On Saturday, November 14th, I participated in the USATF San Diego XC Championships. This lovely race was the conclusion to the Dirt Dog series, I’ve previously mentioned. It had been a while since I had participated in anything that was cross country-esque and the whole season was quite fun. The Championship race was at Tecolote Shores Park in East Mission Bay.
Saturday morning, my alarm went off at 6:30 am. After pushing snooze, I ended getting up at 6:45 am. I am not one to get up at first ring, I always press snooze. I’m surprised I only needed to press it once. Anyways, I changed into my race gear, packed my backpack with snacks, a water bottle, a couple pairs of racing shoes (I brought racing shoes that had spikes in them because of the grass, I ended up just running in light-weight shoes) and a jacket. It’s been cold here, yay fall! I left around 7 am and headed south on the I-5 to Tecolote Shores Park. I made it with plenty of time to get my bib number and warm up. I’m part of the Terra’s Trails running group, so there were other teammates and, of course, my two special running friends, Erika and Johnny Carter there. Once I found Erika, we watched a bit of Johnny’s race, then I went for a 2 mile warm up. I’m never down in that part of San Diego, so it was cool to run around the lake with Sea World in the background.
After I got back, I stretched and pinned my bib #6 on my jersey. This race was a 6k on the grass, complete with loops. The women’s race was three full loops. The course topography was pretty flat with the exception of a few mounds of climbing. The thing that got me was the gopher holes and soft, unstable grass. The concrete or asphalt is just so much faster. I rarely ever run trails and my stabilizer muscles were definitely tested. I should get on trails more, but don’t always have the time to drive to where there are trails. Plus, to my surprise, I enjoy road running. I put Brooks racing shoes and headed to the start line with Erika. I did a couple of fast strides to get the wheel turnin’ before the gun went off.
I’ve only recently been working my speed consistently, so my goal for this race was about 6:30 pace. The last race I did for the Dirt Dog Series was the Balboa Boogie 5k, where I ran 6:30 pace. I knew I was stronger now, so with the extra length, I thought it would be a good goal. As the gun went off, I got a good, strong start. I might have gone out a little too fast, but I quickly settled down to where I wanted to be. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there, especially if its only 3.75 miles. The loops made it hard to navigate exactly where the miles landed, but I just kept the women in front of me in sight. I felt the loops made it seem like a dream. I didn’t exactly know where I was, so I kind of fell asleep, until I realized I should probably start kicking.
From the time the gun went off to the moment I crossed the line, I stayed in the same exact position. I never caught the woman in front of me and no one ever passed me. It was a strange feeling. I constantly had my eye on the woman in front of me and no matter how hard I felt I was pushing or falling back, she never left the same distance from me. It was like we were experiencing the same race, except she was 10 seconds ahead of me. My first mile was 6:27; my second mile was 6:28; my third mile was 6:37; and my last .75 was roughly at 6:38-mile pace. My unofficial overall time 25:12, making my average pace 6:31. After the race, I got in a 2 mile cool down, so I wouldn’t be sore from the week’s training and the race.
I’ve noticed with these shorter races, I definitely slow down in the end, but overall I’m always happy with them. Of course, I want to finish faster, but my speed just isn’t quite there yet. I’m working on it every week and for training less than a year, I’m slowly, but surely getting my speed back. Plus, technically I hit my goal time, so I can’t be mad about that 🙂 No matter the outcome, I always just enjoy the fun in racing. Each race is a place to learn and grow. And, I always love a chance to bond with the Carters over a good race.
Afterward, there was the award ceremony. Runners also got to put their bibs into a bag for a raffle to win Asics training shoes. I was one of the lucky ones chosen, so I am very grateful to have the chance to train in some free shoes! It couldn’t have come at a better time either because my current shoes definitely have a hole from my left big toe. So, thank you Asics for giving me some new shoes, I’m grateful for the chance to check them out!
My legs were and still are so sore from all the hill training. Now that I run from work, I train on really long steep hills. The combination of hills, speed workouts, and strength training has made my legs feel like lead, but at the same time very strong. Just gotta keep pushing through until I feel like I’m a feather. Until then, ice baths are my friend.
Do you prefer road races to xc courses?
What races do you have coming up?
What are your recovery techniques?