Trent Meadows December 2013 XC
Last winter the Trent Meadows BDL race was held on the first of December 2013 but I don't think having it in January changed the conditions much. It was bright and sunny, a little chilly but not near as cold as it should have been and just as bloody muddy. Today also marked a sort of anniversary because this was the first race I did wearing the IRC vest (FYI there are closer running clubs to me but this one was the nicest and bestest* in replying to my emails when I was looking for a club to join).
So what has changed between that first time and today? The course according to my garmin is slightly longer, we got to run by sheep and llamas (nice having something to distract you from the agony of running fast), and they added this steep little incline which required using your hands to get up and over it which we had to go over TWICE. We also fielded quite a large women's team--yay ladies!!!!! Another change was having appropriate footwear** for a cross country race, that made such a huge difference in my confidence about getting around and there was no almost falling over in front of another runner because I couldn't get a good foothold in the mud. The course was also much better marshalled this year in my opinion, no wrong turns today!
Despite having finished up a long run week (20 miler on Thursday) I was feeling remarkably strong and confident albeit not especially speedy at the start line. I think that might have had something to do with running 2 miles from my house to the car share meetup point with a heavy rucksack--all the pre-race nerves were already burnt off.***
With not having any speed expectations once the initial mad dash slowed I just settled in slightly behind one of the guys who usually finishes ahead of me and used him as a pacer (Thanks Alan!) even though he didn't realise I was doing so until after the race, lol. I also resisted the urge to glance at the garmin whenever it would beep at the mile points mostly because right now every time I look down too much on a run I end up with a nose full of liquid snot that is determined not to stay in my nose (yes, it's as gross as it sounds). It would probably be easier to just forgo the watch altogether but then you don't get the fun of comparing your Strava segments afterwards.
Pic courtesy of LERC
The aforementioned steep incline caused a huge bottleneck on the first lap so we all ended walking up it but on the second lap there were only 3 of us close together so I was able to scramble up it quite quickly, passing another woman in the process. It wasn't any less hellacious trying to get back into a rhythm after it though, a definite pace killer but that's part of all the fun of XC, eh? The finish this year also featured a very short but steep climb right before the chute and I got pipped to the line by one of our guys! I just couldn't muster up that last kick, great fun though!
Somehow I managed to finish up a minute and a half faster than last year despite the longer course (per my garmin connect stats) and I came in at 139th instead of my usual 180(ish) placement. Another bonus--I didn't end up near as muddy as I usually do after a xc event!
Trust me, that's clean compared to normal
*Yes, I know that is a made up word
**You can get around in a pair of trail shoes but something with more aggressive lugs on the bottom will keep you upright and get you past other runners when it's muddy
***Not the recommended warm-up
Bonus Ben picture with my clean again trainers
A running tip that I thought everyone was familiar with but after a recent facebook convo found out differently is to stuff your trainers with wadded up newspaper after a wet run. Not only does it dry them out quickly (you might have to change the newspaper a couple of times depending on how soaked the shoes are) but it also deodorises them! The trainers are usually dry enough to run in the next day with this method especially if you place them near a radiator or under the refrigerator kick plate.