Marathon de Paris / Marathon des Causses, Adrien DICQUE | Holyfat

Paris Marathon / Causses Marathon, Adrien DICQUE

We had to wait 30 months to find the Paris Marathon, postponed then cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic and then once again last April, the date on which it usually takes place. The date has finally been set for October 17, 2021.


It's been more than a year now that I have my number and that I'm waiting to start a serious marathon preparation. A preparation that starts more or less in August, 10 weeks before the race.

The preparation goes on as planned and the sessions follow each other without a hitch. To my great surprise, I didn't hurt myself. Me, who is easily prone to pain and recently got rid of a tendinitis of the fascia lata (the famous windshield wiper syndrome), I could finally enjoy the pleasures of a preparation without forced interruption.

10 weeks of training with no real predefined plan. What I particularly like about running is the freedom to go for a run when I want, for as long as I want and at the intensity I want. Following a training plan with set sessions every day is not really for me.

Nevertheless I try to keep a rhythm of at least 4 sessions per week to which I add a few hours of cycling as well as muscle strengthening and proprioception sessions. Overall, a rather heterogeneous preparation with a training volume ranging from 4h to 10h of physical activity per week, my biggest week of running amounting to 65 km.

On October 17, the objective is clear: to go under 3 hours for the marathon. I will have to maintain a pace of 4'15/km for 42.195 km. Physically and mentally, I feel ready, but it is difficult to predict everything that can happen during a 3-hour race. See you in Paris to find out.


6:30 am... The alarm clock rings. I didn't sleep well, 5 hours at most. The pressure of the day before the race (originally from Lille, but here nothing to do with beer) has taken its toll on my sleep.

I start breakfast with a plate of buttered pasta, which I complete with a plain yogurt into which I pour 40 g of Holyfat vanilla macadamia. A treat. As for hydration, I drink almost 1.5 L of water until the start.

Speaking of departure, it's closer than ever. It's 9 am, I enter the SAS 3 h corresponding to my number. The emotion is rising. Around me, the faces are enthusiastic, impatient, and some are afraid.

9:23 a.m... This time it's here, the start is launched. The start is a little faster than I had expected. The euphoria of the race, the atmosphere and the downhill terrain... It's hard to keep the target pace. But I have to. I know that in Paris, the first half-marathon is quite fast, but things get worse in the second part of the race, so I have to keep my foot on the gas.

Km 7, place de la Bastille, my family and friends are there to encourage me, what a blast! It's also the first refreshment station of the race. I grab a bottle of water that a volunteer hands me, I drink a good half of it, or at least I try to avoid choking.

I repeat the operation on the 3 following ravitos. Water and nothing else. Well, yes! My 40g Holyfat Coffee pouch placed in the back pocket of my shorts. This will be my only source of food for the first 27 kilometers. A choice that turned out to be the right one.

Thumbs up, so far so good

27th km, new feeder, new water bottle and this time a third of a banana too.

My feeding strategy was the following: a bag Holyfat for the first 2 hours of the race to ensure a consistent caloric intake and no glycemic variation. Then a piece of banana at each aid station from the 27th km to get a carbohydrate boost for the end of the race, without risking hypoglycemia.

Km 30, my legs start to stiffen but it's normal, nothing to worry about. I grit my teeth despite the ups and downs of the quays of the Seine and I take full advantage of the incredible atmosphere along the road. The pace is maintained, 4'11, 4'08, 4'14... A right turn and here it is... the Boulevard Suchet hill. 500 m at 3% average. Normally it's a formality, but at the 34th km of a marathon, it's bound to do some damage. I shorten my stride, reduce my pace a bit, the objective being to save as much as possible and to start again once I'm over the hill.

It's done. Once at the top, I let my legs go and tried to have the most relaxed stride possible. At this stage of the race, it's not so much the legs that decide but the mind. In my head, the countdown is launched, only 4 km, 3,5 km, 3 km... The pain is there, but it is largely for that that I came, then no question of cracking so near the goal.

On these last kilometers, many runners can't take it anymore and start walking. So, I overtake many of them, not failing to encourage them each time: "Let's hang on!

With the 500m sign in sight, I unplugged my brain and finished this last straight line at more than 16 km/h. There was (a little) left under my feet, that's what I wanted. To be able to finish strong at the end of a controlled marathon. I crossed the finish line and cut my watch without really knowing my exact time. My family joins me and doesn't keep the suspense going any longer. 2h 57' 45'', the 3 h mark has been reached, the objective is reached.

I am very happy with my race and the final time. Strangely enough, I didn't think I would do such a good time, but at the finish, I have the feeling that the 2:55 was achievable. It's not disappointment, but rather a desire to always do better.

More than just a race, the Paris Marathon is an extraordinary experience. The Parisian monuments, the atmosphere that reigns at every corner, everything is gathered to spend an extraordinary moment. I wish everyone to participate once in his life.


A few days of rest... Very little, because only 6 days later I hung up my number for the Marathon des Causses (35 km and 1700 m D+) on the Festival des Templiers, in Millau.

I knew it when I signed up, in 6 days, the body does not have time to recover properly from an effort as traumatic as a marathon. What seems at first glance to be a not very intelligent choice, turns into a real challenge.

This sequence is not without risk and it didn't take me long to see pain appear. On the Tuesday following the marathon, pain began to set in on the outside of my left foot, causing discomfort when walking and standing. I'm not worried, it will probably pass by itself.

Thursday morning, jogging on the banks of the Tarn with Alvaro, 5 km in 5'30/km. The discomfort is discreet at the beginning, I tell myself that it should disappear in the heat. But no, it keeps on getting worse until it disturbs my stride at the end of the run. Two days before the race, I don't know if I will be able to go to the end of this trail, or even if it is reasonable to start on one foot. This questioning will persist until the last moment and will have real consequences on the outcome of my race.


Saturday, October 23, 2021. The morning of the race, I still don't know if I will be on the starting line or not. My foot is still sore but it seems bearable.

The start is at 12:25. It's 11 am, my decision is (finally) taken. If I have to be in Millau, more than 850 km from home, I might as well give it a try, even if I don't manage to finish the race. It's 12:20 pm, I'm in the2nd starting wave. The runners of the1st wave have already started 10 minutes ago. The famous "Ameno" of Era resounds in the valley of Millau. Five long minutes and it's time to start.

Being at the back of the pack, I am hampered for the first 500 meters and start a dynamic but comfortable climb. A move to the left, a move to the right, this beginning of race is more like a slalom than a trail, but mentally, it's quite exhilarating all these overtaking.

Concentrated on finding space, I didn't even realize one detail, which is very important. My foot doesn't hurt. I've been running for 3 km and I don't feel the slightest pain. We don't get carried away, there are still 32 km and 1600 m of positive difference in altitude to cover.

I continue the race at my own pace and arrive at the foot of the first big difficulty of the course. The Croix de Paulhe, a 1.35 km climb at an average of 23%. At this point, I regretted not having sticks. But that's not the biggest handicap.

I quickly found myself stuck behind the runners of the first wave. It was very difficult to overtake because the terrain was not suitable for it. So I do my best in the hope to lose as little time as possible.

It took me 18 minutes to get to the top of the hill. Then, 2 km of flat and 2 km of descent during which I try to catch up. The 2 km of descent are not a gift, I feel that my thighs are already quite stiff. With 6 days to go before the Paris Marathon, I'm not really surprised, I'll have to deal with the shape of the day.

At the 12th kilometer, I stop for a few seconds to fill my water bottles at the first aid station (water only) and here I go again to attack the second difficulty. 3 km at 11,2 % average. I alternate between running and walking, the climb goes pretty well, I pass many runners. Once at the top, 6 kilometers of flat terrain separate me from the next ravito. I stop in 5'/km and I move forward, with only one idea in mind, to eat. So far I took the time to eat a bar and a 40g dose of Holyfat coffee, so I'm on the same feeding pattern as a week before in Paris, no reason for it not to work.

But I made a big mistake, which will unfortunately cost me my race. I was obsessed all morning by the hypothesis of not starting the race, and I completely neglected an essential point: the food. I didn't eat anything between breakfast at 8:30 am and the race start 4 hours later. So, around 3pm, I was starving.

Beginner's mistake, I take everything I can get my hands on at the refreshment station: appetizer cakes, cheese, bread, coke, sparkling water... All this while naively telling myself that it should pass.

Once the "all-you-can-eat buffet" is over, I go back carefully to avoid cramps, the time for the muscles to warm up again. The pace is clearly not the same since a few kilometers, but I manage to limit the damage until the next refreshment station, km 27. Again, bread, cheese and coke... This time it's the right one, my body is ringing the alarm.

I manage to get to the end of the penultimate descent of the course. Very technical, the supports are wavering, I almost fall several times. Here I am at the foot of the last climb of the day, a climb that marks the beginning of my descent into hell. I try to trot on the first 100 meters... impossible. Too bad, I'll finish by walking.

I realize then the extent of the damage when even walking becomes a torture. Each step a little higher than the other makes me dizzy and forces me to stop. I lose a lot of places on this climb. Me, who up to now has only been overtaken a few times, it's difficult mentally, but I can't keep up physically. I stop, I start again, I stop... I start to pay dearly for the mixtures made at the refreshment posts. Nausea forces me to stop again. At km 32, I vomit 8 times, it's an ordeal.

I manage to start again and my strength seems to come back timidly, at least that's the impression I have. In spite of terrible stomach cramps, I grit my teeth, manage to get through this final descent and finally pass the finishing arch.

I finish the Marathon des Causses in 4h55 after a hard race. This race made me aware of the importance of nutrition for sports and especially running.

In two weeks, I was able to experience two completely different races. One was perfectly controlled and the other one was very chaotic. The difference was mainly in the food. This experience allows me to highlight the importance of eating before a long and intense effort and not eating anything during it. When we run, the body uses the energy available to run the muscles needed to move us forward, putting aside the organs such as the stomach. This is why it is essential to use healthy and digestible products, such as the products offered by Holyfat for example, to avoid this kind of complications during the effort.

I am very happy to have completed this challenge by running two big races 6 days apart. I learned a lot and I am already preparing for my future goal: the 110 km Volvic Volcanic Experience (VVX).

Adrien DICQUE, member of the Holyteam.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.