|The happy team before the race|
If I was a horse, I would not be a mudder; I hate getting dirty. Luckily, the course for the 2011 Cross Country National Championships in San Diego was entirely on grass.
The 2k loop, which was completed four times, was deceptively hard. The first kilometer was flat, with a single turn. The second kilometer was twisty, hilly, off camber and a ton of fun! The spikes definitely provided needed stability, especially on the steep downhills.
My regular race strategy is to start controlled and build my pace. I knew that I would not be able to adhere to this plan. I was advised to go out hard to establish my position. In fact, I received a lot of pre-race guidance from people.
My good friend Greg sent along the best comments. He said, “XC is great! Primal. Tactical. It's mano-a-mano. No triathlon penalties here. No whiners allowed. Everyone is on their own. The gloves are off. You're not there to be nice, you’re there to beat everyone you can. You're there to win.”
When the gun fired, I went out hard. Really hard. I found myself in third and by the one kilometer mark, I moved into second. I knew a woman in my age group was sitting on my shoulder. I had to shed her before the last lap. I did not want to sprint anyone down the homestretch; that is not a battle I can win. I accelerated on the hills and by the third lap, I finally dropped her. I finished first in my age group and second overall.
Colleen De Reuck was the overall winner, beating me by 90 seconds. At 46, she is still incredibly fast, and thankfully not in my age group. Her first, my second and Laura Breuss’s sixth put our team on the top step of the podium. The other two team members, Lydia Dissly and Mary Mosier, also put in strong performances.
The cross country format is exciting. The course layout is spectator friendly and the varying terrain make the kilometers pass by quickly.
After an easy warm down and a quick swim, I went back to the race site to watch the open men’s and women’s races. I follow track and field closely, so I am familiar with the top runners, and I felt like it was an opportunity to learn something by watching the best.
It was enlightening. I realized why I am not a world class runner.
- My ponytail is too short. All of the top women had ponytails flowing behind them like a mane. My ponytail is stubby and looks like a chia pet.
- I have the wrong attire. In order to place in the top 10, one must wear booty shorts and a jog bra with awesome abs on display. I wear regular running shorts and a longer top to cover my frighteningly white stomach that does not have a 6-pack.
- My run form is deplorable. Do you remember the scene from Miss Congeniality in which Michael Cain’s character tells Sandra Bullock’s character to glide while she walks? Well, Shalane Flannagan, the women’s winner, glided. Her run form is impeccable; she made the hard work look easy. In stark contrast, my arms flail, my feet turn out, I have a grimace on my face, and even when I run at full speed, it looks like I am doing the Kona shuffle.
- But, the primary reason I am not world class runner? I’m just not that fast.
|A little silly at dinner after the race.|