East League - Broxburn Cross Country - 17th January 2015
This race report is a bit overdue but better late than never I guess.
This is the final East district race of the year and second last cross country race of the session. The course is renowned for its 'water feature', and this year they also brought back lungbuster hill!
The couse is the usual, 3 laps, total distance about 9km, just over 5 miles.
Before the start, I took a recce of the course with a fellow club mate. We noticed there was a long stretch of hard packed path heading down the hill, then we went down a steeper section in to a mud bath. It was cambered and very slippy. No dry route through and even in my waterproofs and walking boots, I got wet feet trying to get to the other side. This was going to zap any energy out of our legs pretty quickly.
If that didn't kill our legs, the 'lungbuster hill' would. This was a very short but sharp incline, forget about getting any grip, even with my Inov-8 Talons, this was going to be slow going.
Once you're past these obstacles, the hill doesn't stop, it gets a bit less steep, less slippy, but in total, there was about half a mile of climb.
During the climb there was a short drop down but it was only to put you through some icy cold water and then start climbing again with wet feet and cold leg muscles. Then it was down a steep muddy decent, dodging tree stumps and bushes, forced down to single file, and then it was back uphill for us all. A long slow climb, peaking at 1.5 miles in to the first lap and then it was back down hill, past the start line and down to the bottom of the course again.
Do you notice a theme here, there wasn't much flat in the race, as you can see from my strava upload.
Once the race had started, I took to the path and got in to a steady pace. Nothing crazy, I've got caught up with the front runners too many times and struggled the entire race after that, the aim was to stay relaxed and just pick off one or two runners when I felt I could.
The first decent was easy, a good warmup for the legs. Passed a number of people and then once at the bottom of the course, I started the climb back up. Not pushing the pace on the steep sections, survival was the plan.
Climb too hard and my legs will tire really quickly, the plan in my head was just to keep position on the climbs and make up places on the decents.
Half way, through the water splash, I spotted a Pitreavie AAC vest, it was Colin. He had had a great start. I now had a focus and a target if you like. I slowly closed the gap on the uphill sections and caught him just at the top of the course. There were still 2 full laps to go though so this was going to be a good race.
Second lap and the second time through the water splash, Colin was still running with me, as you can see from the photo, he was just behind while the HBT runner - brown vest - was also giving me a good race.
I was still feeling comfortable and relaxed, even though we'd taken on the mud and steep sections, I had no idea on pace, all I knew was I was still catching and passing people. A nice feeling when you still have one more lap to go.
The final lap was possibly the best I have ever felt at this point in a cross country race. I was still chasing runners ahead of me, taking them on the downhill sections and holding my own on the up hill. I'll admit though, the lungbuster hill at the bottom of the course was now feeling like lungbuster mountain but I stuck to my plan, didn't let anyone pass me on this section and then as soon as I could, I got the legs moving again, lifting my knees high and started to put on some pace where possible.
I try not to look behind me during races, I just focus on who is infront and there were 2 more runners I felt I could catch before the final straight. I put the foot down and went for it, chipping away at their lead on the uphill, knowing the finish straight was on the flat. I caught them both and kept a couple of people I could hear chasing me away from my heels, I wasn't willing to lose positions this close to the finish line.
It was a brilliant course, muddy, hilly, wet but in a very strange way, very enjoyable.
I finished 79th / 225 in 34 mins exactly.
Mile splits were: 6:25, 6:23, 6:42 (a lot of climbing on this section!), 6:22, 7:10 (all uphill!), 5:33 (final 0.20 of the course!).
Apart from the last mile, I'm happy with the splits, I'm suprised to be honest with the slow split because I was catching people and it did feel faster.
The next day I went up to Craiglockhart for the Sunday long run and my legs were really tired, especially on the hills. I ended up going for the 12 mile route instead of the 16 and even then, it was a nice easy pace, my legs had worked hard the previous day.