Suz West reports:
So the day had come my first entry into xc, having never done this before, but having been asked on several occasions by other BvH members if I have any spikes, I wondered what exactly was I letting myself in for. I had bought some trail trainers and tried them out on what I considered to be a muddy worcs parkrun on New Years Day. Safe in the knowledge my trail trainers would do the job in the mud I headed to Leamington.
On arrival it all seemed very nice: a car park with a nice little park, thinking to myself ‘this cant be too bad, I know Cofton well, it will just be like that, but with a mound!’ (Oh yes I had been told about the mound; I wasn’t looking forward to this!!) I was slightly worried that a steep descent might have some kind of adverse effect on my now nearly recovered knee injury, but I had a plan for this descent – I had seen what appeared to be an expert (in my opinion) downhill descent from a runner whilst dog walking in the Wasleys. My plan: copy this, fast, lean foward and just go!!
Anyway, I started to see other BvHers and we went for a warm up. I couldn’t help but notice the state of the younger ones who had already run, muddy is really an under statement! As part of the warm up, a few of us were shown the water feature/ditch – ok so this was nothing like Cofton – a steep ditch with water to run through, followed by a jog to a field that just turned into mud! We went back to our BvH corner and then the gaffer tape appeared. I wondered at first why this was necessary, but at the same time, having just seen part of the course, I proceeded to strap my trainers.Before I knew it we were at the start. None of this waiting around here, oh no. No sooner had we gathered, we were off and so this was it – my xc debut!! I ran the first part that I had seen, which was really just some grass, then we were into the mud. Following the course, it was mud glorious mud. I ran, trying to remain upright, and soon realised this kind of running is hard. I suddenly understood why people kept asking if I had spikes. I followed the tape around. We seemed to weave through country, wooded areas and some tarmac. Trying to come up with some kind of plan as I was going along to get ahead, I decided that without spikes maybe one of my best options was to try and catch up on the tarmac, so each time a tarmac stretch appeared I did this.
After a wooded area and some muddy field and back through a wooded area, I was at the mound. Ok”, I thought, “so I know I’ve worked on hills – maybe this section could be to my advantage”. The first lap of this was hard but steep and shorter than I anticipated, also this appeared to be the point where some BvH men had positioned themselves and were extremely encouraging (thanks guys). I did ok on this mound lap 1. Now for the part I had been dreading – remembering the expert descent from the Waseleys and not wanting to put pressure on my knee, I let myself go for it and I was quite pleased with myself: I seemed to have a good technique for this and enjoyed the short recovery! No time for anymore recovering; back to a field, followed by a wooded, muddy track, then through the woods and – oh no, the water! My brain and body were not working together. I didn’t know the best thing to do here for some reason. Going to the side, trying to hold onto the tape, then just jumping in was my way of getting through this, thinking to myself “why didn’t I just go for it, jump in and straight out?”Getting back out was hard work my legs felt like jelly, but I kept going. Another runner asked, “Do we do the water twice?” I actually didn’t know, so I just said “I hope not”. I knew the mound was twice and coming back up after more mud and trying to not fall over, this really was becoming hard work, but I kept going. I really was enjoying the wooded parts the best and still taking the tarmac opportunities to overtake. I had already been overtaken by several BvHers who had given me some words of encouragment. I knew they were good at XC and it was my first time, so I kept running and knew where I could use my strengths. The mound, lap two: this was harder than the first time. I had jelly legs; I kept running – yes my legs wanted to walk, but no, that wasn’t going to happen. A runner in front of me had stopped and another was slowing to a walking pace. Determined I wasn’t stopping, I passed them and enjoyed descent number two – a bit of active recovery that I could do with now. Back into the muddy field, wondering how far we had left, this race seemed long and without doubt hard.Well the simple answer was, I hadn’t got a clue, but I know I have the stamina to keep going so I did, unfortunately straight to the second time of the dreaded ditch! For some reason I applied the same technique as the first time, really if I ever find myself in this race again I need to practice somehow for this part, as it slowed me down without a doubt, as other runners just seemed to fling themselves through the water and back out. I eventually got past the water and back to more running in mud. My trail shoes were now not really serving any purpose. I seemed to be running on a thick layer of mud, trying to stay upright! A marshal said “Just down there, turn left and you’re home!” I was so happy to hear this, but on turning ‘just down there’ was a lap of a big field! A muddy, big field, but I did manage to go past two runners at this point and Jude must have as well, as I knew she was right behind me (I also gathered from what I could hear earlier that Jude was quite good at the water feature part – I know this from the shouting and clapping behind me at the that point).
Then there it was – the finish. I ran towards it, already feeling slightly sick, so I must have pushed myself quite hard and my first xc 6k was done in 35.04 with Jude right behind me in 35.05. We watched the rest of team BvH come in and I had a recovery coffee. The location and the facilities themselves were quite good with changing rooms, showers and refreshments. BVH ladies won gold in the senior team event and it was great to see them being awarded the trophy, especially Claire’s face – she was beaming. Well done ladies.
I will no doubt be investing in some spikes for the future, also maybe some xc training!!!
-Suz WestFull results here.