This morning I ran my first Cross Country race ever and I loved every minute of it! Yep, I even enjoyed the rain, the chilly wind and... even the mud!
I had decided to wear my old-but-not-yet-retired running shoes and I am glad I did! The photo here above says it all, eh?
I was told that although fairly flat (Elevation Gain (ft) +87 / -89) the course was challenging because of the irregularity of the turf and obstacles on the trail. I was highly recommended to not try to make a great time, but just to enjoy my first experience "in the mud" without getting hurt.
[click on picture to enlarge]
I finished 77th overall out of 139 participants (4th out of 17 in my age division) and in 28:07 minutes. That is an average pace of 9:05 min/mile. Just for the record, the first Lady in my age group finished in 25:10 minutes and the second in 27:14 minutes. I was not far behind...
Awards were simple; pint glasses decorated with the logo of the race, but raffle prizes were kind of cool (2 pairs of Running shoes, Road IDs, Fuel Belts, Gift certificates for Pizza,...) for those who were lucky enough to have their bib number being drawn out of the "magic bucket" - not me, but that is fine because I already have my Road ID and a Fuel Belt that I actually won at my running club dinner two days ago. One cannot be lucky every day, huh?
Post-race food was *very* tempting: Cinnamon rolls, Whoopie Pies, Muffins,... I stopped looking after that and reasonably grabbed some grapes as I was holding in my other hand my traditional post-race hard boiled egg and almonds.
Because it is all about making the right choices, right?
I am lighter than I was a couple of weeks ago and I certainly could feel the difference while I was running this morning. I was not going at my usual racing pace (difficult in grass and mud) but I could feel that I was making less efforts pushing my body forward with each stride.
Plantar Faciiatis didn't bother me at all during the race. I think I was well prepared. I had stretched and massaged my feet before getting out of the bed, and I had removed the insoles that I had added into my Nike Triax when I started jogging at low pace and I needed more cushioning under the front of the foot, and laced the shoe tight around my foot and it worked just fine.
I was feeling so well after the 5K that I decided to go for that long run I usually do every weekend and as every Sunday I ended up running 10 miles total today.
Back home, I was a little sore so I immediately massaged and stretched my foot thouroughly, rolled a ball under my foot, applied ice and sport cream. Hopefully, running today didn't cause more damage to my injury... [Cross my fingers toes]
My Sparky Friend Tika could not make it to the race, but I was thrilled to get to run with another Sparky Friend and two of the Lady Godivas (the rest of the group was practicing next weekend 5K race's course)
Anyway, today was a challenging and exciting experience that certainly makes me want to run more Cross Country in the future!
I have finally found a decent bakery in my area and they have almost-as-good-as-the-real-stuffPain-au-Chocolat; not the healthiest treat on Earth but a delicious and occasional spirit lifter for an isolated French soul...
Back to counting my Calories, Macronutrients (Nutrients needed in relatively large quantities) and Micronutrients (Nutrients needed for life in small quantities) to get back to the shape I was before getting caught into the "wax on, wax off" stress.
This wormy looking dish is a Shirataki Noodles, Baby Bella Mushrooms, Tomato and Fresh Spinach Stir Fry seasoned with Hemp Oil and Grated Romano Cheese. It is loaded with Protein but is low in Carbs.
Despite a cold and sore calves, I went and ran. The weather was chilly (lower 40s) and a bit windy, but sunny. Perfect for running! After a good night of sleep and a hearty breakfast, I was ready to go.
I arrived an hour before the start of the race because I wanted to have time to warm up long enough and to use the porta-potties - always an issue on race days...
After jogging for about 40 minutes, I went to the starting line where I came across one of the Lady Godivas (a new young "recruit") who also had a nasty cold. In fact, about half of the participants were blowing their noses. I was not the only “nut” out there! LOL
Amy and I started the race together and ran along for the first two miles but she left me "in the dust" on one of those first "killer" hills. I still could see her bright jacket ahead of me for the next two other miles but despite my efforts, I could not catch her up or even maintain an equal distance between us. She ended up finishing in 52:24 minutes which I know was close to her goal!
.: Click on photo to see the whole photo Album :. Too bad this photo is blurry but it shows Amy (bright yellow jacket) and I (red gloves) at mile 1, running behind "Robert" my first selected "pacer".
So, I picked another Runner whose pace was similar to mine and tried to stick with him, which I did for about 2 miles, but in the middle of another hill (the course was very hilly) he distanced me too. I was obviously slowing down and I felt like I was “hitting the wall”. My legs were feeling like lead! Runners I had passed earlier were now passing me... So, I ate a few Sport Jelly Beans and I drank a few sips of water from my hand-bottle, then I was able to speed-up again.
I selected another Runner to keep up with but again I looked at her running away ahead of me. I tried to pace up to the maximum speed I was able to run at that point (7.9 mph - pace 7:33 min/mile) but I was not able to catch up with her and to pass her before the finish line like I would have liked to (because I knew she was in my age group) - I ended up passing the finish line 11 seconds behind her... [sighs]
Most of the race was on pavement, except for the last mile and a half (or so) that was on dirt and the last meters to the finish line that were on grass. That made it hard to keep up the sprint pace.
I ran my race in 54:32 minutes – average pace 8:47 min/mile (official time) – 54:29 minutes on my Garmin. This is not as good as my first 10K back in July (54:03 minutes) but it is slightly better than my second 10K in September (54:37 minutes – and that one was a relatively flat course)
I took advantage of every down hill but I was too slow going up those steep hills... If I had followed "Robert" (who by the way is 28 years older than me) to the end I would have reached my sub-54 goal, because he finished in 53:32 minutes!
Thanks to my Garmin that has recorded my race, I can see that I probably started too fast, then slowed down at mile 2 - that explains why I couldn't keep up with Amy. Stats also show that I ran mile 3 a bit faster due to the fact that I was trying to keep up with "Robert", and that I felt weak at mile 4. Then, the "Sport Jelly Beans boost" at mile 5 and the struggle again at mile 6.
This placed me 138/235 overall finishers (58.7%) and 12/34 in my age group (35.3%)
The Lady who finished first in my age group did it in 44:23 minutes! Now, I don't know if she was sick or not but that is more than 10 minutes faster than me... [sighs] Impressive, huh?
The first male to pass the finish line did it in 31:49 minutes (5:08 min/mile pace) and the first female - Olympic Champion Joan Benoit Samuelson - at age 51 finished in of 37:31 minutes (6:03 min/mile pace) What a Lady Runner, huh?
After the race, bananas, oranges and apples were offered to runners. No proteins... So I only grabbed a banana and a bottle of water and headed to my car where I had a Recovery Protein Shake, Walnuts/Almonds and a Mozzarella cheese string I had brought from home.
Overall, this was a fun race. Not too many runners (I don’t like over-crowded races too much) a beautiful scenic course through the National Park and farms around, but very challenging.
Video of the race - Starts at mile 1 and at the bridge at mile 5
In the video, I appear at 4:07 minutes, running along with Amy (bright yellow jacket) and behind "Robert" who is actually the runner I chose to run along with after I "lost" Amy. At 13:36 minutes of the video, Joan Benoit Samuelson crossing the bridge at mile 5 (red cap). Amy is at 25:43 minutes (yellow bright jacket) - Robert at 26:51 minutes - I come at 27:23 minutes (with the bouncing poney tail and sunglasses, and tripping at the end of the bridge... LOL). At 27:48 minutes comes my second selected "pacer" (wearing her bright yeallow jacket around her waist) That was before she passed me and I tried to keep up with her.
Conclusion: I didn't reach my sub-54 goal and I was "geezed" by a 71 year-old man, but I still feel good about running this race against all odds, because I know I would have had regrets if I had not showed up!