I don’t usually run on a Friday night but tonight is a little different as I’m on a taper and I’m only looking to do easy distance. The fact that the Lyon Running Club was hosting a reconnaissance of the Run in Lyon Semi Marathon course tonight was a perfect fit for me, and the chance to run 21.1km on a course I know well and with nice people was too good to pass off. And so, after a long day and a long week at work, I pulled on the shoes once more and headed out the door to run the course for October’s race and get my weekend started on the right foot.
I wasn’t out to set records and, frankly, neither was anyone else. The whole idea of taking a look at a course a few weeks ahead of the race is to get a feel for the course and the principal challenges, not to try and set a new PB. I wasn’t sure how many people would turn up on a Friday night but I was hopeful that we’d be at least a half dozen and maybe more. It would make the time pass faster and allow me some flexibility in who to follow because, as any runner knows, finding that perfect pace maker can really make for a nicer run.
The course for the Semi Marathon at the Run in Lyon event is fairly flat with only one noticeable rise after the very slight uphill in the first 500 meters. It comes after passing the Isle Barbe on the way upriver along the Soane and between the bridge at the Isle and the Pont Bocuse. It’s not a long climb and it is not all that steep, either, but it comes right at a point where people are into their rhythm and has broken up some dreams before. After that rise, though, it is all pretty straightforward. You cross the river at the Pont Bocuse, head back down the left bank of the Soane, turn into the tunnel beneath Croix Rousse, cross over the Rhone, then cross back at the Pont Morand to find the Rue de Republique and head for the finish line. Essentially it’s an out-and-back with a dog’s leg hitch over the Rhone to get the distance right.
I had loaded up with my Camelbak – I wanted to carry water and a phone and this makes it easier – and I was snacking as I arrived at the Place des Celestins to meet the crew and start on my Friday night run.
We were about a dozen or so people all up and it was a mixture of people I know well (Luka, Yoann, Segolene, Thierry and Nicolas) and some others I had never met before. On my invitation, there was even a colleague of mine, Julien, who came along for the run and I ran with him for most of the distance of the race.
All the way out things were pretty easy, though it was a little dicey in the last two kilometers before the Pont Bocuse. There’s really no place to run except for the shoulder of the road and while the cars didn’t go close to hitting anyone, I felt like it was just a matter of luck. A few hours later after people had got a couple of drinks into them and it could have been a different story.
We made the turn and headed back towards Lyon, stopping for a water break just after the Isle Barbe. When we finally got to the tunnel beneath Croix Rousse Luka announced that we would be running the tunnel at our marathon pace. I hung back to begin with, preferring to go steadily with Julien and Thierry but, after about 400 meters or so, I decided to give it a little go. I accelerated up to catch Segolene, kicked again to catch Yoann and a couple of people he was running with, and then had to kick harder and longer to catch up to Luka and a couple of guys who were running in the front. I enjoyed the change of pace but, with 500 meters to go in the tunnel, Luka instructed our foursome to kick and…I didn’t have it. I let the others go while maintaining my rhythm, but still felt I had done well enough.
The final few kilometers over the Rhone and then down into the city center went easily enough, and the final half circuit of Bellecour was pleasant, too. All up, it was a nice way to end a week of hard work and a nice longer (if not long) run before the Thames Path next weekend.