The topic of discussion on the drive up from sunny Kilkenny towards Dunboyne, Co. Meath for the Leinster Novice 6km Cross Country Championship consisted mainly of the horrible weather, which was getting worse the closer we got to the race, and whether this Winter racing nonsense was really worth the hassle at all. Throw into the mix the fact I was full of food and wine from 2 previous nights of serious over-indulging at the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival and I was surprised I managed to get myself out the door of the car at all…Figuratively and literally! The poor training and plenty of excuses not to do it were put aside for the hour however. On went the smile (along with the wellies) and I was getting excited to be back racing again after a 5 week self-imposed hiatus.
I had about 20mins to get my warm up in after finally making it to the Kilkenny City Harriers tent to get my race number from the team manager. The rain had lightened up at this stage so I stripped out of my winter woollies and into my race gear to start warming up the muscles. The 6km course was 3 laps of a 2km course so I jaunted around 1 lap to get my bearings. The course was as flat as you could get for a cross-country race but each lap had roughly 15 hard bends and each of them had been completely destroyed from the rain and a morning of junior races.
Standing in the race start pen I got a shot of ‘The Fear’. I really felt I had no right to be in this race with the sheer lack of training and half arsed build up to the race, not to mention all the greyhounds standing around me. The gun went, I lost my mind and broke with the leading group of 6 for the first lap. I have no idea why I did. It was a horrible mistake! I spent the first half of the first lap thinking ‘dig in Ray…you can take these guys…you’re going to win…’ but that quickly changed to ‘give up Ray…you’re getting dropped and passed by lads behind…you’re going to come last…’.
I genuinely wanted to give up so bad, the legs were drained, fatigue was at an extreme and everything hurt. It even went as far as running the different injuries through my brain I could pretend to have to step out of the race. Leg Injury? No, I’d have to keep limping all the way back to the car. Shoulder or neck injury? No, how would I have gotten it? Back injury? Perfect, and the easiest to get away with because of my back injury earlier in the season! But no, I came to race and finish it regardless. The 2nd lap was pure torture as I slowed and found myself dumped down close to 30th spot but as the 3rd lap started the idea that it was only once more around gave me a little lift and got my pace back to slowly claw back some places. The finishing chute never looked so good to me before!
Overall I was happy with the performance, 21st place out of 72, with a very decent field competing in it. Onwards and upwards to the Leinster Intermediate Cross Country in Adamstown (Sunday 10th November) with a bit more focus on the training and hopefully there won’t be another food and drink festival on the 2 days before that race 😀
A well earned reward of Bacon-Cheese chips later that night! Not an official part of the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival! 😉
Full results from the men’s Novice race available from Precision Timing
Some more 10k Ray posts you might enjoy!
– Let’s Go Country! Online Articles on Cross Country Running
– Triathlon Ireland National Series 2013 Wrap Up
– World Triathlon Championships Race Report