Saturday’s Met League cross country race at Horsenden Hill was the toughest yet. Though the hills weren’t as steep as at Ally Pally, the mud was thicker and deeper and the terrain was more uneven: there were lots of little bumps and divots, which were tough on the feet and ankles. I was grateful for my strong legs and good balance on the slick and uneven course.
Luckily, the crisp, sunny conditions made the sopping terrain a bit more bearable. Everyone was caked in mud up to and past their knees at the end — some all the way up to the face, thanks to a crowded start and narrow trails. I rinsed my spikes, socks, and capris in multiple buckets of water before hanging them up to dry.
The race itself went well for me. I tried to go out a little faster than usual and was able to consistently pick people off throughout the race. The last third of the final hill was really tough, as I slogged through deep mud that threatened to suck off my spikes at every step and wondered where exactly the finish was. I almost caught CB at the end but she held me off by just two seconds! If the race had been 100 meters longer, I may have caught her…but she ran a great race, despite claiming to have gone out too fast — clearly it worked in her favor.
The rabbling from the men was great, as usual — someone kept yelling to me, “You’re not even trying!” That made me laugh and helped me dig in and keep pushing.
There was a great Heathside women’s turnout, with 24 of us and many strong performances. As usual, I finished about in the middle of the Heathsiders (13th/24, same as at Ally Pally) and of the race as a whole — actually it was my best overall finish in cross country so far this season: I was 75th/152 women finishing. Times don’t mean much in cross country, especially with the course conditions, but I finished the 6km (3.73mi) race in 28:53 (7:45/mile).
Next up, I have four races in the next four weeks (crazy? Possibly): Fred Hughes (10mi), Southern XC Champs (8km), Watford Half Marathon (13.1mi), Met League cross country #5 (6km).