I’ve been a bit quiet since my post about the Aviemore half marathon, mainly because I decided to reward myself with a month off running. A planned break is just as important as other aspects of a runner’s training programme, and this time of year when the autumn half marathons are done and the spring marathon training hasn’t yet begun is an ideal time to give the body a bit of a rest and get into the gym for some strength training to pre-condition for the months ahead. That month is now over and, after a rather swift couple of miles this morning, I’m looking forward to hitting the road again and getting back to some regular training.
Part of the reason I wanted to take a break (other than the rather punishing training regime I set myself in order to be half marathon ready in a matter of a few weeks!) was indeed my spring marathon plans. Ever since completing the Lochaber marathon earlier this year, I haven’t been able to get the idea of a return to the Paris marathon out of my head and persuaded Steve that this should be our goal for 2013. Why Paris? Well first of all, it’s Paris, my “favourite city of them all” to quote Michael McIntyre. Secondly, it was the first marathon I ever ran and an experience I would love to repeat. And finally, the timing couldn’t be better. The Paris marathon will fall right in the middle of my Easter holidays in 2013, meaning we can make a long weekend of the trip and there will be no need to rush back for work (and trust me, there’s nothing harder than going to work the day after running a marathon, especially when that job involves near-constant interaction with teenagers!). With the decision made, all we had to do was wait until entries opened.
But that entry system was almost the undoing of those carefully-laid plans! In the past, entries for Paris have opened up in the middle of September, before the results of the London marathon ballot were sent out. This year, the organisers of the Paris marathon introduced a new third-party entry system and the opening of entries was delayed until mid-October. By this time, unsuccessful London applicants were turning their attentions to the other side of the Channel, with the result that the entry website crashed within seconds of going live. I began to worry. What if I didn’t get in? What if the tiered pricing system meant that a place became too expensive? What if only one of us managed to get a place? It was like the time I sacrificed a day of my October holiday attempting to buy Take That tickets, and I had plans for that day! Thankfully, with a bit of perseverance (aka constantly hitting “refresh”) and a lot of frantic tweeting to ensure it wasn’t just me having this problem, within a couple of hours we were both in and at the lowest price band. Phew!
So now, my focus is on making sure my body is ready to run my best marathon to date. Not only do I want to break the 4:30 barrier, I want to see just how close to 4 hours I can really run. I was on good form before my marathon this year and injury prevented me running as well as I could, so I have to make sure I stay injury-free and train well. This is why I took a break; this is why I’ve been in the gym addressing the limitations in movement and biomechanical issues which lead to injury; and this is why I want to now get back out there and start building my training base to start strongly at the beginning of the year. Much as I love seeing the sights of Paris on foot and soaking up the Parisian atmosphere, on this occasion I want to be out on the streets for as little time as possible and am already excited at the prospect of emerging from the Bois de Boulogne onto the Avenue Foch with the welcome sight of the Arc de Triomphe ahead of me, summing up my own personal triumph. I want to sit in a café with a medal hung proudly round my neck. I want to walk down the steps of the Metro backwards because every muscle in my legs has seized up from the effort. And I want to look out at the City of Lights knowing I’ve given it my all.
April in Paris? I can think of nothing better.