The XC season has now concluded for me, as has my training in 2014. Only recovery and easy runs from now until Boston training starts in a few weeks. On no better a note could I have ended, what has been my favorite and best year of running yet. XC Club Nationals might have been the most competitive XC race in the US this year and certainly had the best party and atmosphere! Only Christmas could dull the sadness of this weekend being over, I now understand the scheduling of it in mid December. It would be impossible to accurately sum it up in words so I’m just going to touch on some highlights as I think of them.
The recap has to start with this, because the entire trip is owed to my awesome teammates for planning, logistics and support. I set my season up with this race as my peak, back in August, but I had only planned on racing it individually at that point and never dreamed I’d be going down with a new team! Sisu has already been responsible for some big improvements in my running and I feel like that potential to get better has barely been tapped yet. We certainly had people talking at the race and afterwards, with our enthusiasm and matching attire/mustaches game on a high level. No longer just a New England club, we are officially making our national presence known, not at the front of the race pack yet, but definitely at the front of the fun! So incredibly proud of our entire team at nationals, we bravely faced the best in the country at the biggest XC Club Nats in history and had a blast doing it. Next year should be a fun time out in San Francisco!
I’m not sure if the intimidation level of an event with a deeper field than NCAA D1 Nationals, or a bigger field than XC Nationals should be higher or lower when you’ve never run in college or even high school. I do know that, having run in a the five XC races of our New England Championship as my only cross country experience to date, this was incredibly intimidating for me, but equally exciting. After doing a few miles as warmup with the guys, while cheering on the girls team, I went through some dynamic drills and jogged over to our starting box for bib/uniform check. As if the intensity of the race hadn’t hit me already, none other than Matt Tegankamp should walk up to have the official check the numbers for Bowerman Track Club next. We were casually placed in a box just down from Asics Aggies, Bowerman and Zap Fitness, among others. Not to be too intimidated by it all, Matt led us in our standard pre-race huddle though; “What is our middle name? PASSION! What are we gonna do? GO FOR IT! Who is gonna stop us? NO ONE! YAHHHHHH!” Then we got in some final stride outs to add to the affect.
I often have a tendency to start way too hard, but that wasn’t even a worry here, when keeping up with the leaders would mean starting off at 4:40/mile pace. Instead I started out within a few seconds of goal pace and kept it there for the first two miles. I slowed down much more than I expected going up the hill in mile three that amounts to close to 700 meters, but cranked it back down in four and five. The hill got me bad again on the second loop in mile six, but I surged hard over the last 1.4k, passing a slew of other guys and even had some left for a flat-out kick at the end. I was fairly pleased with my race afterwards even though I was 20 seconds or so off my goal, the course had some muddy parts and the decent hill, but the smooth flats and even downhills definitely made up for it. The Paul Short Course at Lehigh might actually be my favorite XC course yet. I feel like with some more work I could really do well on it, it could also be the fact that it was a 10k and not an 8k; here’s to longer races! My official time was 34:19 and I finished in 376th place, considering the level of my competition, I’m absolutely thrilled with it. In few sports can a guy who took it up at 24 be in the same race as a cadre of professionals and sub-elites. It truly was an honor to be there and be racing against such great runners. But before I get too effusive in my thanks to the sport of running, I will say that I fully intend on beating a lot more of those guys in this race next year. Here are some great shots of our women’s and men’s teams off of the Sisu FB:
I’d love to explain the rest of the amazing things that happened and fun times experienced this weekend, but I’m honestly not sure how to. Here are some high points though. Pre-race dinner and pretty much every other meal this weekend. Meeting so many great runners. Getting to know my amazing team better. Mustache compliments from the winning team. PAINFUL DAY AFTER, 12 miles of the hardest ‘easy’ running I’ve ever done, ugh… And last but the opposite of least, THAT AFTER PARTY THOUGH!
What a season, what a sport, what a team. Loved it all! SISU UP!
Catch the XC Nationals Recap Video here- Awesome work by Caitlyn!
NEXT UPDATE: Year end recap. Another best year yet, by a long shot!