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Team ELLE take on the Semi Marathon de Paris

posted on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 | find under 
After a year of training, the inspirational team over at ELLE Magazine took to the start line to run the Semi Marathon de Paris. Associate Health & Beauty Editor, Amy Lawrenson, shares their journey from preparation to finish post. 

"We launched the ELLE Running Club back in January 2013 with the aim of running 0-5K. We shunned our heels in favour of the latest Nike trainers and got running. Fast-forward to little over a year later, and the running club are standing at the foot of the Chateau de Vincennes waiting for the start of the Semi Marathon de Paris: a half marathon that will take us out of the park, up to Notre Dame, back round to the Bastille, and finish off back where we started. It’s incredible how far we have come in just 14 months.  

After three days of grey skies and damp air, the clouds parted, and Sunday morning was crisp and bright. We were feeling positive and a tad shocked to finally be here after months of talking, planning and training.

The team was led by Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy, who had enlisted trainer Tim Weeks to get her around the course in under 2 hours. We all had our own targets to accomplish, but despite our own goals, collectively we encouraged each other. Running is such a solitary sport that you can’t compare one runner to the next, but it is still great to have a team cheering you on.
Our training over the past few months involved a group run every Wednesday lunchtime – from soggy runs along the Thames to running to Hyde Park and back. Individually, we’ve been going on long runs every Sunday, and as a team, doing strength training during the week with Ten Pilates and Russell Bateman of SBC. Training for a race is as much about putting in the miles as it is about strengthening your legs and glutes.

Despite all the training, it’s rare for a novice runner to ever feel fully prepared for a race. In the last month, we’ve had fashion shows, the ELLE Style Awards and red carpet season to cover, so standing waiting for the race to start, we’re all feeling a bit tired. We nervously queued at the portaloos (never forget to take tissues to a large-scale race – we learnt that the hard way!) before entering our allotted pen.

There were 40,000 runners taking part in the Semi Paris and it showed; the first 2km was a mass of runners all trying to break into their stride. But what’s great about running in another city is that once you get going, nothing feels too familiar, so you have no real perception of how far you have travelled. The race was a great occasion; spectators lined the streets cheering us on, while bands dotted along the course helped to boost our spirits when we started to feel tired.

We were kitted out in full Sweaty Betty gear: Lightening Vests printed with our names and our individual choice of leggings. Some of us opted to wear long sleeves, while others wore vests. This is one similarity to fashion: for a race you need to sort your wardrobe. You need to wear running kit that feels comfortable, and ensure you have the right accessories; be it an armband for your iPod, bum bag for your Nurofen, or the right water bottle that won’t leak (one of our runners learnt that the hard way when she ended up with more water on herself than she drank). It’s also worth practicing during your training with what you can stomach before a big race, whether it’s porridge, toast or eggs. And what sports drinks you like to run with, if any. Team ELLE like to add Nuun capsules into our water bottles to power our H2O with electrolytes and minerals that we lose while we sweat.
After the run, we met back at the bag check before heading to lunch to debrief. One team member went flying over a bollard mid-race - "I was distracted by the beautiful surroundings!" she exclaimed. Two others managed to complete the race despite having a cold and a bad knee. Our Editor Lorraine came in just over her target at 2:08, but managed to overcome her need for music, happily chatting with Tim along the course. In fact, while none of us quite met our target times (we were all just a few minutes shy), we came out of the race feeling incredibly proud, happy and most of all grateful for having such a brilliant team to run with. 

Thanks to Sweaty Betty for the fantastic kit - and we'll see you on the start line next year!"
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