Foulées du Tram or Foulées Nantaises is a 35 year old race organised in Nantes. Very popular, it has gathered 8000 runners this year.
My company organises a team running for this race every year. It organises the race numbers and helps with the logistics of the team the day of the race. Each runner just needs to get an agreement from the doctor and come to the meeting point on the D-day.
Last year, I was on call during the race and I saw the runners passing by my office windows. I saw a lot of ordinary people taking part in the race, my colleagues were also there. By ordinary I mean not necessarily the very sporty type of persons. I told myself that I could do it too and tried to jogg 15km on the next day for the first time. Sure, the day after that my legs were not as fit as usual, but I was not affraid of the distance anymore. I promised myself to run the race next year.
I started running in 2012. Just to make some exercise. I plan my runs depending on how sunny it is, so I am not a very regular runner. I mostly run 10km, which represents a little less than 1hour. If I drunk well before going running I usually do not need to take water with me. I could qualify me level in running of an advanced beginner runner, otherwise called a sunday jogger. I am not a total beginner but I could improve my level a lot.
Now let’s go back to the race.
1pm. : Meeting with the colleagues to get our corporate t-shirts and race numbers. There is plenty of food and drinks and toilets. I do not know exactly why but I had to use them three times. Very interesting right?
2pm : Team picture. A sunshine appears right for the clic. But the forcast planned storm at 3pm (starting time).
2:20pm : We meet up the rest of the crowd. We don’t get the best places, but there is worse I guess. We chat. And I use this spare time to apply some antiiflammatory gel on the annoying tendinitis which has been bothering me for 3 weeks now. So excited to start the race.
2:45pm : It starts raining. Fortunatelly I had prepared a big empty garbage bag in which I had cut 3 holes to use as a rain coat (thank you internet). I also put away my hearing devices in a waterproof bag. Electronics and water do not really go together. The disadvantage of this beeing that I do not hear anymore. Yep, I haven’t talked about it on the blog yet but I am partially deaf since my childhood. Basically, without my devices I can hear nothing if it is quieter than a car horn. To resume, I haven’t heard anything during the whole race.
3pm : The race starts! IT IS THE DOWNFALL!!! A cloudburst is falling on the runners from the sky. We all start slowly, very slowly, almost at a walking speed. But we are already totally wet, even our underwear and I want to pee again! It’s the bloody effect of cold water.
3:05pm : I have finally crossed the start line and start also my timer. The race is starting to gain some speed. People are becoming euphorical when the rain gets stronger. It feels a little bit like you were thrown a bucket full of iced water on your body. A little bit like a giant Ice Bucket Challenge.
0-2 km : The first two kilometers are a total chaos. And you have to be careful not to fall down. At some places torrents of water flow up to our ankles. I have totally lost my colleagues. I think they left earlier than I did.
2-6 km : Fortunatelly the rain stops very quickly and the sun starts to shine. Awesome! My clothes are starting to dry. I am trying to adapt my speed but it is very irregular. I am not used run with so much people around that I have to avoid, sometimes I get stuck behind somebody. There is also a hard path through a street of cobblestones. Ouch my tendinitis!
6 km : Finally we get to the part of the race which I prefer, it starts at the Machines de l’île, for those of you who know Nantes. I overtake a colleague in difficulty as I am just starting to feel warmed up, I was surprised as I thought he was very fit. The urban landscape is great, this is the perfect moment to take a selfie and send it to my other colleagues who prefered to stay at home. I told you I was feelling great.
7 km : First street uphill, the Sainte Anne hill. 800 meters that I run up feeling great, it is my childhood neighborhood! There I also overtake a colleague. Little tap on the shoulder, big smile and I am off. I had been training in the neigborhood the past days. Psychologically I was feeling awesome.
8 km : After running up? Comes the running down! I have the impression that people are trying to recover by getting a stable rythm, as I am totally letting go and running faster and overtaking lots of people. I also try to grab my first glass of water. I try not to lose time and decide to drink while running, I almost drowned
9 km : Second uphill, I am a little less happy than for the first one, but I manage to pass it quietly. The hill is way shorter. A bunch of kids show me there hands I tap them for fun. The weather is getting bad again and it starts rainning a little bit. Too bad, but it won’t stop me.
11 km : It smells like foooood as we pass by a Dominos Pizza, makes me smile. Downhill again, I see a colleague starting to walk. I am trying to chear him, it works he starts running again. HI MUUUM!!! I know where she would be and I slowed down not to miss her.
11,5 km : Second biggest uphill of the race, the rue du Calvaire (yeah yeah). Some friends, not affraid of the rain, came to chear me up. I can hear them it makes me happy. I decide to take another glass of water. When I am up, my thighs burn.
12,5 km : Two kilometers to go! I am starting my final acceleration. Plus the street going downhill which is helping me, but carefully, as slipping now would be stupid.
13 km : I meet my fans again. It is high five time. The last uphill of the race is the hardest one, I have the impression I am almost on my limits but I am holding on. A guy goofing around steped on another runner and almost fall down. No rage, we are almost there.
14 km : FINISH!!! I stop the timer on my phone: 1hour and 14 minutes. Great, I wanted to do less than 1:30.
I meet a colleague in the line to give the race number back, he finished a few seconds before me. We try to look for the others but we can’t find them. We get a bag with a bottle of water (yay!) and a T-shirt (quite ugly, but helpful to replace the wet one and not catch a cold). And we also get a box of regional salad.
My mother and my friends are here, I am telling them my impressions. It was really great to see them after the race, I think it wouldn’t have been the same without them.
Back to the meeting point to meet my colleagues and debrief the race. Like I was expecting it, many of them finished before me. Though, I am not the last one neither, there are even more colleagues behind me than I thought.
Official time 1 hour 19 minutes, which puts me in the middle time. You can see the results here. The first to finish did the race in 00:45:31, which means that he was running at 18 km/h, quite impressive. I don’t even now if I was going so fast while running downhill.
At the end, I am very satisfied of my first race. The sensations are amazing. I was affraid I would not be able to run well because of my tendinitis, but fortunatelly I didn’t feel it at all (thank you endorphines). But I was expecting to enjoy the crowd and the path of the race way more than I actually did. The crowd didn’t bother me, I just felt that I wasn’t paying enough attention to all the people surrounding me, maybe it was because of this endless silence I was in. On another side I was in my little bubble which felt great too
Next year I definitely plan on doing it again and making a better time. You can write it down, I plan on doing less than 1:10.