WHAT A WEEKEND!
The Semi De Paris, arrived like a furious newborn who had been in captivity for far too long!
Was I ready? For the distance; of course. But had I sorted travel, accommodation and the will to live? Errr, no.
While I was having a little breakdown, the universe was constructing situations that in turn, would work in my favor.
The main situation was that I was accompanied by Bangs on this trip. Bangs is one half of a solid running parenthood, that has been bestowed to me from the God’s above. Of all people to come to Paris with me, she was golddust. She had run the half last year, so knew what to expect. And she is very organized, unlike myself who has spent the entire weekend shouting in cockney slang!
Melissa from RDC had space for two in her car and awesomely let myself & B roll with her and her husband (Eurotunnel is BOSS) and I found a cheap hotel in the red light district (I seem to have a knack for such finds) apart from loud sex, domestics and the fear of having our designer bags snatched, we have been WINNING!
But the biggest gift of all this weekend? Having Melissa’s friend Sat give B his race place as he was injured. He even came to the expo to collect his number, so that we wouldn’t have to deal with the firm (and at times facety) Frenchies.
All of a sudden I had a pacer, friend and mentor who was going to delight in this ‘training run’ (VLM training plan said 12miles this weekend, what’s 1.1 extra between friends?) with me. Thank fuck for that. I’d only run once this week and the cloud of ‘I cannot be fuckedness’ was really hard to shift.
But with our positive attitudes intact, we were able to have the smoothest and most welcoming experience here in Paris.
From people (ok, men) leaving their place of work to help buy cigars or hail us a taxi, to the line in Laudree not being outside the door, God maintained a winning aura. Obviously our positive attitudes had something to do with that. This weekend has been a lesson in ‘being the change you want to see In the world’
Message board at expo
Before I knew it, it was race day and I was stuck in a pen doing warm ups to some awful dance music. I was nervous, B and I had devised a plan. A scary but awesome one and one deep down we knew I could achieve.
As we set off, within the first mile, I knew the plan was folding. My left ankle and shin were having dirty sex. And my ankle was a virgin. It was as tight as a wrench. As I tried to navigate the crowds and keep pace with B, I was wincing in pain. She immediately knew something was off as it wasn’t a pace I struggle with. But my right leg felt like a potato sack that I just had to drag around. I slowly fell back but told myself to keep her angel wings in sight (many thanks to the universe for providing us with those awesome ‘I Run Paris’ tees)
“Are you ok?’ A woman asked as we approached the second mile
“I’m gonna be!” I shot back, through gritted calcium
Bangs kept coming back
“What do you wanna do?” She asked
“because the ultimate goal is the London Marathon, we need you fit for that.”
“Talk to me at 5k!” I demanded.
And the whole race followed that pattern.
I was in agony but every time B gave me the opportunity to walk or stop, I would ensure her that I had the next mile in the bag. At least mentally, because by mile 5, it felt as if the skin off the bottom of the same troublesome, foot was now floating around in my trainer.
But I kept going.
Rapping aloud to whatever came on my playlist , I just kept my eyes locked on the angel up ahead.
As 10k approached ‘Ni66ag in Paris” came on. I rapped the version Bridget wrote for me, so loudly that all surrounding runners backed away.
“FARAH! RADCLIFFE! HIGDON! WE ALL SICK!” I spat as I punched the air. I was feeling myself. Not gon lie.
I waited a little too late to get my first gel in, but by mile 8, I was in a regular habit of taking them without water.
As mile 10 was coming to an end, we were heading up a hill and I was singing very loudly to Whitney Houston, the lyrics resonated with me so deeply, I wanted to cry but I didn’t want a pimp slap from B, so I bit my lip and made a geeked face to myself.
Three more miles girl, then you can stretch this ankle and check out the lack of skin on your foot.
Then, the impossible happened. My iPhone died. I kid you not, I wanted to stop right there and drop out. The music was the only thing taking my mind off the pain.
“My music has stopped B! No, I can’t do this! WAHHHHHHH!” I continued
“Listen! Don’t make me Kelly Cutrone your ass! We are going to be finished in half an hour. You can do this in your sleep.”
And with that, I hushed my noise and sulked my way around. It wasn’t all bad, now I was able to hear the cheers of the crowd “Lebow!* Allez! Allez!” and talk to B for a bit.
As we came into the 12th mile a sweaty looking blonde woman came up alongside us and I’m sure she was swearing in French.
She grunted her way up the slight incline. Never before have I not been able to understand what someone is saying but know exactly what they were feeling.
The home stretch was the hardest thing ever. B had told me to tell my internal dialogue to shut the fuck up because I had more than what I was offering. As the finish line came into view, I’d never hated anyone more than B in my life.
“This is now the finish line of the London Marathon, how are you going out?” She shouted
“Strong” I growled back as we both began to charge forward for the final sprint.
We whipped past joggers and walkers with the intent to let Paris know who we were.
As I came across the finish line, I let the tears flow freely. It had been a tough job. But the best race of my life thus far. B had helped me conquer some fears and find clarity with my mental attitude. Training was clearly paying off as I never felt fatigued or unfit. In the grand scheme of things, I had just trail run VLM with a boss bitch pacer and regardless of circumstance had come out smiling.
As B put the medal round my neck, I never felt so happy. With a little bit of a kick I had transcended into the new me. The one that is going to eat three marathons with ease, this year. The one that truly understands that pain is temporary. The me that now will not run without a hydration belt. The me that has navigated this running world and still found a way to do things my way. The one that has developed a love for compeed, bodyglide and taking painkillers en route.
Yeah, this shit cray.
Berlin, hold tight, Im a coming!