Paris Marathon: Travel Gear Check

I am now exactly three weeks out from my Big Spring Race, and you know what that means, right?

Cue the crazy!

This year’s Big Event presents even more opportunities for pre-race anxiety because I’m traveling (with daughter and boyfriend) to run … the Paris Marathon!


Berets, s'il vous plait! I crack myself up, but BF Rick and daughter Nina refused to wear their berets after this pre-trip Christmas photo.


“Mom, some people travel places without running marathons,” said my daughter, age quatorze, who is, like many teens, a master of the deadpan death stare.


Even after all these years of running (and traveling to) races, I still get pre-event nervousness. Even three weeks out. Doesn’t everybody? Don’t you?

My friend Jodi, who is coming up on her 100th marathon (!) and lives what we speak, calls it being torqued.

But why? Asked an uncomprehending nonrunning civilian. Why so nervous after all these years? Some people say it means you’re invested in the outcome. Or maybe it’s just a distraction from life’s “real” problems. It certainly serves as a locus for all the crazies.

Three weeks out is a good time to go through my running-travel gear checklist before I come completely blinded by pre-travel mania. It may seem obvious, but like the flight attendant reminding you to put your tray tables in a locked an upright position for takeoff, it bears repeating, if only for the sake of sanity.

Daughter Nina, ager 14, is not a runner but a swimmer, and a 14-year-old master of the death stare. Fierce!


Of course the fresh new running shoes I bought in January as inspiration and motivation to train for Paris are no longer fresh or new and the updated version has a narrower toe box uncomfortable for my bunions. Wah!

Travel tip (and note to self): Your shoes are fine. Don’t try anything new on race day. Pack your running shoes in your carry-on.

Related: You can wear running shoes to walk around the city post-race. No one’s going to mistake you for a Parisienne anyway.

Tune-up race: I used a Timex not a Garmin in the Skidaway Half-Marathon, March 22, in Savannah, Georgia.


Garmin or Timex Ironman? The Paris Marathon is, of course, 42 kilometers. Who knows their pace per kilometer? Who can do math in a marathon? Nicht moi. (Oh wait, that’s a German French mashup.)

In the NYC marathon in November, I didn’t wear the Garmin because its BEEP at every mile never lines up perfectly with the mile markers on the course and that stresses me out.

In a recent half-marathon, I used the Timex instead of the Garmin and the course was NOT marked with every mile marker, and not knowing where I was mileage-wise stressed me out. (You might be inclined to say, Tish, you are easily stressed. Yep.)

As the New York Times’s Jen A Miller recently and helpfully explained, the Garmin is not 100% accurate (sorry to burst the bubble if you didn’t already know). And I am running the Paris Marathon NOT for a specific time goal—because that would just add another layer of insanity—but for a four-and-a-half hour foot tour of the city’s sights. (And some people just travel to Paris without running a marathon. Pfft.)

What does my pace-per-km matter anyway? So the Garmin or the Timex?

Note to self: Take both.


Sister Leslie (pink boa) celebrating the completion of her 50 State Marathon goal in 2015. (Me on left). Possibly ironic note: She hasn't run a marathon since.


My sister is an accomplished 50 Stater, meaning she’s run a marathon in every state, which obviously means she traveled to races a lot. You’d think she’d have the whole travel-gear equation nailed. But … see pre-marathon mania, above.

At 10 o’clock the night before the Bayshore Marathon, in Traverse City, Michigan, she was laying out her gear for the next morning's race, and guess what she discovered she had forgotten to pack? Yep, her sports bra.

She ran the marathon in her bathing suit tankini top.

Which begs the question: Why did my sister remember to pack a bathing suit for a marathon trip to Michigan but not a sports bra? (See? Crazy.)

Gear travel tip: Tuck rolled-up sports bra and running socks into running shoes in the carry-on bag. Check and check.


Some people have great success traveling far from home to run races and set world records or qualify for the Boston marathon or log a new personal record or break four hours for the first time. And good on them!

But that person is not me. I’ve had the great opportunity to travel to a lot of races over the years, but I’ve also learned that rarely if ever do I run my “best,” if by that we mean a “fast” time. There’s just too much additional stress in travel—time changes; different roof, bed, food, water; language; even running customs. Just for example, in the Paris marathon, if you can believe it, they don’t serve Gatorade on the course! Sacre bleu!

For me, the goal has to just be going, seeing, doing. Wish me bonne chance, dear AMR tribe, with all the things!


Shorts with side pockets. Short sleeves, tank, long sleeves. Lavender essential oil (for better sleep and to calm the nerves). Endurolytes (because no Gatorade!). Justin’s peanut butter and honey packets. Barbara’s animal crackers. Post-race Birkenstocks.

[Want an item-by-item list? Check out our Half-Marathon Gear List—it works for pretty much any race distance.]


13 responses to “Paris Marathon: Travel Gear Check

  1. Thanks for writing this. I’m doing Paris too (eek) and it’s my first race abroad. Really great to hear my stress/anxiety is not uncommon. My family should be coming too but we have a clash with my 9 year old daughter’s dance festival! Now I have to get all her gear ready too, and remotely stress about that while I’m in Paris. I love this comment ‘Or maybe it’s just a distraction from life’s “real” problems.’ I finally have an answer to why I put myself through this

  2. Note: I got my medical certificate (for Marathon du Medoc) on-line for fear my doctor would find some reason that I should not run the marathon. Of course I could have used a doctor who got his medical degree on-line and had the same outcome 🙂

  3. Kerry–Two dear friends ran Paris in 2017 and it was beaucoup chaud–temps got in the high 70s! So I am preparing self (mind and body) for any kind of possibility. Thank you!

  4. Heather–Mon dieu about l’hotel reservations! (I have done similar things in past, including forgetting to actually REGISTER for the race. Erk.) PS you have your medical certificate, yes? First time I’ve ever had to do THAT!

  5. I’m running Paris too and I would add to your list-double check your reservations! Just last night my husband asked for our hotel information and quelle surprise, it appears I did a lot of research on hotels and then never actually booked one. Luckily I was able to fine one, although not as nice as the original on, and we are still married! Have a great race and hopefully I’ll see you out there!

  6. I ran Paris back in 2007 (a week before my wedding to my amazing French husband!) and all I can say is, ENJOY IT!! As you know, running a marathon is a unique and special way to see a city. My greatest memories of the Paris Marathon include sitting on the Champs-Élysées pre-race, soaking in the fact that I was sitting on the Champs-Élysées, the bottle-neck at Place de la Bastille water stop, and of course the local who — pushing a hand cart full of wine bottles — was shouting “Ravitaillement!” as he weaved his way along the course. Also, the temperatures rose greatly over the course of the race, so it was quite warm at the end, but springtime in Paris is gorgeous. Have an amazing time, Tish … I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  7. Have a great race and a fantastic vacation!

    And Iit’s comforting to know that even more experienced runners still get pre-race jitters.

  8. I take the pre-race jitters to the extreme. My anxiety sometimes prevents me from getting to the start line. So maybe it means you’re winning at life?

    So excyfor you, Tish! Can’t wait to read the race report! Safe travels and many happy miles!

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