Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Downs and Ups :-)

Last weekend there was another cross country race, this time down in Okotoks, and whilst I had every intention of running hard, things didn't quite go to plan on the day. Sure, I was happy enough with 4th lady and being 1st in my age group category, but I personally didn't feel that the performance was a true reflection of how my training has been going in recent weeks and as a result, I felt like I'd let myself down.

Considering I had a race that day, I'd woken up feeling far too relaxed and even managed to eat breakfast without the normal pre-race jittery tummy. I was looking forward to racing, but I couldn't muster the usual excitement that I would normally feel. My usual pre-race routine wasn't there and I even had a large coffee and a donut an hour before the race which I wouldn't normally do - in all honesty, I don't think my heart and mind were really in the mood for racing.

I was rather hoping that the course would be the same as the previous year so that I could compare my times, but whilst last year it had snowed, on Saturday we faced a very dry course and warm temperatures of around 14 degrees. The course was also going to be different and although we still ran 2 loops up and down the escarpment and followed pretty much the same trails as last time, I guess I felt a little unprepared at not really knowing what to expect.

I started well enough with a split of bang on 4 minutes for the first km, but when we got onto the real cross country, I slowed a little and was able to settle more easily in to my pace and tackle the terrain.

I guess it was here that I lost my concentration. I was lying in 2nd place, but was extremely conscious of a lady behind me. I was really wishing she would go past - I couldn't speed up and she was literally right on my tail. Next thing I know, she takes a tumble and catches me as she went down, and although I managed to stay upright, it threw me off a little and I couldn't get back into my rhythm. We asked each other if we were ok - I was concerned that she'd been spiked as she fell, but it turned out that neither of us were any worse for wear. It was then that she revealed that she'd been told to stick with me today and try to keep up, and that's why she was right behind me. It wasn't the right thing to say in my frame of mind and I wanted to give up there and then. I acknowledge that everybody tackles things differently, but I have never understood why people "tag onto" other runners in a race. I've always been taught to run my own race, trust in my training, do my own thing and I actually think I have better runs as a result,

Needless to say, I encouraged her to go past as we started a short steep climb.I was having a poor run and actually believed that had she concentrated more on running her own race instead of sticking with me and letting me do the work, she may well have caught Kim and won the ladies race, I couldn't understand why she would want to follow me - I've never won the cross country and it certainly isn't one of my strengths, and I was even more baffled when I later found out that she had finished ahead of me at previous races in previous years! Thankfully she did go past and she opened a considerable gap over me - evidence that clearly she was a much stronger runner on the day.

From there onwards, I really was bored and wasn't really enjoying the run. The route was actually ok with lots of ups and downs, but I just couldn't get into the race, couldn't motivate myself. I was also feeling extremely hot and weary, absolutely dripping with sweat, couldn't muster any energy on the ups or downs, and just wanted the race to end. My lungs were burning and I couldn't breath properly, my legs were like 2 lead weights, and when another lady went past me, again I had nothing to fight back with.

Smiling and kind of having fun, but not really! Okotoks XC
I eventually finished 4th lady in a little over 40 minutes for 8km - not bad all things considered, but I was more relieved that it was over and done with rather than happy with the performance.

For the remainder of the day, I really couldn't put my finger on why I'd felt so grumpy and struggled during the race, but come Sunday, I felt more like my old self again. We'd had some heavy snow overnight, temperatures had plummeted to -20, the wind was howling outside, and yet I had a superb 15km run outdoors with deep snow underfoot. It was a relief to be feeling more like my old self, and although they say you're only as good as your last race, I'm looking for something more positive at the next cross country race at Edworthy Park on November 22nd.

The other thing that has given me some determination to train hard over the coming months is that yesterday, I finally had confirmation that I have a Championship entry to the London Marathon next April. I'm so excited to be going back to London again as it's one of my all time favourite marathons, I know the course extremely well, and every year I've done it, I've absolutely loved the event and had great runs. It's also the place where I set my 2 hours 47 minute PB back in 2006, so I'm hoping that I'll dip under 3 hours again assuming my training over the coming months goes to plan. I've done the London Marathon several times now, running for the Blue Cross animal charity, the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust. I've also ran "unattached" in the earlier years, and as a member of both Trentham RC and Newcastle AC in more recent years, and have very fond memories of winning the national Marathon Team Championship with Newcastle the same year that I ran my PB - what a super ladies team we had! 2015 will see me running the colours of Midland Masters AC and I'm really hoping to do the club proud on the day, but more importantly I'm hoping I get to see many of my old friends that live across the whole of the UK and not just Stoke - it's going to be a fantastic day and I'm already looking forward to it.


Championship Start with good friend and fellow GB Ultra distance athlete

On my way to a 2.47.41 PB running for Newcastle in 2006 :-D

Good friends from Trentham Running Club at the finish on The Mall / Horse Guards Parade
Ryan, Jill, Del and Chris :-D

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