Friday, 6 December 2013

2013 Canadian National XC Championships: A Wet Day in the Muck

Start of the 2013 Master's XC Canadian National Champs. W. McCulloch Photo.

The 2013 Canadian National Cross Country Championships were held on November 30--a cold and wet Saturdary morning. This race would prove to be a tough run-day at Jericho Beach. Rain, wind, mud, puddles--all perfect to make for honest cross country racing weather!

My goal for this race was to have a fast time, and let the chips fall where they may. It sucks that this week I managed to get sick trying to prepare for the national championship event, all the while finishing up my M.Ed final paper for the first course. Finding balance between the disciplines of my life are proving to be a healthy challenge during this fall.

The day began with rain, and lots of it. I picked up my number package at the start finish area, and made my way back to the Jericho Sailing Center to get changed into my gear.

A one lap warm-up in my winter cycling coat, an I felt I was good to go. I probably should have been out there for more than 3k. I noticed that most other guys were spending the better part of a half hour to hour getting prepared. I feel that I did not need that much time this year, and my body was needing to conserve energy for the run. In my virtually new XC spikes, I had my doubts that they would be the best choice. They only have 4 spikes in them, but they seemed like a good good to go after my warm-up.

My primary goal was to hammer this race out in less than 29 minutes. Based on the results of the last couple of races, I though this to be possible. The secondary goal was to win the 35-39 National Championship age category. Actually, scratch that.

A pack of horses. My clean shoes about to get wet.
The primary goal was to win the age cat. The secondary goal was to be fast. Faster than ever over 8k.

Spying the competition, and seeing where this race was going. W. McCulloch  Photo.
I settled into the start of the race thinking about Mike Murphy's comment: "The race starts wayyy to fast." Feeling like hell, I tried to pace myself. 4 laps of a 2k course is not so bad, but this year's course was soft, muddy, and slippery. A bit of a departure from the last few races I have done. Thankfully, the footing in the XC spikes helped, I was in no way concerned about slipping out. I settled into 20th position, thinking that I could claw up to the top 13 or so, but my body was not letting that happen.

Ditched the toque, dropped the gloves, and in a spot of bother. My form falters.
Every time I tried to push, I was met with a push-back. The mental hurdles started to play in me. I did my best to kick into a higher gear, but it seemed like my race was slipping away. With a lap to go, I dropped a glove and nearly slipped on my rear, nearly putting my back out attempting to recover it.

Foolish. I let it go, willing to pick it up after the race.

I was am aiming to be as fast as a 3:30km for the 8k. But just like the marathon, I have not proved that yet. Nor have I have on the road in the 10k. This may be asking too much from my running right now. So, I started fast, and tried to hold on for dear life, conceded about 4 positions over the course of the race, one of them being a sprint in the final 200m.

At the finish line, gutted. Photo credit: 

Rewarded for a less than stellar race.
31:13 over 8k on a technical course with a climb on each lap.

Good enough for 24th overall (meh), and 1st in the Masters 35-39 category (Yay!).

Taking the Age Category! 35-39!
One of the cool things about this race was that the age categories were pinned to the backs of the racers, so you always knew who your were running with, or if they were in your age cat if you were passed by them. I wonder if knowing that no one from my age cat was in front of me, that I may have backed off the race just a bit having wrapped up the win.

The video for the master's event can be seen here.

I wish I could have honored this race better with a stronger finish. This finish time is consistent with what I have been putting down lately for that distance, so I should not feel too badly. I am working my way to feeling more comfortable with running faster, and this race fits in with that plan.

Corinne Issel and me with the hardware.
One race left to go: the Gunner Shaw. I have the Lower Mainland XC Points title wrapped up with a finish at that race on Saturday. So two big goals for this fall are going to be met!

I am already looking forward to next year, the final year that it will be held at Jericho Park/ Beach. One year from now--I will bring my time down to the 28 minute mark.....a 3 minute improvement, and another year in 35-39. I have a feeling that next year may prove tougher than this year.

A mention on the Canadian Master's Athletics page was also very nice.

2013 Master's Cross Country Running Champions!
Now on to planning for 2014 (almost)!! One race to go for the year.

With the weather as cold as it has been over the last week, I have not been out for any runs since the race, allowing my body to recover from the sickness and stress. I should be ready to go for Gunner Shaw on Saturday! The weather should be about -6 and clear. Too cold for short shorts on this guy.