Sunday, 7 October 2012

5x50 Day 29: Marathon des Villages 2012

Marathon #9 this year and my 12th so far: the Marathon des Villages de la Presqu'Île de Lége-Cap-Ferret (to give you its full name). I was both dreading and anticipating this one.

The anticipation was mostly from getting to run another of the kind-of-local marathons here. A friend pointed out that we are blessed with a lot of characterful races here and it would be a shame if I didn't take as much advantage of this opportunity as I can. This year I've already run in three (Medoc, Sauternes and Villages). I'm hoping to get to either Cognac or La Rochelle in November. That leaves Blaye, Bergerac and Sarlat for another year.

The dread was down to not feeling rested from the incredibly draining Médoc last month. In conjunction with the 5x50 challenge I really haven't had any rest to speak of. This will be compounded for the next one at Preston in just three weeks.  Another factor is that I know I have been slacking over the last four or five months. I'm much less fit than I was in the spring and have also put on a couple of stones. I need to see if I have the willpower to deal with both of these factors going forwards.

Yesterday, we headed up en famille to a nearby campsite, spending the day exploring beaches on both the Bassin d'Arcachon and the Atlantic. Lunchtime was, predictably, moules frites and we went to the early sitting at the pasta party in the evening. After a fitful night of sleep due to the constant rain, we got up to breakfast in, er, the pouring rain.

There was no sign of a break in the weather as we headed over to the start area and my long-suffering family were very gracious as they stood outside waiting for the start.

The race started precisely on time and we set off on the shorter part of the figure-of-eight course. The rain gradually gave way to a fine drizzle but the temperatures were a very comfortable twenty-something Celcius. Interestingly, this part of the course went through a show jumping competition who had gracefully arranged their event to allow ours to pass through. Just before the return to the start was the first real feature: a 500m 1-in-5 hill. My summer regime of running on the local hills definitely did me proud here.

Passing the start area again, I waved farewell to the family and headed off  towards the south of the peninsula. After several kilometres in the spectacular pine forests, we got to Cap Ferret itself.  Passing the iconic Phare (lighthouse) we went on to the end of the peninsula and then back through the villages lining the Bassin.

I wasn't expecting to see the family again until the end but was pleasantly surprised when my eldest daughter met me at the 39 km marks. This was at the base of the second challenging stage: a huge flight of steps to the top of the village. A little harsh so late in the day but again the hill runs stood me in good stead.

In all honesty, I think the last 3k was the longest I have ever run.  It seemed interminable.  But, again, my kids picked me up 200m fromthe finish and ran with me to the end.  The youngest even got hold of my finisher's medal and kept it for herself.  :)
The Marathon des Villages was an utterly positive experience as long as I edit out the personal discomfort.  The route was well marked.  Apart from the food stations, I ran every single step which I never did before.  And my family were absolutely amazing with their support.  I can't thank my wife enough for prodding them around the course to be there for me.

Of course, the downside is that I'm overweight (from five months of over eating and drinking) and unfit from a reduced training regimen.  I wonder if I have the willpower to fix this?