Yesterday I ran my third scheduled race of my 2020 season 2.0 (and fourth race when you add in the bonus Grimpette de Bedjuis a week ago). I was looking forward to this race a lot because I ran a couple of pre-race reconnaissances runs on the route and it is spectacular. Before the race we had also figured out a way for Vanessa to hike to a point near the Lacs de Fully where she could see me twice and also experience the stunning mountain terrain. The race was set to be a fun outing for both of us.
I started off quite fast, fueled by memories of the last few uphill races in the previous weeks, and then I settled into a decent pace when I remembered that there was a lot of running still to do. The race started with a massive 1600m climb which tested my legs and gave me a sign of how I would be moving later in the race. By the time I arrived at the Lac de Fully I was pleased to have done almost half of the climbing in the race and that it would be much more runnable terrain from then on. It was turning into a beautiful day (not the rain and clouds that were forecast) and I was looking forward to the next few sections that passed the other mountain cabanes that give the race its name.
After arriving at Sorniot there were three more climbs: first to Col du Demècre, then Col du Fenestral, and finally Grand Château. In this middle section of the race I found myself slogging up the hills without much speed or power, and then flying down the descent, and repeating that pattern three times over. I was much faster than the other people around me on the descents, but my climbing speed wasn't quite where it needed to be. Fortunately, after the race reconnaissance I had done I knew all of the ascents and how long each one was so instead of feeling like never-ending climbs I at least knew where the summits were!
When I completed the last large ascent I knew it was mostly downhill all the way to the finish. I set a steady pace and slowly started to feel better and better as I descended from the high spots on the course. Near Lui d'Août my friend David was waiting to cheer me on and he ran a small section of the route with me. It was amazing to see someone I knew on the trail and also to hear his words of encouragement. I could feel that I was getting stronger and when David told me I was looking fresh considering that most of the race's climbing was already done, that was just what I needed to push down towards the finish.
I ran a steady pace down the hill and kept feeling better as the race went on. I was running sections of a similar gradient or technicality that I hadn't been able to run when I was higher up and it was a good sensation. At this point I was consistently passing other runners who had started the race two hours before I did (there were two race starts: one at 05h00 and one at 07h00) and that provided a little extra motivation too. Even though it was getting hotter as the day went on, I managed to stay cool and I felt like I did a solid run down to the finish.
I was pleased with my run because I gave it everything that I had on the day. It has been a strange season and I know that I haven't completed my training with the consistency or focus that I would normally do. This has been a great reminder of the importance of building a good base of training and also maintaining a consistent and diligent routine throughout the season. I have seen some great results from the athletes I coach who have done this in 2020 so it has definitely been possible. In the end it was a spectacular route, an amazing day out in the mountains and, together with a valuable reminder about the training process, I feel like the race was a success for this season.
|Arriving at the first aid station at Sorniot after a big climb.|
|The race took us past amazing scenery. It was so beautiful all day long.|
|Running past the Grand Lac de Fully.|
|It was such a treat to see Vanessa so many times during the route. She took some great photos!|
|My friend David was waiting for me at Lui d'Août. I got such a boost seeing him and hearing his encouragement.|
|Another picture from David. "Push it on the downhill you can catch a few people ahead!"|
|There was a long descent to the finish from high in the mountains to Fully in the valley.|