Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nice day for a run

The day of the Nice - Monaco Course du Soleil, 21 kilometres of stunning coastline, sandwiched between the cliffs and the sea. It's the oldest semi in the world and probably the prettiest too. After a changeable few days and torrential rain, thankfully the sun was shining, so no excuse not to leap out of bed at 6.15am (well, stumble) to meet the others ready for a 9am start at the old port in Nice.

I did start wishing that I hadn't decided to do Thai for eight on Friday night, much as it was fun, or drink three glasses of white wine last night. I tried to make up for it by going to bed at 10 but not sure if an early night cancels out alcohol.

As we walked across the port to the start line with the sun rising in the distance, my fellow runner Marc said: 'You only have to look at the sunrise to know you are on the Cote d'Azur.' It certainly knocked spots of the half marathons I've done in Watford and Nottingham!

We headed off, around 1200 runners snaking along the Basse Corniche, which must rate as one of the most breathtakingly beautiful roads in the world, made famous by James Bond and Grace Kelly movies. It's embarassing to admit that despite holidaying down here since 2003 and living here for almost two years, there are so many picturesque spots that we still haven't explored. The pretty quaint main street of St Jean Cap Ferrat stood out, as did the nearby beaches bordered by cliff paths rather than roads. Once bikini weather arrives, there will be no excuse not to go.

Highlights included watching the four musketeers run while hanging onto their feathered hats, winding through the beautiful towns of Villefranche, Beaulieu, Eze and St Jean and being able to look at the early morning winter sunshine glisten on the flat calm sea whenever the going got tough. And despite the earliness of the hour on a Sunday morning, groups of spectators urging the runners on with 'bravo' and 'courage'.

The downsides - the steps up from Villefranche and the prolonged hills which I have come to expect training down here but will never ever get used to. The last three kilometres to the finish at the Stade in Monaco is downhill and despite pains in my left knee and butt (I still haven't recovered from a taxing rocky 2hr adventure to Gourdon)I gritted my teeth and went for it.

Official time - 1 hr 56 mins and 10 seconds, 50 seconds faster than the Cannes semi last year, which was flat, so in real terms, victory! I take back what I said earlier, thanks must go to Neil, Helen, Sylvia, Hans, Jacob, Christine and Iain for keeping me up late and laughing on Friday night and last night's half drunk Chablis still in the fridge.

Have demolished wasabi nuts, roast chicken, and too much Cadburys (this is the real reason for running) and about to pack for Antigua if I can get myself up the stairs. There's always tomorrow though - the challenge of getting off the sofa tonight might be beyond me.