Photo Credit: © 2019 Helen Perry

Position: 178th/U23: 33rd Time: 38:35

Not great but not terrible – that’s how I summed up my XC race at Blaise Castle on Strava. At times I really struggled to get into the right mindset. Still, I’m fairly happy with my placing.

More importantly, the male San Dom team came 7th on the day, putting us 6th in the overall standings. You can read more on this in the club newsletter which I’ll put out later in the week!

Last Saturday was the club Christmas party and I enjoyed a fair few ciders. I did break the “no spirits” rule with a voddy and coke too, but then again that rule was never going to last. Nevertheless, it was great that everyone got together in a non-running environment. Here’s where I insert the joke about it being a session of 10 x 1 pints or something like that!

On Tuesday I did my own grass session – 10 x 500m around the Caedelyn football pitches. Getting those last two repetitions done was a struggle, but I got them done and I guess that’s what matters. Thursday was the usual ten-mile club run which has become a staple in my running week.

So onto Blaise Castle, the course a three-laps, or 5.2-miles, over grassland and woodland. Conditions were okay, apart from our club gazebo nearly blew away within minutes of us putting it up!

To cut myself a bit of slack, I do need to start further ahead in these XC races. The first kilometre was just a case of trying to weave past people through some narrow paths. There was also a bottleneck going into a sidepath, that cut my rhythm a bit too.

Blaise Castle 1 senior men

Once you’d maneuvered over the grass it was a steep climb into the forest followed by a sharp, windy descent back down. This was my favourite part of the course because it was more enclosed, you just had to think about getting to the next turn rather than looking ahead at one big field. I think the term experts use is “technical.”

The second lap one was the toughest one. I think every runner has experienced that feeling that you’re pushing it but the pace is way slower than you expect it to be. During this time I had I real battle, dropping out even crossed my mind.

The third lap kind of sorted itself out, I think I was behind a few of the runners who I’d beaten at Pembrey. In the final 800m I managed to take one guy with half a sprint finish. Nevertheless, I didn’t really feel satisfied. To be fair, a fair few of the guys, Luke, Ian and Mark, weren’t too happy with how they ran either. Maybe it was just one of those deceptively slow courses.

Anyway, the likes of Ian and Ron were positive about my run which is great. Looking back, I think I did put in a decent performance even if I didn’t think it at the time. XC is so hard to pace, but Ian said I did so well enough which is good to hear.

I think if I watched myself back, bending over to get up gradients is my main weakness when I should be staying upright. Luke said I could do with a bit more upper body strength, and now I’ve joined the gym I’ll be making improvements in that area.

So that’s it for 2019 in terms of racing. Originally, I did want to go for that sub-18 5K before the year was out, but after a few high 18 minute 5K’s recently I think it’s something that’ll take a bit more time. In order to run my best in 2020 it’s probably smart to take a break or at least tone down the training for a bit so I can recharge. Until then!