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4 a.m. Wake-Up Call

I’ve spent the last few weeks on a longed-for vacation, and still have a single week to go before we return back to work. The first few weeks were spent in a big and comfortable house in Antibes on the French riviera, together with three other families. The ladies in the families have known each other since they were kids, and us – the husbands – have always gotten along very well. Eight adults and six kids (four of them between two and three…) made for two highly energetic, but absolutely fabulous weeks. Miss H’s only complaint was the lack of sleep-ins, since our daughter is an early riser. Couldn’t I have stepped in a few mornings, do you ask? Well, I would have loved to, but see, because of the heat, I really only could run early in the mornings. Very early, as it turned out, in order to be back before the quicksilver hit 30 degrees.

Sunrise over the bridge from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Nice.

Sunrise over the bridge from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Nice.

Since UTMB is held during the last weekend of August, I had long anticipated July to be my bulk month, i.e. the month in which I would have to do the most training. A few 35 km runs and a single 40 km run planned for those two weeks often meant a 4 (or at the very least a 5) a.m.-wake-up call. Horrible, you say? Fantastic, say I! Sure, dragging your leaden legs out of bed at 4 a.m. was tough, but running north up the stretch of beach between Antibes and Nice while the crimson disc of sun rose above the hills beyond Nice was nothing short of breathtaking. I must have honestly caught at least seven or eight sunrises during our time there. The beautiful cities and villages along the Côte d’Azur are strung like pearls on a string, from Monte Carlo hugging the Italian border in the northeast to Saint Tropez in the southwest. At 5 a.m. the streets of Antibes were illuminated by street lights and the sky was always an inky blue. My regular route took me down around the train station, past Fort Carré and onto the bicycle lane along a one-lane road right by the pebble beaches between Antibes and Villeneuve-Loubet.

The Promenade des Anglais in all its early-morning splendor.

The Promenade des Anglais in all its early-morning splendor.

Leo came with me on one of my 20 k-runs, and witnessed one of the sunrises firsthand.

Leo came with me on one of my 20 k-runs, and witnessed one of the sunrises firsthand.

During the first hour of running, I only crossed paths with the odd team of garbagemen emptying the trash cans by the road and waved to the fisherman who always had his four tall fishing poles strung out in the sea when I came running past. After around seven kilometers I had to run around a huge condominium complex before emerging onto a proper promenade at the outskirts of Cagnes-sur-Mer, which I followed until I reached Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur after about 14 km. By this point, the sun had normally risen and I took care to run close to the fence guarding the airport runways in order to run in the shade. It took me a while to run around the airport, and when I ran out onto the Promenade des Anglais I had to swerve between the fashionable joggers, high society ladies walking their poodles and surfers cruising on their bikes who had started to emerge onto the promenade. My longest run took me all the way to the famous Hôtel Le Negresco where such renowned guests as Elizabeth II, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra all have stayed. For me, this elegant belle époque hotel was the halfway point at exactly 20 km from our house, and where I turned back to return to Antibes. On a few of my runs, I even had the pleasant company of Leo, Marthe and Alexander who all came with me on a run each.

The luxury of a long run. Alex and I ordered one each of these after another one of those 20 k-runs.

The luxury of a long run. Alex and I ordered one each of these after another one of those 20 k-runs.

The contrast between 35+ degrees on the French riviera, and 15+ degrees on the Swedish west coast couldn’t be greater, but I still have to continue my training. A bit more hill training here, and a lot more wind a rain. Good variation. UTMB is only four weeks and four days away, and I only have two more weeks of hard training before I start winding down and taper. Meaning that you, our trusty readers, have a bit more than a month to help us raise money for Hand in Hand International! Click on the link to the right here on our blog and help us reach our goal!

Last few weeks of training:

Mon 6/7        35 km

Tues 7/7        35 km

Wed 8/7        Rest day

Thur 9/7        20 km

Fri 10/7         18 km

Sat 11/7        12 km

Sun 12/7        Rest day

Total                           120 km

Mon 13/7      40 km

Tues 14/7      13 km

Wed 15/7      21 km

Thur 16/7      20 km

Fri 17/7         13 km

Sat 18/7        13 km

Sun 19/7        Rest day

Total                           120 km

Mon 20/7      15 km (Long intervals: 3x (3000 m calm, 2000 m speed increase))

Tues 21/7      45 km

Wed 22/7      Rest day

Thur 23/7      20 km

Fri 24/7         17 km (Long intervals: 3 km warm up, 5×2000 m (4.20-tempo), 3 km wind-down)

Sat 25/7        14 km

Sun 26/7        Rest day

Total                            111 km