While PBs are normally worth a ton of waffly self-love, I’ll keep this one short as it’s my second race in Lyon and free time is somewhat lacking.
So, on that note, here’s a quick review in bullet points:
- Lyon is known for its hot weather and Indian summers. Well, the weather was god awful. After months of hot and dry weather, a cold and very – very – wet front hit about one hour before the race started. On the downside, we were drowned rats by the start. On the plus side, drowned rats are cool rats. And cool rats run better than hot rats.
It’s a big event (20,000+ runners across the 10k, half and marathon) so the organisation, overall, was unsurprisingly pretty well polished.
However, the decision to start the half and full marathon at the same time when the last few kilometres will be together is always a bit dumb as the top marathon runners finish just as the slowest half marathon runners come through which is a shame.
Another slight negative was that they only had kilometre signs for the first 7km and last 5km which was unusual and slightly annoying. The refuelling stations, every 5km, were decent enough.
Toilets, well, my portaloo had a poo on the seat so the less said about them, the better. I’ve probably already said enough.
The course is perfect for PBs: other than one annoying incline around the 8km mark, it was flat throughout as it more or less runs up and down the course of the Saone river.
There aren’t too many sharp turns; the straightest bit is a 2km (straight) tunnel which goes under a big hill in central Lyon where, amazingly, the GPS still works fine despite the 100m of soil on top.
The roads were wide and, because I’d blagged a “preferential/elite” pass, I was at the front of the pack anyway so didn’t have to fight too much for space.
- My race plan as to go out about 1sec/km faster than PB pace from San Francisco and see what happens. If I blew up, well, hardly anyone knew I was running anyway and if I didn’t then I’d be able to milk it afterwards. My new coach from Stade Français (Fred) knew I was racing for over a month mind you. Then, a few days before the race, he tells me that he’s even more coy than me about his races and he’s racing too, and at roughly my target speed! Game on.
My target was to go out at PB pace and see what happened. The start was fine, on target, nice and soaked. After 3km, Fred overtook me for the first time just as my pace was dropping a little which gave me a little kick up the arse.
I stayed a little bit ahead of him until the steep hill at 8km, at which point him and another runner flew by and I had no second gear to keep up.
- I thought that was that until the halfway point, which I reached about 10 seconds behind schedule when I more of less thought ‘fuck it’ and decided to chase Fred down, by which point he was probably a good 30 seconds ahead already.
- And, for the next 10km, that’s exactly what I did, meter by meter, gradually but slowly eating away at his lead. Munch. Munch. Munch. By 16km, as we entered the Tunnel de la Croix-Rousse, he was only 10m ahead. By the time we exited 2km later (and a lot sweatier – bloody hell it was humid in that tunnel!), I was 10m ahead!
- From them on, he was chasing me down and I was trying to outsprint him, cue a final 3 kilometres in just over 10 minutes which was … a bit ridiculous (3.30/pace).We had one final sprint down the Rue de la République to Place Bellecour before we crossed the line. I’d absolutely blown my PB by almost a minute: 1h18.29! Wow.
I was a full 10 metres ahead of Fred. The student beat the master.
For a split second at least.
He then showed me his watch: 1h18.24. Argh. It turned out he’d started at the back of the starting pen. Next time. Next time…
Time: 1h18.29 (56th/10,532)