The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!
Snow had been predicted. Even though there wasn’t any snow on the ground on the Wirral, I still half expected to find snow in Manchester, however, there was none. Also, to my surprise, it was remarkably mild, you could see blue sky and it wasn’t too windy. Wonders will never cease.
|No rain and no snow!|
However, I was a bit worried because for some reason I wasn’t feeling completely well and in spite of taking some paracetamol, I still had a headache when we arrived at Wythenshawe in Manchester.
|An excellent Wirral team (sorry Maria is missing from the photo)|
We’d never run at this course in Kenworthy Woods before (well obviously I’d never run there, this being my first proper cross-country season ‘up north’) but neither had the others so it was new to all of us. As it turned out, it wasn’t a bad course in spite of the fact that it started and finished on a rather flat, boring playing field. The two larger loops, however, went into the woods, with a few ups and downs and a lot more mud. It probably suited faster runners more and certainly wasn’t as muddy and difficult to run on as the other courses had been.
The first, small, lap was a bit fast and furious, being around the playing fields and Anne stuck with me as we gradually made our way through the field of runners. It’s great to have somebody from your own club of a similar standard because we are competitive enough to test each other but you also feel that you have some support out on the course. I was, however, quite keen to beat her as she has beaten me on every other occasion when we have competed against each other.
|Anne and me completing the first lap|
I felt quite relaxed and comfortable as we went through the first lap but I didn’t want to risk going off any faster as I wasn’t sure that I was fit enough to sustain a faster pace. I could, to my surprise, still see our best athlete, Sarah, ahead of me. Normally she has disappeared off into the distance by the end of the first mile. I figured that either I was running particularly well, or she was running particularly badly (she had been suffering from a cold in the week).
As we got into the second lap and had the challenge of the ups and downs in the woods, I still felt pretty strong and knew that others may find these sections more challenging so I tried to take advantage of that fact and gain some ground. I thought that I’d lost Anne during this section but somehow she appeared by my side again towards the end of the second lap. We had made our way up the field and had a reasonably good position at that stage. I still felt surprisingly OK but I think it was as much the confidence of still being with Anne and also the fact that I could still see Sarah up ahead.
I still think that it’s a bit crazy how psychological running is. If Anne had been a bit ahead of me then I’m sure that I would have suddenly thought that I felt rather tired but still running alongside her and feeling relatively OK gave me that much more confidence. If I could fool my brain into thinking like that all the time then I might well be a better runner.
Going through the woods again for the second time, I really began to chase after Sarah who was now the next runner ahead of me and, as we went up the short inclines, she was clearly not having the best of races. She might as well have just stopped and waited for me as I managed to take about 30m from her on that section and overtook her on the last of the inclines. I also seemed to lose Anne on this section too but I didn’t dare look back to see where she might be. I just ran as hard as I could to the finish which was still about three quarters of a mile away.
At one point I thought that I might catch up with the girl ahead of me but she must have also put in a good last effort into the finish. With about 400m to go, and as we turned into the wind for the finishing straight, I just ran as fast as I could but I half expected at any moment that Anne and Sarah would come flying past me. I was determined that absolutely nobody was going to come past me as I put in a final burst to the finish.
|Sarah, Anne and me|
In the end we were 25th, 26th and 27th, not bad packing for a group of old age pensioners. Maria completed our team in 175th . We were 14th team and I was 2nd in my age category. The vets team (above) came 3rd. Yolla and Paula also ran well and it’s always fun to have them around.
There was, of course, cake at the finish. Caroline had once again made a most excellent banana and chocolate cake and, what’s more, it was still warm!
On reflection, I think I ran pretty well. I would still like to run faster but I really need to get some speed work in if I am going to do that. What I was pleased about was the fact that I still felt pretty strong and probably could have gone further at that pace. Also, the fact that I paced the race well. And, of course, I was pleased to have not only beaten Anne, but Sarah too. I’m not sure that that will happen again any time soon.
Thanks to Caroline who took most of the photos and supported us on the course. Apologies to Sarah for once again managing to insult you (not on purpose of course) and thanks to Anne for letting me beat you at last. I’m guessing that you will now be doing some secret training to ensure that you don’t have to suffer that shame again.