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Paris Half-Marathon - March 5, 2006
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Paris Half-Marathon - March 5, 2006
5 months of regular training. Knee, ankle, and ligament injuries. 21.1 kilometers. 13.1 miles. 21,000 people. End result: Finished with a BIG lesson learned!
[940 words]
Terry Kaufman
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After earning a BA in Human Development at California State University, Long Beach, I moved to Paris, France in order to marry a lovely Parisian. A proud father of two vivacious girls, I currently
teach English and work on PCs and websites in the Parisian area.
[April 2006]
[email protected]
Back To Back 10k Runs (Non-Fiction) After running the Vitry-sur-Seine half-marathon about a month and a half ago, I wanted to see what it would be like to run a 10K. [1,113 words] [Motivational]
Vitry-Sur-Seine Half-Marathon - April 23, 2006 (Non-Fiction) After running the Paris Half-Marathon over a month ago, I decided to put myself to the test by setting a goal: Finish another semi-marathon in about 1:40:00. [777 words] [Motivational]
Paris Half-Marathon - March 5, 2006
Terry Kaufman

5 months of regular training. Knee, ankle, and ligament injuries. 21.1 kilometers. 13.1 miles. 21,000 people. End result: Finished with a BIG lesson learned!

After roughly 12 years of leading a sedentary lifestyle due to marriage and fatherhood, I decided to get off my butt and do some exercise after having climbed a flight of stairs at the age of 32 and almost collapsed due to impaired breathing. When the stars cleared from my head, I knew I had to do something since I used to road race bicycles competitively for 8 years while in high school and university. The question was: What can I do in Paris, France, where the winters are long and dismal, and while having a hectic work and family life?

Run. Bicycling was no longer an option. Try riding a bike, in a bike lane, between buses and cars. Not my idea of fun and fitness. Running sounded like a viable sport. I could do it on a flexible schedule, even if it rained, hailed, or snowed. Moreover, the woods (Bois de Vincennes) is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Thus I started to run at the beginning of September 2005. After about 4 to 6 weeks of getting my body accustomed to the sport and battling knee, ankle, and ligament injuries, I was able to settle down into regular training, consisting of running 3 to 4 times a week. My diet changed as well. I drank more, ate less, and nibbled on healthier food like fruits and granola. Lost over 7 kilograms, or 15 pounds.

Peace of mind along with feeling lighter on my toes has come out of the exercise. I am regaining my fitness level and have begun to feel good about myself again. Therefore, why not participate in an organized run? Not a 10K, of course. Not for the first time. Neither a marathon...that would have been too much. A half-marathon, Mr. Wise Guy!

Several hours of study and research on the Net followed the rash decision. Basically, a person should be able to run at least 10 to 12 miles the last 3 consecutive weeks before the Big Day. OK. Let us try.

In addition to the long, weekend run, I added running stairs to the program, once a week. I felt fit. Until one week before....

My wife and older daughter fell ill 7 days before the Run. Seemed like my lovely spouse had a flu-like virus. My 7-year-old had a throat infection. I could not sleep well and was afraid of getting sick. The Sunday before, exactly one week and counting, I twisted my ankle on my last long training run. Fortunately, it was a light injury, and after frequent ice and anti-inflammatory gel applications, the swelling and pain subsided in 2 days. My family's health also improved. I dodged a bullet, only to receive one right in the legs on March 5.

As you can see from the picture above, the weather could not have been any better. Sunny, clear blue skies, and warm temperatures, compared to what had been forecast. Originally, the weather report called for below freezing temperatures in the morning, with a high temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon. Turned out to be well above freezing in the morning. Enter the fatal mistake: I overdressed!

3 layers of clothing on top and a heavy pair of sweat pants down below. Immediately following the start of the run, I knew I had screwed up. A runner should feel slightly cold at the beginning of a run. I had been sweating bullets at the 1-kilometer mark, with no real feasible way of removing any clothes.

Although I was losing more liquid than I could replenish due to being covered from head to toe, I had run a good pace up to the 15-kilometer point. My ultimate goal had been to simply finish. Deep in my mind, I had had an ulterior one: To finish within 1:40:00.

That would never be the case. At 15 kilometers, after having run up a small hill, my legs gave away. Cramps became my only friend during the last 5 kilometers. My legs felt like stiff wooden boards. I could hardly feel them as my muscles screamed for liquid and relief! I lost at least 10 to 12 minutes over the last 5 kilometers. It was a painful finish, to say the least. I had wanted to finish strong, with a smile on my face, yet due to my inexperience, I almost ended up crawling past the finish line.

What came about in the end? Well, I learned that a runner must not overdress. I also found out that a runner's world is paradoxically both full of solidarity and competition. After, I had blown up, at least 5 different people had the kindness and compassion to encourage me to continue, as the severe cramping pain flashed upon my face. Yet, towards the end, arms and elbows were jostling as runners fought for position and tried to move up as far as they could within the crowd.

Most importantly, I was reminded, once again, that it is not the actual finish that is significant, but the journey and experiences you live through to reach the end. I had made a wonderful friend, Olivier, who is now my training partner. I had experienced fitness again and participated in an international event with 21,000 people. The ambiance itself was surreal during the event. I saw the magnificent smiles on my wife's and daughters' faces as I was running by them. That had made all the pain and suffering worthwhile.

Now that all is said and done, when is the next run?



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© 2006 Terry Kaufman
April 2006

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