Rain, pressed for time, and needing to get in a run before Jamie needed to be home, changed, and in bed meant less-than-ideal conditions for a mid-week run. Still, you take what you can get when you have commitments at work, at home, and with family, and so a rainy Wednesday evening run it would be.
The plan was to get a run in before the regular Lyon Running Club Wednesday run which set off at 7:30pm from the Place des Celestins. The LRC is consistently late leaving and I know I can probably rock up at 7:40pm and still catch the group preparing to leave. However, I also know that with my luck, the one night I get there ten minutes late will be the night that everyone leaves five minutes early. Hence, though I could probably have fit in 18 to 20km before arriving at the meeting point, I set out with the goal of limiting myself to about 15km. With the additional 8 to 10km with the club it would make for a decent mid-week run.
I left work headed for the Parc de la Tete D’Or but instead of entering the park I took a turn into Villeurbanne and traced the edge of the La Doua campus. I had decided that looping around the campus and the War Cemetery that touches its north-east corner. The roads around here are busy but the trails and paths are less so, save for the students walking in groups after finishing their studies for the day.
After turning around the cemetery I crossed the road with another runner and headed into the Parc de la Feyssine. To this point I had been running rather quickly with all of my splits around 4:45 which, considering the traffic, the pedestrians, and negotiating tram tracks, was fairly quick. As I dropped into the Parc de la Feyssine and onto the trails, I thought I would keep this pace up and, lo-and-behold, the runner who had crossed the street with me settled in behind me.
This was a little strange for the first couple of hundred meters but I quickly fell into my rhythm. I had the Wingin’ It podcast in my ears and was reliving a second season episode of The West Wing and I concentrated on knocking out a steady pace and who cares if he is following me. But he was still there.
Having someone breathing down my neck but refusing to run alongside me seemed to push me along. I was within a few seconds of a personal best time for a straight line section in the Parc, but I took a full 30 seconds off my previous best for the 1.9km length of the Parc (8:28, down from 9:00 previously). On the way I also set a new personal best for a 1km section of trail riddled with puddles and slippery mud (4:32 down from 4:48) and my “friend” was still there, right on my heels.
He would finally pull even with me, and then peel off as we got to the Pont de Lattre. He headed back towards the Parc de la Tete D’Or and I crossed over the Rhone to finish my run with a circuit of the city centre, and an arrival at Celestins with just over 15km banked.
By the time the group of 30 or so gathered and got going it was starting to rain. We shuffled for a couple of kilometers in town before hitting the berges, crossing the Point de Lattre and resting for a couple of minutes at the entrance to the Croix Rousse Tunnel. This was to be the ‘effort’ section of the evening: a 1.7km race from one end of the tunnel to the other.
Everyone set off at a good clip and the leading runners managed to build a reasonable lead within a few hundred meters. I was banking on the fact that the tunnel is deceptively long and hoping I could pull a couple of the leaders back before arriving at the finish line. I was running a smooth, 4:20 pace and keeping pace with two other runners: a girl whose name is Pauline, and her boyfriend (or so I gather). We ran together for about the first kilometer before Pauline pulled a little ahead. I let her, knowing I had a bit in the tank for the final push. With about 500 meters to go I moved up, overtook Pauline and the boyfriend, quickly reeled in another runner ahead of me and set my eyes on two more about 60 meters ahead. I had left it too late, however, and couldn’t catch them. I crossed the line 6th out of perhaps 30 or so runners, and felt pretty good about the negative split I had run for the course.
Once everyone finished we regrouped, took the traditional photo, and headed back towards the city centre. The rain was coming down harder now and it was all a little miserable. I decided to peel off the group as they hit the Old City and weave my way back up to the Pentes and a warm apartment. I probably ran a kilometer less than I would have, but I was home sooner and I still felt like I got the run in that I wanted to get in.
Distance: 24.6km (15.1km + 9.5km)
Elevation: 224m (61m + 163m)
Time: 2:05:32 (1:10:24 + 55:08)