Saturday’s Grand Prix race took me way back to my former running days. Lining up in boxed lanes in a grassy field makes me feel like a high school cross country runner all over again. A few differences this time were having my kids right behind me and I didn’t have a coach yelling out splits.
I’ve only run one cross country race since college and it was over three years ago. It was a 5k cross country / trail race in Pennsylvania and I naively went into it thinking I could pace similarly to a road race. My overall race pace average ended up being the same pace as my overall marathon average from a couple months earlier in Boston- 6:58! Lesson learned!
Since I am marathon training and racing often I went in this XC 5k more as a hard effort workout. I didn’t taper much and I wasn’t expecting a PR. I warmed up almost 3 miles and by start time temps were already in the mid 70’s.
Cross country races tend to have a fast start as runners try to settle into a good placement. In my opinion the terrain makes it more difficult than road racing. Most of the time it has rolling hills, several turns, and you have to watch your footing. This course was no exception.
I ran behind another female for almost a half mile before I passed her. I tried to pick up my pace on the longer straight sections but I was pretty focused on not tripping. It would have been nice to break 19 but I knew by mile 1 that was probably not going to happen. My pace slowed down each mile. I’m glad it was just a 5k!
Splits: 6:02, 6:16, 6:28, 6:16 avg for last .13.
Official Time: 19:38 (1st female)
After I grabbed some water I headed back to find the kids. We had warned them that this would be tougher than the 5k road race they had run earlier. I told them all not to worry about their time and just have fun with running something different. None of them had run a cross country race before so they didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t want them to get discouraged if they realized they weren’t running as fast as they did in another race. They were doing well but I knew the course was tough on them.
When I first saw Anna, my youngest daughter and youngest child racing she was walking. When she saw me she started jogging again and I told her she was about a half mile from the finish. We jogged this last stretch together. This is always my favorite part of any race.
After I ran in with Anna I jogged a couple more miles with my teammate Natalie. After the open cross country race we ran there were high school and junior high cross country races. We ran and cheered along the way. Our ladies team actually won the open race- but it was very close!
This coming weekend is the Benton 20k. This will be the last Grand Prix race for a month so after that I’ll be taking a much needed racing break! I really like competing in the Ark Grand Prix series but the break will be nice! I might actually be able to get in some long runs for my marathon!