Tag Archives: Paris Marathon

Turn your can’ts into cans and your dreams into plans.

13 Mar

**March 13th 2014**

Here is today’s IDEAfit photo a day image:

Success! PB at Paris Marathon in April 2013

Success! PB at Paris Marathon in April 2013

The theme was success, so I’ve chosen a photo from a year ago – it was taken after Kirsty and I had completed Paris Marathon.

How do you define success?

I’m currently going for tiny goals as they are so much more attainable than aiming too high and then failing.

Kirsten soas

She turned her ‘can’ts’ into ‘cans’ and her dreams into plans



The big day arrived

8 Apr

As I expected, I did not sleep well before the marathon… But I have been reading Paula Radcliffe’s autobiography and she makes it clear that the night before the marathon is not the most important, so I wasn’t too worried. I was unable to have my usual breakfast (porridge), but Kirsty and I had bought some plastic storage pots, so I had a bowl of granola and water, which seemed ok… And as much water as I could. I usually drink 1-2 pints before leaving my house every morning, so I wasn’t worried that it would be too much.

Stu, Kirsty and I left the hotel at 7:30 and walked up to the Arc de Triomphe. Stu took some photos and then we let him go.

Before Paris marathon

Before Paris marathon

Just five minutes later, we bumped into Di, Angela, Mike and Patrick. They seemed in high spirits, but were struggling to find the baggage area, so after a brief conversation we let them go and headed towards our start area.

We realised how far we were going to have to walk to our start pen, so we decided to find somewhere to go to the loo. Unfortunately, many of the restaurants along the Champs Elysees are quite expensive and not open early in the morning… never have I been more grateful to see the golden arches. After a brief queue, Kirsty and I headed back outside towards our pen, where we realised how fortuitous our decision to go to McDonalds had been… the queue for the two portaloos stretched the entire way across the road!

We realised that we were fairly near to the 3;45 pen, but decided to stay put as we were able to see the warm up ‘entertainment’, which consisted of a couple on a podium dancing to well-known tracks and shouting, “Bouger, bouger, bouger” (Move, move, move).

Eventually, the pens of people started moving forwards and we started to feel more excited, although I was still unsure how far I would be able to run. The main problem was that everyone had started to discard their plastic ponchos… and spare clothing… and gel packets… and drinks bottles… so the ground was covered with obstacles. We realised that we were not going to be able to start for at least another 45 minutes, so as the queues had gone from the portaloos, we thought we’d make use of the facilities. WHAT A MISTAKE! I didn’t expect there to be any loo roll, but I also didn’t quite expect it to be as sordid as it was; it turns out I was lucky – Kirsty’s loo was over-flowing. There were also people squatting all over the street. This is one part of the marathon that I never want to relive!!!

Finally, it was time to go.

It was a little chilly, and I was excited, so Kirsty and I started out running at a reasonably quick pace. We covered the first 5k in 29:36, and I realised that I didn’t want to wear my gloves any more… but they’re my favourite gloves so there was no way that I was going to abandon them. Stu had said that he’d come and see us at about six miles, so at five miles, I took my gloves off and then carried them. Kirsty agreed that she would watch the left hand side of the road and I would watch the right. Finally, I saw Stu on the left hand side of the road, so I shouted and ran over, throwing my gloves in his direction before running on. About 100m later, Stu was at the side of the road, shouting at Kirsty and I and cheering us on. The triggered a blonde moment for Kirsty, “How did Stu get there? Did he manage to run there faster than us?” – well, yes – he’d caught the metro to that area and had been standing around for a while, so a 100m sprint wasn’t a tough challenge for him!

We carried on and at around 9km as we were entering Bois de Vincennes we saw Stu. I was getting quite warm, so I gave him my headband and neck gaiter… fortunately, he also appeared as we were leaving the forest at 20k, so I was able to give him my arm warmers! I was feeling good and realised at about 25k that Kirsty had started to slow down – unfortunately, she wasn’t sure of the settings on Irene’s Garmin and thought she was on target.We entered an incredibly long underpass and then I realised that my Garmin had lost reception and stopped – aarrgghh!!! We came out of the underpass and I thought that my watch may have picked up the distance, but unfortunately, the time was lost. I guessed that it had taken me 3-5 minutes, but that wasn’t very helpful, and I didn’t think of asking any other runners.Paris MarathonParis Marathon Paris MarathonParis Marathon  Paris Marathon

At 27k Kirsty and I agreed to go our separate ways and shortly afterwards, I saw Stu on the road above an underpass. I was unsure of how much I should speed up, but I was feeling good, so decided to go for it.

I had hoped to really push myself for the last 5k (parkrun to go!), but unfortuately, my legs didn’t agree with me, so I carried on at the same pace. At about 41k, Stu was there to cheer me on – what a superstar! I told him how disappointed I was that not only would I fail to get under four and a half hours, but I would also fail to beat my time from Milton Keynes. He encouraged me to just do the best I could.

Paris Marathon Garmin data

Paris Marathon splits

I crossed the line and stopped my watch 4:29:35… so not a bad time and I would just have to wait to see how much was added on…

When I got back to the hotel, I realised that my friends had been following my progress and they already knew my time:


I did it! Under four and a half hours! 😀

After all of the stress of the preceding week, I was delighted that I achieved a PB. However, I definitely want to have another crack at getting under 4:15, so am now likely to enter New Forest Marathon, which is at the end of September. 7901 women took part in the race, so I was about mid-field. Here is my finisher data:

Paris Marathon results

Paris Marathon results

It is possible to watch videos of me running here: http://www.asics.fr/runnerstv/?r=47358&e=MP13M&n=SMITH+TAMSYN&nt_s1=00:00:00&ct_s1=08:45:00&nt_f=05:12:16&ct_f=13:57:15&nt_s2=01:12:35&ct_s2=09:57:35&nt_s3=01:43:33&ct_s3=10:28:32&nt_s4=02:15:10&ct_s4=11:00:10&nt_s5=02:53:28&ct_s5=11:38:27&nt_s6=03:19:11&ct_s6=12:04:11&nt_s7=03:51:53&ct_s7=12:36:52&nt_s8=04:24:35&ct_s8=13:09:34&nt_s9=04:57:31&ct_s9=13:42:31&k=21ktotaal&l=fr

Marathon de Paris Expo

6 Apr

Ok, so we arrived in Paris yesterday and settled into our lovely, luxurious hotel. Despite being in the centre of the city it is fairly quiet, the bed is comfortable and the pillows are amazing. However, my leg still hurts 😦

We settled ourselves in and then went out to meet Di, Mike, Patrick and Angela for dinner. They had chosen a fairly central Italian restaurant… But it felt like it was miles away. We walked… And walked… And walked… And finally we got there. We were all very hungry, so didn’t spend a lot of time reading the menu. I had pasta with aubergines, which was good, but I could have eaten so much more! Fortunately, it took my mind off my leg pain or a while. By the time we had finished eating, we decided it was bedtime, so we headed straight back to the hotel. However, as we got to the door, we noticed a supermarket opposite and decided that some French biscuits would round off the night nicely, so we had to buy some!

This morning we got up fairly early. I had considered doing the 5k run, but Kirsty didn’t want to do it and logic prevailed. If I couldn’t do it, I would feel stressed and disheartened; by not doing it, I have fresh legs. We decided to go straight to the Expo, which was quite a long journey on the metro with one change. We were on the second train by the time I realised that I had forgotten my ‘convocation’ and doctor’s letter 😦 I had to head back to the hotel whilst Stu and Kirsty continued to the Expo.

I finally made it there and was surprised that there were no queues. I submitted my doctor’s letter which was stamped and then headed round the corner to the four hour band. I handed over my entry letter and was then asked for my passport. “Passporte?! Non, je n’ai pas de passeport! J’ai… J’ai…” I started fishing in my handbag for my wallet with my driving licence in it, and must have looked like I was going to burst into tears. I’m not sure whether the chap was joking, or whether he took pity on me, but he handed my number over – THANK GOD!

I then met up with Stu and Kirsty, and we went back to get Kirsty moved into the green wave with me. YAY – we can run together!

We then went through the Expo, stopping for me to examine the goods on every stand and admire many items of clothing meant for people with athletic physiques. Kirsty was quite taken with a pretty asics running jacket with a Marathon de Paris logo on it, but she decided to examine everything else before spending money.

We moved onto the Skechers stand where a lovely Californian guy extolled the virtues of the new Skechers shoes. Kirsty tried some on and was even persuaded to go on the treadmill… But again, it was necessary for us to continue looking at what was available.

Fortunately, head bands were on sale – they fit everyone, so I decided to splash out… And Kirsty did as well. My favourite headband is my ‘looks like walking, feels like running’ one – partly because I like the slogan, but also because the colour suits me and it matches my Lordshill top. (My red one doesn’t suit me). I bought another blue one that says ‘EAT. SLEEP. RUN.’ And a black one that says, ‘I might be slow, but I’m not last’… I hope that’s true!!!

We walked around the rest of the expo, before heading back to the Skechers stand for Kirsty to buy the trainers. Then we decided to go to the Uncle Ben’s Rice Party. €5 for a rice meal, banana and 1.5 litre bottle of water sounded like a good deal. We paid, got our vouchers and then chose our meals: coconut chicken curry or mushroom risotto. Obviously, I chose the risotto and was part way through eating it when I read a sign that said it was made of rice, cream, mushrooms and chicken stock…. Hold on… Chicken stock – AARRGGHH! I’d assumed that it was the vegetarian option 😦 I seem destined not to be able to find vegetarian risotto. Oh well – the banana and the water were nice.

We’d looked at pretty much everything in the Expo and it was getting busy, so i decided to make one final purchase: a pair of Marathon de Paris arm warmers. I the past I have mocked a friend for wearing them, but it is my intention to wear a tshirt tomorrow and I figure they may come in handy. Fortunately, they match my ensemble!

We then headed back to our hotel for a break, before going out to check out the nearest Starbucks, which is Kirsty’s vice. My leg was hurting and I was feeling sorry for myself, so I couldn’t resist a piece of the creme brûlée cheesecake. I’m not sure that’s ideal race preparation, butc nothing’s going to plan and it lifted my spirits for a short while.

I’ve pinned my number on my tshirt, but am saddened that my name isn’t printed on it like everyone else’s. I’m not sure why. Oh well, it’s on my tshirt!!!

We’re now back at he hotel having a break. I’ve taken some anti-inflammatories and will ice my leg again soon, before we head out for tea. I’m still worried, but am less stressed now that I know Kirsty and I will run together.

I CAN DO 10 MINUTE MILES – repeat for 260 minutes!!!









Send me all of your positive thoughts

4 Apr
My injured knee

My injured knee

My personalised LRR tshirt

My personalised LRR tshirt

This afternoon, I went for my second massage session of the day, with ultrasound therapy and then some kinesio taping. I’m not entirely convinced that the taping will do any good, but I figure it can’t do any harm – I’m willing to try anything. Stuart often refers to me as his ‘little peach’ as I bruise very easily. Today my leg is covered in little bruises from the massages.

I still don’t know whether I will be able to run on Sunday, so I’m just going to have to assume that I will be OK.

The race starts at 8:45am, with my pen being one of the last to start… although apparently we’re not being set off at different times, which is a little confusing. My corral will close at 9:10am. I’ve looked up last year’s results and have seen that there were plenty of people who took nearly 7 hours to finish the race, so maybe I won’t be one of the last ones to finish, even if I’m not on form. I will have to plan how we’re going to get from our hotel to the Champs Elysees in the morning, but it should be OK as I don’t think we’re too far away.

I haven’t worked out what I’m going to have for tea tonight, but I will have to plan what I’m going to pack for Paris… and get packing. I hate going away, it’s sooooo stressful!

I’ve also been reading through all of the advice that I’ve been sent about the marathon in the last week.


Today’s advice:

  • Make sure you know how long it will take you to get to the start area at the Champs-Elysées. Visualize the metro station closest to your hotel, if you’re not familiar with public transportation in Paris. Get off at the metro stop “George V” or “Charles de Gaulle-Etoile.”

I shall be staying at the Hotel Courcelles Etoile. It looks amazing. It is near to the Pereire Metro station, which is on a completely different line from George V Metro station, so it may just be easiest to walk the 1.1 miles to the start. I’m figuring that there will be lots of other marathoners in the area to follow!

  • Add between twenty and thirty minutes if you decide to leave a bag at the bag check. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from volunteers if you have a hard time finding your way.

If I decide to do this, I’ll need to be there by 7:55am! I’m hoping that Stu will be my bag drop… but I’m also hoping that he’ll be out on the course shouting encouragement to Kirsty and I!

  • Enter your start area, which has been fixed according to your chronometric goal, at least twenty minutes before the start. A warm-up to music will be done in this start area, thus you won’t get cold.

This means that I need to be there by 8:25am, although I doubt that I’ll get moving until 9:10am.

  • Visualize the position of the pacers, who will be wearing a feather of the same color as your starting area. You should be able to spot them from a distance. If you wish to take advantage of their management of time and tempo, get closer to one of them, without pushing (each start area will have four pacers) so that you can quickly fall into stride.

Four hours is now an entirely unrealistic target , so I’ll ignore the pacers… but if I fall far enough behind to see the 4:15 pacers then I may try to hang on to them. I’m hoping to meet up with some other ladies from MarathonTalk  so, we may be able to keep each other going.

If you want to follow my progress (or lack of progress) on Sunday, there’s an app for it: http://www.parismarathon.com/marathon/2013/us/r6_applicationOfficielle.html#xtor=ES-35-[Marathon-US]-20130404-[ZONE-EDITO-SAVOIR+]

My number is 47358

Paris Marathon route map

Will I be able to run in Paris?

4 Apr

I’ve not posted for a few days as I’ve not been very motivated. I ran hard at parkrun, but was nowhere near my goal… probably because I was tired from Friday’s 13 mile run and had eaten badly for most of the week. In the afternoon, Stuart and I went into town to get our names put on our marathon tops. I also wanted to buy some new running socks, but it quickly became clear that I had badly injured my knee as I was unable to walk without pain :’-(

Creme egg brownies

Creme egg brownies

My (fat) leg with kinesio tape

My (fat) leg with kinesio tape

I sent a text to John Collins, our local sports masseur to book an appointment. John is an absolute hero – he offered to see me at 9:30 on Monday morning.

We spent Sunday with Stu’s parents (who gave us an Easter egg each!) and then went around to Alice’s flat for some competitive Trivial Pursuit in the evening. I LOVE Trivial Pursuit and as it was the 1983 edition, I had a significant advantage over the others who are 25 or 30 years old. The girls thoroughly beat the boys (although as Stu and Kev were napping young Ben had to answer most of the questions on his own).

On Easter Monday I had a massage with ultrasound and was taped up by John before going around to Kev and Alice’s for a social afternoon. I baked some creme egg brownies (which are definitely not on my nutrition plan!!!)  and managed to get myself a seat for the rest of the day. After everyone had eaten too much, a group of the girls went out for a walk, but I didn’t want to risk it. I felt really sad that I couldn’t do some exercise and get some fresh air.

I’m off work this week, so I haven’t had to go out on my bike every day and I haven’t been swimming (as the swimming pool is by my office and also I couldn’t swim with my leg taped up). I really miss exercise, but keep trying to tell myself that it bodes well for the marathon as I’ll be properly rested.

Because of my knee problems, I didn’t go to RunCamp on Tuesday morning or Thursday morning. It made me feel really sad as it was the last week of the course and I wanted to see how much I’d progressed and also say goodbye to all of the people I’ve got to know over the last three months 😦

Wednesday night training

Wednesday night training

Wednesday night training

Wednesday night training

Wednesday night training

Wednesday night training

I watched Ben’s training session on Wednesday evening – it was soooo cold! I definitely wished that I could join in as I would have been much warmer. The work out was a ladder session and was aimed at a mixed ability group.

This morning, I had a deep tissue massage from Pete at You Massage Therapy. It was incredibly painful, but I am hoping that it will have done me some good. Soon I will be going to see John Collins for another massage, ultrasound and taping. It is my only hope now – I feel so worried and disapointed :’-(

Easter running

4 Apr

OK, so yesterday was Good Friday which meant that I had a day off work… which also meant a day off swimming as the University swimming pool was closed.

I arranged to meet up with Di and Kirsty for a final long run before Paris. We met at 10am and then went for a 21.02k run, from The Common to Lordshill and then along the new Lordshill 10k route. I felt quite tired for the last couple of miles, but think that’s mostly because I’ve not been eating well. I then went home and decided to spring clean because the sooner I clear out my house the sooner I’ll be able to focus on what is important in life.

In the evening I did a Twitter quiz for The Running School:

Running School

I don’t think it will contradict what I’ve been doing with RunCamp – hopefully, it will be just that bit more tailored to me and what I need to work on. However, the honest truth is that there is no way I could afford to book a course with Running School 😦 It will also give me something to look forward to when I get back.

On Saturday morning I did parkrun as usual. The adidas boost team were there, so they took my photo before the start. I was aiming for just under 25 minutes, but part way up the first hill, my knee started to hurt, and I only managed 25:45 😦 I need to crack this whole nutrition thing as I’ve been eating badly all week.

On the positive side, I’ve had my club tshirt and my Run Leader vest customised 🙂

My personalised Run Leader vest

My personalised Run Leader vest

These are the online articles I’ve been reading this week:

Why train your breathing: http://www.i-run.co.uk/why-train-your-breathing/

Great Swim Series: http://www.greatswim.org/events/Default.aspx

Sink or swim: http://5amfitness.ca/2012/10/25/sink-or-swim-learning-to-swim-a-triathlon/

So how did Bramley go?

18 Feb
Bramley 20 race number

Bramley 20 race number

As Bramley 20 didn’t start until 10:30am, I was able to get up relatively late for a race day… which was good as I didn’t get to bed until 11:30pm the night before, which is very late for me. I decided to have porridge for breakfast, but ran out of time to make carrot cake porridge, so I decided to go for 30g of date and walnut porridge with some ground almonds thrown in for extra protein. This was accompanied by a sachet of Spatone apple juice. The advertising describes it as delicious – I think it tastes vile, but believe that it’s doing me some good.

My plan was to run with a  race belt – I had a packet of Powerbar energy blasts, a couple of High Five gels and some other yoghurt gel thing as well as four small bottles of water. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to beat last year’s time (3:02), but figured that I should be able to complete the race in 3:15.

Despite the promise of sunshine, the day started out grey and cloudy, so I decided that 4 bottles of water on a course with several drink stations was unnecessary… plus it made my belt really heavy, so I ditched two bottles before the start. Although I’ve been trying to run without the need for unnatural crap, the strategy was to take a gel every five miles. I took my first gel at 5 miles and was feeling good. Irene and I had Alice with us, and we decided to encourage her to get a 10k PB and a 10 mile PB – go Alice! However, the sun came out and it was hotting up, so I decided to ditch my headband and race belt when Alice left us at 10 miles and to continue the second ten miles without.

Unfortunately, my running buddy had runners’ stomach cramps during the second part of the race. She looked ill and I was worried about her. If it had been a parkrun, or she had had a leg injury that forced her to pull out, I would have run on, but 20 miles is a long race for someone to complete on their own. We made it in 3:27:03 , but I was delighted that I had loads of energy left at the end and felt that I could continue on and run the full marathon distance. So, although it wasn’t a race done at race pace, I feel reassured that I may not do horrendously badly at Paris marathon… I just need to keep myself on track until then.

As usual, we went to a pub after the race and despite my pledge to be good, I was HUNGRY! Sadly, there were only TWO vegetarian options on the menu: goats cheese tart or vegetable carbonara. I hate goats cheese so that was the decision made for me. I really didn’t want the carbonara before it arrived and when it was finally served (an hour later), it was worse than I was expecting: cubes of barely cooked pepper, aubergine and onion stirred into hot cream and poured over some pasta with some garlic ciabatta on the side. Definitely not worth £10 and goodness knows how many calories 😦

In the evening, Stuart and I decided to go on a slow, gentle 5k recovery run, as we had done when we were on holiday with Embrace Sports. It was an effort getting off the sofa, but once we got going it was fine, and I convinced Stu to do some extra bits so that we finished on exactly 5k. It was also good to run with Stu for a change – he’s so much faster than me that we rarely run together, although we’re usually running at the same time.

This morning I cycled to work as usual, but it felt really easy for a change, which was great. Maybe the recovery run last night helped, or maybe it was because I didn’t cycle on Friday – I don’t know, but I’m not complaining! I then went for a swim at the uni pool. Usually, I aim to complete 800m before getting out, but I thought it would be more sensible to practise some drills… there’s no point in repeatedly doing something wrong or badly. I did various drills with a float, but the pool was much busier than usual, so I didn’t do as much as I’d have liked. I have no idea how many lengths I swam as I didn’t count them.

This evening, I’m running with the club… well, I say running but I actually mean Run Leading. Group B is doing a 10k tempo run, but I didn’t want to risk it, so I’m going to cycle up to The Common and try to cycle with the group. It will be 15k in total, so it will help me to know how I’ll cope (or otherwise) when it comes to my duathlon!

After training, there’s a coaching meeting, so I’ll end up eating the food that’s provided in the pub. I daresay it won’t match up to my healthy eating aims, but otherwise I won’t eat until after 9pm. I have tried to be good so far today with porridge for breakfast, salad for lunch and a big bag of fruit from the market this morning. I also read this interesting article on healthy eating from The Guardian http://www.guardianeatright.co.uk/news/article.cfm?code=27051&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Week52&article_id=1514

Nearly 35

15 Feb

In 9 days time I will be 35 and I’m dissatisfied with my life. Despite losing weight before my 30th birthday, I’ve put nearly all of it back on and I’m not as fit as I’d like to be, so I’ve decided to set myself a five-year challenge:


This is going to be a massive challenge for me. I will have 17 hours to:

  • swim 2.4 miles
  • cycle 112 miles
  • run 26.2 miles

I’m already a runner, so the marathon seems like the easy bit at the moment. I run most days and have completed two marathons. I’m currently training for Paris Marathon in April 2013. However, I am not a good runner; I’m just enthusiastic. My RunBritain ranking is on the slide from a high of 16.9 in April 2012 to today’s low of 17.9 – exactly where it was a year ago 😦

I cycle to work every day… BUT that’s only about 5k/3 miles. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really cycled further than 10 miles before. I have entered Winchester Duathlon on 17/03/13, so I’d better get on my bike!!!

I try to swim before work at least three days a week… BUT until December, I had never put my face in the water and I can only do breaststroke and backstroke. I had a swimming assessment this week and am going to start swimming lessons on my 35th birthday. I was told to go into the intermediate group, but it’s full, so I’m plunging into the advanced group – eek!

Another facet of this challenge is that in order to swim/cycle/run well, I need to eat more healthily and lose weight. I currently weigh 10st 13lb (69.4kg). I want to get back to weighing 9st (57kg).

I was motivated to attempt this challenge by going on an amazing running holiday in The Algarve led by Embrace Sports. I am hoping that I may be able to go on a triathlon holiday in October/November, but I need to work on my swimming ability and confidence by then.

I may enter a triathlon this summer, but it will depend on whether I can improve my swimming to a good enough standard. I will also need to learn to swim in open water. I hope that I can enter Ferndown try-a-tri. This triathlon would be convenient as it is where my in-laws live and the short distance means that I think my husband may be persuaded to enter with me. It’s a 400m pool swim, 11.5 mile bike ride and 5k run. My nieces and nephews may evne be interested in enter the children’s events.

I currently record all of my running on my Garmin 405cx. Occasionally, I use it on my bike. I upload all of my data to Garmin Connect – I’m listed as Tamsyn Smith.

I’m hoping that along the way I will run a sub 25 minute 5k and also complete an ultramarathon. I’m tempted by the Classic Quarter as it is an ultra that is close to where I’m from.

I’ve taken out a trial subscription to 220 Triathlon in the hope that it will keep me inspired.

I’m ladies captain of Lordshill Road Runners (Southampton’s friendliest running club) and I receive running coaching from Ant Gritton a triathlete who runs Run Camp.