“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
Did you know that a Kenyan married couple duo became the 2017 Paris Marathon winners of men and women’s races? Amazing and romantic at the same time 🙂 Paul Lonyangata set a personal record with 2:06:10 and his wife Purity Rionoripo set a course record for women with 2:20:55.
Moreover, did you know that a newly-married Turkish couple from ran their first ever marathon in Paris and achieved their personal best? Mrs. and Mr. Sezginer completed the run in approximately 4h30min and became a “marathon finisher”! 🙂
Yes, that’s me and Gökhan. It was in October 2016 that we decided to sign up for the marathon. Didn’t know which one though. When we found out about the Paris Marathon, scheduled to take place on 9 April 2017, we said “okay, thats it. The moment we were waiting for!”
We had full 6 months to train for it. Since then, 25K was the longest distances I ran (Big Berlin 25K) and 21K was Gökhan’s longest distance. And to be honest, both of our athletic performance was lagging happily due to our engagement, marriage, honeymoon, moving to a new city, changing jobs, etc.. Putting all these behind, we were ready to take up a new challenge as a couple! LET’S RUN A MARATHON! Let’s make this special and run it in the beautiful city of Paris! (2 things made this experience even more memorable; first, 7th of April – 2 days before the marathon – being Gökhan’s birthday and second, 9th of April – marathon day – being our 1st year engagement anniversary.)
“Couples that train together, stay together”
I did hear this quote before, but I was not a big believer of it before my marathon training and running experience. However, now I am a big supporter of it. I get the idea behind it.
Past 6 months was challenging. Keeping the work-life-run balance was difficult at some points. Running during the weekdays after work (no matter how exhausted we were), motivating each other when one of us was feeling low, sacrificing from our sleep and doing our long runs in the weekend, running under snow/under rain or under burning sun, traveling abroad but still running, decreasing the number of weekend outings and trying to be a bit more cautious about nutrition.
There were times when I didn’t feel like running at all after coming from a tiring work day, similarly times when Gökhan wanted to quit during a long run. Or days that we had to start really early in order to complete our long run (as early as 6.00am) and work the rest of the day. But at the end of the day, we were there to support and motivate each other. This was our choice and no one was forcing us to do it. The beauty of the challenge lies in its difficulty… By training together, we learned more about each other and built a stronger bond.
Marathon de Paris : 42,195km dans la plus belle ville du monde!
The Paris Marathon is one of the most popular marathons in Europe. A scenic race through a beautiful city, passing many iconic sights: Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Place de la Concorde, Rue de Rivoli, Louvre Museum, Place de la Bastille, Bois de Vincennes (beautiful parc), Rue de Charenton (halfway point), river Seine, Ile de la Cite, Notre-Dame, Pont Neuf, Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, Bois de Boulogne, Avenue Foch and Arc de Triomphe.
Getting to the marathon start line…
Feeling nervous, stressed, cold and confused. How far is the bag drop area? Will we be able to make it on time to the start? Do I have time to use the bathroom? How many gels should I take?
We left our hotel at 7.30 and walked to the Arc de Triomphe (near the start area). As we were walking towards the bag drop area, some people were running towards us. Our expected start time was 9.15am whereas runners expected to finish faster had an earlier start time. Since we had plenty of time, we were taking our time to take some photos in front of Arc de Triomphe. After couple of fun photos we started walking towards the bag drop area. The area was a bit further away than expected. It is highly recommended that you come early!
Giving the bag, using the bathroom, stretching, some wandering around.. and here we were. 9.00am and we were ready in our starting area. The wait took longer than expected. And finally at 9.40am we were ready to take off!
3-2-1 START! Oh Champs-Elysees!
Amazing atmosphere… hundreds of runners…beautiful weather! feeling wonderful and ready to run. First 5K went really quick. I was enjoying the city very much. The spectators were all over the streets and all doing a great job cheering for you.
10K- we entered the park, Bois de Vincennes… although it was getting hotter and hotter, the runners (including us) were feeling all good. Enjoying the fresh air at the park and thinking about the coming kilometres.
On the way, there were couple of live music groups, high school students, veteran orchestra, middle aged man rock group, university student groups and many more…Thanks to these, I didn’t ever listened to my mp3 throughout the whole run.
21K – Half way…
So far so good… I wasn’t counting the kilometres and I was not really tracking my pace. I was just “going with the flow.” And the flow was pretty amazing. Legs still feeling good, sun burning a little bit, and amazing crowd of spectators all over the place.
When we passed under the tag “Semi” I had some mixed feelings 🙂 the real run was starting now. I was used to running half-marathons. And it was this second half of the run that would make the difference and give us the real taste of a “marathon”. Trying not to think about this much, we were just running and running. There was no much difference in our pace; just a little bit slowing down near 27K…
Eiffel! and cheers to my sis! 28K…
My eyes were carefully searching for my sister.. I knew that she was somewhere around. But not sure where exactly. The plan was that she would meet us somewhere near Eiffel Tower. However, she didn’t have internet and she had no idea when we would pass from there. I had no idea where she was waiting. At some point I started to think “Ok. I think we missed her. Too bad. I wish we planned it better and picked a spot for her.”
Bu then I saw her! Although she didn’t see me at first because she was just staring around 🙂 I started shouting “Ezgi, Ezgi, we are coming”. Because she saw us late and she couldn’t take any photo, we even turned back and posed to her in front of Eiffel Tower.
Here comes the “wall”
And the unforgettable 30K water station…perhaps this was the point we spent most of the time. We stopped, had water, some orange as well as took one gel. Legs were getting tired. my mind was still energetic and it was telling my legs that “sev, you came this far. Come on, hold on! now this is the final part. and the most important part”.
However, the legs were no longer listening to me. They were not happy with the situation at all. Especially when they saw the hill in the 33K!
It was actually not my legs, but especially my left knee which was really hurting. It was as if it was locked down. I tried to stretch it but it didn’t really work. Then I realised that it was actually feeling worse when I stopped or slowed down my pace. I decided to keep going, no matter what. The pain was there but there was no turning back… Only 5K left.. It is nothing compared to the full marathon, 42K, but still 5K meant minimum 30-35minutes of running. “Ahh Gokhan help me!” I wanted to scream 🙂 But I couldn’t. I knew that Gökhan was feeling not any better than me 🙂 But we were there to help each other. support and carry each other to the finish line. We took one last gel and drink 2 bottles of water in the final station and prepared ourselves mentally for finishing the race.
Hang on little tomato…Final Kilometres
Final 2K…Even seeing 40K in my Garmin watch felt amazing! I have never checked the total time during the whole run (because it wasn’t important at all to me and Gökhan during our first marathon) but I kept checking the final meters in my watch.
There were many people walking or stretching in the sideways during these final kilometres. I was checking every one of them and thinking about them. Hoping that they would get back to running and finish the marathon… This also helped me to distract my attention from my knee and its pain.
From time to time, me and Gökhan were holding hands, or giving hi5 to each other. We were aware that the finish line was close, but believe me these final 2K were my longest 2K ever 🙂 felt never-ending ….
But, all good things come to an end! Don’t they 🙂 Just like the Paris marathon! It ended in 4hours 31minutes! It ended beautifully! Hand in hand! No words to describe this feeling… Thank you Gökhan!
Special thanks also goes to our families for supporting us through this training period. And of course to Ankara Kosuyor and Kosu Kadini members for all the training advice, motivation and greatest support!
Et merci beaucoup ma soeur pour le pique-nique, les photos, le concert et d’etre avec nous!