This has not been so easy as time constraints and a slight knee niggle sees my weekly mileage wanting. Therefore, on Sunday 6th June, whilst I had secured a place for the Nice Prom Classic 10km, I was scheduled for a 20km trot. The aim was therefore to get to the start about an hour ahead of schedule, and then put in a full 10km lap before the actual race itself. The trick was to get to the start...7000 runners, a French Championship race with all the associated media and spectators...the roads were all clogged.
Normally I would saddle up the trusty old Vespa and I'd be able to zip through traffic and park 50m from the start / finish line on a pavement (it's in France, so scooters are allowed to park on the trottoirs - well you'd think so if you lived here!). However, seems I put too much faith in the Vespa, and after a weekend misbehaving, I ended up driving. 10 minutes to get into Nice, and an hour to park. In all the excitement, I also forgot my little running pouch, and ended up having to carry the key and parking ticket with me.
No matter, I had just under an hour to the start gun, and enough time to do a cheeky 10km lap of the course before the gun went off. So that's what I did. I set off slowly, along with the hoards warming up, and coasted round the course enjoying the sunshine and the early pre race atmosphere. The course follows the Prom out to the airport, turns around and comes back to the Massena - exactly the same as the Ironman course. The second part of the course runs along the Promenade itself - a lovely view about 30 feet above the beach, and in nice weather is packed with roller bladers, runners, strollers, and so on. We were blessed with gorgeous weather, and the run was very enjoyable. The knee held up pretty well.
About 2km from the end, I had 15 minutes in hand, and a marshal told me that it was only a few minutes until starting time - I suppose in relation to the fact that he thought I had left my warm up too late. As far as I was concerned, my timing was perfect! I arrived at the start / finish in about 55 mins, availed myself of the funny porta-urinal thing, and then managed to find a spot in the crowded corrals, about 3 mins before the gun went off.
5 minutes later I crossed the start line! It was packed, but fortunately once disgorged into the road, the route was not too crowded. Plenty of people overtook me and although I was going faster than the first lap, I was still holding plenty in reserve. I had to double check my pace on Garmin however, when Batman overtook me.
10kms are fun for lots of reasons - they push me to try harder, ergo great for pace work, are a nice atmosphere as it is short enough for the spectators to hang around, and they are much closer to a ratio of 50/50 men and women, therefore much more enjoyable sights when running ;-)
All too soon people started to slow, and then 5km and the turn, followed swiftly by the refreshments. I just took half a cup of water, and didn't bother with the myriad other foods and drinks available. In fact, this water was the only thing I had ingested since I had left home, having only had a small tea and large coffee at home before I left.
After the refreshments, I used the fishing technique to good effect - focussing on someone ahead of me, casting my imaginary hook into them, and gradually reeling them in. Once I had overtaken, I would re-cast. The Antibes fire brigade came and went, then a young lady in purple, a very tall chap, and so on. For the last 1.5km I was focussed on a chap in a white cap and orange t shirt. I passed him on the last 50 yards of carpet before the finish, raising my parking ticket and car key in my hands as I crossed the mat!
The exit of the race was mayhem - 100's and 100's of people standing around and chatting. It was tough to get to the food but I managed to grab some cake and coke, and then I jogged the km or so back to the car, and home for roast duck and sprouts.
It was good fun, and despite the scooter set back I am glad I did it. I was pleased to find that my time was almost the same time as I had achieved the previous year - 47mins and change, despite only having run 1 lap last year. I am hoping that with some judicious weight loss, and lots of hard training sessions, this bodes well for the coming season.