Nice – Monaco (Sun Run) Half Marathon Race Recap

I went away to Nice this past weekend with my husband and one of the motivating factors for choosing this destination was the “Sun Run” Half Marathon. It is a one way race leaving from the marina in Nice going to a stadium in Monaco, and follows the coast line.

As I am in the middle of my marathon training, I figured 21K with fantastic views in mild weather would be a good training run and the objective was to use it as such.

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We arrived Friday evening and I went to pick up my bib first thing Saturday morning. There were few people, so it took me all of 2 minutes. Since I had never been to Nice and wasn’t sure where I was going, my husband and I immediately scoped out where the start of the race was.  We spent the rest of the day visiting the city and eating (too) well. The weather was gorgeous (sixties) but the wind picked up at the end of the day and I stalked the weather all evening. Rain ? wind ? sun ? it kept changing, so I laid my clothes out thinking I should dress warmly if the wind were to continue.

The race was starting at 9 a.m. the next morning, so I was up at 6:45 a.m., stalking the weather. In less than 15 minutes it went from 95% chance rain, to no rain. Phew. I hate running in the rain. I wore a light windbreaker just in case.

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I dressed, ate and left the hotel at 7:45 a.m. The start was about a 2 mile walk from the hotel, so I did a run/walk to warm up and got there in plenty of time. They were giving away coffee, and there was a bag drop, but I just hung around, continued my warm up and used the porta potties a couple of times.

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I talked with a couple runners and discovered that the route was all up and down. Uh, how did I miss that in the race information ? This was a destination race for me so most of the people were from the region and knew the route and the race. Not me !

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We lined up. I wanted to use my run/walk strategy but wasn’t feeling confident that I would be able to manage it. At 9 a.m. we were off and immediately my strategy went out the window. Firstly everyone took off very very quickly, wanting to avoid an initial bottle neck ?

The first mile was all uphill. I actually love running uphill but as I wanted to start out slowly I somehow found myself at the very very back of the pack and stayed there the entire race. I ended up running with about 4 or 5 other women for most of it, and walked periodically but did not use my planned strategy. I was really worried about coming in last. So I ran 95% of the race, which in hindsight was not a great idea. My Achilles and my knees have let me know. Going downhill just doesn’t agree with my body.

I arrived in Monaco 2,5 hours after I started.

What I liked :

  • The size of the race. There were fewer than 1 500 people, so it was a good size.
  • The views. Probably about 75% was along the water. This is definitely the highlight of the race.
  • The weather conditions were perfect.
  • There were water stations every 5 k, decent food at the end.
  • It was very cheap, as it was organized by a local running club.

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What I liked less :

Being at the back of the pack was not fun at all. Like I mentioned, I immediately found myself at the very back of the pack….as in 50 feet in front of the 2 motorcycles that were sweeping the race. It completely irked me because running with 2 loud motorcycles right behind me for a mile was not enjoyable at all. They eventually went away, either because I ran faster, or they sped ahead. Being at the back also meant that when I went through the towns, the roads were not completely blocked off anymore. So some of the race was run with traffic. No fun.

Arriving in Monaco. Monaco is built on a hill. And its a city. You can tell from this picture my husband took how steep it is.

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However, the past mile + was run through the streets of Monaco. Not enjoyable at all. It kept winding and once again, with traffic.

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The logistics / information : I know the woman who gave me my bib was a volunteer but she had no information. Because the race was one way, I asked her how to get back to Nice and she didn’t have any advice to offer. I also had no idea that there was a bag drop, which would have made my life a bit easier. There was no map on where the race started, no elevation map, and not to mention I had contacted the organizers three times leading up to the race through email and by phone and got NO ANSWERS to my questions…. just generally poor information.

Finally, and I take full responsibility ! I wasn’t happy with myself about not applying my strategy. Being at the back, I felt a lot of pressure and didn’t do my run/walk. I was seriously afraid of being last, but I didn’t want to push it too much, so I had all this psychological pressure I was putting on myself.

But what irked me even more, is that I ended up with the exact.same.time (2:29) as I did when I applied my run/walk strategy for the Vincennes Half Marathon in October. To the minute.

In the end, I wasn’t last !  I came in 1 303 out of 1 347.

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I took Monday and Tuesday off from running, as I had some knee niggles and my thighs were horrendously tight. Walking an additional 13 miles +  sitting on a train for 5 hours + lack of stretching probably didn’t help. Today is Wednesday and I got my training run in, and it felt quite good. Phew.

Would I do it again ? Not sure. The views were fantastic but all the rest was only OK.

Then again…while I was at the tourist office on Saturday, I came across this :

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Hmmmmmm. I asked the other runners and this marathon is quite flat. We’ll see ! I am linking up with Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, Erika at MCM Mama runs and Patty at My no guilt life for Tuesdays on the run.

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Ever had a race you were excited about and it didn’t fully meet your expectations ?

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Comments: 20

  1. Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner February 3, 2016 at 9:46 pm Reply

    I’ve been to Monaco twice it’s gorgeous and very hilly I remember. My strategy has gone right out the window a few times too.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Why I Ditched The Scale & What I’ve LearnedMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 3, 2016 at 9:48 pm Reply

      Monaco had elevators and escalators and tons of stairs. Gorgeous views though….

  2. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy February 3, 2016 at 10:41 pm Reply

    Wow, 2 1/2 hrs and you were just ahead of the sweepers? I take longer than that, have done some half with as few runners, and never been anywhere near the sweepers! That would definitely be unnerving.

    Yes, I’ve also run races where it’s not completely closed to traffic, but I did know it going in.

    But boy, running along the ocean like that — I could definitely get behind that!

    But it was a training run, and that’s what they’re all about — live and learn and prepare. I think you did great — congrats!
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…You’ve gotta have heartMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 3, 2016 at 10:53 pm Reply

      Thanks Judy. I am thinking that because the course was relatively difficult, with the hills, that maybe only really seasoned runners sign up ? Oh well, live & learn… you are right.

  3. Marjolein Baghuis February 3, 2016 at 10:59 pm Reply

    Love reading your posts about running! Looks like it was a beautiful place to run, but surprise hills and lack of information are so detrimental to getting the most out of your run! I once ran the Cologne half marathon with a slight injury, assuming it was a flat course, too. The tunnel under a major road killed me at km 4, mostly because I noticed that we’d also run through it later in the race. If my friends and family had not been there to cheer me on, I would have quit right then and there…..
    Take it easy for a week or longer to let your body recover!

    • Karen - Fit in France February 4, 2016 at 8:31 am Reply

      You are right Maarjolein… lack of information hinders the mental availability of a race.

  4. Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom February 4, 2016 at 12:00 am Reply

    Congrats on the finish! Sorry it didn’t turn out how you wanted. The views/pics are lovely!

    I was excited about Rehobeth Half that I ran in Dec. I had heard such great things about it but was not impressed at all!!! I did get a PR but still.

    • Karen - Fit in France February 4, 2016 at 8:29 am Reply

      At least it was a great excuse for a get away weekend.

  5. Marcia February 4, 2016 at 2:17 am Reply

    Sounds like a tough course. I remember that hairpin turn exactly. So gorgeous! Too bad they couldn’t close the road completely in Monaco. Sounds like this race was a mix of good and bad. Way to push through!
    Marcia recently posted…Weightloss Week 4: Weights and MeasuresMy Profile

  6. Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home February 4, 2016 at 4:19 am Reply

    My strategy has gone out the window before and I always regret it. But that’s the whole point of these “training” races–to iron out the kinks, right?

    Great job!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Open your Heart: Benefits of BackbendsMy Profile

  7. Christine @ Two Runners Travel February 4, 2016 at 7:39 pm Reply

    That race course looks so gorgeous! Too bad the organization wasn’t great. And while maybe not your favorite experience, I think it’s helpful to have races that remind us to stick with our “gut instincts” and follow our race plans. But I hear you, I’ve definitely been at the starting line and have changed my approach to a race. It never ends well! 😉
    Christine @ Two Runners Travel recently posted…February FavoritesMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 5, 2016 at 8:00 am Reply

      You are right, great lesson learned and all experiences are important.

  8. karen February 5, 2016 at 3:36 am Reply

    You ended up doing great. I hope none the niggles are lingering still.
    The course looks really beautiful, but being in traffic would be distracting.
    I have used my timer and ran intervals in a few half marathons, but never from the start. I used it in the heat and started about mile 7 so I wouldn’t pass out.
    I worried when thinking about this if I could do it in a race from the start, but of course after going through my current injury, I think it will much easier to do if I ever get to run again!
    Maybe this was a good experiment for you for your marathon. Use your strategy from the start and enjoy the run 🙂
    karen recently posted…I Need A MinuteMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 5, 2016 at 7:58 am Reply

      Hi Karen, I ran twice this week and felt good. Got a longish run this weekend, we’ll see. For my last half I did 3:1 the entire time… and seriously, the hardest part is the whole psychology of run/walk. It is not known at all here in France
      Hope your foot is better.

  9. Kristina February 5, 2016 at 4:33 pm Reply

    I agree with others who say that they were surprised that you were so close to the back. And, while you are frustrated about your time being the exact same as your last half, I do wonder if the course profile for the Nice race was much more difficult. If so (and it sounds like a very challenging course), then you should feel really proud of that.
    I think that pre- and post-race logistics can really impact the overall race experience. I’ve never had a horrific post-race experience, but I know that a few years ago, everyone was upset about the Las Vegas RNR marathon and how terrible the logistics were after you finished.
    Kristina recently posted…Touring temples in Cambodia – Part 1My Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 5, 2016 at 7:21 pm Reply

      I agree that the profile of the race was more difficult, with the hills and running through traffic. As for logistics…. I am probably a bit obsessive about the details, but I like to be prepared !

  10. Elizabeth February 5, 2016 at 9:33 pm Reply

    I would not like the motorcycles behind me either – and I would definitely feel pressured to go faster / not walk. I cannot believe how fast the field of runners was! The views really are spectacular and I’m glad you had such wonderful weather (no rain!), but it’s truly a bummer that the race wasn’t as organized as it could have been. At least it was cheap and led to a lovely trip!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Friday Five: Five Things FebruaryMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 6, 2016 at 7:28 am Reply

      You have summarized the weekend and my feelings perfectly ! 🙂

  11. Tricia@MissSippipiddlin February 9, 2016 at 7:53 pm Reply

    Well hey it looks like you have a good race. I know you had an awesome time in Nice. Some races are like this lots of things could make it better. Way to get it done an congratulations on your finish!
    Tricia@MissSippipiddlin recently posted…All Things Mardi Gras – Happy Fat Tuesday!My Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France February 9, 2016 at 9:26 pm Reply

      Thanks. You know what surprised me most ? the same.exact.time with run/walk as with run ! Have a great week Tricia.

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