I used to be good at Cross Country. Loved it when I was young. Danced up hills.
I decided to do my first country season in 25 years and thought I would be not bad at it. Jeezo let me tell you right now how wrong I was. These guys are a different breed. My first encounter was the West District relays at Kilmalcolm. 2 laps. Under 4 k.Weather mild. not very hilly. Absolutely gubbed. This was a rude awakening. The speed these guys went past me at. I was on leg 3 and did not expect what happened. This race floored me and it took me a few days to put it into perspective. My challenge for this first season back was not to get as near the front as possible, but to get as far away from the back as possible. And to be honest I wasn’t far away.
Next race was actually a road relay, the LAAAs. I ran a bit better here as it was on road, and was happier with my run. It was 4k, and very windy, but i would have been well under 20 mins for a 5k had it extended. I managed to hang on not bad to a Cambuslang guy who had overtaken me although coming from a long way down.
Cumbernauld next for the National relays. Hilly. Windy. Muddy. Real X Country. I had suffered from a sore back that week (slipped at home, then had to move furniture at work. Still giving me problems as I write this in December.) This was really tough but I was pleased with how I dealt with the conditions. Again, only 4k, but I didn’t let anyone down on the last leg.
This brought us onto the individual races, which would form basis of the MAC Club championship as well. Scott Dickson is the reigning champ. He wears sunglasses even when sleeping. He looks the part and had beaten me every time he’d raced me. The first race was the National short course 4k at Bellahouston. It was sunny, reasonably flat, not that muddy, just in parts. I had a decent run. In the last 250 m I overtook Scott and managed to beat Andy in a sprint finish as he didn’t see me coming. Andy is a runner who is night and day better than me. Like several minutes better. He had a bad day and I had a good day and I got lucky. I was 157 or something and still well into the second half of the field but I was happy.
The next one was the LAAA at Drumpelier. 4 Laps this time, just shy of 10k and only 36 people finished. On the 4 laps I was 27, 26, 25 then finished 24th. It was a slog. the last 2 laps on my own with the exception of one guy I caught. A dull 39 minutes. Pleasingly I had managed to beat Scott again, but stupidly gave him a pep talk after the race. That would come back and haunt me….
So the final Country race of 2014 and the West Districts at Linwood. This was 4 laps again. 10k. With hills, freezing cold, rain, and wind. Being the last race of the day it was like the Somme.
I got it all wrong. Not wanting to get left on my own like the race before I went off quicker. Not wise in heavy mud. I just could not cope with the mud. It was relentless. My back was giving me serious gyp and I just couldn’t seem to find any sort of form. Scott went past me on lap 2 and got further away with every step after that. On at least 4 occasions I was ready to chuck it and drop out. The only credit I give myself is that I didn’t drop out. I would have 25 years ago, I had no bottle then. I finished in 45 mins which isn’t bad in those conditions, I just know I could and should have done better. I’ve slipped down now to 4th in the Club Champs with one race to go in February, my very slim chance of stealing third gone due to what was really a very naive pacing decision. You ran well Mr Dickson, in fact you ran a perfect race, but I should have made it more difficult for you. Watch your back at Falkirk 😉
So I’m up to date and will try and update this as I go now. I’m taking a break from training for a few weeks to try and clear up my back, hip and groin problems, though I will probably do the xmas handicap as I have a vile festive base layer.
This is where I will put myself under pressure:
Aims for next season (and I know that these are mostly unrealistic):
5k: 18 mins 59 secs
10k: 39 mins 59 secs
Half marathon: 1 hr 29 mins 59 secs
MAC Cross Country Champs 2014/5: Top 5 finish ( 1 race to go)
To be honest I will just be happy to keep relatively injury free and enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed this year.
Thanks for reading, and see you soon.