An American in Paris
Let it be known that Sara Jane Elizabeth Rodgers survived 26.2 grueling miles by munching on sugar cubes while simultaneously falling irrevocably in love with a city.
Let’s backtrack a little…I’ve been training to run a marathon for a few months now. If you had asked me a year ago if I was planning on running a marathon, I would have laughed and laughed. This time last year, I was doing pentathlons and training for a heptathlon. In those events, the longest distance I would have to run in competition was 800 meters and I believed that was a very long time to run. But fast forward a few months, factor in lots of happy Facebook photos from the Philadelphia marathon and all of the sudden my nice easy runs turned into practicing for 42,194.988 meters in the Paris marathon.
Why the Paris marathon? Probably similar to anybody who has watched An American in Paris or even Moulin Rouge, Paris has had a special place in my heart for the longest time. I can’t tell you the number of Eiffel tower bracelets I own. Now being in Ireland, I was only a cheap flight away from this beautiful city. In my mind, I figured that if I were to “die” running a marathon, why not do it while looking up at the Eiffel Tower?
So, many runs in the freezing winter rain and several colds later, I boarded the plane to Paris. A part of me was a little afraid that the city would not live up to everything that I heard about it. However, I was worried for nothing. It is so alive and romantic. Every street has several cute sidewalk cafes and everyone was so chic! I was warned that people wouldn’t be nice to me, being a tourist, but everyone was extremely friendly. I was able to practice my French and though a few people switched to English to help me out, I was surprised at how well I was able to carry out conversations in French. Two people even thanked me for speaking to them in French because they said that their English was terrible! I thought the same about my French but perhaps I did better than I thought!
Needing to be back for class the following Monday, I took on Paris in a whirlwind weekend. On Saturday, I was constantly on trains and trams going from one monument to another. Then on Sunday, I ran the marathon. Because I had placed an emphasis more on endurance than speed, my time was slightly slower than I would have liked, but I made it through! I took a bunch of pictures during the start of the run, but about 20 kilometers into the race, I started getting tunnel vision and figured that I should probably focus on the task at hand. While running and hearing the endless shouts of “Allez!” and “Courage!” (which were very, very sweet but were also quite repetitive after several hours), I told myself that I was not allowed to walk, even for a second. I hadn’t run the full length before, but knowing me, if I started walking, I would definitely be signing up for another one right away. I finished running so that I wouldn’t have to do it again. However, two days after the race, I was researching when I could feasibly do another one. I didn’t realize that marathons were so addictive!
Besides that personal goal set and attained, I was able to spend a lovely, lovely weekend in the beautiful city of Paris. I saw most of the “classic” sites but I cannot wait until I go back again so that I can explore every nook and cranny of the city! One of my favorite films has it right…”Paris, Je t’aime!”