Wow. I'm not even sure where to begin.
I woke up at 5am and peeked outside anf there was still no snow. Either the forecast totally collapsed or the big snows were delayed. i fell back asleep until 7am and looked outside and it was snowing pretty hard and starting to stick. Maybe an inch of snow on the ground. By the time I got ready, the snow had stopped and there were even a few sunbreaks. But oh the wind.
The men's open race wasn't until 1:30 but I went over with the master's men mostly because I was bored of my hotel room and I wanted to cheer the rest of the teams on.
Temperture at the start of the master's race was 29 degrees with winds howling. It hurt just to watch them run and I was sitting in the warm car.
By 1:00, the temperature was 22 degrees and the wind was at 25mph sustained with gusts in the upper 30s. Wind chill was between 0 and 5 degrees. I wauted until 1:05 to do my warmup and only did a very marathon-style warmup...an easy 1/2 mile in my trainers.
Ran back to the car and got my spikes on before heading to the starting line...a mere 100 yds from the car. After doing some strides and a few stretches, I ditched the "warm" clothing with about two minutes until the gun.
There I was. I long-sleeve tech shirt under my singlet and my running shorts. No tights. I don't like to run in them plus I don't have any. I strongly considered running in my Brooks pants but my coach and teammates strongly urged against it. I had an ear band and a nice hat on as well...or so I thought. I didn't realize until 1/2 mile in that my hat came off when I took off my heavy top before the start. At least I had the ear band.
There were more than 300 finishers and probably close to 50 teams. The start was wide but not wide enough and it narrowed after the first 1/2 mile. It would have taken a 60-second quarter to get up with the lead pack and as i've mentioned before, I've never broken 60 seconds in the 1/4 especially not on a windy, butterly cold cross country course. So I settled in but the first lap (2 miles) was very congested so while it did provide some protection from the wind it also meant very little opportunity to move up. Mile 1 came in at 5:16. I didn't wear my watch so i have no idea what the rest of the splits were. The cold made it hard to breath and the gusts of wind would take my breath away.
During the first lap I felt terrible and really wanted to quit. It's been a humbling month or so of training and I was just about mentally checked out. There were many reasons to give up, but there was also a lot at stake so I carried on.
I'm glad I did because lap 2 felt great. I had forgotten about the weather for the most part and just worked hard at tucking in when the wind was in my face and really busting out when it was at my back.
Each of the first two laps, you pass the turnoff to the finish line that you take near the end of the third lap. After two laps, it was a bit of a mental blow knowing I still had to go one more lap before turning into the .25 mile finish chute.
Going in, I knew I would be fourth on the team at best. We added two awesome runners since last year and another, John Timeus, beat me on the only other cross country race I was able to run this year. So I was going to have to battle him for the 4th spot and make sure I didn't lose the fifth and final scoring spot.
But after the first lap I was in the team's 7th slot, well out of scoring position and well back of tthe two guys I wanted to catch, John and Brett Winegar. Early in mile 4 I moved up to 6th on the team with Brett and John still ahead of me. Brett though was fading and I finally caught him and passed him at about the four mile mark. He looked completely spent and he had never beaten before at any distance so I thought that I had him.
With about 1.5 miles to go, I got within striking distance of John and he looked like he was struggling too. I quickly passed him and stayed ahead of him the rest of the way. But with about 1000m to go, out of no where come Brett. Not only did he pass me, but he looked really, really strong. I thought about going with him but by the time my half frozen brain could process the info, he had taken a convincing lead over me. Now my goal was to simply pick off as many other runners as I could and still maintain the 5th and final scoring position on the team. I never looked back for John. When I got to the turn off to the finish line, there was 2/10 to go. I passed about 8 people in that final stretch which felt good considering the finish was uphill and straight into the wind.
I nipped one last guy at the tape and finished in 33:23. I was the fifth and final scorer on our team which finished sixth this year...the highest in a very long time if not ever.
At the end, I was a bit delirious from the cold. My fingers were in the worst shape but my bare legs seemed to do OK.
Times mean very little in cross country especially on a day like today. That said, I was quite happy with the time. It was essentially marathon pace for a 10k, but I will take it.
I finished 76th among scoring athletes...exactly my place from last year. That was 2:36 seconds behind the winner Scott Bauhs who won the D-II Cross championships this year.
The year's field was very deep. Defending champs Zap Fitness along with Nike Bowerman, and the Brian Sell-led Brooks-Hanson team were the top 3. Our top guy, Joe Gray, actually beat out Brian Sell in the final kick. He was pretty happy about that.
The weather was beyond miserable but there is something special about cross country. The course was incredible. I would love to have an opportunity to run it in good weather because it's very conducive to my strengths.
Happy with the race. A decent running year is now over and I am looking forward to taking two weeks off from running to refresh and focus.