Monday, October 1, 2012

La Coulée Verte

It seems that every time I prepare for running a marathon in Canada, I end up doing my longest training run in Paris. Coincidence much? Let's call this stupid luck because truth is, I will never complain about running in Paris, even though it was not really through Paris like last time, but rather to Paris and back, on the famous Coulée Verte du Sud Parisien (South Paris Green Belt). If you want to see what it looks like and you don't suffer from motion sickness, you can watch this video of a guy who rode some of it on the bike.

But back to my running, or what led me to Paris again: a few business meetings in France and a visit to one of our clients in the UK prompted me to jump on the opportunity of spending the weekend with my best friend and few more days with my mom. Bought my plane ticket for Friday night, managed to get upgraded thanks to a bunch of Aeroplan Miles and for once, slept like a baby during the flight.

Pod me baby!
I was awaken by the pressure inside my head during the descent towards Paris; it was hurting so much that I imagined my brain being squished like the inside of the water bottle sitting beside me. Not far from the truth I guess.
Arrived at my friend's place, head was a bit foggy so I don't remember the time exactly, but I know ending up doing shopping in the afternoon (bought a tshirt and a coat from Desigual which I had been eyeing for a year - aka broke the piggybank), taking a 2h nap then going out for a fancy dinner in the evening to officially carb load before my run. (Took the picture below in the restaurant's not so fancy bathroom).

I look a bit tipsy, but I was not! (for once)
I managed to even stay away from alcohol - can you imagine being in France and NOT having wine? I should deserve at least the decapitation in a public place, but what can I do? I am an athlete now and puking my brains out on the Coulée Verte was not an option. The Frenchies eat really late, so we came back home around 11pm and I didn't go to bed until midnight. Of course, my body was on the 6pm internal clock, so I had to push it a little and remind it that I was going to make it run at 3am, which was 9h later at most. I ended up sleeping well again, 7.5h straight, which of course felt short.

My favorite breakfast
Had a big breakfast (bread, butter, ham, cheese, a peach tart and a glass of OJ), filled 2 of my belt bottles with water, the other 2 with Powerade Ion 4 (officially love the taste more than Gatorade, but I won't buy it until they remove the HFCS - that stuff is nasty for you), attached 4 Clif Energy Gels and a pouch of Gu Chomps to my belt, took my heart rate monitor, my cap, my SPI belt and my phone and all dressed up for the chilly 6 deg Celsius, had my friend's hubby drive me to the trail head, at Igny.

And in the middle ran the Bièvre...
I left my sweater in the car and after a quick "see you in 3h30" goodbye, off I went. I chose to start a bit farther up than the official beginning of the trail as seen in the link because my friends told me it was pretty and indeed, I was not disappointed. For about 3km I ran on a path along the Bièvre stream and it was very quiet, yet I met a few runners and dog walkers, who for the most part, didn't mind making eye contact and muttering a quick "bonjour", even though they seemed a bit surprised that they were being talked to. Then I started running along the D60 regional road which led me into Massy Verrières where I finally found the markers of the Coulee Verte trail.

Joggers' paradise
I also found LOTS of runners, cyclists of all ages and skill, and more dog walkers which you could follow thanks to all the poop on the ground (people don't scoop here??). Oh, and did I mention the Tai-Chi folks? Here they are, slowly moving up and down and sideways, unlike me, who had to climb all these stairs!! Not only the trail was pretty difficult for running  (look at this elevation!), but it had stairs that made me feel like Rocky. I swear that was exactly what I was thinking when I was climbing them.

Tai-Chi and the Rocky Steps
But as with everything in France, it seemed so far yet so close and before I knew it, I reached a sign that said Paris and just like that, I snapped a picture, turned around and started running again. After looking at the map when I came back home, I realized that I made a wrong turn and left the Green Belt trail before reaching the end, but it was for the better because it obliged me to head back before getting lost even farther away.
Look at that matching outfit!
So I followed this guy who looked like he knew what he was doing and I was back on the right path in no time. Despite eating and drinking well, the run back was of course, much worse. Started feeling nauseous around 2h and HTFU'd my way through for 1h until I got a second wind and turned on the autopilot. That's when I realized that I had actully left the Green Belt again and returned on the D60 where my brain started to tell me that I was close to the end. The end of the path I mean, not the end you know, dying or worse.

I am still trying to find the right fueling combo and it looks like whatever I did in this run allowed me to finish on goal, but I think that it still needs some fine tuning. I started taking Gu Chomps at 45min mark and then took a gel every 30 min afterwards, washing everything down with water or Powerade, but noticed that the nausea cleared after taking the second set of Gu at the 3h mark, so I think I will be alternating those in the marathon instead of going on gels only for over 2h.

Smoke makes for pretty pictures, but not in the lungs.
I completed the run with about 3min to spare and a few hundred meters to reach 32km, so I did a bit of back and forth at the end to reach this milestone, which was also my initial goal, so double whammy! My legs were definitely screaming afterwards, so I laid down for about 10min while waiting for the car to pick me up and tried to take it all in with deep breaths and feeling every inch of my body touching the wet ground and grass, becoming one with Mother Nature (too much?).

The view above
I was going to end this post with a bloody picture of my bra, but I think I'd rather stop on a positive note instead. I loved being able to come to France and do this run not far from where I lived, seeing my family and friends got me reenergized, despite the jetlag. I'm going to take back this feeling onto Toronto's streets where I can celebrate running beside my hubbs who's accompanied me throughout this entire journey with so much love and support.

I think it was the best opportunity for us to run our own race for once and gauge our strength against the tough, mentally and physically. I am incredibly proud of hubbs who also completed this run on his own (without getting lost too many times :-)) and who went even farther than me, 34.5k in the same amount of time.

Last but not least, this run put me over my 1000km running goal this year, sitting now more precisely at 1010km with 3 months to spare! To the infinity and beyond, I need a new goal now! ;-)


  1. Very cool, Riri! You're a very lucky girl. ;o) Congrats on the 1000K!

  2. Amazing everything in this post! Paris! 32k! 1000km! I can't wait to read about your marathon!

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Riri, and visiting France! :-) Good luck with the continuation of your journey into running, you seemed to have had an amazing start. I passed 49,000 km in my log and still enjoy every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.