Cross country training started late in the game this year as I was focusing on preparing for the National Trail Half Marathon until mid-October. The following week I switched over to shorter mileage, fast workouts and barely long runs. While I am in some of the greatest fitness of my running career, I wasn't able to fully showcase my potential in cross country this year given the short season we had.
The Bellingham Distance Project (BDP) débuted our new black and green jerseys at the Pacific Northwest Association Championship meet at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle on November 2nd. It's quite a shock to the body to go from racing for 2+ hours to just over 20 minutes. There is no time to lick your lips let alone have a life-changing experience. I was third overall on a hilly course. A solid performance for me and BDP placed second to Club Northwest. Full results here.
The second race of the season was the USATF Pacific Northwest Region Championship at Lincoln Park in West Seattle on November 23rd. Most people chose to wear racing flats on this course, fooled by the packed gravel along the perimeter of the course. The innards, however, were booby-trapped with slick as snot mud pits from the recent downpours. Spikes were advantageous and I was able to close the gap between me and 3rd place and open the gap between me and 5th place at all of these spots. I am most happy about my epic finish. Very rarely am I able to chase someone down in the finishing chute, but I dug deep to the line and beat a girl literally by a nose to keep my 4th place in 21:43. It wasn't pretty. Once again, BDP placed second to Club Northwest. Lauren Fleshman took the win and greeted all the finishers with good jobs as they came through the chute. She is as nice and down-to-earth in person as her online persona. Full results here.
Our last race together was at the Canadian National Cross Country Championship at Jericho Beach in Vancouver, B.C. This is always a fun race for me because it is longer than women's cross races in the U.S. (8Km versus 6Km) and it almost always promises a ridiculously muddy course. I was really looking forward to seeing my WVU coach, Sean Cleary and three of my Canadian ex-Mountaineer teammates (Jessica O'Connell, Sarah-Anne Brault and Stephanie Aldea) who have been rocking it post-collegiately on the international scene. The temperature was in the 20's with a numbing wind chill. We put in 5/8'' spikes to help claw through the mud and wood chips. The course was 4 x 2Km loops. The field went out screaming fast, flinging mud up in our faces. I started in the back and began to pick my way through the field. Every time I ran past Sean and he lovingly yelled out, "Dalzot!" I got a feeling of nostalgia and my spirits lifted. At the 1Km a frozen clump of snow/mud collected and stuck to my shoe causing me to limp awkwardly for a good 3 minutes until I could dissolve it in a puddle. By lap two I couldn't feel my upper body and kept checking to see if my hands were still attached. By lap 4 the cold filtered into my hamstrings and I felt like one of those fire ants that had smoke blown on them to put them in a dormant state. I crossed the line and sharp pain immediately seized my hands. Have you ever had frozen hands and then when they start to thaw it feels like a knife is splitting each finger open? Yeah, that's what was happening. I stood there like a helpless whimpering puppy until Tad could come and put two shirts and big mittens on me.
|'Flynn' dressed appropriately.|
I placed 26th which isn't bad in such a competitive field, but I know that I could have offered more had I dressed appropriately. The course ran long and my splits were pretty consistent, averaging 6 flat pace or 30 minutes for 5 miles. Lesson learned: wearing less doesn't make you tough on a day like that. It makes you stupid. And cold. Full results here.
With that, my 2014 racing season is over. The (only) downside of not getting injured this year is having the opportunity to race every month. I have been training and on the go from Moab's Red Hot 33k in February all the way until the Canadian Cross Country Championship yesterday. Admittedly, I'm tired.
I will be taking a break next week from all forms of training while attending the annual USATF conference in Anaheim, California as a Pacific Northwest athlete delegate. I am excited to be a small part of the movers and shakers of the running world and to share my thoughts and opinions on a sport that I care so deeply about.
And when I return, it's back to work. Because February will be here before you know it and I have big plans for 2015.