As you might know, I spent last week-end in Antibes, behaving as what some would call a "marathourist". That is mixing marathon running and tourism (I bet you didn't guess). I've done that in the past, but this year I reached a whole new level, with an average of one training session per week in the last two months before the race!

In order to load properly on carbohydrates, we had a massive lunch at "La Voglia" on Saturday. I can't remember having seen such an insane amount of food in a single course in a restaurant before. The seafood pasta plates had the size of canteen trays (about 10cm deep). The desserts were served in what would normally be considered as salad bowls. But all good quality. Nice! The same evening I carried on with my marathourist philosophy as I drank a Leffe beer kindly offered by Mathieu's flatmate Aurélie. This brewage was specifically selected to top up vitamin B levels and other minerals considered as fundamental for long-distance running... Thank you for that! And for the pasta. And for the chicken. And the rice pudding. They might have helped too.

The start was given on the iconic "Promenade des Anglais" in Nice at 8am on Sunday. Considering that 10,000 runners were about to run a marathon, the amount of spectators was ridiculously small, and the start was fairly quiet. We'll blame it on the "bad" weather and the early time of the day for a Sunday. Thanks to the generous width of the Prom', the start was rather fluid for such a popular race.

If the sky was depressively grey during most of the race, at least the temperature was set at a relatively low 12°C, an ideal temperature for running. I felt just about OK for the first half of the race, keeping the 3 hours 30 pacemaker in sight. Simply enjoying the seafront view. Getting used to run on concrete again :)

Things changed dramatically at Antibes (21km). For the first time in the race, there was a decent atmosphere, with spectators shouting and clapping. The views on the Alps woke me up. The lovely winding narrow streets of Antibes old town centre were delightful. But most importantly, there were a few gentle ascents to break the otherwise deceptively flat course :) . I started to feel playful and caught up with the pacemaker in the ascents. But I eventually and wisely decided to keep it easy until the 32km mark, as we were still early in the race. Everything could still happen.

I felt good at the 32km milestone, so I left the pacemaker behind, hoping to push for a 4'30"/km pace on the last 10km, which would give me a finish time of 3 hours 25. I gave everything in these last 10km, but didn't managed to keep that pace all the way. I felt really good and focused on my race during that time, with the kilometre marks falling one after another. Retrospectively, I think I could have started to push 2 kilometres earlier and manage 3 hours 25. Oh well!

Although there were a lot of people in Cannes, and we had to run in a narrow corridor in the supporters crowd, it was dead silent! There's no other way to say it, the atmosphere was just rubbish. Basically, everyone was there to encourage the one runner they knew, and only him/her. The speaker had a hard time, constantly asking people to get their hands out of their pockets, with very little effect. As compared to similar sized Dublin Marathon (set in much colder conditions last year), the atmosphere was that of a funeral. I eventually finished in 3:26:21, my new PB!

After completing the marathon in front of the famous "Palais des Festivals" steps, I had to queue half-an-hour in an ever growing crowd to collect my drop bag. Some people were cold, hungry and weak and didn't appreciate too much this episode. It was clearly poorly organised, but I didn't care at all at that point. I had just made a PB, with an awesome negative split, great feeling... and with a very minimal training!

After a quick swim in the Med' to chill out and get cleaner, we had an (expensive) Guiness to rebuild the minerals lost during the race :) . What's up for next year?

Ultra quick marathon, not ultra marathon