A little late getting this posted.
It was my fourth IM and I went in knowing because of all the climbing on the bike, I wouldn't keep dropping my time as I had on the previous three.
I arrived in Nice the Wed. before the race. I did my travel through Ken Glah, Endurance Sports Travel. Ken does some races really well, Brazil and Switzerland for example, but I shouldn't have used him for France. It was a small group and they didn't provide the support they had on other races (bike reassembling/disassembling and tune ups, transportation). Right when I arrived a few of us got a car ride on the bike route. Seeing the climbs was a bit intimidating, and a few of us got car sick from the speed at which our driver was taking the hairpin turns.
Thurs. I did a swim and short bike and run in the morning. I felt much better about things after swimming. The swim is my worst leg and all my other IM's had lake swims and I was a bit fearful of what the swim in the Med would be like. The swim was fine and I spoke to a guy from Scotland after swimming and I realized I was more ready for the race than him. From now on at international races I'm just finding a brit I'm in better shape than to make me feel better about everything. I did a day trip to Antibes on Thurs. and tried to limit my sun exposure which was hard at it was really hot and sunny the whole time.
Fri. and Sat. I laid low in Nice. Some short training on Fri., nothing on Sat. My hotel was right next to the expo and start which was convenient, but I like to get away from the craziness of an IM and there was no getting away from it being that close.
The swim went pretty well. The course was two loops, the first loop bigger, followed by a quick run over the timing mat, and then back in for a shorter second loop. The beach in Nice is stones, and they put down a mat to run on, but it still wasn't like running on sand. On the turn on the big loop they had rope lines between the buouys which was nice for sighting. The swim never seemed to open up, and there was lots of clutching and grabbing the whole time. I did it in 1:20, which is what I do all my swim's in. The water was calm and I felt good getting out of the water. The water is clear, but not super clear which was good for me. I don't like seeing sealife while swimming as I'm already acutely aware I'm now part of the food chain while I'm in the water.
We racked our TI and T2 bags the night before and they handed you your stuff as you ran up. No wetsuit helpers which would've been nice. As you exited the water you ran under showers to get the salt off. While doing this the guy in front of me was struggling to get his arms out of his wetsuit, and managed to jerk his arm free and clock me squarely in the jaw. It hurt like hell, but no damage was done, and he was very apologetic (my jaw hurt trying to eat for most of the rest of the race).
This is what the race is known for. You leave the coast and head inland and do one loop. From about mile 20-80 you're mainly climbing, somewhere between 5,500-6,000 ft of climbing (not bothering to look up the exact figure). Most of the climbs aren't super steep, but some get over 10%. Lots of people choose to do the ride on road bikes as opposed to Tri bikes. The longest climb is about 12-13 miles. You get the the special needs area at the end of that climb. That was just a climb that never ended and as you're winding your way up the mountain, you can never see the top and it just seems endless. I took it easy and just tried to ride at a comfortable pace. My computer stopped working about mile 15 which was annoying. They weren't good about posting mileage on the bike and I was guaging my speed by pacing myself off of other riders. The ride is very technical. All the ascents and descents feature lots of sharp turns. This was really hard on the downhills and you could never really just let yourself go, you had to ride on your brakes and constantly turn. The ride is beautiful, probably the prettiest ride I've done. Other than the first 10 and last 10 miles, you're in the mountains the whole time with views of the Alps and the Med. This isn't a ride for folks w/ a fear of heights. Many of the roads hug the edge of the mountains and have no shoulder or rail. On the whole I liked the bike. You do go through some towns and they had folks out to chear, but mainly you're on your own in the mounatins and I just found it strikingly beautiful. I did the bike in 6:55. In hindsight I could've pushed myself more but I was ok w/ my bike result.
I usually take a long time in T2 so tried to cut it a bit shorter this time. I did it in 9 minutes which wasn't bad. Changed out my clothes, did a quick stretch and reapplied the sunscreen (it was really hot and sunny).
The run is 4 laps. You run along the beach and it's totally flat, but offers no shade. Felt really good for my first two laps and realized I might go sub 13 which wasn't expected for this race. Lots of folks line the run route. It being along the beach, you get lots of ridiculous old men in speedos out cheering which was kind of funny. After lap 2 spotted my friend who had just arrived that afternoon which was good motivation to atleast run faster at the turn around for the pictures she took. Really started to drag on lap 3 and realized I probably wouldn't go sub 13. Lap 4 was a slog, but I just tried and focus on running aid station to aid station and then walk the aid station while I eat/drink. I did the marathon in 4:32 and finished at 13:10. Overall really happy w/ the time and experience. Definitely the hardest IM I've done and my next one will be flatter so I can shoot for a time.
My friend and I travelled along the South of France and Cinque Terre, IT for another week. The trip was great, caught day 2 of the Tour de France in Monaco and ate a lot of gelatto and croissants along the way. Already thinking about an IM for next year.
Great RR. Bike sounds fun although I've heard that run is boring probably hard mentally. Way to finish!