Monday, April 17, 2017

Marseille Marathon

The first thing that struck me as my friend Cyril and I walked from the train station to our hotel was the number of people in shiny track suits - and they definitely weren't all runners. This was a definite fashion statement.

Anyway... Cyril had suggested this marathon to add to the list of city runs, and it was certainly worth it: a pleasant five-hour train ride from Geneva via Lyon on Saturday morning, a comfy hotel overlooking the port, easy race bib pick-up, an excellent pre-race seafood meal, a well-organized bus ride to the starting line about 10km out (with the buses leaving from the port, right in front of the hotel), a slightly delayed start, (but this is Marseille!), a beautiful run along the sea into town (the great sunny weather was a definite bonus), two loops out that took us down a long stretch of road with the sun in our eyes then through a (rather empty) park (i suppose people weren't up too early in Marseilles), jogging for about a mile with a couple who, at a 11am, evidently hadn't yet gone to bed and amused themselves by feeding us tangerine slices (I remember those days of little green pills...)  and  - where was I? Oh, yes, and the organizers managed to get the distance markers wrong - in a marathon! I know we're in the south of France, and everything is more relaxed and all, but this was quite cliché. It skipped from 12km to 15km, then we had the 1/2 marathon markers to contend with, and the food stations weren't evenly spaced, so basically it was impossible to know really where you were, especially if not wearing a Garmin or, in my case, didn't trust my second-hand one (I mean, how to do get marathon race markers wrong?). Finally order was restored on the 2nd loop with km marker 27. But all the volunteers were fantastic, and it was all rather quite amusing. It's not like it changes much in terms of pacing and all that...

Well, despite my GUCR training pace of about 7' per km, Cyril bagged the race at 25km as we came into town and left me on my own for the 2nd loop to go get a pint and more seafood. Have to say, this was his longest run in almost a year, and he probably hasn't logged much more than 200km since, so a good show, I'd say... I "let loose" on the last km or so, running it at over 12km/h, and finished in just over 4h55mn.

I'm quite pleased as this is the first time I've done a marathon in the middle of a structure training, where it comes on the heels of a four 70-80km weeks, in what would otherwise be a "recovery week", and followed 48 hours later by interval training that heralds the start of another four 80-90km weeks (this is top mileage for me!). Certainly doing the marathon at a slow, specific pace was a new and fun experience.

And now, next up, 12h Villeneuve, where I hope to log 90+km applying GUCR race plan.

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