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I had a heavy weekend of work, family, and childcare, followed by a morning that started early (again) and was busy (again). I had scheduled this run for midday which is not ideal as I’d much rather knock it over early in the morning but – when you have a ten hour day, two kids at home, an overworked wife, and no nanny, you fit in the run when you can.

After a couple of days without running I was feeling fresh and hoping that my legs would reward me for the rest days. Where last week was all about getting moving again after the lockdown, this week would be about building more of the base and extending things – but just a little. I have plenty of time to build up to the training plan that starts in July, and I can worry about longer runs, real long runs I mean, in June and early July.

So I headed off from the Place des Jacobins, down to the Saone, and across the footbridge to turn left and head downriver towards Mulatiere and Sainte Foy. It’s a path I have run many times and while it can be a little frustrating to have to stop and start a little in the first two kilometers crossing roads and waiting at bridges, after that it is a smooth run down to the confluence point of the Rhone and Saone.

After Friday’s 5K which I was happy to run without stopping (if disappointed with the sort of time I would throw up…) I wanted to go a little longer and had my eyes set on the staircase at Sainte Foy. This is actually a part of the LyonSainteLyon course and while it is not a difficult part, it has tripped people up figuratively and literally. The staircase comes in the final two kilometers of the race, maybe even the last 1500 meters or so, I’d have to check it out. In any case, after running through the dark for the last 9 hours or more you come to this staircase and have to run…down. This has an immediate impact of varying types:

  • some people make up places here like it is nobody’s business – indeed, in 2018 when I ran the SainteLyon I passed more than a dozen people on this descent as I knew it, knew how to run it downhill two-steps at a time, and didn’t mind the downhill run
  • some people cramp up as the movement to walk down stairs after running so long is hard on the muscles – I think that because they have stopped running and started walking downstairs, they are bending differently and awkwardly; descending this staircase turns into a 5 minute pain cave instead of a 1 minute ‘swish’
  • some people fall – it’s hard to start going steeply downhill and, after running for so long, some people are just not all there mentally to be able to put one foot in front of the other; it’s hard to fall uphill, but easy to trip or skip downhill

For today, though, I was going to go up and not down.

The staircase itself is fairly consistent and only the top is really steep, and even here the stairs are replaced by smooth bitumen. If you lean into it then you don’t have an issue and if you focus on putting one step in front of the other, you’ll get there.

At the top I took a quick breather, turned to the left, and started the winding path back down to where I had begun. This is a nice descent to run, not too steep, and the paths are wide even if the road alongside is busy. Back at the the bottom of the staircase I had a choice about how to finish off: back the way I came, cross the bridge and run the path along the Rhone back home, or duck under the bridge, climb another staircase, cross the bridge, and then follow the trail to Confluence and along the Saone to home.

I went with the second option and turned around the Museum, dropped down next to the Soane again, and headed for the center of town.

Getting close to home, I pulled up into the city to run down the Rue Victor Hugo and check out who was open and who was not. We’re still pulling out of the lockdown here and this means that not all the stores are open right now. I like to keep an eye on who is open, who is still closed, and who is getting back on their feet – I can help out, perhaps, with a purchase here and there, like everyone else playing their part in a consumer economy.

Getting close to the Place Bellecour, I felt I had done enough for the day and was ready to close down. I clicked stop on the Garmin as the 10K mark rolled over and I was happy.

Yep, happy.

I had done the run I set out to do, I hadn’t walked for no reason (stairs are a reason to walk or hike, I’ll remind you) and I can feel the fitness coming back.

(And the statistician in me was happy that my average pace over 10K with some stairs was slightly faster than Friday’s 5K on the flat pace!)

Now back to work…

  • Distance: 10.0km
  • Time: 59:04
  • Garmin Connect: Link