On Saturday I did my first cross country race.  It was the Edinburgh Uni Braids 10km.

I knew when I entered I would be no where near the front but it was a good opportunity to push a bit harder in a training run.

As most of the field were half my age I was conscious not to go off to fast.  In fact I had met Alistair (a fellow triathlon coach and also coach to the Edinburgh Uni team  and some other runners) as I arrived and he told me he had a student running 6 x 1km under 3mins/km!  This was something I wanted no part of.

The race starts with a gradual continuous climb and I felt comfortable.  We then started the first descent and it all went wrong.  Both my quads seized and I was in agony.  I don’t know why it happened; I was recently off a long flight, never done a cross country before and maybe descended too fast, not fit enough, not warmed up properly, dehydrated, too much water?  I still don’t know.

The problem was I looked at my watch and had only run 2km so far so 8km still to go….and I didn’t really want to quit on my first ever race.  It was time for a change of mind set, race is over can I still get a good training session.

I slowed down and started slowing jogging down the rest of the hill.  Once on the flat I had a quick stretch (as loads of people seemed to stream by) and then gently continued.

The course was 2 x 5km loops and by about 4km I was able to start to build up some speed (relative) again.  My legs were still sore but I now wasn’t in so much pain that I didn’t think I could complete it.

This time on the descent I had no problem and by 7km was beginning to feel quite good and could push on all the way to the finish and catch a small amount of people ahead of me.

So race completed and though I didn’t really race by adjusting my outlook I still ended up with a good training session.

Next thing is to go and run the course again and see if I can work out why it went so wrong.  Worse case scenario I get another good training session!

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