East District Cross Country race
Dundee - Saturday 6th December 2014
The team met up in Corstorphine as usual and car shared up to Dundee. We arrived with about an hour to spare so once we found the Edinburgh Athletic Club tent, we dropped our kit bags and went for a recce of the course.
Not as much mud as Alloa and the conditions looked like it could be a fast race. Plenty of straight sections to allow you to get a consistant pace, unlike Alloa which has a lot of technical sections.
I've ran Dundee a number of times before and like the course, there is one section which can be a drag, heading up through the woods towards the top of Camperdown park. I find my best approach at taking on this steady climb is to drop the pace a bit. I do get passed by a couple of people but I then try and make those places back up when we get to the flatter section where I can pick the pace up again.
I chose to wear my spikes for this course but afterwards I wished I had put on my studs. The spikes clogged up really quickly and I found my heels slipping on the cambered sections of the park. On the second of the three laps, I was almost tempted to run back to the tent, change my shoes and rejoin the race! Not sure if that is entirely allowed but I just felt like I was going backwards at times.
As I said, it was 3 laps of Camperdown Park. The first wasn't too bad. I was just trying to get in to a comfortable position and a good pace. I took the wrong racing line on the first lap, slipping all over the place and making a couple of rookie mistakes, the biggest mistake was not just taking one side step to the left or right to get in to fresh ground. Running along the beaten path was slow and slippy! I didn't make this mistake for the following laps.
After the first lap, I was hearing people shout encouragement but then the shouts were quickly followed by "Well done Pitreavie!"
As this was my previous club I knew who was behind me.
Colin Lammont has been running really well this season, now training on the track and his pace has increased and I could almost feel him chasing me down. The pressure was on!
I like to have some friendly competition during cross country. I'm not up the front and in contention for prizes so it's good to have small battles with others.
Halfway around the second lap people were still shouting encouragement for both of us so I knew he was still close, but I didn't want to look behind me to see how close, I would just wait for the next group of spectators and see how the cheers were coming.
I picked a better route on the down hill section on this lap and I felt my pace increase, or possible not slow as fast as others around me. Heading past the start finish line for the final time I realised the shouts were longer apart now.
This didn't mean I could relax though, it can all change very quickly in cross country and I still had the climb through the woods to go. I needed to keep on pushing on the flat sections before the climb because I knew I would lose places here.
I passed a couple of people but they soon passed me again on the climb, I just can't push too hard otherwise I get really bad stitches, so rather than have to stop completely, a slower pace seems like a good compromise.
Each time I heard someone coming up behind me, catch and pass me, I would have a quick glance at their vest. If it was Colin in his Pitreavie vest I would congratulate him because I was bust, but it didn't happen. Not yet anyway.
With the climb out of the way, all that was left was some undulation, some soft grass and the final 800 metres home. I went wide along the top to try and keep some grip, it seemed to work OK. Keeping a steady cadence and pulling in some of the runners who had passed me on the hill. Someone then shouted that there was only 800 metres to go and so I tried to pick up the pace.
Down the hill one last time and then along the long straight to the finish. You can see the flags the entire stretch and they never seem to get any closer!
It had been quiet behind me since the top of the hill, no heavy breathing and I thought I was alone, just chasing those in front of me but then out of nowhere a white vest caught me. It wasn't a Pitreavie vest but I still gave chase. Giving all I had left in my legs but it wasn't to be. I was slipping in the mud and my legs couldn't move any faster. It was a good finish.
I finished 93rd / 239 in 39:18, the course was pretty much 10 km according to my watch.
After the race I had a quick chat with Colin, he ran really well and finished just seconds behind me - I'm going to need to watch out for him at Broxburn! I will probably have a rethink about what shoes to wear at Broxburn, I think my Talon-X's will make an appearance if it's even a little bit muddy. If it's frozen ground then spikes will be the shoe of choice.
Sunday long run
Mandy was heading down to London on an early flight on Sunday morning so I thought I would head up to the Craiglockhart Sunday run. It's my first time back since Amsterdam and what a morning to choose! It was freezing!
I arrived early and just sat in the car looking at the dashboard temperature gauge tell me it's 3 degrees outside! I was glad I had packed my thicker gloves and a Buff for my head.
9am arrived and we headed off, I had decided already that I was only running the 12 mile route but within the first mile the heavens opened. Sleet and strong winds attacked our faces and legs (for those of us that decided shorts were a good idea!!).
Within seconds I was wet to the skin but luckily the sleet stopped within 5 minutes and it turned out to be a really nice run. The route is really well sheltered from the windy once you get off the canal.
The group split up at Balerno, one group heading up in to the Pentlands to run the 16 mile option while Stuart (Disco) and I took on the 12.
All I will say is, I guess I didn't run as hard as I had thought at Dundee. We averaged 6:53 min/mile pace, only 3 seconds a mile slower than my Amsterdam marathon pace!