On Saturday I woke up to the pouring rain and 4 hours until the scheduled start of the Met League Cross Country race at Alexandra Palace. More than enough time to think of every excuse in the book to skip it.
But I didn’t. I got out my shortest shorts (not short enough according to xc expert Goldilocks Runs) and my club vest and headed up to Ally Pally hoping to find a few other people willfully ignoring the weather to enjoy a Saturday afternoon out.
Once I arrived I grabbed my number, changed into my spikes, and did a few strides to keep warm/warm up. The youth races were before us so there were loads of kids running around the course making it look pretty easy (damn kid legs). At the start line I saw Becs and got in a quick hello before we were given the course briefing. 2 laps, 2 times up THE HILL, and good luck in the ankle deep mud. As the gun went off it was an all out sprint of a hundred or so ladies with their elbows up and mud flying off spikes everywhere. XC is not for the faint of heart. I quickly figured out this would be a slog, the mud was ankle deep and every step was an effort. The wind was strong and straight on and by 1km I was hurting. I’m not in the best shape at the moment after taking 3 weeks off to rest a sore leg, but I didn’t realize how much fitness I had lost (and how much you need to run xc). I quickly adopted a walk-up-the-huge-hill strategy which was slightly embarrassing as everyone else was running, but I just wanted to finish the race and knew I couldn’t summon the leg strength to get up it TWICE.
The support around the course was amazing with loads of other club runners and supporters out giving a, “Go Serpie!” when it was much needed. At the beginning of the race I made a quick goal decision that finishing in 30 minutes would be nice, and turns out I crossed the line at 32:00 just a few places from last. It was a huge effort and my legs were pure jelly immediately and I couldn’t help but feel relieved to be done. As I walked back to our club with a few girls we shared some well-dones between gulping to regain our breath and it all started to feel like a really good afternoon out.
I’ll be training a little bit harder for the next one (and bringing a plastic bag to put my muddy spikes & socks in) but count me in for the rest of the xc season.