Aileen Runs the Paris Marathon 2011

This weekend my amazing friend, bridesmaid-to-be and original running buddy – also known as Aileen – completed her third marathon in Paris, France!

When she first told me she was going to be running the Paris Marathon I thought to myself “My friend is a ROCKSTAR” followed by “I hope I can convince her to do a guest blog recap of the Paris Marathon for me on my blog!” It’s all about priorities people!

Aileen has run the New York Marathon the past two years – the first year I was her superfan and came up to cheer her on while also running 6.2 miles of the marathon with her. This past Fall we both ran the NYC Marathon together, which is where I hold my current Marathon Personal Record (PR).

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I could not be more proud of my dear friend Aileen – and I could also not be more excited to share her Paris Marathon Recap with you here today. Enjoy!

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As a young girl my family and I moved to London, England where I attended an all girls British School. My brother Sam and I were the only Americans in the school and we were expected to participate in the school’s entire curriculum, including learning French. We had never heard of “avoir” or “etre” but after a few months my love affair with the French language quickly developed. Continuing my studies throughout high school, college, studying abroad in Paris and now working at L’Oreal USA there is no denying my love for the language, the country and of Paris, and this weekend my love affair went to a whole new level when I finished the Paris Marathon on April 10, 2011.

It has only been a few hours since many of my fellow marathoners and I crossed the Champs De Elysee finish line while looking at the amazing Arc du Triomphe, yes the Arc Du Triomphe sat in between the finish line, bag check and the start. It is hard to think of words (in French or English) to describe this amazing race, but let me humor you with an attempt to recap (thanks to Leslie’s for letting my guest blog).

A few days ago Jessica Dudley, Lana Larusso, Matt Howe and I arrived in 70-degree weather to Paris. Jessica and Lana came with BIG roles to play -fans/coaches/ Gatorade holders/ M&M peanut givers/ photographers. Matt and I came to run the Paris Marathon, Matt’s fifth Marathon (Chicago x2, NYC, St. Louis), my third (NYC x 2).

I can’t remember Paris ever being so “magnifique”, all of the flowers are bloomed, the sun has been out everyday, it’s as if the city has been waiting for the arrival of all the marathoners and their friends and families. Here is a picture of Matt, Jess and I are bridge to Notre Dame.

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Along with visiting many of the Paris sights and an amazing nighttime bike tour

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Matt Howe my fellow friend, co-worker and Paris marathoner and I stopped by the Paris Marathon Expo on Friday. It was an interesting experience, which included named bib numbers, no tee-shirts (the official Marathon tee-shirt was distributed at the finish line to only the finishers), a mini wine tour where several other marathon hosts from other cities in France promoted their race and passed out wine, which we of course tried and the usual sale of running apparel and Paris Marathon customized items. It was no Javits center, but a good expo.

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This weekend was “incroyable”. It is hard to think of words that will do justice to describe this Marathon and the breathtaking course. Matt and I took the metro about an hour before the start time from our fabulous Renaissance hotel. We checked our bag at the bag check, conveniently located next to the Arc de Triomphe and were quickly on our way to 26.2 fun filled miles of amazing sights in the 70-degree weather.

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The course started on Champs De Elysee where we ran toward the Place de
la Concorde, Garden Tuilers, and Louvre. While the crowds were scarce at the
beginning of the race by the time we reached mile 14 heading towards the city
center, hundreds of people were outside blowing whistles and screaming “Allez,
Allez”.

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At mile 15, across the Seine from Notre Dame I ran into the fabulous Parisian duo, Jess and Lana dressed in trendy French inspired shirts.

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Check out this video of my rest stop; notice that Lana never stops ringing the cowbell cheering me on while filming, true dedication.

  

At mile 12 my Apple Shuffle died, thankfully my awesome friend/co-worker/coach/fan, Jess grabbed my backup Nano and after a quick handoff I was on my way down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. While I missed them on the rest of the course, this stop gave me the motivation to keep on pace. They were fantastic! Merci Merci.

Moving on about 13 miles into the race the Eiffel Tower (which I first spotted
around mile 11-12) continued to get bigger and bigger, before I knew it, the amazing structure was on my left as I ran along. It was unbelievable and I couldn’t stop starring at it and smiling as the miles continued.

After entering a few more “arrondisments” the Arc du Triomphe was eventually in my view, a little beyond the finish line. With a huge smile and a few happy tears I completed my 3rd marathon at 4:15:41 on par with my first marathon of 4:15:16.

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Both Matt and I recommend this race to anyone and everyone! While I have a special place in my heart for NYC, it is amazing and Matt has claimed it as the best marathon he has done so far. Take note on a few learning’s we learned.

  • The race does not provide safety pins. After running around approx. 30 min asking anyone and everyone for safety pins (a word in French I didn’t know) to pin our bib on, we learned that races do not provide pins.
  • NYC is spoilt with port-a-potties, and there were NONE on the actual race course and about twenty before the race started, enough said on this observation.
  • Gatorade is not given out, and there are limited water spots BUT orange slices, raisins and wine and cheese (at mile 22, I missed this) are passed out.
  • The course gets very narrow in some areas; partially due to the lack of barricades from the fans and the 1 time start (unlike the 3 different start times in NYC)

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Thank you to Leslie for giving me the opportunity to blog about this amazing
race. Merci to Jess and Lana for their amazing support/cheering and
encouragement. Matt, you are a superstar, after 3 glasses of wine the night
before and barely training you finished this race cool calm and collected, you
are a superstar.

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While my parents were not in Paris for the race, they arrive
Tuesday to help me celebrate and bask in the marathon finish! Thank you for the beautiful flowers; it wasn’t the same without you guys on the course and without Dad at mile 19, until the fall- NYC 2011! Shout out to everyone at Matrix!! We have Spread the Love in Paris. Thanks for the great shirts and all of the well wishes, emails of encouragement and support. Thanks to all my friends and family for the encouragement and love.

A bientot!

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Bisou Bisou xo

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What do you think of Aileen’s Paris Marathon Recap? Is there a race or endurance event that you would love to compete in, in another country?

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