Monday, December 8, 2008

Race Report #16 - Cross Country

The final race of 2008* has finally come and gone. I've been itching for this race for a while as it's been a good six or seven weeks since the last 10k. Sunday saw me taking the field, quite literally, in a 6k cross country. Soul destroyingly the course was 6 laps around a field. The ends of the field were caked in mud making for slow turns, with one side of the field being up hill into the mud and the other side down hill, again into the mud. Not being one to enjoy cross country (they just look cold), I wasn't particularly looking forward to this, even if I was feeling fairly fit leading up to the race.

The race itself went off on the downhill side and therefore started at a fast pace, before slowing down on the first sticky turn. I started off mid-pack to back of the pack until just after the first turn and then started to find a rhythm. As the race progressed I began to feel stronger and increased my pace, runners ahead of me slowly started to come back to me, bit by bit I was edging up the field. On every lap I was picking lads off and felt really good, the pace was suiting me and I was getting into a respectable position. On the straight parts of the course I was cruising by lads, all I had to do was make sure I didn't lose ground on the turns and climbs and I'd be fine come the next straight. The course was tough and the race felt like it was going on for ever. Slow, fast, up, down, pulling your feet out of ankle deep mud, this race had it all! A wry smile came to my face on the forth lap as I heard the guy beside me shout to the side "How many more laps do we have left?", then half a lap on he must have seen someone else he knew "How much fucken further?".

The pace mightn't have beaten me, but the mud certainly did. On the last lap I could feel my right calf tighten up. It didn't slow me down as such but it meant that when push came to shove in the home straight there was nothing there to sprint home. I could keep the pace going but the calf had gotten fairly sore and there was no hope of upping the pace any more. Because of that I just got taken on the line lads who I'd overtaken earlier but who had a kick left when it mattered. Granted in the grand scheme of things a place or two doesn't really matter but no one likes being beaten to the line.

All in all I was very happy with how the race went. I showed great strength through the course and as I don't have the speed to shoot off at breakneck speeds I played it right by starting slow and building up throughout the race. I'd put the first 5 laps up there as the best I've run this year - just a shame the calf wouldn't stay with me for the sixth lap.

*words similar to these were uttered before but they were the final 'road race' of 2008
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