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It’s been a week of rest for me since completing the Saintelyon last weekend, a week well earned after a trail ultra that was harder than I thought it might be when I set off at midnight last Saturday.

I’m not going to review the race other than to say that I finished it, I was uninjured, and I didn’t really feel like running the race again any time soon. Indeed, I mentioned to the Ultrawife that I didn’t think I would ever run that race again because it just didn’t feel like a lot of fun. Too much rain, too much mud, too much looking at every footfall to make sure I wouldn’t trip over and hurt myself…sure, it was challenging, but it wasn’t challenging in the same way setting out for a 100K or a 100 miler is. It’s a different kind of challenging, and not something I seemed to enjoy all that much.

It was the fourth time that I’d run the Saintelyon and before I had started my record was a dismal one: 1 finish, and 2 DNFs. I wanted to even the score – and I did – but even a week removed from the race now I’m not sure that I’ll be back again next year to try and make it 3 and 2.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been planning things for next year outside of the Saintelyon. Indeed, in the last week the period of rest has allowed me to think about what I was going to do in 2019, and put together a plan that I hope will get me over the finish line of the season’s A-race: the 100 mile long Berlin Wall Race in August.

I had picked out this race ages ago as something on my bucket list. This race, along with the Great New York Running Exposition, is the sort of ultra that has always stood out to me as especially attractive. Not only is there the historical aspect to running 100 miles around the route of the former Berlin Wall, but it’s running roads and trails in one of the world’s great cities. As soon as registration opened up I clicked through and secured my place, and if all goes to plan I’ll be able to strike the Berlin Wall from my bucket list about a month before my 40th birthday in September.

The rest of the calendar that I’ve built up is composed of races that will be good preparation for Berlin, races I have enjoyed running in the past, and one race that I’ve never managed to do despite being so close to home.

I’ll start with a race that isn’t a race but a local Fat Ass: Lurdunum. It’s 25 kilometers of ups and downs in Lyon, takes about 5 hours start to finish, and is usually a good fun time, if one that is hard on early season legs with all the stairs.

Next up is the first of the two 24 Hour races of the year, the 24H de l’Isere. I had a bad performance there last year but I’ll be back with the goal of just seeing it through. I should, at a minimum, be able to beat my existing 24 Hour PR (which is about a kilometer shorter than my 12 Hour PR, as it happens!) but the goal will be to keep moving the whole time, click over towards the 160K mark, and not get injured. It’s a training race on a nice circuit, and the village that hosts it is nice and friendly -and the views spectacular! Hopefully I can convince the Ultrawife to come along and cheer me on!

The second 24 Hour race of the year is one I have been wanting to run for a few years now but have never managed to sign up for. The 24H de INSA is part of the three day festival at the INSA campus here in Lyon and it always seems to fall around the time of the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra that I would normally run. As Berlin is flat and long – and as the Ultra Boucle is anything but flat – I’m planning to head to the INSA race and give it a good go. This will be something like a B-race, I guess, one that I want to do well in and prove that I can go the distance in a good time ahead of Berlin about three months after.

The last tune-up race before Berlin will be the Sri Chinmoy 100K in Paris. A couple of years ago I took the train up there to run the 50K they host on the same day and the same mile-long looped course. It was a fun event, the support is wonderful, and it is within walking distance of the Paris metro, which means easy access to the city and the chance for a nice city break for the family. I’ll be aiming to knock it over at a steady pace and feel good at the end.

After that comes Berlin, and after that is the local road race, the Run in Lyon Marathon. It’s not an ultra but, assuming I get out of Berlin uninjured, I can run this without any stress and just enjoy the day. The Lyon marathon course is a nice one and gives you a chance to run both the Saone and the Rhone rivers, through the major parks, and starts and finishes less than a five minute walk from my apartment – what’s not to like?

That will take me to the start of October and…OK, I admit it: I might end up adding something on to the end of the year, too. But right now, in this week of rest, I’m only thinking about what I can do to build up to Berlin, and I’m not thinking any further than a nice marathon to close out a running season.

2019 is only a few weeks away and I’ll probably take another week off before I start thinking about getting back into running again, but come next weekend I’ll be taking the first steps towards Berlin and another season of ultrarunning.