Thursday, 9 April 2009

The countdown to the off

The trip to Paris was largely uneventful. The flight was delayed and the departure lounge busy, but I stayed pretty chilled and enjoyed a short flight to Paris. Baggage collection was also brisk and the only delay was in waiting around for 20 minutes for a taxi big enough to fit us and our cases all in. Overall I felt quite chilled about everything on the trip. Not perfect serenity perhaps, and Sue might disagree, but I felt relatively calm compared to how I thought I might be.

After a decent night’s sleep I met Andy, another poster from Runners World and his 2 friends and we made our way across Paris on the Metro to Porte de Versailles and the Expo. Number, t-shirt and bag collection were simple and quick and the Expo itself big but with nothing to tempt us to part with any money so we got the train back to Place de la Republique and had a quick coffee before I took my leave and headed back to the apartment.

A quick trip to the supermarket later and I took to my bed. This was partly to take it easy but also because I’d begun to feel a bit ropey - just tired, a little weak and very, very bloated. I guessed that my new found wind production was down to nerves, the high sugar carb loading diet (I was still eating mountains of jelly beans) or a bit of both. I later found I was wrong.

I was feeling a bit stir crazy by the evening so we went for a half hour walk and at the end of it went to the bar we’d been to a couple of times in 2007 for some food. A vegetable cous cous was pretty plain but it ticked the carbs box, then it was back to the apartment, alarm set and bed.

It wasn’t the best night’s sleep. I woke a couple of times needing the loo - but at least I was well hydrated - and at 2.45am the eldest woke up with stomach pains and vomiting. Happy days.

Sue had taken on board all that I’d said about support last time and had offered to come to the start, finish and in between but we settled on Rue Faubourg Saint Antoine - as long as Bethan recovered quickly - but I also dropped unsubtle hints about her waking up at 5.30am with me. This she duly did and even made me a coffee. That meant a lot as having someone with you then made the early start and the nerves far more tolerable.

At 6.30 I sauntered off to meet Andy at Place de la Republique and, after realising there was nowhere open to get Metro tickets, we got a taxi to the Arc de Triomphe.

We ambled down Avenue Foch at sunrise and stowed the bags, opened the bomb bay doors in the chemical loos and made our way up to the Arc de Triomphe where we met a number of other Runners World forumites. That was good as for months I’d enjoyed the Paris thread - it had been a real support for everyone in their training trials and tribulations - so putting faces to names was fun. I’d probably started to become mono-syllabic with nerves as time went on, felt full of wind and gripey pains and had to make my apologies and zip across to Avenue Foch again to have a wee on the flower beds at about 8.20.

When I came back everyone had set off for the pens but I did spot another couple of forumites on my own way there. Getting in the pens was a bit chaotic but once inside all was well, though I did feel a bit shivery and was still getting abdominal grumblings. The gun went and we began to make our way slowly towards the start line, old running top discarded, I got a signal on the Garmin and prepared to set off.

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