Fit Five Friday – 5 Things I Loved About My First Marathon

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Five Things I Loved About My First Marathon

Recently Facebook reminded me of my first marathon – Paris 2015. It’s not really that long ago yet it seems like forever! Now that I look back on it, it was really the beginning of a short but very sweet running period for me.

These are not really in any order except for number one: 

It was in Paris

I mean, really number one thing I loved about my first marathon was the location. As a young girl I dreamt about living in Paris, so much so that when I was in my early 20’s  and the opportunity presented itself to live in The Netherlands my reasoning to come here was that it was “close enough” to my dream. Paris is, to this day, near and dear to my heart.

Paris we are ready for you!

I trained pretty seriously with my crew

I’d been running with SocialMile for some time and at some point a few of us decided to go to Paris together to run the marathon. It was probably the only time I was super serious about my training. I followed a Garmin plan , gave up alcohol and junk food, and strength and cross-trained the days I didn’t run (actually some days doubling up). I was really fit then (I’m still fit, just in a different way). 

Unfortunately I also started to get a neuroma in my left foot (the one that has been operated on twice now) so by the time the marathon rolled around I wasn’t able to run like I’d trained.  Still, what an extraordinary experience!

I met some amazing people

I’d been chatting with a lot of runners from the Running The World Facebook group and while I was there a wonderful lady named Jayne had set up a meeting for the night before. Risky, but after my SocialMile crew and I had our pasta dinner, I left everyone at our accommodation and went out on my own to meet up with them. And I am so glad I did! I’d already met a few people at the Breakfast Run so I felt confident to meet a few others in the evening.

Lois, Stephen and Andy at the Breakfast run. Lois and Stephen we’ve also seen a few times after Paris in Dublin (for RnR Dublin weekend)
Running the World Crew

Joni, Jo, Jo, John, Gavin, Rob, me, Graham, Jayne, Susie, Chris and Charlotte. All running friends I’ve seen on other occasions since meeting. In fact, my first volunteering at Liverpool was helping John and his team out with medals for the 5K.

These RTW runners are truly my running family on this side of globe.

Since the lockdown I haven’t seen any of them and I really miss them. Liverpool is our big get together event, and I cannot wait to get back there and ninja-hug the heck out of everyone.

I met Scott Jurek (again)

I am really a huge fan of Scott Jurek and at the Berlin marathon expo in 2014 I’d met him and even had the opportunity to run with him; We ran on the old airfield tarmac and he took the time to run a couple minutes with every single person who joined him (and later “ran into” Ron while running the actual marathon the next day, where they also chatted a bit!).

In Paris I knew he’d be at the Brooks stand, so after the breakfast run we headed back to the expo so I could talk to him again. I loved that he also remembered us from six months earlier.

(fun fact, we met again at the Boston marathon in 2018 where his memory was vague but after Ron mentioned running into each other on the course of Berlin he remembered us)

The marathon taught me that I could really do anything

I’m certainly not saying you have to run a marathon to experience this, because it could be a half-marathon or even a 5 or a 10K that gives someone this feeling. But for me it was crossing that finish line of the marathon the first time. I was in pain, I definitely cried, but I also had the hugest smile on my face.

This was a real defining moment in my life – before running the marathon the biggest thing I ever did that took that much guts was moving to Europe. Though I struggle sometimes doing things or making decisions, I always go back to the thought of “If you can run a marathon, you can do this“.

running the last few hundred meters
in pain, but I did it and it was so worth it!

Want to read my First Marathon recap posts?
Part I is here, leading up to race day

Part II recaps race day and the day after

Have you run a marathon? What was something you loved about it? If you’ve not run a marathon, what was the “first” race that made a huge impact on you? 

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32 thoughts on “Fit Five Friday – 5 Things I Loved About My First Marathon

  1. I really loved my first marathon too! I think there is something special about the first one if your main goals are to enjoy the experience and just finish. I think after that one I started putting more pressure on myself. I would love to run in Paris one day!

  2. I loved walking down memory lane with you, Renee!

    I also love how you said the only big thing you’d done before that was moving to Europe. Ahem, that’s huge! We’ve had opportunities to do temporary assignments overseas, and while I love to travel, I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else — despite all the flaws of the US.

    Running a marathon is huge, and I am in awe of every single marathoner.

    I had no idea that Scott Jurek was so tall!

    Oh, and I am sad that the one time I went to Paris, I was not yet a runner. But I still had a great time there. :)

    1. Thanks Judy! And yes I do know it’s a big deal to move to Europe. Believe me. I try to remember that whenever I feel like I haven’t done anything with my life! (which is not true at all).

      He is tall! and very lean!!

      Paris is such a wonderful, magical place. I can’t wait to go back.

  3. Omg. Paris. My favorite city in the world!!!

    And Scott Jurek!

    I loved my first and only.

    NYC. Amazing city. Trained with friends. Spend the weekend with friends and meet some great people too.

    And what you said. If can run 26.2 miles I can do anything.

    I recommend it to every runner.

    1. Darlene, come back to do the 20K and I’ll join you!

      I’m so glad you finally did the marathon of NYC and got to experience it.

  4. Okay, you just made me cry (but in a good way). I have the same feelings…if I can run a marathon, I can do most anything. My first marathon was pretty magical…perfect weather, no “crashing,” lots of awesome crowd support, the hubby and one of my kids were there, a cousin surprised me by showing up, and I had an incredible final mile (with an escort rallying the crowd on my behalf). I had goofy tears and a lump in my throat several times throughout the race because I was just so happy to be doing a MARATHON ;-)

  5. My first marathon was a disaster (in my mind, anyways) and so I don’t have fond memories of it. But my second marathon? Talk about redemption! I’m grateful that I was able to have that ‘do-over’ and that it went so well. We sure are lucky to have had these experiences, aren’t we?

    1. we ARE so lucky! My first half was a disaster and I vowed never again!!! 2 years later I got my redemption! it’s an amazing feeling!

  6. I have not run a full marathon myself but I do believe I have learned many of the same lessons from half marathons and triathlons. Every race we run teaches us something. Looks like a super fun place for a marathon

    1. absolutely Deborah! And I definitely don’t knock anyone who hasn’t done a marathon. For some people it’s a 10K or 10 Miler and that’s their limit! but yes we learn something from every race.

  7. My first marathon was in 1996 so I was clueless (and I had never run more than 16 miles – oops). I was young and fearless so I ran the first half in 8 minute miles. I paid for it! I have a recap of it on my blog commemorating the 20th anniversary when I went back and ran SF again!

  8. Such great memories! I love Paris – what a fabulous location for your first!

    My first (and only to date) marathon was Chicago – I absolutely loved the crowds! I will never forget that feeling of crossing that finish line.

    1. when the crowds are amazing it makes such a difference! Athens was the opposite because after 6KM until about 35KM there was nothing and no one… just running the highway between Marathon and Athens. and hill after hill after hill. misery!

  9. I loved my first marathon in Reykjavik – when I found out there was a marathon there I had to do it and I loved running round the area and seeing all the things I’d visualised (I’d been there twice before doing the mara). I made a few friends there and really enjoyed it – however I’m planning to do it again as I didn’t get to REALLY enjoy it because of the niggling doubts of whether I could actually do it and whether I’d make the cut-off. Now I know I can do a mara barring a horrendous event just before or on the day, I’d like to go back and properly enjoy it!

  10. What fun memories and I love that the marathon left you feeling more self-confident! My first marathon was the 93 degree inferno that was Chicago 2007. It was cancelled by the time I got to mile 22 and they implored us to board cooling buses and call it a day. I continued on and finished, angry and vowing never to run another one. I am most grateful for that experience because it was the spectators who had my back. The people who came out with garden hoses and bowls of oranges. I was so proud of my hometown. Without the kindness of strangers I could not have finished.

    1. I can’t wait to run Chicago, even though I know it could be anyone’s weather that day!

      didn’t you BQ then??

  11. Your first marathon was an awesome one – Paris!!! I would love to do that one some day. There is another one in France I want to do too. The Marathon du Medoc. It sounds awesome. My first marathon was Steamtown in 2005. I have run at least one every year since then until 2020.

    1. haha Laurie! I SO want to do Medoc! I think Chicago next year will be my last though.

  12. My first marathon was so long ago. I just remember my feet were hurting around mile 14-16 and I wanted to quit. I started to cry but my teammates that I trained with told me not to quit. I didn’t. And well I did a few more. :-)

    I would love to go to Paris one day! Ha, maybe not to run but to visit and see the Eiffel Tower.

    1. oh many I know about foot pain in the marathon. awful! If you do get to Paris you better tell me so I can drive down to meet you.

  13. Wow, your first marathon was extra-special (you met Scott Jurek??? He’s one of my heroes!) My first marathon was Chicago waaay back in 1988. I remember my longest long run was 18 miles. Those last eight miles were grueling!

    1. yes! I love him too! And my last marathon will be in Chicago – it will make my marathon running life circle complete. Fingers crossed for 2022.

      The last 10 – 12K is literally the worst. I did Paris a second time because I wanted to remember what happened in the last 10K! The first time it was a total blur!

  14. Such wonderful and irreplaceable memories! And look at your dark hair! There were a lot of things that went wrong with my first marathon, but there were so many right things, too. I’m so glad you can look back on that time so fondly.

    A marathon in Paris sounds pretty fantastic.

    1. amazing memories! and I know! I miss my dark hair sometimes but with this gray I just couldn’t continue coloring it.

      The marathon in Paris is just magical!

  15. Running a marathon and moving to Europe are both huge! And, I’ll probably never do either. ;-)

    I’ve always had a crush on Paris — I probably was indoctrinated in all my French classes. My husband and I vacationed there before 9-11 — so going on 20 years ago now. Time flies.

    1. haha yes they are both huge but you have done some amazing things as well!

      I started my crush when I was 10 and never looked back. Only the first few times I went there I was disappointed because I found a lot of people to be kind of horrible to American tourists (don’t bother speaking french either because as least with me they pretended they had no idea what I was saying). I’m glad I got over that and started to focus on the good things.

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