Posts Tagged ‘Eiffel Tower’

Go Little Legs!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

After two Saturdays of training, the Paris-Versailles run finally arrived. I was really looking forward to the challenge – 16 kilometres with an apparently evil climb and a seemingly long finish. I knew I was going to be able to complete the race, so I added a few additional challenges to push myself – no stopping at any point and complete 16 kilometres in under one hour and 30 minutes.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning as Becky, my running buddy and fellow Equip-Top-Gâteau-Vitess member (we made up that awesome team name while waiting for the race to start), and I stood underneath the Eiffel Tower with 21000 other runners. The race didn’t start until 10am, a very comfortable Parisian time of the morning to begin a running race. We had to wait for 20 minutes before the start which meant being squished by Parisians who have no concept of personal space and many of whom had spent the last half an hour warming up and therefore stank. Yum.

Paris sky

A beautiful sunny day in Paris – great weather for running.

The race finally began with competitors being sent off in groups of 300. We were the 23rd group to go, heading off at about 10.20am. The run took us from the foot of the Eiffel tower and then west along the south bank of the Seine. We ran through the outskirts of Paris, under the peripherique and then into the banlieu or outer suburbs of the city. It was fun looking around and discovering different parts of Paris while running with a large mass of people – firstly through newer commercial areas, high density residential zones with ugly concrete apartment blocks, past sand factories along the river, and then we hit Issy-Les-Moulineaux.

Paris Versailles run map

My Garmin map of where we ran

Issy is a town/suburb/I don’t know what you’d call it, situated just outside of the peripherique of Paris and it was here that I discovered what a hill is. Before the race, Becky and I had learnt that there was a ‘hill’ in this race that many people warned was particularly painful. The incline of the hill wasn’t anything more significant than the two hills we run up most mornings so we figured it would be fine. No worries. Hmmm…

It turns out that while the incline wasn’t any greater than our normal climbs, when the hill goes for almost three kilometres you discover that a hill is not just a hill. It’s bloody awful and it HURTS. Oh how it hurts. There were quite a few turns as we went up and each time I thought, “Oh maybe this is the end.” But as I rounded the corner, another mountain was waiting for me.

I am very proud to say that I kept to my challenge and I didn’t stop. Both Becky and I overtook people who were struggling with the slope and we made it to the summit without dying or rolling back down. It was a great personal achievement. And I have to thank Jens Voigt for providing me with the “Shut up legs and do as I tell you!” inspiration.

We then ran through a beautiful forested area that eventually turned into a down-hill gallop – people were speeding past as fast as they could go, causing a few potentially dangerous moments.

The final three kilometres into Versailles were long but I picked up my speed for the final two and really pushed myself in the last kilometre to attempt to make my one hour and 30 minute goal. The actual race was 16.3 kilometres and I came in with a final time of 1 hour 31 minutes and 19 seconds. According to my Garmin watch, I reached the 16 kilometre mark in just under one hour and 30 minutes. I think that made me happier than crossing the actual finish line.

Paris Versailles race

Post-race crowds

It was such a great feeling to finish and to know I had actually pushed myself a long the way. I have never been this fit in my life – I have very strong memories of being at primary school and making up excuses to not have to do cross-country running. I now love being able to run long distances and not feel dead at the end. While my legs were a bit tired, I could have kept going. Plus all of this exercise means that yesterday I could eat two pieces of cake, which really is the best reason to run from Paris to Versailles.

Paris Versailles medal

I got a medal!

Etsy Listing

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Just letting everyone know that my Eiffel Tower stencil is now listed for sale on my etsy website.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Meet me on Etsy

Pop-Up Paris

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I have just had a great afternoon with a knife in my hand and a sheet of paper in front of me. I was experimenting with creating silhouette-style images and turned a photograph I took this week of the Eiffel Tower into a simple black and white shape with Photoshop. Then add some text (my choice of typeface has been questioned, to which I answered it is very “Parisian”) and it’s time to cut!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower original photograph

I have been wanting to experiment further and learn more about paper cutting and how to create 3-D shapes and took the opportunity to make some pop-up art.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Pop

Eiffel Tower

Up.

Then I got serious, worked out an appropriate colour combination and got rollin’.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Blue. White. Red.

Eiffel Tower Stencil

City of Love

I am very pleased with the results – I just really need to buy some better equipment so that I can have a smoother finish. The rollers I am using are essentially useless and make the paint bleed everywhere. I need to invest in my work now and hopefully one day when I am world famous it will pay me back!

Pique-Nique à Paris

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Yesterday was my friend Jen’s birthday and she decided to have an evening picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a glorious soon-to-be-summer day and it was lovely to sit with all of the American tourists with our picnic feast. Jen didn’t have a birthday cake and there were no candles but the Eiffel Tower did sparkle for her (twice). I think that’s better than out-of-tune singing.

Eiffel Tower

Happy birthday, Jen.

Before the Paris Sun

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I have never had that much trouble getting up in the mornings. I am a morning person rather than night – after 9.30pm I am useless, often grumpy and I generally want to be in my pyjamas with a cup of tea and a good book. However, since coming back from Portugal things have changed.

Most mornings my alarm goes off at 7.15am (so not even THAT early) and I go for a run along the canal. During summer this is the perfect time to be out as there is a beautiful golden sun glow on the canal water and most Parisians are lazy and sleep in so it is nice and quiet. This morning when my alarm went off I thought it was a joke. It was pitch black. Even after waiting an extra 15 minutes in the hope that there was just a very thick cloud covering the sun it was still dark. No sun at all.

As I stepped outside, Gare de L’Est was glittering with street lights and neon signs, yet there was so much action. There were people on their way to work, clearly used to this ridiculous lack of light at this time of the day at this time of the year. Running on uneven footpaths, dodging Parisians and avoiding dog poo when there is little light is difficult. But remarkably enjoyable. The lack of light meant I ran further than I had planned, as a bridge covered in a neon “Cabaret Sauvage” pulled me along and encouraged me to do that extra kilometre. It was a bonus that it wasn’t cold – I’m not sure how I will go when winter sets in and the mornings start to become cold as well as dark. Then there’s the rain. And then the snow. I’ve never run in snow before. Not sure how smart an idea that is.

I realise I haven’t told you about my running buddy and my amazing running achievement pre-Portugal. Recently I have been joined on my morning runs by my friend Becky (another resident at the Récollets.) Having someone to run with makes the time go so much faster and stops me from slacking off. We set ourselves the ULTIMATE CHALLENGE of running to the Eiffel Tower one morning. We planned a week in advance – Becky worked out a direct yet scenic route and I just mentally prepared myself for a slow and painful death.

To be honest it was kind of disappointingly easy. We saw the Eiffel Tower after running just two kilometres and we were there within seven. We decided to add a detour in order to make it a decent length run, feeling that tiny Paris had let us down. Our epic run that was supposed to impress and awe the world had turned into being shorter than our usual morning jogs. Still, it sounds impressive and we did get to stand underneath the Eiffel Tower at 8.30am with no tourists around (although they were starting to arrive!)

Run to the Eiffel Tower route

Time: 54mins; Distance: 8.91km; Calories burnt: 635

We contemplated running back home but I had an early morning appointment so instead we caught the metro. It was rather funny riding the metro through Paris stinking out the tiny carriage as poor Parisians looked on in horror and disbelief at our red faces and sweat patches. It definitely isn’t the “done thing” and we broke every rule in the Parisian style manual. We spoke loudly in English to reassure the locals that it was foreigners partaking in this strange act and no one they were associated with.

Tower Time

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Today the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Tom was in the mood to climb a tower. And so he took me on a hot date to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If that isn’t cheesey romance, I don’t know what is.

Eiffel Tower

The tower of love

We had put off going up the Eiffel Tower until the weather improved and today was glorious – clear blue skies and sunshine. Tom has a habit of making off-the-cuff decisions and so I was unprepared for the trip up the tower and chose to go for a run in the morning. I also chose to push myself on the run and came home to discover Tom ready to climb 600-plus stairs. My legs are a tad sore but I will sleep well tonight and wake tomorrow with buns of steel.

Paris

I live in this city.

At the top of the tower, Tom gave me the inspirational idea of writing a book on the theme of “Stupid Things American Tourists Say”. Joining the quote we heard at the Vatican on our last trip when an exasperated girl looked at the continuing stairs in front of her and said, “More stairs? You’ve got to be kidding me!”, today I overheard many American tourists gravely concerned that they had been separated from members of their group. Clearly they had buddies and were all supposed to stick together, but I really wanted to reassure them that the levels on the Eiffel Tower aren’t actually that big and the person they had ‘lost’ could only be within 100 metres of them. The problem with writing a book on this subject is that you lose the accent. Perhaps it could come with a tape.

In other great Parisian news, it is currently Printemps du Cinema – three days where all movies in all cinemas are just 3.50 Euros. Wonderful. You would think the cinemas would be impenetrable but we have just returned home from seeing True Grit and there were lots of seats left in the cinema. Tom went and saw some alien invasion movie yesterday and tomorrow night we’ll probably go and see something else. Have to make the most of a bargain!