Today I had Bedfordshire Schools County XC Champs at Ampthill park where I would be racing against a few familiar faces from my running club, Bedford & County AC to qualify for a chance to go to English Schools XC at Leeds. This is a big national race where the top 8 from each county go to compete.

Race Preparation

I got to the race an hour early and knowing the course I didn’t walk it this time. I did a 15-minute jog along with strides and other running drills to prepare myself. I was quite excited since I didn’t know how this race would turn out. This time I said to myself I would try and hang on at the front, unlike my other races where I’d decided to run in a more conservative manner. The course was shorter than most cross country courses for my age being 4.6km long.

Cross Country Race

The siren went off and I did my best to place myself near the front. I had to work through a group of runners but quickly got to the front pack. I tried to stick with them as best as I could, but after about a kilometre I began to lose contact. As the race progressed I felt like I gradually got slower.

On the first lap I was in 5th place, but going into the second lap I was in 7th, fighting for 6th place. I managed to put myself in 6th and then onto the muddiest part of the course I slipped forwards and after evaluating myself after the race, I think I pulled an oblique. As soon as that happened, I could feel myself struggling. My chest felt like it was constricting around my lungs and I fell to 7th position.

I pushed onwards, knowing that I couldn’t fall back any more places and finished the race. There was a dull aching pain on the left side of my core throbbed when I finished where I’d strained a muscle.

Final Thoughts

The race didn’t go quite as I hoped it would go, but then again I can’t expect to be good at cross country if I’ve been training as a sprinter. I think I would’ve been better off starting at a more conservative pace, but I need to learn from my experiences and try different race tactics out and this was a good opportunity to do so.

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