After returning from the work off-site meeting late on Friday evening, I eschewed the morning run and instead enjoyed time with the family instead. We got the shopping done, got the Christmas tree pulled down and decorations packed away, and headed out for lunch in a nearby restaurant before settling in for a movie during the cold afternoon. We’ve managed to work through the Harry Potter series of films over the last couple of months, and we’ve got one more to go after seeing the first part of the seventh in the franchise yesterday afternoon.

But all good, warm, centrally-heated things must come to an end and so, as the credits started to roll, I pulled on my running gear and set off for a short loop around the city. I didn’t have a lot of time – less than an hour, in fact – to get the run done, a quick post-run shower sorted, and then jump into the kitchen to get dinner on for the Ultraboy, but I figured I could make a nice loop with a bit of a hill, too, if I got my act into gear.

I started off along the river and under the roving searchlight of the police helicopter that was spotlighting protesters from today’s yellow vest rally. Yes, the anti-government rallies continue and, yes, the smell of tear gas is becoming the norm for Saturdays in Lyon’s city center. It’s one of those things that has happened gradually and that you begin to write into the background of the day as ‘that’s how things are now’. Still, as with the army permanently patrolling the streets, if you had have compared the France I arrived to in 2006 to the France of 2019, there are some major differences that would have you scratching your head.

I followed the Saône upriver to the bottom of the Esses climb to Croix-Rousse. I had figured I had time to do about six or seven kilometers before getting dinner on the table would be problematic, and my choice was between a return via Fourviere (potentially running into the protesters) and a return via the Croix-Rousse. I went with the latter, and turned right to head up the climb at a steady pace.

It’s about a kilometer from the bottom to the top and it is a runnable. The first few hundred meters are about the steepest on the whole climb, save for the hairpin turns that get steep for a few seconds. I kept things nice and even and was happy to feel the legs responding as I hoped they would. By the time I got to the top  of the climb it turned out that I had covered the 1.15km uphill in 6:22, the second fastest I had ever run it. Considering I wasn’t going all out and didn’t set out to set a personal best, I was happy to see this – a nice sign of early-season fitness coming along.

The route back home was easy: follow the ridge back above the river, and then drop down via the Place des Terreaux to the Place des Jacobins and click stop on the watch. The descent is a nice combination of fast semi-flat sections, and a couple of steeper downhill stretches, and the perfect place to get the average pace back under 5:00/km overall. It wasn’t a long run in the end, but it was a fun one, and I was showered and into the kitchen making some Asian noodles with chicken for the Ultraboy exactly on schedule – not a bad effort for a Saturday, I reckon.

Distance: 6.7km
Elevation: 74m
Time: 32:01
Pace: 4:48/km