The last Cross Country of the year and how fitting that it was over a snow covered park.
I had wondered if it would be cancelled like the Parkrun had been yesterday, but apart from one year when the storms had ripped down so many trees that the paths in the woods were cut off, I was assured that this has never happened. Plus this run was being held in our manor, or close enough and we were hosting. Many of the Pensby team were out early, marking the route and getting ready to marshal. I, as a runner, had the easier job really, even if it did feel tough. It wasn’t a deep layer of snow, but ironically, it was like running on sand sometimes, and I was almost a minute per mile slower today than when we ran in Arrowe Park for the Multi-Terrain back in September.
There is a part of me that wonders if I will ever really build up any speed. I know that, incrementally, I’m getting stronger and gradually getting faster. That two month stint training for my 10K certainly helped some. The progress is slow and my breathing here never felt comfortable. I am not a natural gazelle.
However, I don’t regret waking up early on a Sunday morning to come here. There were blue skies and white fields and club tents of many colours. That is definitely one of the aspects of club races that I love. There is a wonderful camaraderie of everybody being in this together, running for the team. Even if it means bringing up the rear which I didn’t quite manage to do this time. I think that was because John was busy tying his shoelaces several times and taking photographs en route.
The field was depleted somewhat to normal Cross Country crowds but the people that managed to get here looked like they had a good time. Even one of my big sisters came down to run with a Warrington team on her very first Cross Country race. She’s much faster than me on these kinds of distances but doesn’t venture much over 6 miles, so I do beat her on stamina, although I’m not competitive. We still had quite a few hardy vests and shorts people despite the nippy temperatures and there were also a few bobble hats. We had an actual gun start which was exciting, and made many people storm pass me in these first few metres. It was one lap of the field and then we were around the course for two long laps. Some of it was on undulating snow-covered grass and some of it was on very sloppy, muddy wood trails.
I only got lapped by one amazing runner, just as I was nearly turning for my second loop and he was storming for an amazing finish, so that wasn’t too bad. It was hard, but the encouragement from the marshals and Mark, our track coach, who was taking a bunch of school kids for a training run in the snow was lovely. I didn’t see my sis until after the end, as she finished well ahead of me but she really had enjoyed it and it was good to know that we’d put on a good meet for the other clubs.
This race maintains my mileage of over 20 miles a week for the last couple of weeks. I’m trying to keep the 20 as a minimum and I will start increasing it. However it looks like some of those miles this week will be run on the dreaded treadmill if the snow doesn’t clear.