Since taking up running in my second year of Uni, BUCS xc has been my favourite event hands down and this weekend’s race wasn’t a let down!
Luckily, this year’s event was hosted by Sheffield University and took place at Graves Park…only a few miles from home! This meant that my Grandparents, Uncle, parents and brother could all come and watch. The sun was in full shine and there was barely a breeze, making the conditions perfect!
Arriving in good time meant that we were able to walk the course before the men’s long race started. At this point we found that the uni had kindly installed a hay bale jump into the course! There were mixed opinions about this as a few members of our team have rather little legs! Hehe.
When it came to the gun, the start line (above) was pretty crowded ,as expected, and it was a very busy first lap of the course. I started well.. managing to fall flat on my face on one of the first hairpin bends. Luck was on my side and I experienced no spikes in my legs! I jumped up with mud-caked hands and carried on the descent to the woodland section. After the first lap (and a few slopes upwards) the group of 621 women spread out a little and I was able to pick off quite a few more people… especially during the long uphills, which are my favourite.
The middle lap of the women’s race included an extra loop up through some steep woodland. With my new favourite Disney song playing in the background (Moana-How Far I’ll Go) and my family stood right at the top of the hill, I found some fuel and powered my way to the top. Knowing there was only one lap left to go, I felt determined to finish the race well. Unfortunately, the stitch hit me on the downhill and I lost all confidence in my head. Nearly deciding to stop, as the pain was unbearable, I came to an almost stop with half a lap to go. I decided I would never forgive myself if I stopped racing and that the pain would go when I started uphill to the finish. My breathing improved and I ended with a good sprint finish.
Coming 83rd overall and 10th team was a good achievement! I was a little disappointed to begin with, with my placing and the fact that my stitch slowed me down… but it has motivated me to practise my downhill breathing and to not relax so much on the downhills that I don’t breathe enough!!
As I described in my last post, Northern XC Champs, I used my normal tactic of starting off slowly and steadily building into the race. It did work well for me, but I believe that some change could result in a better outcome. With two races left in the xc season, the last of the WYWL and the National xc Champs, I think I would feel a little regret if I played them both safe with my usual tactics. Instead, I will go with the pack and hopefully have a strong enough head to stick with it.
After all, you don’t know until you try!