8ème Tour Pédestre du Canton de Genève

This is a 4 stage race in Switzerland in the Geneva county. Each stage is about 9K long and there is one stage per week for 4 weeks. As they are all held on wednesdays in the evening, this is a great way for me to get some racing experience and some real speed workouts without using week-ends. Each stage is a mix of road and off-road stuff. 
Stage 1: 8.6K, Avusy. May 29th, 2002.

This stage was 8.6 kilometers long. Some ups and downs as you can see on the profile below. I did it with no particular time objective. I just wanted to get a hard workout, which I did. The temp. was about 20 deg. C, nice sunny weather.

The first kilometer was globally going down. It felt very slow because there were over 2000 runners and many started way too much forward. I must have overtaken about 300 people! I was surprised that I did 4:34 nevertheless. The second K was actually slower! We had about 300 meters of a trail were only 2.5 runners could run side by side. And of course, as it was an incline ... major traffic jam. More trail after that but the width grew and it became easier and easier to overtake. K5 and K6 are major declines. It was not crowded anymore so I could relax my legs and let gravity carry me.  I think that 3:55 for 1K must be a personal best. The climb in K7 felt long and painful. After that it was easy. We got a nice T-shirt and a drink at the end. I even met a colleague from work: Chris. My average was 4:18 per K, that is better than I expected. I will try 4:15 next week. I finished 399th out of 1795 who crossed the finish line.

Correction: The distance was 8650 meters. So my average was 4:17!

Km Actual .
1 4:34 4:34
2 4:39 9:13
3 4:24 13:37
4 4:21 17:58
5 4:05 22:03
6 3:55 25:58
7 4:23 30:21
8 4:11 34:32
8.6 2:27 36:59
Stage 2: 10.35K, Genève. June 5th, 2002.

What a difference with last week's stage! This one was not only longer but more painful because we had to go up some stairs, under some bridges bending our heads because it was too low, down some stairs or slippery paths, along some rail tracks. Basically, the time lost going uphill could not be mad up by the downhill part. The good part is that we had 2 kilometers of reasonably wide road in order to spread out the field of runners and to get the slow (but optimistic) runners out of the way before getting to the bottlenecks where overtaking is mostly impossible or dangerous.

This time I was smarter with my starting position. After my usual 20 min warm-up that ended 5 min before the start, I jumped over the fence right in the crowd of runner in the front. To my surprise I found myself in a reserved area for bib numbers under 500. So I just walked backwards in the very first rows of the "normal" people and because I was walking towards the back no-one said anything :-)

When the gun went I thought that this time I was really with fast runners and that I'd better not get in their way. But no... again I started overtaking. So I'd say that this under 500 area is where I should be even though I'm not a very fast runner. Next year probably.

From the graph below I was expecting some slopes that were chosen to break legs. So I was careful, maybe too much. It was only 2 short slopes plus a small bridge. After K6 it went flat though we could not overtake along that rail track. Then after K7 we were back in normal streets for 2K with plenty of nice people encouraging us.

In the last 500m there was this older but athletic guy who did not want to let me pass him. So he took off 10 meters ahead of me, then stayed ahead while we both were overtaking other people. Then I caught up and he just had to bite the dust as I passed him :-) I was going totally anaerobic and had a hard 45 seconds after the finish line. I was very close to throwing up but happy. And as usual it went away very fast. I just kept moving, grabbing some water here and some food there.

My average was 4:24 per K. 6 seconds slower than last week, but it's OK given the conditions. Next time I want 4:15 and it does look possible.

Km Actual .
1 4:30 4:30
2 4:10 8:40
3 4:14 12:54
4 5:03 17:57
5 4:33 22:31
6 4:18 26:48
7 4:12 31:00
8 4:25 35:25
9 4:19 39:44
10.35 5:46 45:30
Stage 3: 8.4K, Collex-Bossy. June 12th, 2002.

This was a relatively hot day. I'll guess somewhere around 30 deg. C., that is 90 deg. F. Definitively warmer that the last 2 stages and less shadow on the course. But it was a nice course, fairly fast with few bottlenecks. I did not get a good starting position this time. There was little room to cheat like last week :-) But it's OK, I just start my watch when I cross the starting line, and that gives me my real time.

The 2 first kilometers where fairly easy despite a little climb in the village at the start. But the next 2 where quite another story. It also got crowded for some reason. My strategy this time was to start hard and try to survive. It did not work very well... I felt like I was running out of energy after K6. Maybe it's because I did not eat as well as last week. Also probably because I did a hard long run (140 min) on sunday and had sore legs for 2 days after that. But that long run was cool. It was in the Ardèche part of France and was very hilly...

So unlike what normally happens, at least 5 people overtook me in the last 500 meters. Did you see my splits by the way? Somebody smoked something: either me or them :-) Anyway, assuming the overall distance was accurate, my average time per K was 4:25, which is not good at all compared with 4:18 in stage 1 and 4:24 in stage 2. I am very far from the 4:00 I need to do a 5K in 20 min or 4:06 for the 10K in 41 min. But I have 16 more weeks of training...

The course was very nice. Village scenery in the first 3K and fields and forest in the next 5.

Ah! The next day I found some consolation in that failure. I finished 362nd out of 1634 runners. I gained 50 spots in my ranking when there were 30 runners who dropped out. That means that I made a progression of 20 places. Good!

Correction: The distance was 8700 meters. So my average was 4:16!

Km Actual .
1 4:26 4:26
2 4:10 8:36
3 4:21 12:57
4 4:41 17:39
5 4:16 21:55
6 4:11 26:06
7 4:43 30:48
8 3:21 34:09
8.4 2:58 37:07
Stage 4: 8.85K, Ville-la-Grand. June 19th, 2002.

Today I had two good reasons to do better than last time. One is that this was the last stage, the last chance. Second, this was my birthday! So I prepared better: slept well for 3-4 nights before the event, stopped eating sandwiches for lunch at work and had proper meals instead and run only once between my long run (sunday) and this event (wednesday). I also run once in the evening heat to get my body a little more familiar with it and I was right because we got another hot day: 32 deg. C.

This stage was actually in France. It was an 8K loop plus a bit for the finish. I'd say that 90% was road and 10% was easy dirt road. We had about 1K of shade in the "forest" between K5 and K6 which made up for it being the hardest part. The level graph below is nearly accurate. The only correction I would make is to push back 500 meters the start and the end of the steepest slope.

There was only one section that created a little bottleneck around K2.5: that was along the stadium. I think that because I started in a good position (like stage 2) I did not suffer too much from the bottlenecks. I also used the time to build a reserve of oxygen for later: breathing hard :-)

8.8K is my guess at the distance. We were told 8.5K but they smoked again. We reached the 8K sign, run for 2 minutes, expected to see the finish line when we came to another sign that said "500 meters". Nice! That would mean that since the 8K sign, I run 0 meters in 2 minutes! Imagine the moan I heard around me: you think there is only 500 meters to go, so you pick up, go to anaerobic mode knowing that you can sustain it for 2 minutes. After 1:30 minutes, you really start hurting but that's OK: 30 secs to go. That is when you find that there are another 2 minutes to run... Actually that was pretty good because it forced me to dig deeper than I probably would have and just finish anyway. Great mental exercise and self-learning.

I did a 4:16 average per K compared to 4:25 last time, 4:24 before and 4:18 in stage 1. Now, I should not write this but tomorrow I bet you that I make 350th or less. That would be a nice birthday present!

Ah! I love being right :-))). The actual distance was 8850 meters. And best of all, my ranking was 304th out of 1553 runners. That means that my average time per K was 4:14!!! My objective was 4:15. I won! Best birthday present, I'd say. So know, to achieve the 10K in 41 minutes or less, I need to loose 8 seconds per K. I have 15 weeks of training to get there. As for the 5K in 20 min or less it should be possible too as it's only 5K.

Km Actual .
1 4:12 4:12
2 4:05 8:17
3 4:20 12:37
4 4:20 16:57
5 4:20 21:17
6 4:35 25:52
7 4:15 30:06
8 4:01 34:07
8.85 3:25 37:32


Drop me a note! herve@iherve.com.