Saturday, 3 September 2016

Status Report: we smashed it!

My beautiful teamies
First race yesterday, 6pm start, 4km 'Cross Country', about 40-50 runners, one clear winning team. Coach had told us that we would probably run away with it, and we definitely did.

From left-right: Gabby, Maddie, Xaviera, me, Greta, Kalie, Olivia, Kaitlin, Ivana and Liz. Me,  Greta, Kalie, Olivia and  Maddie were our counters, in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th respectively. So I won! Which came as a bit of a surprise to everyone, I think. I'd expected to probably be our 3rd counter.  And we absolutely obliterated the other teams; although it's only early season, it's a good forecast that we're all running well. That said, given that most of the teams we were against are part of our Conference (our group, of which we have to finish top two at the champs to go to nationals) I do worry that I've just painted a huge target on my back.

This XC thing over here just doesn't seem to be the same as at home. The nearest thing I could compare the course to would be the NW Road Relays at Edge Hill last year- gravel, grass, some small undulations- a terrible road race and a fast XC course. And most people run in spikes, which is bizarre. I ran 14.40-something- on for about 18-18.20 for a 5k, so not very fast for a road race, but faster than XC would be at home. And they take the times seriously here. Most of the races at home it's probably not worth timing for all the mud and hill and everything else, but Coach was giving us times to hit for each mile and half mile and whatnot pre-race! I was quite surprised, but they seem to pay serious attention to pace and time, probably because (if this one is an accurate representation of the XC scene broadly) you can run pretty quickly.
Some of the parents had come to watch, so we had all sorts of supporters on the course; we did 2x 2k loops, and it felt like you couldn't go more than a few hundred metres without someone screaming support at you. And they don't half shout some funny things- the best being something like "you go girl! You look strong, you are fierce!" I??? Am I really? Coach said I did a 5.30-something first mile, which is pretty fierce.

It's great to know that we're all running well at the start of the season, and we've now got weeks of hard training ahead of us before some serious races- although it's great to be winning stuff, this was only a very low-key event. Think like the Merseyside Schools XC League. I was slightly miffed that the top 10 all got medals, all of which said 'Top 10 Finisher', not 'Glorious Champion' or something similar.

Our lad's team also did very well, especially considering that one of their best runners is currently injured, so to finish 3rd team when not on full strength is good going. Post-race we were all soaked and tired (it rained! Rain! Proper XC weather!) and we went to eat in a magnificent place called Sweet Tomatoes: all you can eat salad, soup and baked goods for $11. God bless America. Today is our day off (hurray), next race two weeks today!

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