La saintexpress, December 2012 by Olive
Sunday, December 02, it is 3:36 am, I enter the Palais des Sports in Lyon, cross the finish line by saying a hello and forcing a smile for the photographer.
Little flashback, Saturday 1 stDecember 6pm, I park in the parking lot of the Palais des Sports de Lyon, it starts to get crowded but I arrive in time to park easily. The interior of the palace is impressive, you can feel the organization of a major event at an international level. I take off my bib and take pictures of the finish arch, telling myself that I will cross it at all costs in a few hours. The trainings of the previous weeks must pay today. The shuttles to Ste Catherine (starting point) leave at 9 p.m. so that gives me a lot of time. I change slowly, cut out my chasuble bib and fix it on the camelbak and on my bib belt. I read and reread my roadbook and learn my estimated passage times. My goal is to be a finisher (but I secretly hope to finish in less than 5 hours).
8:45 p.m., I decide to join the shuttles. It’s not cold outside but the night is already total, I get on the first bus with the poster “Saintexpress”.
9pm we take off, not a lot of atmosphere along the way, everyone realizes the kilometers that pass and that we will have to walk back.
In Sainte Catherine the descent of the bus is striking! The feeling is about -5 ° C! We rushed under the heated tents which will serve as supplies in a few hours for those who make the Saintelyon. I brush my feet with Vaseline then walk under the starting arch. I am in front (in the first 300 by my estimate), the electronic chip will confirm my place: 224th on the starting line. My neighbors are not talkative, all concentrated and already in their bubble, just a few nervous laughter can be heard. I plug in my iPod and try to warm up by hopping, I turn on my watch so that it has time to hook up a GPS signal before departure, I repeat my lap times and reread my roadbook.
11pm is the time I usually go to bed, but the countdown has started on the microphone: 10, 9, 8,… 0. The 2500 runners set off, I have 2200 in my ass, it grows and the pace is given but it suits me.
The first km is done on the asphalt, it elbows but it’s not a sprint, everyone is just looking for their place. I am not cold, my body temperature is hot, I will not suffer from the temperature throughout the course! Snow is everywhere on the roadsides for the moment.
We-we engage in a first path of the single-track type and it climbs immediately. Trailers run, it doesn’t get stuck, I like being in this wagon where there are no “hikers”. We take 100m of D + in the legs, it’s nothing, but it already calms the unaccustomed, I take this opportunity to restart once we get on the ridge, we keep a good pace, the runners are still not very talkative , the paths are filled with snow and mud the shoes grip perfectly I manage to keep my feet dry, no worries at this level. On the other hand, many are those who slip and curse but at the sight of their shoes nothing surprising.
First descent, and already some falls! 2 runners stop when 1 falls. The trail spirit is there, and it’s nice! I have full confidence in my pumps and continue at a good pace, many are those who play it safe on the descent and go fussy.
I spend the first refueling, I repeat my passage times “minimum 55minutes or max 1h10” I watch my climb 48minutes! I’m fine, a good constant pace, I rarely overtake (much less than when I start in the middle of the peloton) but I gain a few places and decide not to slow down despite my lead on my split time.
The night landscapes are magnificent, the 2300 runners last month offer a magical stream of light! I am always supervised by other runners but we still do not speak. I am in my race with the music in my ears, I am fine, the kilometers follow one another quickly. Each crossroads is supervised by volunteers facing the cold and welcoming us with a smile and words of encouragement.
Km 12, a steep descent, I slide, put my hands on the ground and bounce back I’m standing! It’s not really a fall, but two other runners already had their hands on my shoulder and camelbak to straighten me up! I thank them and pat my gloves full of mud. Fall without incidence. A second fall (50 meters further) on a large patch of ice on the road which cuts this very path. I got up immediately but now I have a good pain on the buttock / hip and the feeling of being wet, the others ask me if I’m okay and I nod immediately. I remove my glove, pass my hand to the place of the pain, it stings and the liquid and hot! I look at my hand, observation: it’s blood… I don’t panic the pain is not so intense,
I manage my race as well as possible, I take my gels / bars / drinks over the kilometers. I left to do the entire route in complete autonomy.
Km 20 arrives the second refueling, it rolls for me I pass without stopping and tell myself that I am halfway. My roadbook tells me minimum 2:14 and maximum 2:27, my watch says: 2:05! I’m early, and I like it, the sensations are there.
Km 25 I start to feel two blisters on my right foot but nothing to worry about, my feet are still dry.
Km 30 no choice, both feet in to the ankles: water and mud, the path and just there for that! My pumps have doubled or even tripled their weight! And I can feel it. My legs take advantage of this excuse to tell me that they are starting to get fed up! The fresh water in the shoes refreshes the blisters for a while.
Km 32, the last refueling arrives! 3:17 on my watch, I have 16 minutes ahead of my ideal time! I throw away my little 250ml bottle of sweet drink which is empty but I don’t stop. There are only 10 terminals left, a simple small output of less than 50min in normal times (1h09 in this case). The climb out of the ravitos calm! The climb to Sainte Foy and its 17% make everyone agree, no one tries to run, I see the sign indicating the arrival at 10 km. Now the gaps are important and for the first time since the beginning I am alone.
Now there is only bitumen, it hits, especially on the descents, the feet and legs taste.
Km 38, my speed is “correct” or “acceptable” for an end of the course of about 9.5 / 9.8 km / h on the flat (fatigue is felt). I hang on to stay at this pace.
Km 40, I can’t wait to cross the finish line, my legs are really painful the blisters too, rare are the runners that I meet, some limping like poorly articulated puppets, who will finish the last 4 km walking . 2 or 3 catch up to me and pass me at an incredible pace that leaves me where I am. (They had to take a break at the ravito and make up for their “delay”). But I do not demoralize I must hold!
Km 41 I’m fed up, I only think about the arrival, I’m still all alone on the quays of Lyon. Then catches me another runner, I cut the iPod, sticks to my rhythm and we exchange a few words, it feels good to talk and laugh. We are on the quays of Lyon it is 3:20 am, we pass in front of the full nightclubs but we have no desire to go dancing!
Km 42 several runners walk with a limp (even if it is flat) they try to run, hold 50m and walk again. I hang on and do not let go I keep my pace of 9.6 / 9.8Km / h.
Km 43, last kilometer I can not find the strengths of the end of the course I stay on my pace, panel: 100m then 75m, 50m and 25m there still no resources come to me.
It is Sunday, December 02, it is 3:36 am, I enter the Palais des Sports in Lyon, cross the finish line by saying a hello and forcing a smile for the photographer.
4h36min47sec, 154 th to scratch and 92 per category. 1940 will finish the race on the 2500.
I shoot a mine room, I don’t walk straight, my legs pull me and my blisters are painful, I take the “finisher” t-shirt and a coke. The runners already present are lying on the ground, some are crying and it reminds me of a field hospital that we see in the films where we pile up the wounded where we can. I go get my things, take a hot shower, the change of shoes is quite pleasant for my feet and come home, it will take a while for sleep to come and I don’t really feel tired. I go to bed at 6 a.m. and get up at 10 a.m., my legs are stiff, I wince as soon as I get up or sit down. My memories are nice but nothing more, it’s more a validation of a 44Km trail more than a great experience.