I only found out I would be taking part in the 3rd Chiltern league cross country race of the year when I texted my coach asking about training tomorrow (not expecting to race since I was easing back into training) when it was suggested that I race since the course would be fairly flat and to use it as a way of gauging my fitness. Surprise!
Pre Chiltern League Preparation
I was a bit tired since I’d just gotten back from university the day before. I woke up at around 9 am, sorted out my stuff, had a couple of cups of coffee, each with a teaspoon of honey before getting a lift with my fellow club mate Harry Brodie to the race.
The course was slightly different to last year since the hill was now no longer part of the course due to the council finding out they owned part of the land and not wanting runners to run across it. This meant the course was a lot flatter than usual. For the race, the junior and senior men would be running 1 small lap and 2 big laps to total 9.5 km.
A few of us walked the big lap of the course before doing a 3.2 km jog warm up and drills. Then we got onto the starting line.
The Chiltern League XC Race
Bedford & County AC had a decent turnout today for the race and I think there were at least 11 of us there (and we covered quite a bit of the front of the starting line). The gun went off and I went off at what felt like a comfortable pace at first. My first km is in 3:23, my second in 3:30. I start to realise I went out a bit too fast. I’m struggling to catch people and they’re moving away slowly from me. A few people manage to pass me by.
Around 4 km in I’m hurting a fair bit. I’m not even halfway. But I know that no matter what I have no keep pressing forwards and prove to myself that I can get my endurance fitness back and be there to support the Bedford team next year. That means focusing on my physical prowess as well as my mental toughness as a runner. As another runner passes me, I make an effort to stick to them and this certainly helps me to maintain my pace.
After one lap, I’m gritting my teeth and still pressing forward. I’m not being caught so much anymore now, and those that pass me, I’m hanging onto for longer. This continues further. I know it’s a mental battle and that I can do it. I aim to make sure I don’t run much slower than 3:50 per km and wherever I can I’m trying to focus on keeping contact with the runner in front or pulling away.
Towards 7 km I overtake another Bedford & County runner and at 8 km I’m starting to hurt quite a bit as a few people pass me. It gets to the last 600m or so when my coaches tell me to us my speed for the final bit. There’s a man a few paces in front and perhaps ordinarily I would’ve let him go, or at least I certainly would have tried to wait until about 200m to catch him. Not this time. I really start to push. I overtake him and continue to try and pull away. My legs are burning and I can hear him trying to catch me. I can’t possibly let myself get caught so I run even faster and finish 42nd in an official time of 35:02.
My kilometre splits were:
- 1’40″2 (last 500m which was at 3’20” pace)
Overall, I finished:
- 42nd overall
- 36th in Division 1
- 12th U20 male
- 8th in the Bedford & County team
It was a pretty good race as my first one of the cross country season given everything since I’ve only started to really get properly back into endurance training about 3 weeks ago.
Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Let me know down below!
Featured image photo by Barry Cornelius