And once it was done, there was the aftermath.
I was very surprised, to say the least, that no actual tears fell from my eyes until at least two minutes after I crossed the finish line. After being told that I seemed “determined” to make the whole experience as emotional as I possibly could, I sort of expected to spend the whole weekend weeping from one hour to the next. However, it was only once I walked up to the line of people giving out medals that I finally started to cry.
Medal round neck, orange wedges grabbed and bag collected, I plonked myself on the tarmac in the middle of the finishing area. It felt a little bit like being in a marathon warzone, as a medical vehicle drove through in one direction and a man on a stretcher got carried in the other. I changed into my flip flops to reveal what really had been going on in my left sock (just a massive blister, thankfully – and don’t worry, I’ll spare you that photo).
Medal selfie taken and uploaded, I got a text from Steph, letting me know that her, Leah and their respective support crews were waiting just outside the gates of the finisher’s zone. I waddled over and the hugs from both Steph and then Leah really set the tears off properly.
I actually really love these two photos that Steph took of me – I might be crying but I’m also smiling, and I don’t think they could’ve captured how I felt at that point – literally 10 minutes after finishing my first marathon – more perfectly.
After a while, we headed back to our hotels for a shower and nice long sit down. As I was let into the Metro with my medal as a ticket, it felt like a proper marathoner’s moment. I phoned my Mum and just said ‘I DID IT!’ (well, and a few more words that might have contributed to this month’s slightly silly phone bill).
That night, I met up with Shane, Martyn and Leo for a race debrief over dinner, where I bought a ridiculously expensive half bottle of Champagne which I couldn’t even finish, because surprisingly enough, running a marathon makes you pretty tired. Not tired enough to actually sleep that much though, and after only about 6 hours sleep that night, I woke up wide awake before 8am the next day.
The next day was equally as beautiful as the marathon day itself. After talking it up quite a lot, I woke up on the Monday and decided I did actually want to mark the achievement in a more permanent way. Shane and Tika accompanied me to the tattoo shop (I went to Abraxas), where I got something typically Parisian inked on the inside of my right ankle. We then went for a celebratory drink, before meeting Nadia and her boyfriend Matt for a spot of lunch. It was a gorgeous day in Paris and we sat outside soaking up the sun and post marathon relaxed holiday vibes.
Then we headed over to the Eiffel Tower for a bit of a medal glory photoshoot. Honestly, my phone is full of these, but here are the highlights…
Along with my favourite shot of my new ink. My Eiffel and the Eiffel. What a bloody fantastic weekend.