It’s a funny old world, I mean, we get enjoyment out of doing things that we don’t enjoy! How does that work?
Today was the day! The final round of the North West Sunday Cross Country League 2017-18 season. I was really quite worried about it to be honest. The Birchwood course has somewhat of a reputation!
I’ve completed every round this season, having started off “just having a go” at Clarke Gardens with absolutely no intention of ever doing another. But then I was blown away by the friendliness and supportive nature of just about every runner. Right from the first guys to lap me through to those who just about managed to scrape by in time, people from every club shared words of encouragement and motivation. By the time I’d finished the first half I’d had enough but then I was joined by a runner (from our club) who had already finished. I had company for the last half, I couldn’t possibly drop out! I went home and realised that despite it being the toughest run I’d ever done and despite the fact that it had all the things I hate in a route (grass, mud and hills) I really had quite enjoyed it! In for a penny in for a pound I figured I may as well have another go. I was warned Skelmersdale was the toughest course so I thought if I can get through this I can get through them all. I crawled over the finish line and vowed to finish them all!
I don’t think Skelmersdale is the toughest course, I think it is a technically challenging course but the difficulty is as much about the weather on the day. Arrowe Park almost defeated me. Those freezing puddles and energy sapping cold really made for a challenging run but again NRC came to the rescue with company and encouragement. It was my first full length run in spikes and although I felt the benefit in places I should have practised in them more in advance. I suffered from a really tight calf and hobbled round half the first lap. I was glad to get the course done and evidenced on Strava despite half the marshals being sent back thinking I’d dropped out. Massive thanks to those at the finish line who waited to give me my token!
Anyway, it’s all history, each round has presented its own challenges from shoes that wont stay on to lack of self belief. Today’s course was 4 and a bit laps, a new challenge. I don’t mind laps. I find it actually easier to break down a run into manageable chunks, I only have to keep going for one lap at a time, once I’ve done one lap I know I can do just one more lap! However, when you know there are people who usually lap you on a two lap course and finish before you’ve finished lap one, you know that on a 4 lap course there are people who are going to lap you more than once AND finish before you finish lap two. The thing about this is that it’s so much more obvious how far behind everyone else you actually are. It’s lovely that the constant stream of faster runners means you get loads of support and are never really on your own but I was really dreading passing the start finish with EVERYONE else already done.
I shouldn’t have worried. For starters, it’s not like NRC would have left me high and dry anyway but even better fabulous Karen decided that since she ran 35 miles on Saturday, she would just come and run with me at the back on Sunday!!! OMG she is obviously mental and fyi still ran much easier and quicker than me today BUT it’s way easier to be last with company than without. Awesome tail runner Steph Charman was fantastic chatting on the way round, those two make it look so much easier than it is!
So I finally made it round all 4 and a bit laps, more NRC runners had of course tagged on as they finished and joined us on our yomp. I wont embarrass anyone else by naming them but I’ve overwhelmed at the support I’ve received this year. My spikes fell developed a huge hole after only 4 rounds so I took them back and swapped them for a different pair and I’m excited to test them out and get training. I’ll be back next year, hopefully less of me (5 stone weight loss goal) and hopefully I’ll be a bit quicker. I’ve hopefully encouraged a few others to give it a go. I really hope they do as they are missing out on all the fun!
Last thing, thank you so much to the folks who decided to present me with this lovely medal.
I can’t begin to put into words how nice it has been to receive such support. Being a competitive person, coming to terms with being last has not been easy, learning to be satisfied with a finish or improvement has been tough. I can’t take all the credit though, if wasn’t for the amazing attitude of Northwich Running Club encouraging people to just try and the awesome runners who come back or run extra laps ensuring “no man left behind” I would never have done more than one round.
I’m really looking forward to next season. I’ve already replaced my spikes and look forward to testing them out at practice in a few weeks. I look forward to getting good enough to offer the same support I’ve received to newer runners having a go next time. Go on, it’s really very good fun, what have you got to lose?
I’ve lost track of what I’ve already said so thanks again to everyone at NWSCCL and see you all again in October x