After a gentle warm up tail running at junior parkrun this morning it was down to Ayr for the West Districts. Cross Country and me are not great friends but the Renfrewshire and West District events provide a decent platform for the mere mortals like myself without the fear I associate with the National events. Despite being lapped by many of the superstars at this event this year I was determined to put on a better showing today.
Arriving just in time to see the ladies passing on lap 2 of 3 there was just enough time to cheer them through, get stripped and screw in the cross country studs. Glad I remembered after running the event in Renfrew in my track spikes. A gentle warm up to see the hills which I had missed on the way in proved this was going to be a trickier course but the ground seemed good to firm – as ideal as it gets at cross country. Heading over to the start line though it became clear that the curse of the men’s race was to strike the course too – a route totally churned up by a packed morning and early afternoon of racing. This made for heavy work around the home straight and start area on each of the four laps.
Settling in behind an obviously more experienced cross country runner I hugged the edge of the route desperately seeking some firmer ground and remembering the best line for subsequent laps. The Boy flew out of the traps and seemed to be winning his personal battle as I saw him tear off into the distance. While the first half of the lap was boggy in parts the second half was undulating. The hills won today for me with the second half of each lap being more favourable than the first.
Around the half way mark The Boy approached on the other side of the tape telling me he had put around 600metres between us in just under two laps. This made me fearful that a potential ‘lapping’ by some of the big guns might be on the cards again. This drove me on during lap three alongside some incredible cheering (a lot of random shout outs about hash tagging from the Bella Babes) which lifted the spirits at the traditionally tricky mid race stage.
Gunning it down the home straight for the third time I was pleased to be picking off one or two runners by adopting a wide and firm race line. Feeling strong (I definitely went off way too easy again) I was even more pleased to cross the start line without being lapped this year. So much so I skipped a little jig of joy and almost fell flat on my face in the mud. Refocused and with only a lap to go I managed to take another couple of places. An enjoyable run out but one I should perhaps have pushed harder – something I definitely need to try and bring over from my road running and a pretty common theme from the cross country events I have done to date.
Great course, great weather, brilliant podium place for the junior team and everyone’s favourite sweets and cakes in the tent afterwards 🙂 As always thanks to all the officials and marshals out on the course and involved in putting on a great event.