Race Report: Masters Cross Country National Championships

Well folks this was the race I had been training for all year and I did really well. Competing against the absolute best runners in the country aged 40 and over, I finished 192nd in a field of about 500. Not too bad for a guy who started running two years ago after a 19 year layoff. I was very happy with my race considering the rough conditions. I ran 39:10 for 10K, which is 6:18 pace, but it honestly felt like I was running faster than when I did 37:27 (6:01 pace) back in November. The course, which consisted of a 2K loop followed by two challenging 4K loops, was super muddy (see photo of me holding up one of my shoes below) due to a very heavy rainstorm the night before and on top of it, the rolling hills throughout the course, as well as the two steep hills and log jumps and various narrow trails, kept everyone honest. Most people seemed to run 2-3 minutes slower than their usual 10K road race times.

I ran a very even paced effort. It didn’t get all my splits as I was really focused on the long line of runners ahead of me so I barely looked at my watch. I held back on the first 2K loop, which was pretty flat but very muddy, looping around a horse track, and hit the 2 mile mark in 12:34. At that point I was worried that I was too slow but it ‘felt’ right. By the time we got to the first big hill near the end of the first 4K loop I knew that I was running smart. People were dying all around me and we had another 4K loop to go. I never got passed by anyone after the first half mile so even at times when I felt like I was moving very slowly, I was passing lines of people, just not accelerating as fast as I would have in a road race. I hit 5 miles in 31:16 (6:15 pace) and remember thinking, damn this feels a lot harder than when I cruised through 5 in the A2 Turkey Trot in 30:09! I was hurting but still thought I had a final gear in me for that last mile, but that last hill and log jumps with about a half to go slowed everyone around me to a crawl and the last 800 was a death march. I nearly threw up on the final straightaway and my wife says my mouth was foaming!

Anyway, most importantly, I went away inspired to train harder next year and maybe even get in the top 50-100! Bring on Cincy 2007!

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