Les 20 km de Paris Race Recap

It seems like I’ve been planning to run this race forever. I signed up for this race because:

  • Running a race in Paris has been on my bucket list since I first became a runner (FYI: I had been a French teacher for over 20 years.)
  • The timing was perfect. Columbus Day was the Monday before the race so I would have to take one less day off from work.
  • My friend invited me to stay beforehand with her friends in the Bordeaux region. This made the vacation more affordable.
  • My blogging friend Karen had agreed to do the race, as well. (She had since had to DNS because of a trip back to US at that time.)
  • The race was only 3 weeks after my previous half marathon so I would be (hopefully) still trained.

Here’s the race description:

  • 20 kilomètres de Paris is probably the most mythical running experience in Paris as well as the most festive and popular one. Benefiting from 39 editions, 20 kilomètres de Paris is back on Sunday October 14, 2018, this race will gather between 25,000 and 30,000 runners from 100 countries in the streets of the French capital. The route highlights the most beautiful places in the west of Paris (the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadéro, the Arc de Triomphe, the Bois de Boulogne, Roland Garros, Maison de la Radio, the Grand Palais, the Tuileries, the Pont Royal, and the left banks…) while maintaining a high level of safety. 
  • For better flow, the race will start in waves, 20 waves of 1500 runners each. 
  • 20 musical groups will play their best music all along the route and a lot of spectators will encourage all runners.
  • Aid stations every 2km
  • Refreshments will be provided at the 6KM, 10KM, 15KM as well as at the finish line. You will find water, dried and fresh fruits and sugar.

I wasn’t that impressed with the above at the time but after my experience at the RnR Montreal, I was very excited to see how organized this race promised to be.

I apologize in advance that this post will be long. You may want to skip ahead to see what I liked and disliked about the race itself.

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan but I ran my last half marathon on September 23 in Montreal so I figured not a lot of training would need to be done.

Since then I have completed easy weekday runs and longish runs on most weekends.

Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs but I do like to get in a 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.  After completing my last half marathon, I had only two free weekends and I wasn’t sure how many miles to run as a long run.  I decided on just 7 miles and then 8 miles.  I was so happy that both were with my Sole Sister running friends.

I didn’t expect to run this race at a PR pace. I was running it purely for the experience. I mean, I was racing in F##in’ Paris!!! Starting and ending at the Eiffel Tower!!!!

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

Friday, after four days in Sanguinet, my travel companion, Lisa and I took the train back to Paris and to the same hotel that we stayed in our first night in Paris.

After immediately checking into our hotel, I hopped the subway to the race village (expo) which was a bunch of outdoor tents near the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. This was a perfect time to go because it was near closing time and was not very crowded. There were numerous tables of running products, info on other French races, as well as many opportunities for tasting and photo ops.

I should mention before I go on too far that on the previous day, I must have somehow tweaked my ankle/Achilles and I didn’t realize it until I tried to run to the expo. I felt a sharp pain every time I tried to run. So I just walked and it felt fine. But you can imagine how it freaked me out at the time.

This certainly weighed on my mind the whole next day. We walked and took a boat ride. Actually put over 12 miles on the feet. The only time my foot felt weird was going down stairs. I did not try to run on it again that day.

I debated about what to do with the race. There was no question whether or not I was doing it. But whether I should just walk in case running would wreck my future racing plans. If I was really injured, by running, I could make things worse.

Anyway I carb loaded as if I would run the race the next day but didn’t sleep much that night.

Race Day:

Strangely, this race was scheduled to start at 10 am!!!

With almost 30,000 runners, the start was organized in waves. My wave (next to last even though I optimistically listed my finish time as 1:55) was to begin at 10:45 or later.

I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal from home and the hotel owner was nice enough to boil some water for me. I also had coffee and a chocolate croissant.

Before I left the US, I checked the weather. It was to be cool and cloudy. Just days before the race, rain was predicted. I luckily got a rain poncho on our bus tour in Bordeaux and brought throwaway clothes with me from home.

Well, wouldn’t you know it that Paris experienced an unexpected heat wave. Now it was going to be sunny and near 80 degrees. Yowsers.

I wore my usual skirt and tank. No need to even check a bag. It was already warm when I left my hotel at 9 am.

I bought a cap at the expo and decided to wear it.

I rode the subway with lots of other runners and spent the whole ride discussing running with a young French guy.

We received a lot of information and maps before the race with instructions for exactly where to go and what to do.

I basically followed all the runners across the river toward the Eiffel Tower.

Then looked for signs for my wave (color coded pink – you can see the pink dot on my bib).

This was the most crowded race I have ever run. Long lines and we waited what seemed like forever. The French were very calm. No one complained. No one was pushing. The music was very loud and everyone was dancing and smiling.

There were port a potties everywhere and all along course. This I found odd probably because I’m a prudish American but the port a potties were for the women and next to them was a group urinal for the men. They peed out in the open!!!

Eventually my wave entered the start area and little by little we approached the start line. A group of runners was let go every 3 minutes..

I looked up at the Eiffel Tower and I got tears in my eyes. I was running a race in Paris!!! A dream come true.

Screw it if I had to walk 12 miles. I would cross that finish line and get my medal.

Anyway, here’s how the race went.  Since the mile markers were in kilometers, I’ll recap it by kms. No need to post my splits since I was not racing it. (and my Garmin lost a signal every time we went through a tunnel under a bridge)

The course map:

Les 20km de Paris Route Map

and elevation map (in meters)

Elevation-course-20km-Paris-2017

Kms 1-5:

Finally around 11:10 am, I crossed the start line.

So what to do? Run or walk? I ran a few steps and it felt weird but the more steps I took the better it felt. Not normal but no sharp pain.

from Le Parisien

I had to start slow because it was so crowded. No one was walking. Not sure if anyone did any kind of run/walk.

We ran over the Iena bridge and then onto Avenue Marceau. This part of the course was uphill but not that steep. Most of the streets in Paris are cobbled stone. I found this hard to run on and concentrated on my footing and to continue my easy pace. It was still crowded anyway.

The sun was shining brightly as we ran the shade less streets of Paris.

I had thought I read that there would be water every 2km.

Nothing at 2km

Nothing at 4km. I misread “aid stations” to be water stops.  How “stupide” of me.

I tried not to think about how thirsty I was and to concentrate on the course.

We passed the Arc de Triomphe and then ran down Avenue Foch.

I never looked at my Garmin during the entire race but there were timing clocks at 5k, 10k and 15k.

When I passed the 5k mark, I was pleased that I was running easy and still had not walked.

Soon we turned and entered the beautiful Bois de Boulogne. No more cobbled stones but speed bumps in the road.

Still running slow and easy. No pain. But dying of thirst.  Next we ran along the Allee de Longchamp.

Kms 6-9:

We continued running through the park and finally around 6k, there were bottles of water and tables of food: sugar cubes, figs, dates, raisins, orange, lemon and banana slices and more.

I grabbed a bottle of water and a fig, date and sugar and walked for a while.

There were recycling containers for a long while. No throwing of bottles on the ground. But there were lemon and orange peels on the ground. The volunteers kept screaming to watch out that it was slippery.

After we ran along the Allee of Queen Marguerite, we left the park and followed Boulevard d’Auteuil. We turned at Porte Molitor to run down Boulevard Murat until we got to the roundabout of Porte de Saint-Cloud. Here we headed toward the banks of the Seine River.

Kms 10-14:

Another clock at 10k. I now realized that I was running slower. But I was very very hot. You could hear ambulances on the course. I didn’t want to be in one of them. Besides a blister forming on the bottom of my toe (in a new place), I was feeling no pain. Very happy about that. (The pain free foot not the blister lol)

Finally another water stop and the same refreshments as the last one. This time I walked, took a bottle of water and ate one of my GUs.

I realized too late that I should have carried the bottle of water from the water stop to the next since obviously, there was NOT water at every 2km.

At this point, the race got very hard. I don’t usually doubt my ability to finish a long race but I was just too hot and thirsty.

I did what any runner in this situation would do. I ran and walked and then walked and ran.

My foot felt great. But what bothered me the most was my shoulder/rib. It was really painful during the last few miles. (Ok. Another non-running injury from banging it hard in Bordeaux getting on a bus. Yes I am a klutz.) The pain stopped when I walked. Oy! Hard to run without swinging your arm. So I just walked more and taking in the scenery and appreciating the fact that I was running a race in Paris.

We were now running along the Right Bank of the Seine River. You could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It was still far away but a welcome sight.

I smiled when I passed the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the Seine.

Eventually we ran by “la Maison de la Radio”, the 20km de Paris street art fresco specially done for last year’s race and the historic bridges of Mirabeau and Bir Hakeim.

Kms 15-19:

The third and LAST water stop. This time I drank the whole bottle of water and ate some dates.

We were still running along the Seine passing some the most famous sights of Paris: Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Gardens.

Eventually we crossed the Pont Royal to run along the other side of the river. Though there was no more water stops, there were many water fountains on this side. Many runners were stopping to take a drink and pour water over their heads. I just wanted to finish!!

We soon passed the Musée d’Orsay and Les Invalides and we were heading to under the Eiffel Tower.

Km 20:

Finally I could see the finish line. And I tried to sprint across. It was very crowded as I was now running as a BOTPer.

The clock was meaningless since it had started with the elites. Even my Garmin was inaccurate since it lost its signal each time I ran in a tunnel under a bridge.

But who cares? I ran a race in Paris. I couldn’t stop grinning.

As you as soon as you crossed the finish line, you were handed a bottle of water, then a bag of food and eventually your medal.

Then you were directed to a stadium where there was organized bag pick up, guided stretching and yoga. There were also men’s and womens changing tents.

I felt dizzy and just sat on the grass for a bit to eat some of the food in my bag.

inside our refreshment bag

Then I took some pics and followed the other runners to the subway. The trains were full of sweaty yet happy runners all wearing their medals around their neck.

On the long subway right back to my hotel, I just wanted to pinch myself.  Did I just run a race in Paris, the most beautiful city in the world (in my opinion)?

Believe it or not, by the time, I got showered and changed, it was time to plan my celebratory dinner.

escargots, boeuf bourguignon, wine and this…

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • The expo – the food, the swag, the info…
  • Nice gender specific shirt
  • Pre and post organization – lots of signs and emailed info
  • Refreshments on the course
  • The course – scenic and pretty flat
  • The music before and during (all types and American)
  • The medal
  • Directions on spectator viewing
  • Great crowd support along the course – so much called out my name and cheered me on
  • Immediately emailed results
  • Live streaming on YouTube of the race
  • No rain
  • No injuries

The Bad:

  • Late start
  • More tables needed with just water
  • Warm temps
  • It seems that they ran out of medals and water at the 15k stop for the slowest runners (phew!)

Would I recommend this race?

Yes, if you don’t mind a large crowed race. If you ever get a chance to go to Paris, consider running this race.

Here’s a video that pretty much captures the highlights of the race:

Final Thoughts and Stats:

As you can see, I definitely finished in the BOTP. (23,418 out of 26,281 and 23 out of 43 in my AG)

The race was only 12.4 miles and my finish time was slower than most of my half marathons.

Still I am proud to have gutted it out under adverse conditions.

Those French runners are fast. And they don’t wear skirts and the men pee out in the open.

C’est la Vie!!

Next Up:

Pelham Half Marathon on Nov 24!!

Image result for pelham half marathon

The day after the race, I ran 4 miles and my legs felt better than during the race. Go figure.


It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life

I am also joining up with Running on HappySuzlyfeCrazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Happy Running!  Have you ever run a race in a foreign country? What was different? Do you have a bucket list country to run in?

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Four Somethings for October

January 2018 Share Foru Somethings #ShareFourSomethings

Thanks to Laurie from Meditations in Motion, I discovered a new link up started by blogger Heather Gerwing. The last Monday of each month, Heather invites other bloggers to share their “Four Somethings”Something Loved, Something Said, Something Learned, Something Read. If you are a blogger, you may post your Four Somethings too!

So here are mine:

Something Loved.

My vacation in France.  I pretty much loved everything about it.

the people

the buildings

the gardens

the public transportation

the food

Something Said.

 “Vous parlez bien le francais.” (You speak French very well.)

I was a French teacher but that was over 20 years ago.  I was able to get my point across and spoke French the whole time. My French was far from perfect so I loved getting this compliment (and more than once!!)

Something Learned.

I learned that it (running) doesn’t get any easier. You have to respect the distance.

Distance running is hard for me.  Even after 32 half marathons.

Especially when you walk over 12 miles the day before a race, it is sunny and warm and you have NO water to drink.

Halfway through the race, I really wanted to quit. In fact, I wasn’t sure that I COULD finish. I was feeling that bad….

I don’t know how but I finished that race…

with a smile!

Something Read.

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Ok, I read the Girl on the Train and saw the movie. Didn’t love it but didn’t hate it either. Well, this book was a waste of time. Confusing. Too many characters and it just dragged on and on. Eventually I stuck it out and did finish it.  What a let down.

Happy Running! What are your FOUR somethings?  Share at least ONE.

Weekly Wrap for 10.15.18-10.21.18 – I’m Back and Jet Lagged

ru

Traveling is great but it’s tough getting back in a routine.

  • Monday – My last day in Paris. I was wondering whether my legs would be tired but they felt as fresh as a daisy. So I went for a run in the same park as my first Paris run with Karen but in a different part of Bois de Vincennes.

We spent the rest of the day outside of Paris in Saint Germain en Laye. (Since I’ve been to Paris many times before, I tried to do different non touristy things on this trip.) It was fabulous.

Ended my trip with a delicious dinner and a walk down the Champs Elysées.

  • Tuesday – Rest day. Shuttle, plane, and 3 trains home. No problems…arrived home safely!
  • Wednesday – Back at work and having trouble adjusting to the 6 hour difference in time. it was raining but then it stopped so I thought Id go for a run.  Temperature drop and wind… I thought that I could run in a long sleeved shirt and capris and would warm up as I ran.  Nope… in the 40s but felt like 30s. Quit after one mile. Brrrrrr.
  • Thursday – So today, I packed tights and a jacket. I was determined to not let the weather stop me from running.

  • Friday – Rest Day cuz there was unpacking, laundry and mah jongg to squeeze into the evening.
  • Saturday – Long Run with my “Sole Sisters.” With a half marathon coming up, I wanted to run  9 or 10 miles. The fall temps were perfect as was the company (esp. breakfast afterwards).

  • Sunday – Today I drove 3 hours with my stepson & his girl friend to go to my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower.  I am so excited for this wedding in March.

This Coming Week – 

  • Monday 3 miles (Turkey Trot Training Group)
  • Tuesday  3 miles, tennis sub
  • Wednesday – rest day, dinner out with tennis pals
  • Thursday4 miles. mall walk with my BFF
  • Friday – rest day, mah jongg chez moi
  • Saturday4 miles (if time), bus to NYC
  • Sunday – Poland Spring 5m Race, lunch with friends, Broadway Show, train home

Please link up for the Weekly Wrap hosted by these wonderful bloggers Holly @ HoHoRuns and Wendy @ Taking the Long Way Home

WWSki-Orange

Happy Running! How is your running going? What’s new with you?  Any big races on the horizon? Please share.

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The (Re-Scheduled) Governors Island 5K Race Recap

Image result for Governors island 5k

September 29, 2018 – 9:00 am

Back in August, my Russian friend Anna was in the US and we planned to meet up in NYC.

You wouldn’t expect me to go to NYC and not run a race, would you?  Actually, it was Anna’s idea not mine. She wanted to run a race with me and this race was happening the weekend of our meetup..

I’ve visited Governor’s Island once and I’ve always wanted to run there. So we both registered even though I didn’t know much about the race besides what was on the website:

THE RACE – This great midsummer’s race features a great course with world class views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Statue of Liberty, starts off with a ferry ride and features a great post-race party.

COURSE – We have an exciting new course planned that improves on the one we used last year. The 5K is one loop and the 10K is two loops.

AMENITIES – Bag check and toilets will be provided. Water and Gatorade will be available on the course, and bagels, spreads, fresh fruit and more will make up the usual great NYCRUNS post race spread to greet you at the finish line. Free finish line photos and video will be available on the results page. The giveaway for this race will be a great tech t-shirt*. *Sizes are guaranteed – if we don’t have your size at the race, email theteam@nycruns.com within two days of the race and we’ll ship your shirt to you a few weeks later.

RESULTS, AWARDS, FINISH LINE PHOTOS & VIDEO – Awards will be given to the top three male and female runners overall in each race. Age group awards in the 5K will be awarded to the top three in each the following age groups: 9 and under, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70 and over. Finish line photos and video will also be available on the results page.

DIRECTIONS – There’s only one way to get to the island – the Governors Island ferry, and your ferry ride is included in your race registration.  You must arrive at the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South St. no later than 7:30 AM to check in and you must have your race bib.  The 4,5, R, and 1 trains are closest to the ferry terminal.

This was the same group that organized the Brooklyn Ice Cream Social 5k that I ran back in June and that was well-organized. So I was pretty psyched for the race.

waiting to board the ferry – no rain yet…

We boarded the ferry, got to the island….and…

Rain…Wind…Thunder…Lightning…

Then we got the bad news.  THE RACE WAS CANCELLED!!!

And back on the ferry all the runners went.

Boo!!!

So the race was re-scheduled for Sept 29 and NO REFUNDS!!!

I emailed them that I lived almost 3 hours away and would have to pay for a train and hotel room plus my friend lived in Russia!!

Their response was: No refunds!

So I wavered back and forth but signed up for the Sept 29 race.

As race time approached, I was thinking of skipping the race.

I had been in Montreal the weekend before and would be in France the following two weekends. Plus work travel during the week. Ugh!!

But I had paid for the race, had enough points for free hotel room (near the ferry) so I took the (cheap) Megabus to the city Friday night after work.

Luckily I had saved my bib from August and did not have to pick up a new one.  There was NO day of race pick-up.

So what to wear?

Last weekend, it was chilly.  So I packed my gloves, throw away shirt, jacket, arm warmers to be prepared.

Nope. I woke up to temps in the 60s already.

Still I thought that it wold be chilly on the ferry so I brought a bag to check my jacket but left my throw away at the hotel.

passed these on the way 🙂

sunrise on the East River

Getting to the ferry was no problem — just an easy 15 minute walk. I got there around 7ish and while waiting inside chatted with a runner doing her FIRST 5k.  So exciting!

The ride to the island was very short.  I wound up chatting with a Music teacher preparing to run a half in Disney and who had been at the cancelled race (he recognized my crinkled bib).

I arrived around 8 am and had an hour to stroll around the island.

It was relaxing not to rush to the start and I could check out the course — scenic with water views and pretty flat!!

tempting… but the line was long!

so many of the runners were wearing the race shirt

Eventually it was time to check my bag,…


use the bathrooms (there were real restrooms and tons of port-a-potties and then head to the start.

I lined up close to the front but not too close.

But as soon as we started, it seemed that for the first mile, EVERYONE was passing me by.

I had decided that I would enjoy the race as I did during my recent 5k in Montreal and especially since I had just run a half marathon less than a week before.

The course was one loop around the island so you had gorgeous views throughout. The biggest problem was that there was NO shade and it was very sunny.  I have run in warmer weather but for some reason, I was very warm. Even my legs were sweating in my compression socks.

The only water stop was around mile 2.  I supposed that it was placed there for the 10k because it was too late for this warm 5k. I instinctively grabbed a cup but just took a quick sip and tossed it.

As usual, I ran out of steam during mile 3. I was surprised because I didn’t think I was putting it all out there but maybe, it was because my legs were tired and/or I was very warm.

Still I was shocked when I approached the finish line and saw that I could have PRed.  But it was too late. (Watch me cross the finish line HERE)

checking my watch LOL

And happy with my time!!

I immediately ran into the runner running her first 5K and we congratulated each other.

Then I got some food.

a welcome surprise after the Montreal races.

There was an interesting outdoor art exhibit:

The first ferry back was not for another hour so I decided to re-do the course walking but in the opposite direction and cheer on the 10k runners who were still on the course (They had to run 2 loops).

Soon it was time to head back to Manhattan on the ferry.

After a quick walk to my hotel, a change of clothes, I hopped on the subway and spent a few hours meandering around the Village with fellow runner/blogger Cari before heading home It was a beautiful day and she was great company.

Back to my race:

I loved the course.  The weather was perfect.  I can’t believe that I hesitated coming to NYC for this race (yes, most people would think I’m crazy. But I’m a crazy runner!)

It didn’t hurt that I got an email telling me my finish time and that I won my age group.

NYCRuns personally engraves your award and mails it to you later.

I also realized that my finish time for this race tied my PR.  My 5K PR was gun time and this was chip timed. My chip time 5K PR was 27:01 (but I don’t know if that counts?)

Yes, part of me wishes that I had pushed more and gotten that PR.  At the time, it never crossed my mind for this race.  But I’m not getting any younger. Someone please tell me to do speed drills and get that 5k time lower before it’s too late.

Mile Splits:

mile 1 – 8:54
mile 2 – 8:52
mile 3 – 9:03
.14 – 9:03


Since it’s Tuesday, I’m linking up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life for

I am joining up with Running on HappySuzlyfeCrazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Happy Running! How is your running going this fall? Any recent races? Ever had a race cancelled due to weather? Do you train for a 5K PR or do you just race for fun?

Running in a Foreign Country – Part 1

It’s Friday so I’m linking up with Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup! Join in! Don’t forget to link back to your hostesses and visit some other bloggers.

Since I am currently in France (and hopefully doing some running), my topic for today is:  Five Tips for Running in a Foreign Country

Image result for running in France

1.Download maps.me
maps.me allows you to download maps for offline use – perfect for those trips where your phone stays has to stay in airplane mode. You can even mark places on the map and pull up directions to them later while you’re offline. On the map, note street names surrounding where you’re staying and major landmarks nearby so you can get back to where you started even if your language skills are limited.

Image result for mapsme

In addition to maps.me, you can take screen shots of the map itself to save to your phone, and step-by-step directions of the route you’re trying to run – just in case the app won’t open or in case something else goes wrong with it or especially if WiFi access is limited.

2.Carry something with the address of where you’re staying on it.
Whether you’re staying in a hotel or an AirBNB, grab a card or key that’s imprinted with the building’s name and address. (Or just add this info to your phone). Even if you’re limited in your foreign language capability, you can show this to a friendly passer-by so that they can help you if you’re lost.

Image result for French hotel room key address on it

hopefully you don’t have to carry around this old-fashioned key

3.Follow an out and back route
Keep it simple.  An out and back route leaves little room to get lost, since you’re following a straight line. I don’t know about you but I am directionally-challenged so I easily get lost (even on an out and bar route. LOL)

Image result for map my run paris

4.Do your research beforehand.
Chances are, runners before you have been to the city you’re staying in and have suggestions for running routes. Do a little Googling before you leave the your home or check out routes on Map My Run, and bookmark any routes that you want to try.

Image result for running tours in europe

You may also want to ask locals or the hotel staff about good running routes. Take their suggestions, and then back them up with your own maps, step-by-step directions, and screenshots.

I also recommend taking a professionally-led running tour.  There usually several companies that offer them in larger cities. They may be expensive but I think they are totally worth it.  You get to run and learn about the city while you are running.

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5.Run without headphones … but take cash and a credit card with you.
Not only is it a safety practice to run without headphones (you can hear cars and horns, etc.) but it also helps you pay more attention to your surroundings.

Image result for running tours in europe

You should also have some local currency on you in case you need to hail a taxi. If you need to stop and purchase food or water, you may want to use your credit card instead of cash.

I will probably have a lot more suggestions when I return from my vacation…so stay tuned.

Happy Running! Have you eve run in a foreign country? If so, any other tips that you can add?

 

 

Rock n Roll Montreal Half Marathon Recap

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September 23, 2018

It seems like I’ve been planning to run this race forever. I signed up to run RnR Montreal as my 32th Half Marathon for several reasons:

  • I am a (first time) Rock n Blogger.
  • I enjoyed my RnR race experience in Vegas.
  • I love Montreal but haven’t been there in ages.
  • I wanted to run an International race.
  • I convinced some of my local runner friends to join me.
  • I was hoping the hot weather would be over by this time of year.

I apologize in advance that this post will be long. You may want to skip ahead to see what I liked and disliked about the race itself.

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan.  I ran my last half marathon on May 18 in Brooklyn and since then I have completed easy weekday runs and longish runs on most weekends. I was so happy that only one of my long runs was done alone.  That one was the worst one, of course.

Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs, I do like to get in a 10, 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.

I skipped my 10 mile long run entirely the weekend that I was in NYC with my Russian friend Anna. I normally add extra miles to my weekend 5k races.  But this summer, I skipped all my 5ks in favor of my long runs with friends.

I didn’t expect to run this half marathon at a PR pace. I was running it purely for the experience. But I hoped with the long runs done, the 13 miles would be easier and I would enjoy the race more.

However, we all know that anything can happen on race day and the weather and the course have so much impact on your results.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

On Friday, I drove to Montreal with Jeri, Heidi & Sherry (Jeri graciously agreed to drive.) Our two other friends, Chris & her hubby Mike would be arriving the next day. After a rainy drive which took longer than expected due to some wrong turns and construction (like 5 hours instead of 3), we arrived at our hotel pleasantly surprised at how nice it was (our last race-cation hotel was not LOL). We even got adjoining rooms.

Though we were hungry, we instead headed straight to the expo. Even with a map and directions, we still went in the wrong direction but eventually found it.  This was a prelude to the whole race experience. No signs, everything hard to find, no one seemed to know about anything related to the “big” race.  We picked up our bibs and although the lines were not long, some runners were picking up so many bibs that it took forever.  Eventually we realized that you could just go on any line even though they were marked according to bib number.

The swag bag was empty except for a note telling you to buy your subway tickets to get to the race before race day.  Apparently this was the first year that they didn’t give you a free subway ticket.

We wandered around the expo for a while.  It was very disappointing. Just a few vendors and expensive Brooks race-related items. The only thing we scored was a Larabar, some yogurt and a sample piece of a Kind bar.

Since it was too late to have lunch, we went back to hotel to drop off our stuff and change for dinner.  We walked to the Old City and had a delicious dinner (at Jardin Nelson) before it started to pour and necessitated an Uber ride back to our hotel.

Jardin Nelson used to be a hotel – it was where I used to stay when I brought my students to visit Montreal

The next day was my 5K race and Jeri’s 10K.  (I recapped it here.) After the race, we headed back to the Old City for lunch. (Runners think about food all the time, right?)

at Place Jacques Cartier across the street from Jardin Nelson

and then walked around the Port area and eventually back to our hotel.  So much for resting the legs. But it was a beautiful day in a beautiful city.

We finally met up with Chris and her hubby for dinner. Pizza, of course, to carb load for our big race! And then we walked back to our hotel discussing where to meet before the race. (The hotel lobby was the chosen spot.)

As I was setting out my clothes for the next day, I realized my strips of mole skin (that I use to prevent blisters on my feet) were missing (Jeri & both saw them on the desk). I looked everywhere and we concluded that the maid must have stolen them (lol) so we searched out a drug store and I found what I needed (plus a scissor to cut them.)  $20 CAD later, I was a Happy (yet poorer) Camper.

Race Day:

Alarm set for 5:30 am. After much debate, we decided to leave for the race at 6:30 am. (It started at 7:30 am.) I had originally picked our hotel because it was close to the subway.  The race used to start on the Jacques Cartier bridge but this year, they changed the course.  It now started 3 minutes from our hotel!! Score!

I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me and ate in the hotel room.

My original race outfit was going to be a tank and skirt.  But with each weather forecast predicting colder and colder temps, I kept changing my mind.

So in additional to the above, I added DIY arm sleeves, a throw away long sleeved shirt and gloves. I even had my aluminum blanket from a previous RnR race. I have been running in such hot, humid weather that it was strange to be cold. It was windy and high 40s and predicted to be in the 50s by the start.

We walked to the start but we were so early and COLD that we returned to the hotel lobby to hang out for awhile. We tried to plan where to meet up after the race. Texting is problematic in a foreign country.  The race advertised that there was a family meet-up spot by the first initial of the runner’s last name.  We had decided on the letter S (for Sole Sisters, our group name.) But there was no sign of such an area during the 5k and 10k so we ditched that plan (Good thing!) and picked an intersection not too far from the finish line.

It seemed to be getting warmer so I ditched my foil blanket. Eventually we all headed to the start line.  You were supposedly given corral assignments by estimated finish time. Sherry put 2:20 and was in Corral 8, Heidi put 3:30 and was in Corral 9 and I put 2:06 and was in Corral 10. Go figure.  We can add that to my long list of complaints. There were pacers (with rabbit ears) but they seemed to be in the wrong corrals as well (2:30 was ahead of 2:15??)  We wanted to start together but they were strict and I had to go back to Corral 10 (The last Corral, I believe).

It turned out fine. I befriended a fellow former French teacher who went to the same college as I did and graduated with a friend of mine.  They were even in the same sorority.

As I waited, I shed my long sleeved cotton shirt but kept on my gloves and arm warmers.

Each corral started with fireworks and after about 30 minutes, my Corral finally crossed the start line.

What was my plan for the race, you ask?

I enjoyed running the 5k without any pressure that I hoped to do the same in the half.  I wanted to run easy and take in the scenery.  I had heard that the old course had hills but no one seemed to know what the new course was like.

I had HIGH expectations of a scenic course and lots of music to distract me from looking at my watch.

Anyway, here’s how the race went.  My Garmin has the splits in miles.  Being in Canada, the signs, however, were only in Kilometers.

Here is the course map:

And the elevation chart:

the chart was for the full so I just cut it in half.

Miles 1-3:

10:04, 9:33, 9:42

A very crowded start so there was a lot of weaving going on. We started near ChinaTown and made quite a few turns on the way to the Port area.  I tried to take it slow and of course, cut all the tangents.  The water stops were frequent enough…at least every 2 miles. I stopped at each one even though I gagged the first time I tried to drink the water (Ebola??)

We eventually ran over a short bridge and ran along the water.

Miles 4-6:

9:49, 10:12, 9:52

This part of the course was an out and back so you got to see the faster runners heading back into the city.  The route was lined with factories and very UGLY and BORING.

I continued drinking the disgusting water (what choice did I have?) and finally ate a GU around mile 5. The music was sporadic … just some speakers at a few turns.  Maybe a band or so on the whole course!!

Miles 7-9:

9:47, 10:05, 9:43

We headed back on this ugly route but the highlight was seeing my friends running in the opposite direction.  When I saw Heidi & Mike (who had  decided to walk the whole choice), I ran over and high fived them.

The legs were feeling fine.  The course was flat for the most part.  My feet hurt as usual (but that started at mile 1) and my lower back was achy too. Nothing to prevent me from running well.

Miles 10-12

10:03, 10:21, 10:18

I eventually took my second GU but I ran past the water and there was only Gatorade.  I hate Gatorade so I saw a guy with two cups of water so I boldly begged for one of his cups.  He graciously gave one to me.

Finally we headed back into the city.  I was hoping that we would run through St Catherine Street which was so pretty (pink balls hung across the street) but we did not.

The full marathon did continue toward the park (as the half did last year) and the botanical gardens.  It would have been nice to run by the prettier parts of Montreal.

Mile 13- 13.25

10:16, 9:36

I was told (afterward) that the last water stop (1Km from the finish) has banana halfs.  I just wanted to be done so this was the only water stop that I skipped.  Why would you want a banana before crossing the finish line??

I walked for the first time other than a water stop. I needed energy to sprint across the finish line. As in the 5k, I could not find the time on the finish line arch (too high…too small.. don’t know where it was).

you try seeing that number in the sun!!!

Anyway, I dragged myself through the finish chute and eventually was given my metal.

And finally found a half a cup of water. What seemed like after miles of walking, I entered the Finisher Only Area.  It was huge.  I tried to find something to eat but all I could find was a long line to get a cup of yogurt.  There were lots of vendors but NO FOOD!

So I went in search of my Re-Mix medal for running two races. None of the volunteers were any help but I finally found it on the opposite side of the area.

As I was leaving, I saw a booth with tea samples. They told me that it was contribution only (Who carries money to a race!?)  But I did score a Kind bar and another flower!!

Getting out of that area was very complicated.  But I needed to find my friends and I wanted to watch my walker friends cross the finish line.

I finally found Sherry (who had finished a little after me) and Jeri (who had run the 10k the day before) was not in our meeting spot but on the other side of the street. Of course, they would not let Sherry & I cross the street (during the race) so we were told to go through the shopping mall.  That was a mistake. That was where thousands of angry runners were on line to get their bags. (I read on FB that it some runners hours to get their bags.)

Well, I didn’t have to get my bag because Jeri was holding our sweatshirts.  I was very cold so we needed to get to her. Then we got a text from Chris who was hurting and sitting behind the stage outside the finisher area.  Off we went in search of her.

To make a very long story shorter, we found Chris and wandered through the finisher area.  I did see on the big screen on the far side of where we were, that an older runner was getting an award. I joked about whether or not I won one but I was too tired to go see.

Eventually we got to a spot to wait for Heidi and Mike and not a second too soon. There they were!  They made the cut off walking.  We were all so happy.

We texted them to meet us at the hotel.  The first thing they said to me was that they heard my name and that they thought I won an award. I laughed and said I hope it wasn’t money cuz I am NOT walking back there to get it.

It looks like it was a glass model of a guitar.  It would  be nice if they mailed it to me.  I’m not holding my breath.

Off to re-fuel!!!

Additional Race Reflections:

I don’t regret running this race. I would only regret a race if I ran it injured and made my injury worse. I love racing and especially racing with friends. I believe that for every race, you should always focus on the positives.

The Good:

  • Perfect weather.
  • Hotel located near the start and finish line
  • Friends!!
  • Montreal is a beautiful city to visit before & after the race.  (Wish I had more time to see more of it.)
  • Great food – again before and after the race in the local restaurants.
  • The course was pretty flat.
  • Many water stops (if you could drink it).
  • Some freebies at the end – flower, yogurt, kind bar and socks (if you waited in a LONG line)
  • Bag check (if you have hours to wait on line)
  • Nice awards (if you got one.)

The Bad:

  • There was only one sign advertising the race that we saw throughout the city.
  • No one seemed to support the race or know it was happening. Not even the hotel or the restaurants.
  • Disappointing expo. They only had paper maps of the 5k and 10k and very few vendors.
  • Don’t advertise a family meet-up location if there isn’t one.
  • Corrals were supposed to be set up by estimated finish time and were NOT. Pacers were not reliable for this reason as well.
  • Not enough music on the course – maybe 3 bands and some recorded music at stops. No rock n roll!!
  • Most of the course was boring…the longest part of the race was along a dilapidated factory area.
  • The water was almost undrinkable – metal tasting, it made you gag.
  • The only fruit was a half a banana 1 km before the finish line (and I missed it).
  • The bag check was utter chaos.  A long line in a shopping mall with runners eventually just grabbing their bags.  I heard it took 1-2 hours to retrieve your bag.
  • Finish line timer very small and hard to see. I missed it in both of my races.
  • No timers at all on the course.
  • A water spray to cool you off on the course – it was 50 degrees!!
  • No bottled water for finishers. You walked forever to find a half cup of water.
  • The volunteers were not helpful.  They did not seem to know much.  It took me forever to find my guitar medal.
  • Post race food. What food?  A kind bar, some juice samples and a long line to get a cup of yogurt.
  • The course measured 13.3 and I cut all the tangents.
  • No foil blankets. It was quite chilly.
  • Mediocre medal. Montreal has some beautiful sites! The other RnR medals are awesome.

FB has hundreds of comments about this RnR race and almost all were negative.

Would I recommend this race?

No!! Not unless, the organizers read all the reviews (which were horrendous) and make some changes.

On Facebook, the race director apologized and promised big improvements for next year….

Final Stats:

positive splits big time..but happy with my pace. It was faster than the 5K.

Next Up:

Image result for les 20km de paris

October 14


It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life

I am also joining up with Running on HappySuzlyfeCrazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Happy Running!  Have you ever run a big race and been disappointed?  Have you run this race in the past? Do you plan to run it in the future?

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Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘N Roll Montreal Half Marathon as part of being a Rock n Blogger.

Weekly Wrap for 10.1.18-10.7.18: Packing My Bags

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So I unpacked my bags from my trip to NYC, packed my bags to go to Liverpool for work, unpacked those bags and then packed AGAIN to go on my big trip to France.

  • Monday – My Turkey Trot Training Group run (that I missed last Mon and will miss the next two Mondays) was scheduled for tonight. But it was raining and I wanted to upgrade my phone (before my trip) so I bailed and instead walked around the mall with my BFF.
  • Tuesday – Another rainy day. I drove to Liverpool for work and the rain stopped when I got there. So I went for a run. It was a strugglefest – I was too tired…too hungry… and it was too HUMID (96%) and I was overdressed.

Onondaga Lake (East side)

It was still too early for dinner so I decided to explore and I finally found a way to the other side of the lake.

As soon as I got in my car, it started to rain again. Phew!

  • Wednesday – Finally a day without rain. As usual, I decided to squeeze in a short run before driving home. What a difference a day made. Less humidity and a new route – the west side of lake. I can’t believe it took me so long to find this trail. I loved it!!

Onondaga Lake – west side

  • Thursday – Rest day because I needed a haircut before my trip.
  • Friday – Only a short run after work because I needed to PACK for a my trip to France. I even skipped mah jongg.
  • Saturday – A Sole Sisters 8 mile run before a drive to JFK airport and a long flight to Paris.
  • Sunday – We arrived in Paris…Jet Lagged but excited. A rainy, cloudy day so I dragged myself to visit the Fondation Luis Vuitton, had out first dinner in Paris and then night view of the Eiffel Tower.  Great way to start a vacation.

This Coming Week – 

  • Monday 3 miles (in Paris hopefully with Karen), train to Sanguinet
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday  3-4 miles (in Sanguinet and the surrounding area. Optimistic about getting in a run each day…)
  • Friday – rest day, train to Paris
  • Saturday – rest day, pick up race packet
  • SundayLes 20km de Paris race

Please link up for the Weekly Wrap hosted by these wonderful bloggers Holly @ HoHoRuns and Wendy @ Taking the Long Way Home

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Happy Running! How is your running going? What’s new with you?  Any big races on the horizon? Please share.

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