Monday, November 2, 2009

Race Report #32: Stuck in the mud

Have I ever had two posts in a row that have been race reports? I seriously doubt it, especially considering this was the first time I'd ever run two races in the space of a week. Cross country is a tough one to decide if you had a good race or not - time is out the window, hills, mud and wind combine to break up your natural rhythm and you just feel like you're plodding around. So everything is based on position related to others of the same standard. But what if they had a shit race? Does that mean I had a good one? Give me a road and a time to beat any day.

Yesterday's start line was nose bleed territory. Toeing the line in the Dublin Seniors, alongside guys who want to see their names in the squad for the Euro XC Championships next month was not where I belonged. Probably only 70 people started the race and all of them could move. Only one thing for it - a la last week, start at the back and start moving through the field. 6 laps, 10km, rain soaked turf and blustery wind... there were many, many other places I wanted to be.

As the first lap went around I tried to find that happy medium of working but not killing it. When we were only 3/4 of the way through the first lap I was thinking there was no hope I could keep going for 6 laps. I remembered the slog the final 4km of the 6km race was only three weeks ago. What the hell would happen if I was spent after 2km this week and still had 8km left? Then from nowhere I got passed by a runner I recognised from that race. That time he flew by me like I was standing still. This time he went by and I knew I had to stick with him - his plan had obviously been to start from the back and work through, like mine. All thoughts besides "stick with him" were out the window. Over the next two laps I couldn't tell you how many people we went by as I just stuck to his side and followed every surge he made.

Eventually he dropped me and I plugged on on my own. I felt sluggish at half way and again evil thoughts crept in. I've never run this far in cross country before... The last two races I've been shagged after 6km... Only half way... Then the second wind kicked in. Besides the sections of the course into the wind the rest of the forth and fifth lap felt effortless. As hard as I tried to close the gap on the guys a head of me I couldn't up the pace at all. This was all the pace I had and I had to stick with it. The last lap was fairly uneventful, the spectators had all made their way to the finish for the climax of the race (you know the part with the top guys, not this guy), and it was all a bit quiet out there. I spent the lap trying to fend off the attentions of the lad right behind me and I'm pleased to say that for the third race running I was successful in this endeavour...

The scariest thing was that crossing the line I felt like I could have gone another lap at the same pace. All the mid race fears of blowing up, not making the distance were for nothing. My endurance is top notch at the minute. Time to add some speed, and possibly some mental strength (where does one get that?) to the training...
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