The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!
I’m going to change my name to Sarah, if you are called Sarah then you are going to get people cheering you on all the way round any cross country course. There was even a mini fan club for Sarah on one particular corner of the course today. All that was missing was the pompoms. It reminded me of the Monty Python sketch set in a university in Australia where all the professors are called Bruce (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyVX3uJpqxc). It really would be an awful lot more simple if all the runners agreed to be called Sarah (just for the race) and this would make it an awful lot easier for the spectators.
We did actually have our own support team in the form of Sarah’s daughter who seemed to pop up all over the course, I think that she ran round faster than we did. Mind you, she had no trouble shouting for her mum, having the name Sarah obviously made it easier!
|The start of the men’s race at Woodbank Park|
It was a trifle muddy out there today but nothing compared with the Northern Champs two weeks ago. There were some seriously muddy bits but there were also some quite runnable bits. However, it was truly scary running down the steep hill. The first time, I was totally out of control and was convinced that I would fall over before I got to the bottom. The second time, I was so worried about going down the hill that I started thinking of scenarios where I would have to go to hospital because I’d fallen over and broken something and then started to worry about how I would get home, or worse, how I would get all the mud of my legs while stuck in a hospital bed!! Seriously, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a cross country runner. I went down the hill very cautiously and I’m surprised that nobody overtook me – perhaps the others were just as scared as I was.
The course consisted of two small laps at the top of the course and then two long laps which went down the aforementioned steep hill, round some fields and back up a different steep hill.
I never start off all that fast and I was slightly frustrated getting stuck behind one of two people going through the woods on the first lap but after that the field spread out and we pretty soon found our positions. The mud was pretty bad in places but at least it didn’t suck your shoes off or hold your feet down like glue. Perhaps if I hadn’t run at Knowsley Park the other week then I’d have thought it was awful but in fact I didn’t think it was so bad.
I lost some ground going down the hill the first time and I could hear the footsteps of those behind me hurtling down the hill while the girl ahead got further away. That left a bunch of us at the bottom and a massive puddle ahead. I decided to just go straight through it – no fear. However, it was somewhat deeper than expected and I had muddy water splashing up my thighs and nearly fell on my face into the puddle. Having survived the downhill, was I going to drown in a muddy puddle with spike marks in my back from the athletes behind me running over me? Luckily, I just about managed to keep my footing.
I felt that I was quite strong on the hill and pulled away from the girls who had caught me earlier and even the second time round I managed to gain some ground on the girl ahead. There were some girls at the top of the hill cheering us on by saying “no more hills” which was actually pretty appropriate and reassuring! I was gaining ground on the Sale athlete ahead and managed to overtake her before the finishing straight but she managed to out-sprint me to finish ahead, which was a tad disappointing after the effort I’d put in to catch her. When I turned round after the finish, I was delighted to see Bree only a few places behind me and the fact that I didn’t see Sarah after the first lap suggested that she had run well too.
What was more satisfying than my own performance (I was quite content with 29th) was the team performance. Unfortunately Anne was sick otherwise we’d have been truly awesome today but the Vets team was amazing (Sarah 11th, me 29th and Bree 33rd) and we were the 1st Vets team!
It’s so great to be part of this team of runners both the fast and the not so fast, everybody puts in the best that they can and everybody supports and encourages one another. It’s a privilege to be part of the team. For the record, the team were 13th today, our 4th scorer being Maria in 153rd.
No race would be complete without the cake at the end, Energy Bites from Sarah, my Carrot Cake and Paula’s Chocolate Orange Cake Bites. We even got a cup of tea too. Luckily Natalie didn’t actually step in the cake but displays the foot of an athlete who has run on a pretty tough and muddy cross country course. Mud and cake, that’s what cross country is all about.
So that’s the end of the Manchester Area Cross Country League for this year, I’ve enjoyed running in it and it looks like I have finished 2nd W45 in the league. Maybe if I actually do some training then I might be able to improve on that next year. I’m also really excited about the team because we have such a great group now turning out regularly for this league.
For those more interested in cake than running, I’ve included the recipe for the carrot cake below. In fact, it is meant to be Carrot and Pecan Squares but of course I didn’t actually have any pecans as I never have all the ingredients for any cake I bake. Actually I didn’t have any mixed spice either so I had to adapt there too. The recipe is based on Rachel Allen’s recipe in her book “Bake”.
175g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
100g dried mixed fruit
150ml sunflower oil
150g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g grated carrot
Use a 20 x 20 cm cake tin
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
2. Put the flour, salt, baking powder and spices into a bowl. Add the dried mixed fruit and mix well.
3. Whisk the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in another bowl. Add the carrots and mix.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together then poor into the prepared tin and put in the oven for about 30 min until springy on the top and so that a skewer comes out clean.
5. Cool in the tin then tip out onto a wire rack.
You can, of course, put icing on the top using cream cheese icing but it’s good without too.