Monday, December 16, 2013

Club Cross Country Championships

The GBRC headed south for the National Club Cross Country Championships that were being held at the River’s Edge Golf Course in Bend, Oregon. After checking the weather on the pass over  Mount Hood, we packed up our Prius C and were Bend-bound by late Thursday morning.

Driving conditions were less than ideal, as the rain pounded relentlessly from Tacoma through Portland. We white-knuckled it most of the way there, and by we, I mean Tad. Heavy rain then converted to snow over the pass. Luckily, our Prius came through and got us there safely by dinner time.

Getting the course race-ready.
The next morning, after a bagel and coffee, we headed to the course to take a good look at this infamous course that race director Max King had laid out for us. Race volunteers were working tirelessly to remove the fallen snow from the previous week’s episode of bad weather. The course started with an uphill climb and then turned sharply to the right to begin a circle of twists, turns, fast down hills, hay bale jumps and long climbs with short, steep sections. I felt very comfortable with the terrain as most of my training leading up to the race was comparable. The challenge excited me and I knew that the conditions were going to slow the times significantly, which played in my favor.

A noon start on Saturday morning allowed for some leisure time which included team bonding, fingernail painting and (a lot of) coffee drinking. When we got to the course the Master’s 10km was in full stride, which prevented us from warming up on the course so we headed to the roads which, fortunately, had cleared sidewalks. For many, this event was a reunion of friends who had run, raced or trained together in the past. All around people were shouting out hellos and offering hugs and high-fives to wish their competitors luck. The positive vibe was truly uplifting and helped to calm my pre-race nerves.
The GBRC taking it out.
"Out of my way!"
Due to the challenges the 3 loop course presented, the plan was to go out fairly conservative for the first lap and then start picking people off. In hindsight, I ended up going out a little too conservative as I was boxed in for what felt to be the entire first loop. I was getting increasingly frustrated when approaching the down hills as most everybody turned on their brakes out of fear of falling. Any experienced trail runner would laugh at the reaction of some of the women. At one point a girl yelled out-while racing- “Now, Ladies, just calm down!”

Regardless, I steadily made my way through the masses, found my fellow teammates and ran strong to the finish as the third scorer for my team. The GBRC placed 15th overall out of an extremely competitive field. I feel that this performance was par with my previous cross races this season. Nothing spectacular, just solid.  I know that if I have a year where I can train injury-free, there will be a shift in my fitness and my performances will reflect what I am capable of.

I am very proud of all my teammates and proud to be on a team with such exceptional women. Now that the cross country season is over we are all back to our respective niche – marathon training, mileage, trail running. It is time to sit down and prepare my 2014 racing schedule, which I am very excited about. I am so blessed to have many opportunities to express my love for running and I know that if I can stay healthy, the sky is the limit on what is in store.

Tad and me ready for some post-race sushi.

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