Saturday 9 November dawned gray and rainy. It’ll be a wet cross country race, I thought. Luckily, it didn’t actually rain much during our race, but it was a nippy 46F (7-8C) with the characteristic damp London chill in the air. I decided to race in capris with a long sleeved base layer under my Heathside singlet and almost wore gloves.
Despite the less-than-inviting conditions, the second Met League cross country race at Stevenage was good fun. The course consisted of two nearly identical laps: around the undulating perimeter of a grassy open field, with a roughly 1km section through the woods, which had some nice mud holes by the time the women’s race went off.
The women’s field of runners seemed bigger than last month’s Claybury fixture. It seemed faster, too, as evidenced by our (Heathside’s) top runner finishing a mere 14th after coming in 5th in Claybury. To be fair, this course was also much less hilly — you really can’t compare cross country times on different courses, since each race has such different terrain.
My race was much more enjoyable this time around, in large part thanks to an old pair of cross country spikes that a fellow Heathsider generously gave me. It was really nice not to have to worry as much about slipping; I could be a lot more aggressive with the added security of spikes. I pushed pretty hard and was definitely feeling it by the last kilometer; even so, I had a good short kick and even passed a woman right before the finish.
Funnily enough, I finished in the exact same place as last month, both for the whole race (85th, but 165 rather than 152 at Claybury) and among the Heathside women (10th, of 20). I ran over two minutes faster this month: 27:17 for 6km (3.73mi), which makes for an average pace of 7:19/mi. A satisfying race and result; my physical and mental game came together well.
As always, it was fantastic to have the Heathside men “rabbling” (i.e., cheering us on) at key points around the course. Thanks, guys! I’m already looking forward to the next one…
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