4 months, 17 days, 17 hours, 4 mins, 20 seconds until the London Marathon.
St Andrews Cross Country embarked on their final ‘away’ race of the semester in this blogpost (one hears tell of a Christmas Parlauf on our track sometime soon). Away today was Glasgow, and a return to sweet, sweet blessed tarmac.
My pre-race evening preparation for this five mile race, done in two laps, was what I would describe as ‘experimental’. However it turns out bopping all night, chips and cheese from Empire and not getting to sleep till half three is exactly the way to go.
Neil’s heroics from Braids this time round, due to injury, were not repeated and he was relegated to driving the minibus, which was cracking out some massive tunes which must make an appearance at Friday conditioning circuits soon (I jest). The further away from St Andrews we got the more foreboding the weather became- turning from Neil borrowing Ed’s sunglasses, to pretty persistent rain.
So just before race start the sky was grey, the rain on and off, and the ground pretty puddly. This led to a variety of clothing choices, some in long tights and baselayers, right down to people like myself, solely in shorts and vest. Because of course, real men do it in a vest.
One of the big things about the race for me was that I’d forgotten my stopwatch-wristwatch, so I had no way of even vaguely timing my race. This I think was the first race, or even distance run for ages that I hadn’t timed. This was a little bit worrying, but also liberating- I just had to run as hard as I could.
As the race got underway I went off reasonably strongly and comfortably. The start of the race was good, I got a bit crowded at the start, but this meant that I had the morale boosting experience of running through a lot of the field in the first stretch to get to a ‘natural position’. The first lap is always a great time to gauge the course and work out where and when you will push in the second half. The course had two steep-ish ills, and some very long gentle slopes. As Roger said, “the trick is not how you go up the hill, its how you come off it”. During the race it bucketed it down at various points, which was a bit challenging.
Personally after the pack had spread out and the ‘weaving’ period was over, I could see Sarthaak and Alastair ahead of me, so they became my targets for the race. They were quite a way ahead to begin with, so didn’t notice them swap positions. I was running quite well so I was quite a bit closer to Sarthaak by the beginning of the second lap- I was switching mindset from trying to finish as close as possible to Sarthaak (who had easily beaten me at the cross country 10K) to trying to beat him.
The second lap was pretty fun, despite a little ankle niggle at the start which died down after a bit. I seemed to constantly be pulling closer, and then dropping back. Sarthaak would draw away from me up the hills, and then I’d pull in a little bit on the straights. On the second lap the rain stopped and the sun came out for a bit- as we climbed the final hill, a rainbow appeared just at the crest, which Sarthaak pointed out to the marshals facing away from it, directing us to the left and on the final, probably .6 of a mile (ish) stretch, sloping down to the finish. Coming off the hill I ran strongly and overtaking Sarthaak. I managed to continue running strongly, going with the strong pace of a Garscube Harriers runner (I found out this was 111, Daniel Burns from the results) and blitzing the final stretch. I actually realised I’d been running next to him for most of the race , but hadn’t realised as I was looking forward so much! We exchanged a tired congratulatory handshake at the end of the race.
I rounded the final corner and picked up the pace right to the line. As I hadn’t timed myself I had no idea what my time was except I assumed it was good – Roger, Jake and Alastair who had finished before me assumed I had finished in something like 32:30, below my target of finishing around 33:00, and if true being bang on 6:30 miles. Turns out from finding the full results today that this was pretty spot on – I ran 32:26. This was also my 5 mile PB – it was my first 5 mile race, but a PB I’m pretty pleased with! After two previous slightly dispiriting cross country races I felt pretty much back on form. Topping this off with some grub including some cracking peanut butter brownies courtesy of Glasgow Hare and Hounds, and Arsenal winning 4-0 on the way home, it was a pretty good day out.
So- as always, don’t forget to sponsor me here.
Cheers for reading,