42k of stunning coastline for 12,000 competitors to find out what they are made of by running as fast as humanly possible from nice to Cannes. 7.30am Warren, Spence and me were lined up at the start with a sense of impending doom, trying to keep warm and hydrate enough before we set off. It was an incredible sunrise across the bay and an inspiring place to be running my first marathon.
Preparations had gone really well, running most days of the week and improving massively over a 10 week training period. 10 weeks ago I was a long way off the pace and after an expedition to Pakistan over the summer my body wasn’t used to the intensity needed to run a ‘fast’ marathon. A variety of interval training, long runs and weight sessions made my times reduce significantly and the difference between us was marginal, it could go any way.
My money was on warren running his 16th marathon and has been really motivated to beat spence and me. Spencer running his 21st marathon seemed to lack any psyche whatsoever, but he’s a very strong runner though so hard to write off, being my first marathon I was certainly the underdog.
I made a few mistakes this weekend however, the first being the most costly, booking the hotel la Flore instead of de le Flore meant we were 10k away from the start. I didn’t think this would be too big a problem as 10k in a taxi might usually be £20 at the most, we were shocked to be asked for 80 Euro! No chance we would pay it so we bartered him down to 40 Euro but still a rip off!
My second mistake was the most costly in terms of the run. Even though Warren and Spence had warned me that a marathon was really hard and around 30k you have to dig really deep to carry on. They advised me to start slow and save my energy but it’s easier said than done. When your fresh and there’s the excitement on the starting line, it’s really hard to hold back and plod on. So being quietly confident and not new to endurance events I thought I should just go my own pace, which was stupidly fast. I was on for a sub 3 hour for the 1st 15k, I suffered big time later on in the race and lost a lot of time.
The marathon isn’t completely flat either. On 37k there’s a fairly large hill which comes just at a time where you don’t want it. It’s an incredible course though sticking next to the coast for nearly all of it, it’s really well organised with lots of drink stations and food stops.
After a grueling 42 k Spence came in 1st at 3.10, Warren next with 3.17 and then me at 3.30. If I’m honest I’m not completely happy with the time. I know I made mistakes with strategy and I felt like I was on better form than my time shows. It was however a great learning experience and essential I think to do one before doing an Ironman which we will all do next July in Austria. 42 k is a long way and it hurts running that distance and it needs to be respected. Thinking about running that after cycling 180k and swimming 4k in the Ironman has made me realise what a big event it will be. Respect to the Manchester boys doing it the other year in good times.
A good weekend, a good race and I think we are all pleased to finish so we can concentrate on the things we enjoy like climbing, ice hockey and SKIING!!!