I do find a 6K cross-country race rather short, as pace is too fast and furious for me, but having been asked to run in the Masters International Cross Country in Glasgow, I didn't want to let the team down. It's a very sociable event, and so gives me a chance to catch up with people that I rarely get to see....and as usual, I combined it with catching up with many other friends (in fact it became a bit of a Shettleston weekend, as I stayed with one member, had dinner/lunch with another, and ran with two others....though I'm not not forgetting my coffee with two Kilbarchan marathon buddies).
The lovely laps
The event is contested by teams (in 5 year age groups starting at 35) from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the venue rotating round the different countries. Last time that Scotland hosted the event, I think they ran in Bellahouston Park (also in Glasgow), but there were some problems with the course so this time the event was set up over 2K laps in Tollcross Park (the swimming centre providing a handy cafe, showers, toilets and parking).
After our team photo, I was rather delayed in going for a warmup run with Fiona (Matheson - record breaking "running mum") as I had to clean the mud/grass out from where it had dried on after the last time I used my spikes (let that be a lesson to you - clean your spikes after using them!!!) and so we almost missed the start of our race.
The first race was for all the ladies and the men from the age of 65 and up, as we were doing 3 laps of the course so it was rather a congested start. I think at least 1 girl got spiked...so I worried about the Irish man I saw running barefoot!! The usual sprint/downhill start saw me in the middle of the pack, but as soon as we hit the first climb, I started to work my way up through the field.
"Flying the flag" (in my hair!)
Fiona and I had discussed how much we'd prefer a 2-lap race (the first one getting to know the course and then the last one aiming for the finish), and indeed, the middle lap did seem to be the hardest one mentally. We hadn't gone far enough for endurance to start showing, but it was long enough that an initial fast effort couldn't be maintained. I actually nearly came a cropper early in the second lap as two Irish ladies came up bahind me and a hard shove in the back had me almost falling. Steadying myself, I just tried to maintain my position for that lap, not trying to catch up with those ahead of me, as they were clearly better cross country runners than I was.
"Sprinting" for the finish
A lonely lap?
I did ask myself a few times why I was there, and what was the point in suffering all the way to the finish, but managed to quieten that voice in my head and keep moving on. In the final lap, I realsied that other peoiple were suffering as much as I moved up several places, especially in the second half of the lap. Initially I thought that I'd managed to increase my pace, but actually it was just that other people faded more than me. Whatever it was, it does help your motivation and confidence....so much so that I actually tried to catch an Irish V40 lady who was about 20m ahead of me with 150m to go. I couldn't quite do it as I fell short by a mere couple of metres, but at least I helf off a fast closing V35 from behind.
Our silver-medal winning team!!
As it turned out, I was second counter for my team and we won the silver medals (and Fiona won the V55 category outright!!) so it was actually a good day all round!!