Our News Blog

Paul Ran Paris, Paul Ran London & Tons Of Bling To Show For It

 April was a pretty busy running month for me, lots of miles/kilometres and a good bit of bling too. First and foremost was the Marathon de Paris at the beginning of the month, so I'll start with a word on that.

This was my second time running the Marathon de Paris and this one was far more successful than my first attempt. In 2015 I suffered a bad pull/tear to my right calf at mile 9 and had to drag my sweaty arse around the remaining 17 miles in high twenty degree weather and finished an hour behind my target time. Such was the pain I was in I completely missed sight of the Eiffel Tower, you know, that enormous structure that completely dominates the Paris skyline. This year's race once again started on the Champs Elysees in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, before snaking past some of Paris' highlights including Place de la Concorde, le Louvre, Place de la Bastille, Chateau de Vincennes, the Seine and Roland Garros before heading back towards the Arc de Triomphe and the blessed finish line. I'm pleased to say that although the weather was just as warm (if not warmer) I got myself around without injury and just within my target time.

Although my training runs were pointing towards 3h30, this was mainly because I was going out hard then hanging on at the end. In fact, after my longest training run I was in a pretty bad way and took a good couple of days to recover, so realistically I was aiming for 3h45 but as long as I went under 4h I would have been happy. On race day I reined back the pace a bit and go for a negative split. Only problem with this was that as soon as the road hit 13 miles it also halved in width. If this wasn't hard enough, the road also got a bit up and down as it went along the banks of the Seine before I ran headfirst into the wall as the route entered the Bois de Boulgne. I got around though, which was the main thing. I also finished in 3h58 so managed a sub-4h marathon, a new PB by taking 17 minutes off my previous (from Belfast in 2014) and got that cheese-eating Parisian monkey well and truly off my back.

A quick shout out to the support in Paris, which ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. A nice touch from the organisers is that both a competitor's name and nationality is on their race bib which not only led to an interesting distraction from the nerves in the start pens by nation spotting ("ooh look, there's Lithuania, Vietnam, Philippines, America, Netherlands, Russia, Thailand, Britain et al.), but also your name being called out by all and sundry on the side of the boulevards along with chorus' of "allez, allez, allez". However, there was a significant proportion of the crowd that gazed at the runners with arms folded, feet tapping and a typically Gallic mixture of bemusement and indifference, no doubt pondering who all these running weirdos were and how they were going to cross to the road to get their morning croissant. In stark contrast to these observers were many that were positively exuberant in their support; highlights included a group of Irish girls singing Bon Jovi all day long (although they may need to check their maths as 11 miles is unfortunately not "wooaah halfway there, wooaah livin' on a prayer") and a couple of lads wearing Viking helmets whilst waving carrots.

Following on from Paris, it was time to work my way through the several MedalMad virtual running challenges that I had signed up for; namely the London 26.2 Mile, Runderground 26.2 Mile and Pursuit Challenges. The London Challenge is part of the Marathon Challenge series (which also includes New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin and Tokyo) which I will be completing over the course of the year and features an awesome Monopoly board style medal, personalised for each city. The Runderground Challenge is a 26.2 mile challenge that could be completed in a number of different ways with gold and silver coloured segments indicating how the challenge was undertaken with a medal inspired by the London Underground logo. The final challenge of April was the Pursuit Challenge.

I had intended on running the London Challenge in one hit the day before the London Marathon, creating my own route that started in Greenwich and finished on The Mall, and using a couple of half marathons in between to both keep me ticking over and complete the Runderground Challenge. Of course that was before I ran Paris and, although I wasn't injured and felt remarkably fresh following it, running another marathon within two weeks was a bit of a stretch. In fact, I didn't even make it out for a run at all over the marathon weekend.

So instead of attempting another long run I broke the two challenges up into half marathons to make up the 52.4 miles needed to achieve both medals. The first couple of these weren't as easy as they might have been. On the first one I actually had to stop for a rest. It was on a staircase though and if there's one thing I hate whilst running its stairs, give me hills any day. I had a plan to do an Underground theme for the Runderground Challenge by passing as many Underground stations as I could on each of the runs. I clocked up a fair number ranging from Aldgate to Hyde Park Corner and taking in pretty much everything in between but, of course, forgot to take my camera with me.

Next up on the challenge list was the Pursuit Challenge with segments awarded for 5k, 10k, 13.1mi and 26.2mi runs that come together to complete a Trivial Pursuit themed medal. Now, I must admit that I got a little bit cheeky and used my Paris distance towards the 26.2mi segment. I say cheeky as I did run the distance, but I used it to claim two bits of bling. I also cranked out the 13.1mi and 10k segments in pretty short order. The 5k actually turned out to be the hardest run of them all. Not hardest in the big effort sense, but having been concentrating on longer marathon distances 5k runs have seemed a bit too short and dare I say pointless. But, with my training focus now switching to half marathons and triathlons I have started to use 5k's to work on my speed, which also means getting back into parkruns so I used my local run in Southwark Park to tick this segment off.

I took these post marathon recovery/challenge earning run opportunities to get a bit creative with my routes, exploring London a bit more along with revisiting some routes I haven't run in a while. One of the things I love about running in London is not only the amazing sights and history, but the contrast between new and old. I took a photo once from London Bridge looking east with a magnificent view of The Gherkin and Walkie Talkie, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Another is the frequency and accessibility of the parks which are great to run around. Battersea and Hyde Parks are two of my favourites, and with fabulous sights like the London Peace Pagoda and Serpentine how could they not be.

So that's April's running accounted for with 4 new bits of bling to show for it. Now it's onwards to May for the Run You Must 10k Virtual Challenge and that change in focus to triathlon, so more swimming and cycling to go through with the running. It also means it's time to break out the lycra and shave my legs.

Becky: May Blog
The Journey to Malaga continued.. (1000 Miles in 2...