Another evening where I was substituted in. This was on account of our daughter being sick and child minder on a day off. Yes, I could have stayed with daughter, but she only wanted her mommy so in aid of continuity for the series T-shirt off I went.
Having done a fair bit of running on Sunday as well as a decent bike spin I was surprised at how fresh my legs felt even though I had been cycling in and out of the shop, especially this evening into a good headwind home.
I had a quick recce of the course online before leaving the shop so at least I knew where I was going. Parking in the car park, lacing up the shoes and getting organised for the start had me looking around admiring the way the course had been organised and set up. Bumped into Paul again, becoming a regular habit and we headed over to the coral starting area. Again lots of familiar faces and club mates knocking around, warming up and stretching.
We stepped over the rope into the starting gate, it must have looked like the starting area of the Grand National with everyone hemmed in by a 5mm nylon rope! There was a proper starting pistol and BANG!! away we leaped.
Starting on a playing field meant this was my first experience of Cross Country! Through the gap in the corner of the field and out to the open space across the car park and through the residences. The wind seemed to be everywhere, whipping around and gusting into our faces all the time. I settled quickly into a good pace. I knew I was going faster, earlier than normal, but I felt good.
Around by the Kingfisher Gym under the bridge and then we looped back along the river on a gravel, dirt type path. The km markers were clear and I knew at the 2.5km marker that I was doing really good. My stride felt good and strong so I pushed on a bit. Again the wind seemed to whip off the water into our faces but I made sure to draft off anyone who was in front of me.
At the 4k marker I dug in and stretched my legs and ran for the finish. I felt a new PB was possible and hoped to hit 22 minutes. The last stretch of the race was marked down 500 / 400 / 250m on the path so I really knew what was left, or so I thought!
No matter how far I looked I could not see the finish line so I really trusted the markings. I saw a big group of spectators ahead and thought “Great, there we are!”. Just before the final 100m the spectators parted and exposed a sudden steep bank up the side of the playing fields.
All around me a chorus of “Oh!! FFS!!” broke out (if you need to know what FFS!! means, just ask). I suck my head down and pumped my arms and legs up the bank and burst off the top into a sprint for the line. (Thanks, Joanne from GTC for roaring support at me!)
Across the mats and my faithful Garmin 305 showed me a new PB of 21.33!! (Later adjusted to 21.35 by redtagtiming)