Yesterday saw the return of cross-country for the 16/17 season, and my second year of it after debuting last season.  Traditionally, this means icy winds, driving rain and all of the mud, but on this day we were greeted with blue skies and a perfect calm.  Odd.

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Just six days after the Chester marathon, I knew I wasn’t going to be fully recovered, but these events are great occasions and my club, Corstorphine AAC, had turned out in force with ten teams + 1 in the men’s field.  The relays are a four-man job, and I was given the honour of running the anchor leg for our lot.

A few of us went for a jog round a mile of the 4k route as a warm up between the women’s race finishing and the men setting off, getting back just in time to see them set off.  Then it was all about the wait…during which, several of the finishers let me know it was a mix of great fun, and bloody horrible!  The latter included Jan, who’d also ran a marathon the previous weekend.  Oh dear.

By the time Peter finished leg three to hand over to me, there was no one around me to aim at.  It was a few hundred metres downhill before the hairpin, and slow steady climb up what felt a long way, but the elevation map seems to think otherwise!  Either way, it felt tough.  By the time I got round the loop we’d ran before the race, I’d been passed by two runners and they’d danced off into the sunset – not a thing could I do about it!

My legs were heavy; I pushed as hard as I felt able through the bottom half of the course through the forest, but being dropped so quickly had me a bit dispirited.  That said, I knew it’d hurt, and there was still something perversely enjoyable through it.  After another long slog uphill out of the forest, the final small ascent in the open air was over as the 500m-to-the-finish sign went by.  A much appreciated cheer from some of my club-mates as I attempted a quick conclusion, and it was done!

I got round in 15:34, which really was all I could hope for when taking last week into consideration.  A good start to the XC season, and now looking ahead to the Nationals in Cumbernauld in a fortnight.

Strava data for those interested: https://www.strava.com/activities/738334326