After my little (but caught on camera!) sprint to the finish line of La Genevoise 5k, I felt pretty chuffed with myself. My legs still knew how to run, I hadn’t died, I’d run a time I was happy about (even with the course being slightly short) and even in a too-tight-too-short tshirt, I hadn’t embarrassed myself.
We headed home to our apartment for a pre-race rest up and a good healthy dinner. I feel like I completely nailed this aspect by eating my weight in Swiss cheese, bread, olives, and meat, accompanied by nearly an entire bottle of Rose. At this point, I’d like to remind future Leah about the fact that she is lactose intolerant, doesn’t consume grains regularly, and barely drinks alcohol. Possibly not the smartest idea.
At 9pm our social media channels were buzzing with Team Naturally Run insta-spam and tweets about their kit lay-downs, so I decided I better join in. I got my kit organised, and got to work on my bin bag creation. After an extended period of silence (unusual for me), Jase asked me what I was doing in the other room.
“posing” I replied.
The photo which outed me for drinking a bottle of wine the night before a race.
My alarm went off at 5.30 the next morning (4.30am UK time!) and despite the wine, I luckily didn’t feel too worse for wear. My tummy wasn’t the happiest (was it the cheese? Or was it the fact I had had a vomiting bug the week leading up to the race?) but I only had to get through 10k. Things started to derail a bit for me when I left the house.
My first hiccup was that the bus from where we were staying only went twice an hour on a Sunday. So I arrived at the tramstop we were meeting at ridiculously early, and sat there shivering waiting for the others to arrive for over 30mins. I was absolutely freezing and really wished I had brought more winter running clothes. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Remember all those “throw away clothes” I had bought for Paris that I never used? Yeah, I really could have used that giant hoodie and trackies at THIS race! I had no throwaway clothes, hadn’t even brought long leggings or a base layer top – and had to do with the bin bag option, which barely did anything.
Due to a miscommunication, the other girls ended up on a tram without me – and I started panicking about getting lost. I squeezed onto the next tram that arrived, it was absolutely rammed and a million times worse that the worst London tube crush I have been in. Men in lycra smelling of deep heat should NEVER be that close to your body. I’m short and couldn’t reach anything to hold on to, so I was left to sway with the crush of bodies. I felt all my claustrophobia and anxiety building up in my chest and tears were pricking at my eyes. The 20minute tram ride seemed to take forever, with more and more people squeezing into space that wasn’t there – before finally we all spewed out at the race start area. It seems a bit “stupid girl” now, but I was so overwhelmed and anxious about the morning’s mishaps that I took myself off to the side and had a cry. I knew I would feel better if I just let the emotions flow out and the tears fall – if I kept them bottled in, the run would be downright awful.
(Side note: I think the organisers could have thought about putting on extra buses to take people to the start line – even just for an hour pre-race, as the normal Sunday schedule (a tram every 10minutes) didn’t seem to be coping with the number of runners).
I wandered through the race village and headed to find the others. Luckily Ashley worked for one of the sponsors, P&G, and through her we had access to a large hall where we could wait, sheltered from the bitterly cold wind outside. Flush toilets were also a major plus! Thanks Ashley!
Running a relay marathon has all sorts of logistical elements that we hadn’t considered – one of them being the bag drop process. As I was the first runner, I needed to give my bag to Lissy (our second runner) who would take it to the bag drop at my finish line/ swap over area. What we didn’t realise was, there wasn’t actually an official bag drop tent/area. Instead, Lissy would just stand with my bag until I got to her, and physically pass it to me herself. If we had known this, it might have made things easier for us!
As it was, in order for me to give my bag to Lissy to take on to the second point – I needed to meet her prior to the race. She needed to get a bus from the race start to the second point, and her bus was leaving (god knows why) 1.5hours before I would even start running. This meant I needed to hand her all my layers, everything I didn’t want physically ON ME while I was running, at a ridiculous time in the morning – and then shiver away until the relay started. It also meant that Lissy got to wait in the middle of nowhere for nearly 3 hours, before I even got there!
The half marathoners headed off to their start (which ended up being delayed as so many runners were still using the toilets), and I thought I might go and watch the start. I wandered outside, checking out the start line area – but as I had given all my layers to Lissy, the wind and cold got the better of me and so I took my bin bag fashion back inside to wait until it was my turn to line up. Somewhere on this walk I lost my earbud for my headphones too – which I found out later would NOT stay in my ear without it. FYI – licking your bare earbud (tasty) and jamming it in your ear doesn’t work either. Just in case you think of trying it, let me save you the trouble!
Finally it was time for the marathon and marathon relay start. Wearing only a tank top, I think I was one of the most enthusiastic participants in the group warm up – even if it was in French and I had no idea what was coming next! I think I squatted when others were lunging, and star jumped while others were squatting – but it didn’t matter! I have to say, I did feel like a bit of a “cheat” being surrounded by those who were about to run 42km…and I was only doing 10!
I managed to find the other Team Naturally Run relay runner Elle in the start pens (there were only two – A & B) and we decided to run together. Having someone to talk to and joke around with greatly eased my nerves and anxiety – whatever happened, I would get through 10k one way or another. There was another announcement which we loosely translated into “the start is delayed” so I quickly text my other teammates to let them know.
Finally the horn sounded and off we went! The first couple of kilometres sped by and Elle and I were holding a good pace. It was reasonably flat, and we were running through a very rural area surrounded by trees. After 3km’s the rolling hills we had been promised kicked in – they weren’t anything major, but were definitely noticeable. I text my teamies again – “ducking hills!”… luckily they can translate and understood what I meant! 😉 The village support was great – there were kiddies out for high fives on the sideline, and even a bagpipe band!
Elle taking it in her stride (I was jealous of her multiple layers and jacket)
At the 5k mark we stopped and walked through the water stop as it was paper cups. I still hadn’t warmed up at all – my arms were bright red due to the cold wind! Sometimes it felt like the wind was blowing us backwards, but we powered on. I was really happy with our pace, and knew we were on track for a sub-60. The course was still pretty, but quite boring from here on – fields of green as far as the eye could see, dotted with little fluro runners, and grey grey sky. At 6k’s I pointed as we came down a slight hill – you could see the trail of fluro runners go on, and on, and on – twisting and turning across the countryside – with no end in sight!
Around 7km we ended up on a tractor trail road which was narrow and only allowed a couple of runners abreast. I tried to be conscious of any marathoners that wanted to get around us, and move to the side for them – they had a lot longer to go than we did! Some beautifully pungent fertilizer lined the side of this path – I tried not to breathe too deeply!
At 8km I was not feeling good at all, and quietly mentioned to Elle that my tummy was churning. She was awesome – she started the encouraging hype talk and counted down how far we had to go (sorry to any marathoners around us!). At 9km we walked for about 50m and I made a comment about how I really wished I had worn black leggings, just in case an emergency happened! We both decided that making each other laugh wasn’t a good idea either…
We managed to slog out the last kilometre, and crossed the 10k timing mat in 58.36 – achieving our goal of coming in under an hour! The marathoners continued left, and us relay-ers veered to the right, expecting to see our teammates there. Another 500m on and we finally saw a group ahead, heard our race numbers called over the loud speaker – and saw our 2nd Runners Lissy and Billie waving. I unclipped the race belt (the “baton”), passed it to Lissy and gave her a sweaty hug before she was on her way.
Billie and Lissy were snapped by the official photographers running hard 😉
(FYI – they weren’t lost and looking at a map, just merely checking how good their running selfie was!)
Keira and Laureen on their relay leg
At this point we had a chance to look around – we were by a sports hall in the middle of nowhere! Poor Lissy and Billie had sat there for hours (Billie was thankful for my jackets in my bag check!). Luckily for me, there were flush toilets (very thankful!) and fruit and water. Danielle and I layered up and jumped on the bus back into the race village area. We were hopeful that we might catch the half marathon girls finishing, but with our delayed start, and the bus taking FOR-EVER, we most definitely missed them!
Back on the edge of Lake Geneva, I was chilled to the bone despite my numerous layers – so Jase and I raced home to our apartment for a quick shower and food before making it back to the finish line with only seconds to spare – to see our fourth and final teamie Beki run it home! It was awesome to be able to cheer her on, and meet up with all the team relay runners at the end.
Beki finishing for Team Naturally Run 1
Medals around our necks, we had group photos just as the sun came out (apart from Lissy, who had raced off to warm up her cold bones too). While it was great to have the option to run as a relay team, I am SO glad we had two teams entered and each had buddies to run with – because otherwise you missed out a bit on the “team vibe”. Maybe if the weather had been different, those of us who finished early would have been able to hang around in the race village and we could have all “run home” and crossed the finish line together.
Team Naturally Run 1 (minus Lissy)
Team Naturally Run 2
Later that afternoon, all the runners and supporters met up at the Grand Duke Pub for celebratory pints. We sat outside and cheered on the last of the marathoners, before moving inside to continue the celebrations.
It was great to hear about the half marathoners experience and celebrate some new PB’s! Jase had managed to capture some of the girls on the route – they all had a fabulous race. You can read their race recaps here.
Charlie from Run Round Town and Harriet
Sunday we woke to a sunny day, without a breath of wind (how ironic!) and so we were able to see Geneva in all its gorgeousness before heading back to London.
Even though I didn’t have a great run on Sunday, I had enjoyed the whole weekend – and it was the ideal event for a team to travel to. I’d highly recommend the Geneva Marathon Weekend for a Race-cation, especially with a group of fabulous friends who enjoy chocolate and cheese as much as they do running 😉
Have you ever been on a Race-cation? Where would your ideal run destination be? We are already planning our next adventure!