Thursday, April 15, 2010
Brian goes off-road
My training plan calls for Saturday races, something that is not so common in Denmark. A fellow runner mentioned that he would run a cross country race and it happened to be on a Saturday that I was supposed to participate in a race. Runners competed on a 3 km route around and over a large hill. I signed up for the 9K distance which was of cause made up of 3 loops, making you run over the hill 12 times in total.
I did not know about the hill beforehand, only that it would be on grass and dirt, so I showed up thinking I could run around my 10K pace, but seeing the hill for the first time I knew I had to drop all plans for a set pace and just make it through.
I think these two images (featuring some unknown runners) very nicely illustrates the elevation.
This race also had something else I hadn't tried before. Every runner was wearing a bib with his or hers age group on their backs and it had no overall winner declared, it was only scored within each age group. This made it great fun, normally the elites and winners of races are so far ahead that I mostly just race myself and my previous times on the distance, but in this one given the relatively small field of runners (a little over 200) I was able to be competitive.
At the starting line I tried to spot a few of the others in my age group (male 30-34) and after the gun sounded I concentrated on closing in on others wearing the M30 sign on their back and passing them forcefully when the opportunity came. There is just something really satisfying in running right behind someone for a bit, breathing down their neck, pass and leave them behind. It is hard to describe and some of what makes racing so special. To some degree it even feels like an energy boost when you pass and pull away, knowing they can't keep up. You have to keep the extra speed up for a bit, I imagine it would feel rather bad if they latch on and follow you, perhaps even pass you again :)
Anyways, I was very pleased with how I raced, the course was very tough, but I felt like the ascents where my strong part and I passed what seemed like quite a few others wearing the M30 sign on their back, successfully caught up to and drafted behind others on the one stretch that had a mean head wind and finished with a strong kick, feeling I had done my absolutely best.
Later on when it was time for medals, it turned out that I actually won my age group. There is of cause some luck involved as to who shows up at such races, but hey, it's a win! :)