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The Paris Marathon 2005

The run was pretty amazing. The whole day was pretty amazing, actually. We had rain every day up until the marathon and it was freezing cold. The night before, though, it all broke and things were
beautiful the day of - overcast to shield us from the harshness of the sun, but beautiful.

But it did started pretty odd. My parents were dragging their feet so I decided to go to their hotel and get them rather than try to find them near the start line. I was about a block away when this lady asked me - in french then English - if I could help her. She had 3 huge suitcases in the basement. She asked if I was busy - here I am in full running gear - and I said 'well, I'm running in a marathon in less than an hour' She had absolutely no clue. So, I relented and decided to help her out.

So into a building I follow. She opens an odd door at the end of the hallway and there are these set of stairs right out of medieval France. Twisting, steep, all stone and pitch black. She turned on some shanty light and I began thinking - this is it. I'm going to die in some anonymous basement in the middle of Paris. I got to the bottom and there were 3 huge suitcases. It took a trip each to haul up the stairs and out to her door. I was exhausted.

So I ran to my parent's hotel, picked them up and had about 40 minutes before the race was to begin. I needed to find Todd - my running partner - and I still needed to stretch! Jesus. We actually got to the starting point rather quickly, but I missed Todd at our meeting place. I did finally find him though, off to the side looking for me...

It took 25 minutes between the time the official start began and when we crossed the starting line. They give you a little device you put on your shoe to track your personal time which is pretty cool.

The first few miles (ok, KM) were great. We were going downhill, passed Place Concord, the Louvre, then over to Bastile. It was all so very beautiful. By the time we got to the Bastile area, though, runners started falling off and pissing on EVERYTHING. It was pretty funny. I think if I wasn't running I'd be disgusted, but knowing that I will be there at some point, I took it with a lot of humor. The biggest problem up to this point is that the streets were so narrow that it was virtually impossible to pass other runners. I kept jumping up on the curb, running around pedestrians and the like.

We then went out of Paris to the park were the zoo is. I'm not sure of the name, I just remember the zoo. The woods were nice, different and not what I expected. The zoo has the most interesting building that looks like a desert cliff design to it. It first I couldn't help but just stare at it...

Anyway, we twisted a few times and it got a little tedious, but just before we left the woods we were treated to a beautiful panorama of the city... just gorgeous. We then went down to the Seine and ran right along the river, passing all of the islands.. one of the best views I could have. I was doing great at this point. They had mile markers but most things were in KM and I was totally oblivious to KM... thankfully.

We then went into a tunnel and it was almost pitch black. People were screaming 'allez' and blowing horns. My whole body was shaking from the reverberations... it was the most intense feelings ever. We then left the tunnel, went back on some narrow streets and at this point I had no clue how far I've gone. I knew we were back near the Arch, but lower, but no concept. I rounded a corner and there was a mile marker - 21 miles! Shit, I literally started bawling my eyes out. So much so that I couldn't see where I was going. It look we a few blocks to regain myself, but it was the longest I've ever gone before and I passed the infamous 'wall' of 20 miles...

Soon after I entered the friggin park that NEVER ended. Seriously. Outside of running past Longchamps, which was very cool, it felt like I was running in place - past the same 4-5 trees. It was absolutely horrible. At some point my legs started burning. Literally, it was like someone put a fire between my knees and my waist. I emptied both water bottles (which I filled with apple juice for the carbs and sugar), ate a power gel and just worked it though. It helped.

Finally... FINALLY... we left the park. These last few miles seemed to last forever. It really seemed like the first 21 miles took 15 minutes, and I spent the next 4 hours running the last 5 miles.

So here I am, running through the outskirts of Paris and going uphill... as I approach the summit I notice a huge barrel. There's serving WINE to the runners! WINE! I couldn't believe it. I didn't
stop once during the whole race... until then. I stopped, had two glasses of a very nice red wine and enjoyed every sip. I then looked across the road and they were cutting country loafs of bread and giving huge chunks of a soft cheese with it. I ran across the runner's, grabbed a loaf and some cheese and took off. Only in Paris do you get wine with bread and cheese on a marathon! It was
beautiful.

The rest of the race was rather uneventful. I think I was so tired at this point that I really couldn't think straight. A few hundred yards from the finish I passed the photographers that try to sell you your image later, etc. I tried giving them the thumbs up, but when I looked at the image later, I looked more like that little kid running down the street after the Hiroshima bombing than a marathon running.

But I did enter the end of the race and they had the gates up and there were thousands of people watching. I crossed the finish line and looked around - in total disbelief it was over. I kept looking for someone to tell me I can really stop running, when I almost ran right into some scaffolding they had up for the race timing gear.

I then started walking up to the guys who remove the tracking thingy on my shoes and I just started crying like mad. So bad that medical staff came over to see if I was having a medical problem. I was just happy. I did it man, I couldn't believe it. I was crying so hard that I couldn't get my foot up on the stand for the guy to cut off the tracking device. It took me a few minutes, but I calmed down and pulled myself together.