Today I laced up my spikes for the first time in over 10 years and ran the USATF Niagara Open XC Championships. I was 2nd overall woman and very happy with my race.
I wore the same shoes I last raced in at Ohio State, spikes still intact, ready to go. Until this morning, I forgot that the shoes were 1/2 size too small. I really had to cram my toes to get the shoes on. I’m happy to report I didn’t get any blisters or black toes! Whew!
It was 29 degrees when my Currie alarm woke me this morning. Today was the first time we paid babysitters to watch Currie while Jeff and I both raced. I was feeling super guilty about it until the girls arrived and Currie was happily showing them around. Score! I felt much better when no tears were shed. Off to the race we went.
We arrived with an hour until my race was supposed to start. We went to the lodge to use the restroom and someone made an announcement that the race would start 30 minutes late. Within 5 minutes, another announcement was made: “the race may start on time or it may be 30 minutes late, so be ready for both.” Hmmm. It actually didn’t both me other than wanting to get back to Currie.
We did a warmup and used the real restroom (my friend convinced me to use the restroom instead of a squat in the woods!) By the time I got back, it was 5 minutes until race start, which was going to start ON TIME! I figured I wouldn’t be doing any strides. Whatever. I was going into this race with excitement and I didn’t care. Then, an official told us we had another 3 minutes so I got a few slippery, muddy strides and got to the line. My conclusion – I would DEFINITELY slip on this 6k course. It was going to happen. No doubt. (Spoiler: I didn’t fall, but 2 of my friends did.)
The race started, and I went out conservatively. Junior Olympic races were going on all morning on the same course and it was pretty sloppy by the time we got started. I was in the chase pack for the first 1k, then I moved up to the lead pack. By the 1 mile mark, I was in 3rd. I gradually heard people falling back and I knew I would most likely finish top 3, which happened to be how deep the prize money went. I settled in until approximately the 4k mark, somewhat content with my 3rd place status.
SOMEWHAT content. I started thinking, honestly, “what a loser attitude!” Content with 3rd? That’s just not me. Maybe that’s a me of the past, but not the current me, not the future me. I told myself I would catch up to 2nd place, (who was maybe 10 meters ahead) and pass her hard. Then push hard for another minute and see what happened. I had to make an effort. I had to get uncomfortable.
I passed her. I gradually increased my lead over 3rd place, but wasn’t sure I was definitely going to get 2nd until the last 800 meters. I finished maybe 10 seconds back from first place, and maybe the same in front of 3rd. These are just guesses since I haven’t seen results or times. I was told by the course setup team that the women’s course was long. And it was muddy, slippery, sloppy so I’m not too concerned with my time. I was happy to be back on an XC course, and proud to snap out of my “3rd place is ok” mode.
In the end, I won $150 for 2nd woman. I remembered how XC courses are really different from road racing. It’s like running on slippery pillows. You can never get in a rhythm as you are always sinking in the ground, slipping, jumping, climbing. I also remembered how much FUN it can be. I’m out of practice right now, but I can see myself doing many more XC races in the future!
How was your weekend of racing/running? Have you run XC? Like it? Hate it?