Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Looking back on the Lower Mainland Cross Country Race Series

Cross country and trail running has dominated my late 2013 racing season.

Wrapping up the Cross Country Series with an age category win was a major fall objective. In the attempt to get faster at longer distance events, it is my belief that I needed to race faster at the shorter distance events. These shorter xc races proved to be affordable, competitive, challenging and fun, and over the course of the last 3 months, I have seen some pretty cool things happen from my results.

The following are a few short summaries of my races, and some assessments of what I could improve on for the coming year of races. Read on!

Sept. 28th, South Fraser XC. Bear Creek: A good effort on a flat course. I should have tried to stay with a fast starting Stan Jang to close out the 8k in under 30 minutes. 2nd overall, and a good start to the series. Funny enough, I did not post a race report from this one--it seems that I missed it. I came second to Stan Jang, 3 minutes off of his pace. Boooo. I dusted off Leto with a bit of a sprint as we battled for the 2nd place. Here are the results:

Oct. 19th, Frank Reynolds Memorial. Cates Park XC: An undulating course that had me racing for third against Victor Sologub. I raced to the front on the first lap, something that surprised me in the moment of the race. Victor beat me in the sprint for the line, but this race built my confidence for the rest of the series. 4th overall.

Nov. 11, Stanley Park Remembrance Day XC: Probably my best run, save for the feeling of death in the first 3k. I ran this one very hard, and look forward to an even better race next year. To race with Dave Cressman, and have a enough jam for the sprint at the end was pretty awesome. 13th overall.

Nov. 17th, Fraser Valley Ramble (Clearbrook Park): Another good effort, I stayed with Paul Yuot and Mikhail Titov for the duration, but lost to Paul in the sprint. Another race like Cates Park that had me believing in what I can do in the coming months. 6th overall.

Nov. 30th, Canadian National XC Champs,  Jericho: A really hard race for me while I was sick. Coupled with the work I was doing on my M.Ed, this race was the hardest one I have done so far, not for the course, but for my own health. 24th overall. Better placing next year, fingers crossed. I still managed to win the age cat National Championship for 35-39!

Dec. 7th, Gunner Shaw, Jericho: Another challenging course trying to race after being laid up for a week. I managed to have my worst age category placing of the series (7th), but ran a 10k in 37:58, if the course is accurate. A good individual time, but way not competitive. Knowing that I had the XC series category wrapped up, I backed off a little bit on this race, and am kicking myself for it after the fact. 15th overall.

Series Results, in their entirety.

It is cool to string together a few age cat. wins in the 30-39, and to win the series. Consistent max efforts on the weekends have made running faster much easier. Sort of like intervals, only sustained for longer periods of time, and it has pushed my effort threshold out just a bit further. My recovery, too, has been pretty efficient. No longer does a 10k wipe me out for the following days like it used to. In fact, two days after Gunner Shaw, I turned out a double day: 11k in the AM, 11k in the PM. For the month of December, I am up to three doubles by the 17th. 

I think back to the races that I had a sprint finish in. I gave up in Cates Park, Clearbrook, and at the Nats in Jericho. I hit out for a sprint at Bear Creek in the last 200m, Remembrance Day for 200m, and Jericho for nearly 200m. Next time, no giving up on the sprints. That is an area of my running that I can work on, and will provide some benefits from going hard at the end of the hard efforts 

I would like to think that all the small successes are from XC running. But combining a great September of 370k training, an even better Victoria Marathon, and listening to my body when it needs to be rested have helped to sharpen my mind, and stay healthy/avoid injuries.

I do not know how possible it would be to challenge the XC series next year, and really, the results are insignificant in the big picture. But for now, they represent the realization of goal setting, execution, and achieving that goal. All of those things add up to building small gains in confidence and mental fitness.

Cross country has been a great way to stay motivated, meet some new people, and find some competitive races that are all close by.

Right now, running is really fun.