all I needed
After km 29 we lost the view of the river and came back more into civilization. I loved seeing this jukebox. It reminded me of the one I grew up with that currently resides in my living room.
These ladies had some great signs. Although I did wish that I had wifi to fact check whether or not Chuck Norris ran a marathon. It seems plausible to me that he totally would have round-house kicked his way for 26.2 miles. I was also trying to keep a straight face for the second lady’s sign but I ended up smiling anyway.
Note from Ange: that sign gets me every time. I smile. I also wear underwear when I run. You’re welcome.
A big to-do for km 30! Apparently this is considered a big wall in kilometer racing. I wouldn’t know however, as this is the first km-marked course I’d done
See? Mur du 30! Wall of 30! And we were smashing past it!
Unfortunately the other side said “Wall of 20.” Yeah, no. Not even close to 20 gorram miles yet! Then I started wondering if my garmin got messed up from the tunnels.
Then I saw mile 19 and knew nope, my garmin wasn’t screwed up, it was mostly right. I hadn’t missed mile 20 when I saw the “Wall of 20” I hadn’t gotten to it yet!
They did do a pretty nice job of sweeping the big trash out of the way after the aid stations.
These higher kms are just unreal! Am I getting that close?! These high numbers are just staggering to me!
Km 32 is where I said “Holy shizz, I made it to 32. I have 10 left. TEN!!! I’ve run a 10k billions of times.”
Editor’s note: katie has not run one billion 10ks
MILE 20! I made it! The marathon gods got me to mile 20. It’s all on me now.
I am really starting to love the kilometer system, they just fly by so quickly!! 9k to go, simple. I had evolved into a really funny run/walk interval at this point. When it was time to run, I had to lean forward to get myself to move quicker, then I got into this weird flat shuffle, then I was able to evolve into my regular running gait. I am sure I looked ridiculous but it’s what worked at that moment
Note from Ange: the marathon shuffle is totes a real thing.
Wow. I made it to mile 21. I ran 21 miles already? Seriously? Nooooo. Really? Really. It says so. I rolled some biofreeze on my thighs at this point because I felt them tightening a bit.
Flying past another kilometer. I got a weird burst of energy over the next few kms. I felt like it was the beginning of the race. I was warmed up, but refreshed and was almost holding my intervals like I was when I started them!
km 35. I’m not sure I can even count that high. I told myself here that I basically have a 5k left. Seriously, just a 5k and some change. Thats like only 3 miles.
I really loved taking pics running on the blue lines. or big portions of the course, you can’t see it, but when it appears, there is something magical about it.
My thought at mile 22: “Uh oh, are things falling apart?” It made me laugh because I had already fallen apart and put myself back together. This was the first sign I saw out of place! It also made me think of the Avengers Half from last November when all of their signs fell over from the wind.
I was still on my energy high at km 36.
Km 37 & mile 23. I was really hoping to find the -40 of this race and this was the closest I got. Now I really only have a 5k left!!!!!
Despite my lack of mathability, I still like fun number trivia… who knows what the -40 is I speak of?
Kms coming and going! This stretch was a bit lacking in noise so I started back up my iPod to keep me moving on my high.
I met a really nice Canadian during mile 24 – but I mean come on, what Canadians aren’t nice? I heard him asking some volunteers in french if there was going to be another aid station between here and the finish. The volunteers didn’t know. I had heard the people at the last aid station telling everyone it was the last one before the finish. I told him that and he started getting worried about salt.
Note from Ange: KATIE YOU HAVE 2.2 MILES LEFT!!!!!!!!!
Also, yes, Canadians are awesome.
So I says to the Canadian I says, “Hey I uh, got some salt pills.” I also promised him that they were in fact salt pills and not something else. Although we both agreed that something else would probably be a better option for the last 3 kilometers!
This was the 8th marathon for the Canadian and he was well on his way to a sub-6, even though he usually runs sub-5. He’d been a bit derailed with sickness during training. I kept hearing loud music and guys on a loud speaker behind us and it started worrying me about the 6 hour time limit!
40 kilometers! Only 2k left! IS this possible???? It turned out the guys on loudspeakers were just clowns in a purple car encouraging the back of the pack
Mile 25 and the line of portapotties. Hadn’t needed one yet – ain’t stopping now! But now I saw the real race pace cars – police complete with flashing lights and some sirens. No way they were going to catch up to me in the last mile!
Coming up on km41 one of the sponsors had a “photo booth”
Here I am crossing at km41! Just .6 of a mile to go!
And there’s cobblestones. Dang it. But there’s mile 26!! And no pace cars in sight!
Note from Ange: Pretty sure there’d be some major face-planting action here from me.
My friends Pierre and Celine were waiting near the finish line for me and snapped this pic! I was really excited to see them! They got some good video of me too approaching the finish line. What’s funny is I thought I was booking it toward the end, but I was trotting along quite slowly
I only have .195k to go! Who knows how many feet that is but I can see the finish line!
I was almost to the green mats just before the finish line! What is very sad here is that there was a runner on a stretched surrounded by paramedics about 25 feet from the finish line. They were taking him/her away. I am not sure what happened, but I really hope they wheeled him/her across the finish line anyway!
Yes I was taking photos as I crossed the finish! I didn’t realize there would be one million other cameras taking pictures and video too. It made for some funny finishing video. And no, 7h 30 was not my finish time but the time from the beginning of the race! But according to the French that’s my “real time.” I started the race about an hour 15 after the actually start time!
Note from Ange: HEY KATIE, YOU JUST RAN A MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!
I tried to selfie the medal-putting-on moment and this was the best I got! I had done very well up to now to remove emotion and not think about the significance of what I was doing/had done. After I had to medal, I got choked up a bit but realized it was hard to breathe so I had to save the tears for my pillow. Ha! Just kidding, I couldn’t let myself get overcome with emotion because I wouldn’t have been able to regulate my breathing and I certainly did not want to end up on a stretcher!
My first finisher photo! I got the medal AND the bright orange finisher’s shirt! I really like how they hand out the finisher shirts after you actually finish the race. I wish more races would do that. It’s an even better carrot at the finish line!
I did a quick change into the famous orange shirt and joined the 41,000 other finishers! Based on the math, some 14,000 either did not finish or did not start. I am rather glad that this race had a 6 hour time limit [from the start of the last corral]. It gave me huge motivation and a big goal to finish. When I wanted to give up at mile 18, I knew that I could not because I wanted this medal and shirt so badly. I did finish a bit over 6 hours, but still within their time limits based on pacing from the last corral.
Stairs! The one downfall of the Paris Marathon! I had read so many horror stories and seen those hilarious youtube videos of people going up and down stairs after European marathons I was a bit worried.
Oh it’s so awful! Just kidding, I was surprised at how not-hard going up or down stairs was. Like, I felt normal. A little slow and a tad sore, but for the most part normal. I thought this photo would be funny to take though.
Note from Ange: Whatever Ms. “I can walk up and down stairs after a marathon”
I never want to take off this shirt or this medal. But I will because I smell like a marathoner. And we don’t smell like roses I’ll tell you that much.
I still can’t believe that I made it thought 26.2 miles. I know you are probably wanting to ask me, “Would you do it again?” It took me less than 24 hours to answer this question. YES. And not just in Paris, but other places too! Confession: I’ve been researching other marathons already
Note from Ange: SQUEE
Time for a little recovery, French-style! Of course it involves champagne!
Don’t forget the amazing bain pieds and ice packs!
Okay, friends, I’m back.
Wasn’t that the most fabulous marathon recap ever! I couldn’t stop smiling the first (and second, and third) time I read Katie’s comments!
I can’t even think of what to ask, so tell me about YOUR first marathon!
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