Race Report: Great American XC Festival

Hey look!  It’s round #, uh, I don’t know, in the series of signing up for races because team mates are doing them.

My friend, Karen, keeps laughing at me because these races I sign up for, well, they hurt.  It’s an intense, burning hurt.  The kind you placate yourself during them with promises that the pain will be over in X minutes.  Just hang on a little more, then you can stop.  The pain can then stop.  What?  A kick?  I have no kick!  Fine, I’ll try.  Go, jelly legs, go!

But wait…I’m starting at the end.  Let’s go back to the beginning.

This race is a real live cross country race against collegiate girls less than half my age.  I’m there to represent the Bull City Track Club.  Trying to help the A-team, ex-collegiate runner types by scoring a few points.

Flashback!  Then I started flipping calendar pages in my head.  How many years since I’ve run in a cross country meet?  Well, I guess that takes me back to 1987, my senior year in high school.  I look around.  Many of the striding, jogging, posing girls around me weren’t born yet then.  Yes.  I am the elder matron of the pack.  Fun.

The course isn’t tough by cross country standards (as I recall them).  The first mile is mostly downhill, so it will be fast.  My main goal is to not take the first mile out too fast.  For a change.  I watch my Garmin to keep the pace reasonable.

I managed a 6:09, which considering the downhill nature of the first mile, was fine.  It felt super easy.  I never felt springy, though.  Will I ever feel springy again?  My training is coming along and I’ve gotten in some good long runs, but I feel far from really race ready.  Which doesn’t stop me from entering races, now does it?

The field is pretty spread out and I’m near team mate Rebecca, which is kind of what I expected.  Although I expected her to run away once we started going uphill.  Oh, wait.  What’s this up ahead?  A steep, little incline?  And Rebecca springs ahead.

Much of miles 2-3 were just me plugging away through the building lactic acid burn with the incessant clop-clop of a girl’s cleats hitting the hard-packed crushed gravel path right behind me.  Doesn’t sound like the ideal shoe choice for the conditions.  I figure she’ll make a move around me up the long, grinding hill at the end.

Surprise!  She did.  Right at the bottom.  Bigger surprise!  She blew up.  Someone else went by and I closed the distance a tiny bit between Rebecca and I.  Since that’s totally out of character, I figure Rebecca’s having a rough day.  Friends and the BCTC guys are on the sidelines yelling us on.  And takes us back to the beginning of the story, which is the end.

The result?  I ran a 20:39 and 19th overall, which seems like a bleah time for all that work, but I helped the team score enough points to win the team competition.  I think more credit goes to Jennifer, who won, and the speedy Krasich sisters who are threats to win any race they enter.  And Rebecca who, even though she felt bad, still finished in 18th place overall.  With Kara and Ellen not too far behind, we had the depth we needed whether I’d shown up or not.  We won a big ol’ pacque with a big color picture of us on the front.  Hilarious.  Full results here.

You know what else?  I think that’s about the time I ran in 1987.

The BCTC ladies take the prize.


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