I’m then on a plane again on Friday to Paris where I meet up with Charles who has taken the train from Narbonne.
We settle into our cosy apartment and then go and collect my bib and goody bag before making our way to The Arsenal and meet up with Toni, Niki and cousin Joyce on their Piper Boat; Archangel. Knowing I am running the marathon on Sunday they serve up a high protein and carb meal. We had a lovely evening catching up.
Race day arrives (3rd April) and we turn up on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées together with 42,708 runners not to mention the thousands of supporters, families, volunteers, organisers all milling around. The atmosphere is electric and I have butterflies in my tummy even though I keep reminding myself that all I am doing is running. Charles does a great job of keeping me calm and focused before he moves off to try and get a photo of me setting off. I have about an hour to wait and then I’m off and feeling so emotional and intimidated by the sheer number of runners in front and behind me. There are bands and musicians scattered all over the place and its the best place in the world to be, I almost forget why I am here.
Running past Place de la Concorde, The Eiffel Tower and along the Seine is amazing but reality strikes at around 2o miles and it is a hard slog to the finish line and even someone handing out glasses of champagne at around 41 k didn’t tempt me.
I see Niki near The Arsenal cheering me on but later find out that Toni was also in the crowd waving an old ensign which unfortunately I missed.
I also catch sight of Charles as I run towards one of the road tunnels and knowing friendly faces really helps with the motivation. It is a relief running over the finish line in 4hrs 34 mins (although my watch gives me 4hrs and 29 mins) but I am so happy to have experienced such an event.
After collecting my medal and shirt I meet up with Charles before returning to the apartment to examine my poor feet – a couple of impressive blisters, two back toe nails and two nails coming off – but its worth it. Champagne time!!!! and then across the road for a lovely meal and its great not having to be careful what I eat or drink.
Monday arrives and we take the train to London and meet up with Daniel and Jonathan for a lovely evening and catch up. Then its off to Claygate where we have another lovely time with Bill and Jane who we haven’t seen for a long time. Wednesday we head up North and catch up with family.
Charles, Laura and I together with Simon and all the family (minus April) all get up early on Sunday morning (10th April) and head off to Sheffield. Laura is understandably apprehensive about her first half marathon. I am really looking forward to running with her and we maintain a good pace as we set off and then see ‘The Hill’ – we have five miles of incline to run up – a total of 959 feet elevation – tough going but then its mostly down hill and the scenery is beautiful. Sheffield excelled itself with support and I especially appreciated all the jelly babies being handed out. Apparently Laura didn’t appreciate it when I said ‘well there’s only one parkrun to do’ and wasn’t inclined to sprint over the finish line but she did an amazing job with a great time of 2 hours 21 mins.
Simon came in earlier with a time of 2hrs 4 mins and then we met up with all the family before returning to York to celebrate Simon’s birthday. April, Kieran and Bobby join us and we have a a fun meal out.
We have a final meal out with Paul and Shirley on Monday before setting off on Tuesday morning back to France. Unfortunately our train is delayed by 25 minutes and we think we are going to miss the flight. It really doesn’t help when Charles back-pack has to go through manual security checks and when we ask if things could be hurried up are told by an officious customs bloke ‘ it will be checked after others in line, you should have got here earlier’ – clearly he is in need of conflict management training. Charles sends me on ahead but I wonder how he expects me to stop a plane from taking off – no worries he turns up in time and we have an hour and a bit to calm down.
It is great to be back on the boat but is odd not to see Gesina and Celestia moored up on the quay as we have been neighbours for the last six months. Puddlestone also remains as Lizzie is back in the UK so its nice catching up with John. We have a final evening in the CO bar and say goodbye to our Narbonne friends. It is our intention to leave on Friday but an alternator Charles had ordered hasn’t arrived so Frank our capitain gets onto the case and we final get it. Anyone would think there are no shops on the Canal du Midi as we buy so much to stock up our cupboards and fridge but its better to be prepared.