Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Semi De Paris - 08.03.15

On Sunday I ran the Semi de Paris - Paris's half marathon. I heard about the race on Twitter (the source of most of my news) and booked myself in as a mid-London Marathon training "treat". I can never resist a trip to Paris but having visited the city quite a few times before it felt good to be returning with a purpose (other than to drink €5 coffees and eat goat's cheese salads).

Semi Paris 2015
Ready to go!
On Sunday morning I set off to the start line in the spring sunshine. My start time was 11.25am being in the last starting group based on a target time of more than 2 hours 10 minutes. The race started at the Chateau de Vincennes - a beautiful spot to the east of the city and looped around eastern Paris passing through Bastille and by the Hotel de Ville before finishing back in the grounds of the chateau. Signs pointed out the landmarks on the way and although I didn't live out my vision of running past the Eiffel Tower it was a nice (and pretty much totally flat) route. Over 35,000 runners took part this year and it was amazing to be a part of such a huge event.

Semi Paris 2015
After weeks of freezing winter runs - sunshine!
Sunday was also International Women's Day and as I took my spot on the starting line it felt like the perfect day to be running. Complain as we do, we are so lucky that we have the choice to run for "fun". I ran not just for me but for the women who will never get a chance to see this beautiful world, the women who aren't allowed to leave the house on their own, who aren't allowed the simple freedom of running through city streets in a t-shirt. Our lives could be so different and we seem to think more about what we don't have than just how bloody luck we are.

Semi Paris 2015
Warming up to Uptown Funk.
The race started and I sped through the first 5km. At the first water station it hit me just how hot it was. A flashing sign outside a pharmacy read 17.5 degrees. I slowed a little and the negative thoughts started....How on earth was I going to run another 17km when I was already this hot and exhausted? What was the girl who was always picked last for the netball team doing thinking she could run 22.1km around Paris? I tried converting the kilometres to miles, tried working out how fast I was going to be able to run this, how soon I could be at the finish line - what if I'd come all this way and was going to get a rubbish time. Aaah!

Semi Paris 2015
This was somewhere near the end. Taking photographs while running is difficult.
I took my water and plodded on a little slower (I slowed down at all the water stations so as not to slip on discarded bottles and banana skins), thinking of women who have to walk this distance on a daily basis just to get  (probably not so) clean water. Women - girls - who are forced into marriages when still children. All I had to do was keep on running. After the halfway point it suddenly got a lot easier, I spend up and the next 10km flew by, the black and white kilometre markers passing by amid cheers from the spectators lining the route.  As we passed the Seine the sunlight glinted off of the water and running suddenly felt like the most amazing, easy thing ever. Of course I could do this. And I was even enjoying it - honorable mentions go to group of tres beau fireman who cheered us on, and to the nice man who offered me a ride on his skateboard (I politely declined).

Semi Paris 2015
 Back in the park for the final stretch and the finish line took me by surprise - I thought I had another 5 minutes left to run and I crossed it feeling like I might burst into tears but quickly stopped when I realised this made the very act of breathing so much harder! I beat my half marathon PB by 1 minute and came in at 2:34 - the same time that Natalia Vodianova did it in and she has longer legs than me. I'm never going to be a speedy runner but unlike past half marathons where the final miles have felt horrendous, I crossed the finish line feeling like I could have carried on, knowing that while my running hasn't got faster it has got better.  

Semi Paris 2015
My medal!
Thanks Paris for letting me run and sweat my way around your beautiful city. Thanks for making the weather amazing and for everyone who came out to cheer us all on. I had the best time doing this race - running is so much more than distances and timings. It's amazing and hard and the best and worst thing you'll ever chose to do, all at once. 

More Paris (less of running) coming your way soon!


  1. Oh Lily this post made me feel a little emotional. GIRL POWER!

    Story Of A Girl

  2. Well done you!! I might have to come to you with a training plan: I'm doing a run this summer.

  3. This looks like such a great race. Congratulations on making it through! :-)

  4. Oh well done Lily! This is an amazing thing to have done and in Paris too! xx


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