Sunday was the second PECO cross country race in the 2013-14 season and was held at Golden Acre Park. I’ve been to the park once before (a relay race this summer), so I knew to expect some hilly bits and some lovely trails. I wasn’t disappointed.
My outfit for the race was my best yet I reckon. A nice clash of various neon bits, plus my pretty new arm warmers and the headband I knitted (yes, really). Pretty sure I got laughed at a lot, but I also got some compliments. And I felt happy in my bright colours, which is all that matters. I’m also making it my mission in running to smile and look slightly unhinged in every photo. Cue hand gestures.
Once again there was a massive turnout, with nearly 600 senior runners lining up to tackle the 5-mile-ish course. Starting at the back means I get to see everyone meandering through the first few corners, and it’s a wonderful sight.
I’m not really “racing” these events – I just want to push on a bit and see how I can cope with it all. So after a steady start chatting with some fellow Harriers I got my head down and settled in to a steady run. In between cheering my club-mates as the course snaked back on itself, posing for the cameras and throwing various bits of attire at our cheer squad (it soon got a bit warm for gloves and headband) I tried to be mindful of my breath and my body. I thought about my feet and my hips and about the air filling me with energy.
The course was three laps, but it didn’t feel like you were going round and round. Knowing the nasty little hills were coming up was actually good – it gave me a reason to push on a bit before I got to them so that I wouldn’t lose too much time. I had to laugh at the lady I passed near the end who was angry that there were hills – apparently she read “on the internet” that it was flat! I don’t think a cross country race has ever been flat, so I’m not sure where she got that from or why she believed it!
The finish was also uphill, and I was so done-in by that point I just kept going forwards and hoped for the best. I finished in around 52 minutes, which I am pleased with. My pace was fairly steady throughout and I gave it all I had. A fun morning with a lot of great people.
With thanks to Malcolm, Ian Watson and Woodentops for photos.