The club I run for, Ranelagh Harriers, competes in the Surrey League Cross Country series and the new season began on Saturday in Lloyd Park, Croydon. For 2010/11 our club is in division II, having been demoted last season. I ran in two of the four races last year and would love to run all four this year.
The weather was lovely and there was no need for cross country ‘spike’ shoes because of recent dry weather. It’s a 5.3 mile circuit consisting of two laps, and if you asked me to describe the route it would be along the lines of ‘running around some large hilly type fields and moving from one to another through holes in the trees between them.’ It was a strange course.
Just over 160 men started the race (the women raced earlier in the day in Richmond Park) and my plan was to run pretty hard, but not absolutely kill myself! My heart rate quickly rose up to the low 170’s and I thought it would settle down at some point but it was really just telling me that I was working hard! For the 5.3 miles it averaged at 175 and maxed at 182.
I need to work a little more on pacing these races, but with cross country it’s really tough. On a flat-ish road race you know what kind of pace you want to do and can stay fairly steady with it. With cross country the ups and downs mean running to a pace is impossible and have you have to go more by feel.
After settling into position there wasn’t a great deal of moving up or down the field. I overtook a few people - and a few people overtook me. The second lap felt much much tougher than the first - as my lap splits show - 16:50 for the first lap, and 17:37 for the second. Interestingly in the first race of last years XC season I was 45 seconds slower on the second lap.
Overall my time was 34:59 and I finished 74th out of 161 finishers. My average pace was 6:34 minute miling. Not bad for a bumpy course. Ranelagh had an excellent team of runners taking part and we had three out of the top five finishers (with Phil K. winning the race).
It was lovely to race as a Ranelagh ‘team’ again and I look forward to more of the same throughout the winter months…