Sunday, January 18, 2009

Race Report #18 - 10k XC - Into the wind, I'm running!

Even though I knew going into the race that the chances of me having a terrible performance was on the cards I really didn't appreciate being in the thick of it when it materialised. Thankfully as I was aware of the likelihood of this happening I'm not as pissed off as I would normally be with a substandard performance. The simple reason why I knew this day wasn't going to be my day was because of that great training session last Tuesday. I may have managed to stick up front and set the pace in some of the repeats but like the previous two workouts my legs just didn't recover from it. On Wednesday my quads were extremely stiff. No big deal, they'd be better on Thursday. Exact same thing on Thursday, worryingly the same on Friday. Saturday they were almost back to normal and Sunday they were acceptable. But acceptable isn't really what you need on race day. Buzzing or bouncing is what you want, certainly a 'b' word.

Tired legs and a windy dug up cross country course didn't really mix. The course was 5 laps with one bitch of a hill on the lap. Typically that hill was into the wind as well, which was, for want of a better word, strong! Within 400m of the race I knew I wasn't going to have a good day. I set off as planned, a steady pace. This was the pace I was meant to stick with for one lap, before upping the pace and picking off people. The last few laps were meant to be at a much harder pace than the first lap. What happened instead was the complete reverse. My pace was slowing and even though I managed to stay in or around the same position someone seemed to pick me off on each lap, while I was passing no one.

After 2 laps it was a battle to convince myself to stay in the race and not just trod back to my stuff and bitch and moan about my quads. The silver lining of the days is that I stuck it out. Going into the final 200m I had all sorts of shouts from people in the club about some lad right on my back. This had been a miserable outing and I wasn't going to compound it by losing another spot with metres left. Every time I tried to up the pace the mud prevented me, I was going right down into it and had to drag my legs out each time. Nightmare. More shouts. Finally the sticky mud seemed to end and I was able to up my pace into an all out sprint. The quads were screaming at me but I knew I could hang in and there was no hope that at the pace I was going that anyone would pass me, and they didn't. I must have stayed at 90 degrees against a wall for a few minutes before feeling ready to change and head on home.

The Coach's Verdict:
CR was extremely upbeat about the days events. I would have put my house on him saying I was knackered and to take a week off training. Not this time. Running on tired legs in that slog would bring me on no end. His take on it all is that there's no way I could have done a training session as tough as that race so it'll all stand to me once I'm back on the roads. The race was by no means a goal race for us and how deep I had to dig to complete the race was a test of strength.

In his day he had dozens of XC races that went the same way, finishing down the field because he couldn't glide through the mud. His best XC race was when he finished second at the National Intermediate XC and he puts that down to the ground being rock hard on the day.

No week off training then, instead it's a week without any workouts. 6 miles every day until Sunday which will be a 15 miler. Then the marathon training starts...
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