This weekend Dukes Track Club headed to Bend, OR to compete in the USATF Club XC National Championship. 276 of the fastest women and 410 of the fastest men in the country, and that's just in the open race. Women's and men's masters races were also held that morning! I haven't raced XC since NCAA Nationals in 2005. Colby College XC, underdogs finishing in fifth place in the nation. It was nice to lace up some spikes again!
I ran 24:46 for 6K. Not exceptional. A week before I'd run 23:46 for the 6K (6:20s) in 20 degrees at 6000 feet by myself. I'd had bigger goals for this race. Place didn't matter to me, but I'd hoped to run closer to 6:00 pace. In reality, only eight women broke 6:00 pace. The course was tough, 2K loops on a muddy, hilly, stutter step golf course. The first two laps I held pretty steady and strong, not getting passed, closing gaps. I hid lap three, and really started to burn up. Heavy breathing, burning lungs, legs, arms. And slowly dropping back. Happy to finish where I did in the top half for my fitness level. 30 seconds faster would have brought me 50 places toward the front. Humbling and inspiring experience to be surrounded by so many phenomenal athletes. Recently, my girls and I have had some pretty solid XC style workouts at the Academy XC course, a very tough course. Unfortunately, there's no replica for competition, and that's where I felt like I was lacking. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to race one XC race beforehand!
All the individual stuff aside, I wouldn't change this weekend for the world. Dukes Men finished 28th of 50 teams and Dukes Women finished 32 of 34. Very proud of everyone for getting outside of their comfort zone. Steph, racing in the open race with us instead of the masters. Sam for your first XC race ever. Vanessa, for your first since college. And Leen, for your first XC race since high school and your strongest ever. Thank you to my team for being not only my friends, but my family too. Without you I'm nothing but an individual, alone. Together we are a team, creating memories, blazing trails, and building our little dream of the Dukes Track Club in the national running community. Also thanks to everyone that supported us remotely, with positive words and cheers from afar, and to Picky Bars for a FANTASTIC post race dance party! I'm looking forward to the USA XC Championships in February 2014 in Boulder, CO, and hope that we'll all be there together!