This seemed like a very good idea 12 weeks ago. As I sit today and bask in the post race analysis and finally draft a blog piece I ask myself what went wrong? I’m a crap runner that’s what and I keep going to extreme lengths to prove it.
Post Alpe D’Huez I felt that I didnt want the season to end just then. Two weeks off and I would be itching to have something to focus on. So I had a quick look around and also remembered a friend had done the Nice to Cannes marathon. Well – that just fits the bill doesn’t it? A weekend away, couple of good friends, a 12 week training plan. Sucess.
The first odd thing is that when you write down on social media you are running the Nice marathon the standard response is “Ha – there is no such thing as a nice marathon” No, you know, the place Nice. Oh. So lets call it the FRM.
Nice to Cannes? So do we stay at the end or at the start (that decision is borne out by do I want a lie in or a short route home). Short route home everytime!
Plenty of brits also do this event. Why not? Short flight, winter sunshine and the chance to meet a b-list celeb or two. On the subject of b-listers we did in fact. None other than Jeremy Kyle at Warwick Services on the way down. How much better can it get? The omens were good.
So we decided to stay a place just off the main area about a ten or fifteen minute walk from the finish. The place is perfect for a group running the Marathon and I would recommend it. The web link is here However what I would not recommend is getting a Taxi from the airport. They rip the arse out of you with a 15 euro airport charge.
We flew out the day before on a BA flight from Heathrow with the usual number of skinny looking Marathon runners. It’s quite easy to get yourself in a state of mind of being out shape. And I was.
On arrival we went straight to the expo. This was the usual chaotic registration queues and the free gift. A jar of curry paste and some other associated crap that we either ate there and then or chucked in the bin. There was also the plethora of tat shops and stalls advertising other marathons. Adidas was a major disappointment, seemingly putting their prices up to put you off buying anything.
On arrival at the apartment and the usual walk about criticising the facilities, I noticed there were no towels. Ed was willing to use an old sweatshirt, Neal had handily bought his own. Now instead of checking around or even asking at reception, I embarked on a towel shopping spree securing a Spiderman Towel for 15 euro. I would be nice and dry! I would also discover on returning back to the apartment there were also 4 nice fluffy white towels for our use.
We adopted a very straightforward approach to eating and drinking. Same restaurant every day. A good blogger would know the name, as the food was very good and so were the beers and the staff were attentive. But alas I was either pre-occupied with the race or absolutely knackered afterwards, so I failed to record it. It was down a side street near the front.
As ever, race day came all too quickly. An early alarm call, some food you don’t really feel like eating and then as always the pressure to do a massive shit. I failed. A tiny plop was about it.
We took the train to the start which worked very well and had plenty of runners making their way, so there is no need to worry that you are going the wrong way. We of course popped to a coffee shop, Ed and Neal going for the last minute dump, me queuing up far too long for a double espresso in the vain hope that would get one down the pipes. Sadly it didn’t and I made my way to the start with the nagging not empty feeling. Port-a-loo beckons?
The start area was well organised with the usual mix of nerves, confidence and women attempting to take a piss hiding behind a bin bag whilst simultaneously baring their Arses to the people on the other side of the fence. I adopted the knob in a bottle technique (wide mouthed bottle of course).
Now I had some lofty ideas that I could run a PB. Why? I have no idea at all. My training had gone ok, not brilliant. I had set a course PB in a half marathon three weeks before BUT I had not had a comfortable long run above 32km across the whole 12 weeks. Still, I felt ok and set off with the 3.45 flag carrier. That was my first error.
Although at the risk of this being viewed as an extremely sexist comment, the 3.45 flag person was an extremely attractive lady. Now you need motivation from all sources, and to be honest Ed, my running companion for the day, was not going to provide it. So as we joined the happy band of 3.45’ers, the omens were good.
Being in possession of the very latest running technology in the form of a Fenix 3, I was well set on what pace I had to run. I had also decided to work out a fade element, knowing that I would go off at 3.45 pace, fade and hopefully come in around the 3.50 mark. What I found surprising was the 3.45 lady clearly was anticipating a larger fade and as such went off “like the clappers” Still, I continued with her knowing full well it was too fast and that I would pay for it but hey, why not?
I can define the “why not” simply. Because you will blow your doors off. It’s just a matter of when. Not if. WHEN. Now my previous three marathons I have exploded at various point. London – 22 miles. Berlin – 18 miles. Ironman Zurich, 12 miles (although given what had gone before I do not beat myself up about that particular effort). So today’s explosion would be………….. A new one in a straight marathon, 13 miles. Yep, not quite half way.
The initial 5km was good. I felt strong, not troubled by the slightly faster than required pace. It’s a great start and all the time you have the sea on your left. The sun was shining (a little hot but at 18 degrees very manageable). I felt happy with the world. I could be in Wolverhampton in the rain. 10km came and went, still all ok however I was noticing rather alarmingly that my Heart Rate was on the high side. 165+ high. Hmmm. I mentioned this to my running companion Ed who proceeded to ramp the effort up a bit. 15km and my heart rate was now very toppy. 170. Not good at all. I decided to not look at my heart rate anymore. Obviously if you ignore it it will drop.
I think around the 20km we hit a hotel complex that involved a few loops. The worst bit of the marathon course and hey presto my suitable explosion point. Bollocks. Why can’t you crack in a nice area? Ed drifted off the front now and I said my goodbyes. Time to re-boot and get to the finish. I’m experienced in this, but not so far out.
I continued to plod my way along, taking the opportunity to have some walk breaks at the feed stations. The temperature crept up and I got worse and worse. I couldn’t hold any sort of pace and the highlight of this phase was a woman going past me (with a rather large exclusion zone around her I hasten to add) with Shit running down her legs out of her pants. Great , a new low in my running history, overtaken by Mrs Shitty Pants. (Note: I did pass her when she went into a portaloo).
I could go on with various stories of walking, stopping, plodding, shaking my head, asking why, crying out at the injustice of being crap, vowing never to do it again etc etc. I even considered the dreaded packing. However as I have a track record for insulting “quitters” that was never an option. Also, this completely flat course has a fucking big hill in it towards the end. That induced some full on sweary behavior. I am not proud of dropping a c-bomb, but sorry, it was needed.
And now I realised that the 4 hour fun bus had yet to come past me. Great, I can jump into it and still be close to the four hour mark.WRONG. They came and went having what looked like a great time. No panic. I would jump into the 4.15 extra fun bus and jog to the finish. WRONG!!!!! They came and went too. Oh dear. Oh really dear.
I finished. In a totally shite time and a personal worst of 4.23. The run if you can call it that down the finishing chute was quite frankly an embarrassment.
THE AFTER PARTY
I’ve decided I go to run marathons because I like the training discipline but most of all I like going for a few beers afterwards. Pretty much the same as with all of my sporting endeavors. It’s the camaraderie of the event, the planning, the doing is the worst bit and then the after party is the best bit. Nothing quite like earning a few pints.
I’d like to say we hit Cannes hard. We didn’t. We did however branch out and eat somewhere different (sadly an Irish pub but I wanted pie and mash with a Guinness)
And so, another unsuccessful marathon. Oh well. There will always be another one.