Cross Country Courses… Oh My!

This weekend’s long run was supposed to be a 6 mile long run so I decided to sign up for a local 10k. I stumbled upon the “Run for Lawson 5k/10k” and signed up for it on a whim. I have a bad habit of not looking at the course before I sign up for a race. Usually, I’m pretty lucky and this doesn’t do much to effect how I run that day. But Saturday’s race was the second time I signed up for a race before I realized I would be tackling a cross country course (the Miller Landing 8K – my one and only DNF – was the first instance where this happened). When I saw that we would be running on a cross country course the night before, I was a little nervous. I’m not a fan of trail running or of running on anything other than a nice paved surface. I stumble a lot and I just don’t seem to enjoy running half as much as I do when I’m doing a road race. But, I sucked it up and prepped myself for a run. I hydrated and took it easy the night before (also did not sleep the night before… I decided to tackle this race while also maintaining my night shift sleep schedule).

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I got out to the race location and I can say one thing and one thing only was on my mind. COLD. It was cold out. Actually, let me take that back. It wasn’t that cold. It actually felt pretty nice out. What made it cold was the wind. The awful wind. The wind cut through my clothing and made me feel like I didn’t have a stitch on. My hands felt like blocks of ice and the wind whipped tears into and out of my eyes. I tried my best to get warmed up but the sun was barely over the treetops and my movements couldn’t seem to get my muscles past the wind’s icy chill. I pretty much had to warm up the first little bit of the race. Despite all of this, it was beautiful out. Road races pale in comparision to cross country/trail running when it comes to the backdrop of your race.

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The course was tough. I stumbled a lot because of the uneven ground and a good portion of it was uphill. The wind at some points was tough to get through and it felt like I was running through a wind tunnel! The sun was bright and as it rose higher in the sky, I started to warm up (or possibly I was just numb, who knows!). Through all of its challenges, I maintained a pretty good pacing and I finished in 1:19:48 (official RFID time). It was not a PR (it was slower than my fastest time by about 6 minutes or so) but I was proud of myself for finishing.

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I treated myself to an oh-so-cold ice bath and a tall glass of chocolate milk (recently learned in my Runner’s World magazine that this is something great to drink after your long runs – don’t mind if I do!). I wish I could have finished faster and I wish I would have finished stronger. But at the end of the day, 6.2 miles run in 1:20 is better than sitting on my couch at home!

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