*My first cross-country race*

Every opportunity presents a lesson.

This morning I was humbled in a huge way. After three years of coaching cross-country, I gave it a try for myself. Over the past few years, I’ve ran right alongside my athletes. I’ve run hill repeats, interval sessions and speed work with them. I’ve been there for every long run. Every short run. And everything in between. Yet, I’d never run an actual cross-country race. Until today.

My mind was blown and I’ve gotta give mad props to my athletes. Holy hell! Running cross-country is HARD!

The race I ran today was put together by a Portland-area running club called the Red Lizards. Today’s event was part of a series that they host during the autumn months. Considering I coach XC, I’ve been to plenty of meets over the years but having never actually run one, I was feeling a little apprehension. Arriving at the park did not squash my nerves. There were some serious looking runners there. I feared that I was in over my head. But no matter. I was there to experience my first XC race and that I did.

The women’s event began at 9 AM. I followed the other 57 gals to the spray painted white line in the grass a few yards from the finish. The course was two loops, each consisting of 2 miles, through Gabriel Park in SW Portland. Grass, mud, muddy grass, dirt/gravel trail, some pavement, and all hill. Either uphill or downhill but not flat what so ever.

We started off right at 9 and within about 45 seconds I was sucking air. Ugh. I felt like I ran forever and was distraught to discover that I’d only run .66 of a mile the first time I checked my watch. Not even halfway through the first loop. But I kept going.

Finishing my first XC race!

Finishing my first XC race!

I can say with certainty that it was one of the most challenging races I’ve ever run. Out of 58 women, I finished 47th. In my age division, women 35-39 years of age, I was 8th out of 8 participants. Needless to say, it was a pretty big bruise to my ego.

However, instead of dwelling on where I placed, I’m choosing to focus on what went well. Such as:

  • I RAN MY FIRST XC RACE! The overall experience was actually a lot of fun.
  • I didn’t finish last. Came close, but still beat 11 other women.
  • Didn’t pee my pants. (That’s another story for another day.)
  • Finished without rolling an ankle or injuring myself. (One of my greatest fears of running uneven terrain is hurting/breaking something.)
  • Had Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking and son in tow for support. After being at every one of my son’s XC meets over the years, seeing him on the sidelines cheering me on was so awesome. I’m grateful that they wanted to come.
  • There was a break in the otherwise stormy weather and we didn’t get soaked.
  • I kind of want to do it again.

I’m grateful for the experience and that there are cool running clubs out there offering XC for adults. I’m taking away a few lessons from today’s event but I’m fairly certain that there will be more cross-country races in my future!

Race results:

Distance:     4 miles

Overall time:     33:34

Pace:     8:23

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