Marathon Nice Cannes 2018 - We did it!

I’ve finally found time to sit down and write my race report and to let you know how the Marathon des Alpes Maritime went. Bill left today so I’ve been to and fro from the airport and then been getting laundry sorted, lots of smelly running clothes etc.

So….it sort of didn’t quite go to plan, but we still had a great weekend. 

Breakfast on the Terrace
Collecting our Bib Numbers
We rented an Air BnB apartment in Nice and it was perfect as it had a little terrace and was in a quiet area near the old town but only a 20-minute walk from the start of the race. We collected our bibs the day before and then spent the afternoon slouching in front of the TV so as not to tire ourselves out.   We drank loads of water as we had been doing all week and then made ourselves a steak and veg dinner and had typical pre-race nerves but all in all felt ready.

Early Morning Start
The morning of the marathon we were up at 5:30am and down by the sea front by 7am. Everything was really well organized. There were lots of toilets (clean too), orderly queues and they even had enough toilet paper to go around. I had put myself down for the 3:45 pen (wishful thinking but hoped to get in close to 4 hours) and Bill for the 3:30 but at the last minute he decided to join me. I sort of felt quite calm but then about 5 minutes before the start, the nerves started and I also started to feel hot. I thought it was because we were rather squashed in. I had decided to carry 2x300ml water bottles, with the plan that I would skip the first couple of water stations and just sip from my bottles.

All of a sudden we were off and within 10 secs Bill had disappeared. 

I had planned to split the marathon into 3 chunks of 14km with the idea of getting faster with each one (hahaha). The first half we knew was pretty flat but the second half supposedly had continual ups and downs and then 2 big hills, with the last one at about 35km. I felt fine for the first km but then I began to feel hotter and hotter and not nearly as relaxed as I had hoped. By 5km I was tired!!! Worse though was that I suddenly heard a crashing of feet and the 4-hour pacer was running next to me with his band of warriors. I was really surprised as they were charging along and were going way faster than I thought they would need to for even splits. I reckoned that the pacer knew that everyone would slow down a lot in the second half, so he was banking time. However, I decided to stick to my plan and so let them go ahead, hard as that was! 

I got to 10km at my planned time and by then we were running along the sea front and I could feel the breeze getting up. I was also getting thirsty again which was bizarre considering how hydrated I was. I found myself stopping at the water stops every 2.5km which were bedlam, with people tramping all over each other and of course the palaver of trying to get a cup. That was a big mistake as in fact I then went on to stop at every single water stop so lost an enormous amount of time. I think I was just panicking that I might keel over as I didn’t feel as spritelv as I had hoped. It was ridiculous really as I was also still carrying my full bottles!!!

Just before half way point at Cap d’Antibes, I realized that I was off target. Plus, a girl crashed into me with her elbow and knocked the lap button on my watch. Panic all round as then I wasn’t sure what lap distance I had run etc. The wind had picked up by now and there were these gusts that came and went. Being quite light there were moments when I was being buffeted from one side of the road to the other. Then came the hills. However, they weren’t nearly as bad as I had thought so I kept back some reserves of energy thinking that the “big” hill was around the corner but that never quite came. It was Strava that made us think there was going to be 400m of elevation but in the end it was only half that so I shouldn’t have held back.

The second half of the marathon was very erratic. Lots of slowdowns, water stops and just mentally I began to doubt myself. My hips had started to ache but thankfully the cramps never came. I did see lots of runners suffering cramps though and also saw one poor guy lying on the pavement and being tended to by medics. Another hard thing to see was the relay teams. As each runner was doing a short segment, they had lots of energy and would go flying past. 

When I had a couple of kilometers to go, I knew I could finish but wasn’t sure of my time. Then suddenly in front of me appeared a flag, the 4:15 pacer!!!! That kind of spurred me on as I certainly didn’t want to finish behind him, so I picked up the pace and realized that I still had energy left. My times for the last couple of km's were like I still had fresh legs. I crossed the finish line with a thong of other runners and then we were ushered along this assembly line of medals, t-shirts and food goody bags. It was good to get to the finish line and surprisingly I didn't feel too trashed although a couple of toes felt pretty tender. Then began the hard task of finding Bill.

Initially we were both disappointed with our times as we knew we could have done better. Mine was 4:15 and Bill 3:51. In the end though we realized that we had finished and it was a beautiful course (not that I took much in) and very well organized. We spent the next 24 hours analyzing what, why etc. and eating lots of food and drinking beer! For me, I definitely need to work on my confidence as I think a lot of it was a mental struggle. It’s funny as I actually found the Paris 80km easier but then maybe I was more focused and determined. Or maybe I blanked out the pain! Bill also feels that he needs to be more competitive and I do think that is partly true. Anyway, it was a fun weekend and we both haven’t suffered too much with sore muscles. I think though I’ll still take a couple of weeks off. 
I really do love Nice!

Now we are just waiting to see if we have got into the Berlin Marathon for next year…..
Bye for now