Sunday, October 21, 2007

20 km of Paris: fast but not fast enough

Last year I had a thrill at this race, the International 20 kilometers of Paris. I was not blogging at the time, so let me write down my recollection of last year's edition. It was 8 days after my first 50-miler, the Dick Collins' Fire Trails, where I placed 3rd overall and won the rookie award (first timer). I had therefore no expectation, I just happened to be in Paris that weekend for our yearly company Sales Kick-Off. Despite a preferred bib number (1116 out of 20,000 runners), I didn't get a good placement at the start because I couldn't find the entrance of our corral. The crowd was so dense and I was particularly upset to have to pass a guy with a stroller in the first 400 feet. This was my first "adrenaline shot." Because I missed the start, I pushed the pace in the next kilometers. At km 7, I saw a group of runners accompanied by a motorcycle and camera guy. That was the lead female group I was catching up with. First I thought I was going too fast and I'll kill myself later if I pass them. But running with such "gazelles" provided a second short of adrenaline so I really felt strong and kept pushing. Later, along the Seine, I guy stayed for a couple of kilometers on my heels, to take advantage of the pace and the protection against the wind. So close that he touched my foot twice which really made me mad. That was the third electrical shock or adrenaline shot, enough to again increase the pace around km 17. Last but not least, two guys I was running with, and appearing as masters, started sprinting at km 18, which was way too soon. I passed them at the km 19 mark to finish in 1:10:06. Good enough for a podium for 3rd master, and a nice cup. 38th out of 18,751 finishers.

Same setting this year with our annual Sales Kick-Off in Paris again. On the running side though, a much different picture: no training for the last 4 weeks due to the shin splints injury, and no 50-miler the week before as the Fire Trails race was held the same weekend in California. Just a short 5K, the Running of the Bulls. I was not sure what to expect then. On one hand I always want to do better when I enter a race which I already run (the Faster of this blog name...). On the other hand, I was wondering what was my strange training regimen would provide as a basis for this year's race: no training for 4 weeks, but a 10K (Trailblazer) and this 5K race.

The start was much better than last year, I knew where to get in the corral, on the right side of the bridge. I was just a few rows from the Kenyan elite gang. Yet, that meant dozens of runners to pass in the first kilometer. My goal was to run at a 3:30 minute/km (5:38 min/mile), like last year. First km was 3:42 so I had to accelerate which I did. At km 5 I had an elite gal in sight, Hafida Gadi Richard from France, so I thought I was good to repeat last year's story. But no motorcycle though, no camera, she was "only" going to finish fourth in her category. I was too far of the first gal to get my adrenaline shot this year...

I passed the 10 km mark in 34:44, quite fast and faster than last year's 35:17. There was still hope for a PR then. Except that, as you know, pacing is key in running, and was probably going a bit too fast based on my current form. Around km 16 I passed two Kenyan gals: Florence Chepkerui who placed 5th, and Emily Kimuria, a world-class 2:28:18 marathoner, who took 6th.

I finished in 1:10:23, 17" more than last year. Or 1.4 seconds per mile slower than last year. When every second counts... I was 54th at km 5, 10 and 15 but finished 57th out of 19,217 finishers. And 5th in the Masters division, not good enough for a podium this year.

Here is a satellite view of the finish, right next to the Eiffel tower in downtown Paris:

Among other finishers, Ludovic, a colleague from ILOG France covered the distance in 1:38:26 and my cousin, Francois-Xavier, in 1:54:39.

Overall results:

  • Men :1.Musau Mwansia (Ken) en 58’7’’ ; 2. Jonhatan Maiylo (Ken) 58’8’’ ; 3. Philemon Terer (Ken) 58’9’’ ; 4. Sammy Kibet (Ken) 58’10’’ ; 5. Jacob Kitur (Ken) 58’12’’.
  • Women : 1. Merrien Mangari (Ken) 1 h 7’35’’ ; 2. Maru Ptikany (Ken) 1 h 8’33’’ ; 3. Christine Chepkonga (Ken) 1 h 9’20’’ ; 4. Hafida Gadi Richard (Fra) 1 h 9’53’ ; 5. Florence Chepkerui (Ken) 1 h 10’43’’.

So many Kenyans, they are really unbelievable, it feels good to see them running so smooth. Or should I say flying? This is where I know I'm not a real ultra runner, because I still love speed and road racing.

The good news is that the shin splints is gone. I ran 14 fast kilometers on Tuesday, and 12 on Wednesday before flying back to California on Friday. And 29.5 hilly miles this Saturday. It feels so good to get back on the trail, although my calves had forgot about the effort, based on how they complain this Sunday through soreness. By the way, today is a special day, our 18th wedding anniversary and I will jog with Agnès as she practices Nordic Walking. Then another business travel, to Florida, before the Whiskeytown 50K next Saturday, which serves as the PA USA Track & Field 50K championships.

PS: a journey in the West part of Paris (15 and 16th districts/arrondissements and Bois de Boulogne):


Anonymous said...

Très interessant de pouvoir comparer les deux années.BisesMaman

Peter Lubbers said...

Hi Jean,
What an amazing feat to run up front with the elite in a pack of 20,000. Congratulations!
Also, congrats on your anniversary and good luck at Whiskeytown.

willgotthardt said...

Awesome Jean, as always. You are admirably

Happy Anniversary.

Will G.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Wow, man, you are tres tres vite. You shouldn't feel you are not an ultrarunner, though. Just feel lucky to have real speed. Happy Anniversary / good luck this weekend.

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

I continue to be impressed by how fast you are. And I love reading about your European adventures (I hail Germany myself).

Thank you also for your nice note on my blog. You might be interested to know that I have set up an interview with probably the most successful ultra-runner from Atlanta. It should be up in a couple of weeks or so.

Anonymous said...

Ca y est, je rattrape mon retour! Bravo pour ton blog!

willgotthardt said...

Well Jean I've searched my entire race history and can't find a single pic of me with a Kenyan trailing in the background. ;-)

[GREAT photo]

Will G.

Anonymous said...

nice to see your blog same if i didn't much understand the text
bye vianney :)