Daffodils are starting to poke through the grass and it is almost still daylight at 5pm, that can only mean one thing… the end of cross country season.
The weather seems to be throwing one last winter ice bomb at us so last Saturday’s race at Alexandra Palace had all the hallmarks of English cross country. It rained all morning and then had a freezing wind all afternoon, softening up the course and creating lots of standing water puddles to slosh through.
We peeled off a few layers in the glamorous pub bathroom, then headed down to the course to reluctantly shed the last few. A bit of confusion with the ladies start, we were ushered about 200m back, softening up the muddy course that much more.
Anyone who has run any of the cross country races at Alexandra Palace knows That Hill. That Hill that you go up (and down, I’m not sure what is easier). Alexandra Palace Met League was my first cross country race 3 years ago. That year I had to walk up part of the hill both times. Last year I made it up the first time but had to walk the second time. This year come hell or high mud I was going to make it up. The course has changed slightly using the Middlesex Master’s course which helpfully* breaks The Hill up into 3 steep sections.
(*not helpful at all, just prolongs the effort)
I was probably running slower than walking speed but slow and steady I made it up that hill on both laps and didn’t fall on any of the hairpin downhill turns. Running the race as a part of a steady 13 mile run that day I didn’t quite make the Serpentine Senior Ladies B scoring team, but did win the mud height trophy with a few drops over both gold bars!
I ran 5 cross country races in the 2015-16 season and my spring marathon legs are thanking me. Even with a shorter training schedule than usual due to some niggles, My legs feel strong. I think spending Saturday afternoons running 3-5 miles through the mud and up hills is better than any strength workout and my quads can’t wait to show off on their glory lap in Rome.