Having a blog is a great way to look back and see what you were doing/thinking in the past. Literally the next run I did after my previous post (Speed takes a lot out of you! – Sept. 4th) I discovered a minor strain in my right soleus that has been bugging me ever since, it’s not a huge deal, but going on a month it’s become annoying.
It’s pretty much fine after a good warm-up, so I’m just planning to manage it while I do some races the next few weeks. I’ve reduced my running volume to around 45km/week, for the past 3 weeks but now I’m building again, I’m also biking, swimming and bouldering again – things that I got away from last year in training for the TransRockies.
Sunday was my first race of my “October” (yes, it was in September, but whatever) race month – a 5km Cross-Country meet in Laval, QC – about 30 mins from my house.
I have done one XC race before – the Gunner Shaw XC in Vancouver in 2006 – so I was a bit out of place, but I figured it out with a couple of warm-up loops. It was a beautiful fall day – 23 degrees, and sunny, so not really a typical muddy cross-country thing.
There were 67 people starting the 5km “populaire” that I decided on. Next time I’ll do the 8k, but I wanted to start small and build up… actually this was probably harder since I started a bit quick!
The first km of the race was pretty flat with only one hill/descent of about 5m vertical, enough to break your rhythm though! It’s amusing – and I thought about this during the race – that in a race like this it’s the little hill ‘climbs’ that are hard, since you’re trying to go all-out at maximum 5k speed, whereas in a “real” trail race you can climb mountains and think nothing of it.
I started in about 10th spot since I wasn’t sure how fast the pace was or really what the strategy should be. After about 300m I decided to move up and picked people off until I was 3rd. The first km was done in 3’12, feeling pretty easy, but after that there was a lot more hills!
After the first kilometre the guy ahead of me took the lead, and I was left with another guy; the three of us were about 15 seconds ahead of the next pack. Lead dude – who would end up winning – stretched his lead to about 5 seconds, and I followed the 2nd place guy. Towards the end of km 2 I made a move and went by him with that kilometre done in 3’39 – this one had two steep climbs where we slowed to 4’30 pace for a bit… so basically my heart was going to explode at any moment.
After this we came around to the first loop – I was in 2nd, and we were cruising on downs and flats for about 500m between 3′ and 3’10 pace, it’s funny because that pace was easy until you hit a climb and realized your heart was going to blow up! At this point the lead guy was about 20″ up, and we had a gap, I came to the conclusion that I was not going to catch the leader, and really all I was doing was pacing the guy behind me, so I let him take the lead. I figured I’d either be able to get by him on the last down/flat to the finish, or not… either way I was straining at this point! The 3rd and 4th km’s crawled by in 3’28 and 3’48, and I had nothing left at all at the end – the 2nd guy dropped me and I ended up losing a sprint finish to the line for 3rd – so 4th overall at my first race. The last km was way longer than I’d hoped – 3’46, with the last 300m sprint finish under 3′ pace, really shows how dead I was feeling!
Overall it was a lot of fun, and I learned some XC strategy. Next time I’ll bide my time a bit at the start and save something for a kick.
Next week I have another 5k, but on the road. I’m interested to see how the time goes, since 18’03 seems horribly slow – but then again, it’s XC so probably doesn’t mean much!
Race results – CADL 5k XC (broken down by age-group – there’s no overall list)