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Nice Cannes Marathon 2014

Nice Cannes Marathon 2014

If you're up for a Marathon abroad this could be a good choice, it's growing in popularity and is the second biggest Marathon in France outside of Paris now, this year had 14,000 entries and you can enter the 1/2, full or team relay. It's a very scenic run that starts on the promenade in Nice and ends up in Cannes with 95% of it run by the coastline. It's flat with 'only' a 30metre elevation gain just when you don't need it at the 30km mark! They have 6 pacers in 15min intervals from 3hours to 4h30 which have big flags attached to them so you can stick with them and run to a time if that's your motivation.

For more info goto www.marathon06.com

The weather has been a shocker down there recently and I was hoping for some cool dry conditions without the strong mistral winds we got last year, in the end the temperature was just right with some rain to keep cool, although it got alot worse after I had finished.

If any of you guys are looking to do a 1/2 or full Marathon and have the inclination to follow a training program I can recommend the Hanson's Marathon Method, see the book by Luke Humphrey. I followed the Advanced program over 18 weeks and it worked out. It's alot of running, effectively 6 days a week however the longest run is no longer than 16 miles. In a nutshell the idea is that you run Mon Easy, Tues Speed intervals, Wed OFF, Thurs Tempo run, Fri/Sat Easy, Sun Long. A tempo run is done at your goal race pace.You follow that cycle for 10 weeks and the speed intervals turn into strength runs which are longer intervals at 10secs/km faster than tempo pace. You only get 1 day off a week so it uses active recovery on the easy runs, whereby you have to slow down, stay aerobic and burn the fat. The tempo runs are a good idea, since you pick your goal race pace and train accordingly, if you can't finish them then you probably need to revise your goal slightly. Most runs are 6-8 miles and the idea is that you get cumulative fatigue over weeks of training, whereby your legs never feel great, in fact it's trying to simulate what the latter part of a Marathon is like without the injury risk of long runs.

I felt pretty good going into the race I tapered slightly more than the program suggested based on feel, my plan A was sub 3hour with even splits, plan B was to beat my 3:20 PB and plan C was to fake an achilles injury. About hundred of us stuck to the 3hour pace maker which slowly whittled down to about 20 or so at the 30km mark with the 30metre hill destroying a few people's races. With 3km to go I dug very deep and dropped the pace maker and finished in 2:58 (173rd). Fortunately, i didn't hit the wall like Brighton earlier this year and the training definitely paid off, the Marathon is all about the final 10km!

Ironman Florida 2014 - 7:43 minutes from Kona

Ironman Florida 2014 - 7:43 minutes from Kona

Pre-Race

A year ago I punched the air with delight having managed to register on-line for this race, which sells out in under 60 seconds. A flat fast PB course in the lovely location of Panama City Beach on the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Heat-acclimatization training was done in Mid Sussex (with lots of warm layers on) plus IM Barcelona, Disney World Orlando and Apalachicola (Florida) Marathon. It was roasting hot for 2 weeks in Florida prior to the race and sea temperature was 78 Fahrenheit  (above 76 is too hot for wet-suit racing). On race day we had an angry sea with rip-tides, 40mph winds and air temperature 10 degrees Celsius.

Swim

We all froze on the beach before dawn, especially those who got wet doing a swim warm-up. At dawn the decision was made to cancel the swim. Even we poor swimmers were a bit disappointed, because we wanted to do a proper triathlon. The sea had been too nasty even for the safety kayaks to be deployed.

Cycle

Spent a couple of hours trying to keep warm until it was my time to start cycling. There were nearly 3,000 of us setting off one every couple of seconds. I had a cycling jacket and a couple of space-blankets but some people had just a tri-suit.

The gusty wind played havoc with the deep wheel rims and I had to resist the impulse to stop for a bike check. It was like riding with loose skewers or headset, quite apart from getting buffeted sideways and having to react to avoid collisions. Fortunately, the course is separated from traffic and American roads are very wide.

Nice single loop course, mostly on flat good surface roads. A few undulating bits and one section on cracked tarmac that was rather bumpy.

Cycled well for 4 hours, managing to avoid drafting penalties and keep a decent pace. You have to surge past packs of riders and raise the heart rate temporarily, even though that's bad for burning energy reserves. If you stay with the pack you may get a penalty and faster riders will keep overtaking and force you further back. After that, I eased off a little (maybe lost form from a fortnight's lack of cycling or maybe just hurting too much from relentlessly battling the wind and keeping the aero-position for so long). Completed cycle in 5:22, though it was unclear if that was good or bad given the conditions and the rolling start.

Run

Excellent enthusiastic support on a good flat 2-lap course with varied views and lots of shade. No need for the ice that was provided as it remained chilly throughout, despite the sunshine. A real boost having Helen and our two sons on the course to cheer me on. So grateful. Worth around 10 minutes off the finish time I reckon.

1:42 for 13 miles then completed strongly for total run time of 3:26.

Post-Race

Felt great finishing with a sprint. Kissed Helen and got medal. Given a results card stating I was 3rd in age-group. A few minutes later, my position was down-graded to 5th due to the rolling start and a couple of finishers coming in having started after me. Not bad considering 241 in 50-54 age-group.

Attended Hawaii World Championship Kona Slot Allocation Ceremony, but there were only 3 slots for 50-54 and the top 3 all decided to take those places. I missed out by 7 minutes 43 seconds.

My AWA (all world athlete) ranking improved from 10th to 5th on the basis of this Florida result. Shame they don't presently use the AWA rankings to determine who gets Kona slots. AWA ranking is calculated from points scored in the 3 best performances for each athlete each year.

Ironman 70.3 Miami - October 2014

Ironman 70.3 Miami - October 2014

We picked Miami 70.3 as a destination event to mark Mike's 50th. The aim was to roll together a weekend city break, hot weather, beaches, and cocktails with our first half ironman. A good question could be why bother with the last bit. But as the club T-shirt says, if you have to ask you will never understand.

Anyway, with the benefit of having done the event we have tried to come up with our top 10 reasons why:

  1. Ultimate bike racks. Where else can you lock your bike to a palm tree while you go for a practice swim off the beach?
  2. The weather. Hot and sunny, perfect for lazing around on the beach sipping Margaritas. But for doing a triathlon? You've got to be kidding. Fine if you're from the Sunshine State but If you're used to the rather cooler Sussex climate? Boy was it tough out on that run! They did have ice at the water stations though. Nice touch.
  3. The atmosphere. Wow. 3000 competitors and a build up like some major sporting event, national anthem, flags, completely over emotional commentator getting everyone thinking they are about to do something glorious. Complete load of tosh and we loved it.
  4. The swim course. With dolphins. Yeay, everyone likes dolphins! And jellyfish (and Emma can show you proof that they were of the stinging variety).
  5. The warm water. Nice, very different to Ardingly in October. But wetsuits banned! Meaning slow swim time for Mike with Emma coming in a few minutes ahead. Better not ask Mike about that, he's still coming to terms with it. He's trying to claim that the current was stronger for his wave.
  6. The super flat and fast bike course, closed roads marked by traffic cones for the entire route and hundreds of state police manning every road junction. Pity about the headwind though. And the really long, boring straight bit in the middle (from about mile 5 to mile 51).
  7. The run course. Spectacular scenery with palm trees, skyscrapers, blue sky and sparkling sea. Completely flat too. That's according to the race guide. Whoever wrote that forgot to mention the MASSIVE road bridge over the harbour (with one very real hill) that we had to run over FOUR times.
  8. The friendly atmosphere. Great to chat to other competitors from all over the world (particularly Latin America), even shouts of "go mid sussex" out on the run course from some chap from Brighton.
  9. The medals. The best (and biggest) ever.
  10. The party afterwards. Under the palm trees on the edge of the harbour, free beer, music and new friends. And more dolphins. And margaritas.

IronmanMiami2014-Finish

So who's up for it next year??

PS. for those that want to know how we did, we both got round more or less in our target times. Emma in 6.30ish and well inside the top half in her age group which was an outstanding result given that 95% of her group had carbon TT bikes (she was on her trusty aluminium road bike) and that all the photos show that she was enjoying the event WAY too much. Mike came in just under 5.30 despite a shocking 53 minute swim and managed a not unreasonable 10th in his age group.