I was encouraged by my running group to take part in the first local cross country event of the season. It had been 30 or so years since I last tried to run cross country, I was at school, I wasn’t fast, there were some brilliant runners in my school year, hated the mud, hated the cold damp weather and used the opportunity of a small amount of freedom whilst at school to hide away and avoid the hell of the PE cross country lesson.
30 off years later after much thought I decided to give it a shot, after all I could give up half way round and it wouldn’t matter.
The race took place the day the clocks went back in a country park I was familiar with, I felt comfortable. I had on my new running leggings bought at the beginning of 2015 when I wanted to start running and a woolly hat. Therein lies the 2 problems I encountered during my first cross country.
As soon as I started off my leggings were falling down, they fitted well when I was standing still but due to the amount of weight I had dropped in the past 10 months they were very loose when I ran, they had no draw string so I spent the vast majority of the time walking whilst pulling them up.
Never mind I thought as I hauled them up for the 100th time, I am still warm with my hat on! Ha ha, after about 2 miles in I was sweating badly, the had needed to come off I felt my head was boiling but carrying it whilst hauling the leggings was becoming cumbersome and annoying.
It wasn’t too muddy but what mud there was around was like glue, I felt like I was sticking to the grass unable to move at any pace and the energy was sapping out of me fast. The hills I encountered added the the energy sapping perfect storm.
I nearly did give up, it was about halfway round and I just could not face pulling my leggings up anymore or deal with the mud. I walked for a bit and tried to come to terms with what was going on, the tail runner was so great at this point and just talked to me about her running journey and how she overcame issues when first running.
A mile left to go I was met by 2 great club members who decided to see me home, I started to build my pace up again. I came round the final stretch, an uphill run on long grass, my legs were screaming I wanted to give up, the finish line was in sight and I stopped running. The lovely tail runner and my 2 friends shouted at me, I was to get the monkey off my back, said the tail runner. I knew what she meant, I was scared of something but now was not the time to navel gaze as to what it was. With that I ran, I sprinted towards the finish, I threw my woolly hat to a club member cheering me at the side, I glanced at hubby and I went for it. 4 1/2 miles completed and I wasn’t in too much of a muddy mess.
Did I enjoy it? At the time no, it felt like it was the hardest thing I had ever done. Mentally I was all over the place and was struggling. By the time I got home and changed I was happy, yes it was hard I could have bailed out but I didn’t I stuck with it, which is better than I managed when a teenager!
Things I need to reflect on for next time:
- There will be a next time, I cant let cross country defeat me.
- I need to know what I am scared of and confront it.
- Wear clothes that fit, I am fed up with pulling leggings up, bra straps up or tops down. Test the clothes before a race.
- Wear clothing suitable for the weather, I was so worried about getting cold I neglected to factor in that once running I would be very hot indeed.
- I have done a cross country race now, I know what to expect and know I can do it. I also know that the worst that can happen is that I will get muddy, I may slip over and there will be hills that will test me but the feeling I get after a race will be worth it (I hope).