Sunday, April 13, 2014

Semi Marathon de Paris 2014

My super special birthday this year. Not only I received blessing to enjoy myself with my friends in Paris, but I got to buy just the thing I once thought impossible.. still thought that I was dreaming.
Anyway, let's not keep you bore with my yada yada.. and go straight to my story of the above mentioned right?

As told by moi in my other blog; Enjoy!

We were all excited to join Paris Half Marathon which coincidently fell on my birthday. We've registered several months before, wayyy before our first half marathon in Chiang Mai. Determine to make a trip of the year.. with 7 of us, running towards the finish line together (in spirit at least). But like wise man says, we can only plan, but HE is the one who'll decide in the end. No matter how hard or consistent we've trained, no matter how firmed our booking is, at the end of the day.. only 2 of us made it to Paris HM. Hence the title.

It was funnily enough that each one of us suddenly caught with some obstacles. Started with H, she got pregnant (not that it could have slowed her.. she ran her first HM in Dubai while being pregnant too). But due to doctor's advise.. it is better not to join any race.. jogging on its own is ok, but not a race, as she might have push herself too hard, plus she is in her 5th months of pregnancy (I know right? WHAT?! 5months and not showing at all? :)

Then it's L's turn.. she just started working at a new company. In her interview, she already mentioned her plan for HM Paris and her boss is ok. But nearing the time, her boss did not fulfilled her promise. She didn't provide her full support and back L's plan to go on with her planned holiday when COO rejected her leave request . So she had to cancel and withdraw from our trip. :(

Then,  more and more of us faced obstacles. I was hesitated too. I do not have anyone looking after my kids from 5th to 7th. My new housemaid are schedule to arrive on the 2nd.. and I do not know her capabilities. Will she be good with kids? But since my husband insist that I continue with my plan, I carried on.. And so the drama begins.. few weeks to the actual travel date, more and more drama arised.
One with housemaid issue, one with a sick mother-in-law, one with a sick father, all had to withdrawn from the plan, although all paid for the registration. And the last was A, 1 day before the race, she just can't get into any flight.. all flight were fully loaded. So that's that.

Off the 4 of us go:- yeah.. luckily there's 2 more friends still joining for the trip but not for HM; 2 with a pure shopping mission and 2 with half-hearted HM mission AND a little bit of shopping mission (yes, it did started small- honest to God! :D). We took Pegasus airline, it was dead cheap when we booked it, QR1400 to-fro with a day stop over in Istanbul on the returning route. The flight was smooth, just a small delay due to some 'technical' problem - whatever it was. Our 3 hours transit in Istanbul was fun, even it was just around the airport. Few hours later, we arrived Paris- Orly airport. Took a brilliant pre-booked shuttle to pick us up and drove straight to our hotel in de Porte de Vincennes. Click here for the shuttle website. 

First stop after check in: Race Bib pickup! And there goes our touristy story. Been here, done that.. yada yada.. now let's go straight to the race shall we?

2nd of March 2014,  waking up a year older. I was not that excited to run. Maybe because half of me, still can't adapt the fact that I'm now running on my own without my husband-my mentor, my motivator AND most of my running buddies - which are my reason to stay strong. I was a bit scared, but not as scared as I was when I did my first HM. This time, my mindset is already thinking - do not push your limit.. run as you please as long as you finished. I know.. not the kind of motivation that one should share in the story of running. But to tell you the truth, I could not feel the same eagerness that I had when I did my first HM anymore. Maybe it was Paris - too beautiful and so much to do that we somehow 'unintentionally' diverted our intention. yes.. we were lack of discipline indeed.

We did however enjoy the ambience. It surely was different. It started as early from our journey from our hotel- waiting for our lift down, few of other runners are also there- ready to run. From top, they completely looked normal in their winter jacket, but when we look down, only we realised- they are in the same mission - in their running shoes. All the way to metro station, we'll find more and more runners. Our trip via metro was a bit of a challenge too, we didn't get to ride it until the 4th train came by. All others were packed with runners. It was awesome. Me and N felt so tiny compare to all mat and minah saleh's runners.

Our journey to the start point was challenging enough- it almost felt like my Hajj experience, with thousand of people pushing their way on the opposite. Due to some miss-communication when dropping our bag, me and N got separated. I felt lost. Darn it.. Calling/ Whatssaping didn't help- all line were too busy. After 15 minutes, I decided to wait for N in our curfew area- Alhamdulillah, I saw her. The joy, was like a kid who got lost and found by the parents! We briefly hugged. It was an emotional moment, we needed each other at the start point. At least with each other, we'll forget all those obstacles and could enjoy our little run.

10 am..but... we were kept waiting.. and waiting. and exactly 1 hour after the supposedly start time of the race, we, the idiots who were honest enough to chose our target time to be more than 2hour were being 'released'. Yes, we were divided into 4 categories: Smart, dumb, dumber and dumbest. We were obviously the dumbest. (Lesson learnt: NEVER EVER take the last categories, lie and just take the fastest target time, you'll know why if you keep reading my story).

I ran alongside N, just so we'll motivate each other, at least for the first 3km, after which, we got separated. Sorry N! I honestly wanted to run with you until the finish line- but that darn coQ health made me go a little faster although not as fast and as determined like I was in ChiangMai. But as I admit before, my target was made lower.

But the good side of this HM, along the way from start to finish, I think not even 100 meter apart, there's always people cheering or people entertaining the runners; band, singers, you name it. They were all high spirited, and the song that they sang or the drum that they pounded were amazing. These was something new for both of us. It keeps us energized. Felt like an on-going parade.. and we were really celebrated.

5km- the first water station; I was ready to replenish myself, but what do you know? No water anymore.. demmit.  This is when the 'dumbest-group' story begins. Remember we were released 1 hour after the race started? So, this is expected. Of course there not gonna be anymore water for us losers. We were just the idiots who thought we could participate in such a big event to get some sort of accomplishment for ourselves. We were the idiots who thought 'doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you finished' when the race organizer didn't even consider us loser, let alone our need to keep going by hydrating ourself. Yes, we were that stupid.  I saw people going through the garbage tank for water. It was sad and humiliating. Although I started to feel thirsty, I couldn't bring myself to do the same. I try my luck by asking other runners who I saw have a little spare of water, (which come to think of it, might have got their water from that pile of garbage too haha whatever). N said, she took her water from leftover bottle she found lying 'near' the garbage tank. Pitty her.

8km, the route is getting harder- it was a steep road all the way- I kept my slow-jog mode until a lady past me by walking. Demmit! I was too slow! Might as well walk.. so I did. (mistake no 2)

10km- I  thought my luck will get better- but now, same story for water. Nada. So I had to beg from other runners again. Putting aside any shame.

15km - now at least there's some energy drinks, not much.. but there was, and some oranges too. Finally some sense of decency.

19km- After the up and down route, I was no longer in the mood of constant running, yes..I walked most of my way up a hill and run the rest of the other 'flat' route. The most challenging was that last few kms .., I was de-motivated, or what us runner call it 'the wall'.. I was past by other motivated runners, one by one. I can even see a very old man in front of me- my guess he was pushing his limit- poor him. Did he got any water  along the way, I wonder? Suddenly I swear, I heard my husband's voice 'You.. sikit lagi you..' , I broke to tears. Oh my god.. it felt so real.. as if he was running besides me. It motivates me to run a little bit faster.
Not long after, I ran past the old man, and kept running to the finish line. Arrived after 2hours and 44minutes to be exact.
At least there's still people there, and there's a host with his microphone- trying to cheer all the finisher, interviewing them.  I runner who arrived shortly after me broke to tears. She must have push herself so much to be that emotional. Yes, running was emotional, when you cross that finish line, with the sought-after medal awaiting for you, you will feel all your efforts are paid off.

But I can't see any medal. No one was waiting for us with medal at the finish line.

I felt strange, where is my medal?

Maybe I have to walk to some desk to get it? So I thought, fine I'll wait for N to finish, and go and get it together. Approximately 17 minutes later, N arrived.

We walked and walked but nobody is around, we found some guys who looks 'official' and ask about our medal, but sadly he responded 'Sorry, all finished'. 'WHAT THE ??!'. That's it, the medal, which supposed to be, my 'birthday present' and the symbol of our small victory.. is no longer available. I seriously didn't get it. How can they not understand the feeling of being let down like this? I can accept if we were told upfront that the first xx runners will get medals, and none for the rest. But, how can you assume that everyone who ran this HM don't mind the medal part? We've flown thousands of kms to be here, just to be let down?. How simple and easy for them to do that and claim as one of the best event in the world. Did you purposely prepared medals lower that the numbers of confirmed registration? :( How aweful.. I felt cheated.
We left empty-handed and heart broken. We no longer have any mood for any other activities- let alone for any picture. We went straight to hotel to rest.

That concluded our Drama to Semi Marathon de Paris 2014. Not only the drama started from before the trip, but it somehow cursed us until our return. Somebody is in need of 'mandi bunga' for sure.
BIB 50502, Semi de Marathon Paris 2014.