An overdue race report on last Saturday's XC race in Buckingham. This was the 3rd race in the Chiltern XC League. I missed the first. Me and 2 team mates reccied the 2.5 mile loop which we would be running twice. It was up and down but hardy ever flat! The snow was still on the ground in places with some slush but quite firm footing due to the exceptionally cold weather of late.
I was determined to give this one my all. However from the start my mindset quickly changed as a few runners passed me in the pack obviously putting in far greater effort than I was and i wasnt prepared to respond. However when your team mates go past you it's a different story and this gave me the kick up the backside I needed to start my race proper! Isn't it funny how the mindset can change so quickly based on just one external factor. I didn't feel any better physically but the competitive streak kicked in and I found another gear that wasn't there before.
At this point I was just hanging on to the back of my 2 team mates Tom and Joby, but importantly I wasn't losing ground. This continued for a bit whilst I adapted to the new faster pace (6:30 mpm).
As I said this was a very hilly course which I actually relish! Nothing worst than flat and boring. I used the down hills to my advantage lengthing my stride and going for it. I was able to past Tom and Joby on the down hills. Then on the flats they would pass me back. This ding dong battled continued for the rest of the race, with me pushing the pace on the downs and they on the flats.
On lap 2 two more LBAC team mates joined us - Pete and Tom M. Both were the faster of us five runners so quite what they were doing behind us at this point in the race was a mystery. But actually they were just pacing it well. There were now 5 LBAC runners all in line working well together to push the pace with Pete and Tom M up front and the three of us continuing our own battle.
The course was such that you rarely knew exactly where you were. There were so many switch backs and zig-zagging up hill after hill and down again that I never gave too much thought where I was on the course. It was just head down and run. The 5 of us were still together however Tom M had started to push the pace and opened a gap between him and Pete who was further in front of myself, Tom and Joby. At this point in the race I wasn't in a position to respond as I was already giving it my all. A gap can open up so quickly and if you do not respond immediately in a split second they have the advantage and you have to let it go. I always leave something for the finish though. I had dropped back to 5th behind Joby in 4th. But there were still a few down hills before the finish line where I could attack.
One of these short sharp hills is followed by a very sharp slippy right hander which you practically need to stop at to get around and then proceed straight up again. So with the pack together with other club runners also fighting for position but slowing down the hill to take the corner, I sped down the hill at full tilt taking about 4 places sliding around the corner and only just staying on my feet, but that I did. The up was tough but I held position which then flattened out slightly before a gradual descent and another ascent back up the other side. Pete was now in my sights and the finish line was less than 400m away. I gave it what I had and caught and passed Pete but this chap is a 2:54 marathon runner so I knew he would respond. He didn't immediately though so for a split second I thought I had him but then he came back at me and passed making me look like I was standing still. I chased Pete to the finish but he was too strong for what I had left in my legs.
Distance = 5.08m. time 33:12. Position 73 out of 184 Div 1 runners. 100th ish out of 300 runners overall. I was the fastest Santa though!! Donning my fab new seasonal head gear :-)
This was a great XC race and definitely my favourite to date. The way the 5 of us worked together was great racing and I definitely benefited from it on this day. Otherwise I fear I would have plodded along coming in several minutes slower.
Other club times were: Simon in 29:45 (non scorer as 2nd claim run) followed by Andy 2nd in 31:29 (1st LBAC scorer) and Mark in 32:18. Then the 5 of us who battled - Tom M - 33:07, Pete - 33:09, Me - 33:12, Tom - 33:18, Joby - 33:19. So it was all very close!
LBAC finished in 10th place (juniors/female/male) out of 14 in Div 1 and keeps us out of the drop zone! The club hasn't stayed up in the top flight for years so if we continue to perform and get our runners on the start line we stand a good chance!
Bring on Luton XC in January