Friday, 24 April 2015

Paris with the Family

We had been looking forward to our Paris family vacation for a long time now.  I had registered for the Paris Marathon early last year as a 40th birthday present to myself.

It had been over 10 years since hubby and I first went to Paris and I was looking forward to sharing it now with my children. I had found us a lovely apartment in the heart of the Marais district. Our trip was going to be a short one as the reason why we were there was for me to run the marathon.

My daughter had been reading books and making lists of places and things that she wanted to see and do. I tried to work her list and create an itinerary that would work for all of us.

 It was a bit of a gong show as I found out at noon the day before we were to leave that our original flight was cancelled due to air traffic controllers going on strike at Charles De Gaulles airport. 40% of flights had been cancelled and ours was one of them. I called hubby to see if he could get the day off and leave early as I scrambled to pack for all of us and load the car with all our luggage.

Seated and Ready for Take Off
After a 7 hour flight we arrived to a beautiful spring day in Paris. My daughter was the only one who got quality sleep on the flight and she was ready to go, the rest of us were wiped. We arrived at apartment, dropped our bags off and headed off to explore.

Our first stop was to grab a quick bit at a cosy bistro across our apartment with a traditional Parisian breakfast, chocolate chaud and croissants. After fuelling up, we walked down to Hotel de Ville and soaked in the sunshine in the square. My little stud was fascinated by the water fountains and all the pigeons chilling with us.

With the Notre Dame a few steps away, we walked down to see the historic Cathedral. The Notre Dame was on the top of my daugther's list since watching the Disney's Hunchback of the Notre Dame. She was fascinated with the gargoyles and bell towers. It was a glorious as I had remembered.

After a tour of the Notre Dame and snapping some photos, we dragged our jet lagged selves back to the apartment and crashed.

We slept in day 2 and decided to take it easy. We spent the day walking over the the Louvre and exploring the grounds and eventually into the Jardin de Tuileries. The kids loved the carousal
and all the free space for running around.

I was pleasantly surprised at how kid friendly Paris was.  No matter where we went there was always a bistro or cafe with fresh baguettes and crepes for us to devour. Parks were plentiful and the wide open spaces were great to keep the kids busy. We took public transportation a few times and found it easy to use. I must note that there are not many escalators or elevators so be prepared to do a lot of walking.

We tried to squeeze in as much as we can in the 5 days that we had in Paris. We look forward to going back when the kids are a bit older and seeing more of Paris. There are so many museums and parks and bistros that we still have to see. We loved our apartment as I have found it much easier when travelling with kids. We had a kitchen and all the amenities that one would have at home. We were able to live amongst the locals. I highly recommend looking into apartment rentals when travelling with children.

There are so many places in the world that we would like to visit as a family. As we were on our flight home, hubby commented on what a great time he had and was looking forward to my next destination race with the family.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Around the Bay 30K Race Recap

I was looking forward to running Around the Bay for the second time, but not sure how it would pan out as it was only 2 weeks before my goal marathon. I have fallen off the track with my training and was still deciding the night before my race plan. In the end I decided to run it at a comfortable pace and figure out how I would gel and hydrate for my marathon. I was to start tapering after this race.

I have run this race 4 times, but this is only the second time running the full 30k. I was happy to hear that they had removed the killer hill at the end this year due to construction in the area. But it turns out that it would still have some hills to give us a workout.

It was nice to get there early and find awesome street parking.  I had only slept 3 hours as the baby as I was up all night with a teething, whinny toddler. I almost slept through my alarm, so needless to say I was rushing out the door. Luckily, I had a laid out  my outfit the night before as the weather was going to be ever changing.
Flat Alice

There is no bag check for the race so I didn't carry my phone to take any photos during the race, so no photos until the very end.

One Last Selfie

I was a bit freaked out because I had always ran this race with my run buddy K, but she is on sabbatical from running, so I felt quick naked and lost without her there with me. With the nervous knot in my belly, I headed over the the First Ontario Centre to stay warm and find toilets. This is a bonus to starting and finishing by the huge building - INDOOR TOILETS!!! and lots of them.

I got into my coral with all the 'regular' runners and we were off.  The weather was overcast and a bit chilly. I kept thinking in my head if I had over dressed, but it was too late now.

I placed myself between the 2:45 and 2:55 pace group and hoped for the best. I had never been able to run under 3:00 for this race and I was determined to do it this time. I was not feeling positive as I knew I was undertrained and not in the best shape.

I decided to go out and try to stick with the pack and warm up the legs. I was feeling good and was going a bit faster than I had wanted.  I didn't have a race plan and decided to run comfortably and test the legs for my upcoming marathon. 

I was getting into the groove and was happy to come up to the 10K relay exchange point coming up the ramp to see all the spectators and fresh runners ready to go. I checked my Garmin and kept on trucking along.  First 10K split was 54:32. This part of the race is very scenic with the on both sides of you as you run. I had decided to not carry water with me during this race and try to see how I would do with the water stations. I was looking forward to the next relay exchange point at 15K and seeing the lift bridge meant that I was halfway done. 15K split was 1:23:29. All I could think about was I cannot believe I have to run another 15K. I decided to take a gel at the 18K point, which in the end turned out to be too late.

Still feeling good, maybe a bit overdressed :(
I had been feeling pretty comfortable for the entire race. I had no urge to pee and my legs were still working. The rolling hills started as we were coming up to the 20K mark and the winds seemed to have picked up as well. My 20K time was 1:52:35. As I ran past the half marathon point, I started wondering how in the world I was going to run a marathon in 2 weeks. It was a low point for me during this race. I knew I only had 10 more kilometres to run for this race, but the negative thoughts just kept on pouring in.

I was thrilled when I ran pass the regular turn off to head towards the infamous Valley Inn hill. It didn't seem to matter because it seemed like there were no stop rolling hills. My pace was quickly slowing and I couldn't figure out why. I knew that I had been running at a comfortable pace and not much faster than I had been used to. As I hit the 27k mark,  my calves started to cramp up. I knew that it was most likely because I had taken my gel too late. My legs were burning and yelling at me. I had to stop and walk which probably made it worse. I didn't want to walk pass the Grim Reaper, so I forced myself to trot by him, to hear him tell me that I was doing better than the guy that was just a few steps behind me. With those words, I knew that I had to keep running and finish running and not walking.

Turning into the Finish Line
At that point, I saw the 2:50 pacer pass me, so I knew that I was still in reach of a sub 3:00 finish. When I finally saw the 29K mark, I was so relieved. I knew the race was almost over. The last kilometre seemed to go on forever. I turned quickly into First Ontario. I love the quick finish with the steep downhill ramp into the arena.

Crossing the Finish

When I finally caught my breath, I was happy to see that I had finished under 3:00. It was a course personal best for me. Overall, it was an decent race for me. Looking back now I see all the mistakes and areas where I could have done better.

I will have to take may gels earlier for the upcoming marathon and really battle my mental demons. Not having running buddies or a network of people supporting you is really tough, at least for me. I will go into Paris trying to stay positive and enjoy the race and city.

Gun Time -  2:57:45
Chip Time - 2:55:08
Place - 2863/7277
Gender - 993/3423
F35-39 - 172/25

What goes through your mind when racing?

How do you deal with those negative thoughts?

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