My goal for the first day was to run conservatively, to run my own race and to enjoy a mountain race. I haven't had such a great start to this season so I wanted to be relaxed and to do everything right in this race. There was lots of climbing and I know I still need time to put in enough vertical in training, but this was a good chance to do some varied climbing in the Alps.
The first climb to Semnoz was long and all runnable. I kept a good pace and was very happy with my climbing. From there I ran a great descent passing lots of people (who were a mix of competitors from all the races taking place at the same time) and worked hard to arrive at the base of the next climb. On the second significant climb I used my poles and tried to set up a good rhythm climbing. I wasn't moving very fast, but I was making progress and feeling good. I ran well on the final descent for the day and kept a moderate pace to the finish although I was starting to feel the heat and the miles by then.
It was a good first day and I came away feeling a lot of confidence and happiness that the work I've been doing in the mountains was starting to pay off. If the race had ended here I would have been happy with my performance.
Waking up on Sunday morning wasn't easy. In an unpleasant reminder of stage racing my legs were protesting and feeling very tight and sore. I wasn't sure what I would be able to achieve in the second half of the race, but I also knew that I'd run multiple days in a row in the past and managed to keep going. I did a good warm-up, loosened up a little and felt more relaxed by the time I was on the start line.
The first climb of the day was steep and technical. I set a good rhythm and felt surprisingly good despite how my legs had felt just a few hours earlier. I noticed I was moving about the same pace as the people around me until the last 10 minutes of the climb where I seemed to move more efficiently and keep a good pace to pass a few runners. On the long descent I was feeling fantastic! I ran smoothly and overtook at least five or six runners. On the bumpy and hilly section to the half-way point I kept a solid pace and felt positive about running a good stage.
The last climb was sustained and it felt much hotter and more difficult than I expected. I was going really slowly, but only one person caught up to me and in reality he seemed to be keeping a similar pace to me. Over the top of Veyrier I was hot, thirsty and crawling along. Fortunately I was able to run a great descent to the finish surprising myself with a great pace all the way down the technical trail. I was pleased with the second day and the good sections (mostly descents) where I ran strongly and with a lot of motivation.
Overall I was pleased with my performance at this race. I made a lot of progress in my training since Nivolet-Revard and my climbing and descending was a huge step up from that effort. I hope I can maintain this work and focus in the upcoming weeks before Eiger Ultra Trail.