Last Sunday I ran my first cross-country race of the season. My goal was to run the 4.14 miles course under 24 minutes and place top ten. I knew it would be a competitive race. My mileage this summer has been quite low and going into this race without a day off seem a little ambitious. I have been fighting a tight hamstring for awhile. The injury keeps coming back. On Sunday I did not know what to expect. Two years ago I dropped out of a race in this same course. I felt like I need to exorcise my demons in this course.
I was feeling quite relax before the start. My warm up consisted of running the two miles loop once and doing a few strides and drills. The women's race was the first race of day starting at 8:45AM followed by the Masters at 9:30AM and the Open at 10:30AM.
The race started exactly at 9:30AM. In a cross-country race the runners always go out hard. I was trying to manage a comfortable pace without blowing up my hamstring in the first loop. I stayed calm and tried to find a runner ahead to use as my pace maker. After 400 meters things started to sort out and I see myself sitting behind a group of fifteen runners. And as the pace increased I was able to pass a few runners and the main pack was reduced to ten runners. I'd finish the first loop in ninth place.
On the second loop the pace became a little faster but I was able to hang in the back of the group and nobody passed me. I don't need to say that I hate this course. All the races that I have done in this course went really bad. So for my surprise I was not having a very bad day. The main pack started to stretch a little. I was happy to keep my position in the back and just follow the two runners ahead. The only time I showed some weakness was going up the last incline where I was almost dropped from the back of pack. After this short incline there is a short downhill and a couple hundred meters of grass to the finish line. I was passed by a runner right on the downhill to the finish line. I was not expecting anybody coming from behind. My reaction time was slow. I tried to sprint but it was too late. I crossed the finish line in 23:39, good for tenth place.