I awoke bright and early after not much sleep, and after a pre race bowl of porridge and honey, I scootered to the station at Cagnes Sur Mer, only just making the shuttle service to Nice, and 15 minutes later was disgorged into one of the less salubrious parts of Nice. I jogged towards the bag drop off point, passing the walking wounded from the previous evening's festivities.
After queuing for an inordinate period, I dropped off my change of clothes bag, and jogged to the start, relieving myself on the way. We had a short briefing, whilst a quad copter buzzed overhead videoing the festivities. Wind was mentioned, in conjunction with keeping something in reserve for the wind. It was breezy, but not abnormally so at the start, so I dismissed that with a pinch of salt. I have since made a mental note that when someone of the stature of Paula Radcliffe warns about the wind, I should listen.
I followed classic race strategy - enjoying the atmosphere and going slow for 3km, gradually speeding up through 5km, and hitting 10km in a comfortable 52 mins. The course is by now pretty familiar - my 6th running of the event - every one since it started, but I still enjoyed the scenery. There are now 3 races - the full marathon, an Ekiden (6 person relay), and a 2x21km relay. There are different coloured dossards for each, but what it does do is bring a lot more young ladies to the event - which is obviously good for the motivation, especially with my pink hair - the kids attacked me with Halloween leftovers the night before.
From about 18km, we ran about 4km right next to the sea front. It was sunny but it was pretty blowy, so I tucked in behind others when I could, and I hit 21.1km in 1hr47 and bang on target.
Obviously I - and everyone else - slowed up significantly. I was trying to nibble with minimal effect - occasionally passing people, but everything hurt - especially the tops of my thighs and core, struggling against the wind. The upside was that I was not being overtaken much either.
At 40km all hopes of doing even a reasonable time for the course left me, along with my mental strength - momentarily, and I walked for 3 steps before giving myself a stiff talking to and carrying on. I just wanted it to be over, grabbed a couple of cokes at the last ravi point, and gritted my teeth (crunching sand in the process!).
They had dismantled most of the finish line because of the wind and so it came upon me pretty suddenly. I ran over the line, slowed to a walk and tried to get all my stuff together - medal, refreshments (powerade, banana, clementines, flapjack) finisher backpack, my change of clothes, and then made my way the 1km to the station changing and eating on the way. The rain stopped and started, but it was so nice to get on the train out of the wind! A 20 minute train journey, and then a 15 minute scooter ride uphill, and I was home within an hour or so of finishing. I immediately jumped in the pool to ease the stiff legs, and covered in goosebumps I sat down to a lovely roast chicken.
It was by far my worst time for the course - just over 3hr 45, and I really don't think I left anything on the course. According to the local newspapers, apparently winds had hit 80-100kmh, with trees down not far from the finish line crushing parked cars! My ranking was comparable to 2012's, and I think that is marathon 35, but not 100% sure as I have lost count!
In summary, I was slightly disappointed with my time. but glad I finished - another medal for the collection and there is always next year!
Now for a restful week and then No Finish Line next week - although not sure when I'll be able to start. Hopefully sunday, as kids parties and the like will slow me down a