what a difference a year can make! in 2007 the weather was sunny - beautiful, actually. this time around, we had rain, wind, and lots of mud for the pete mcardle cross country classic 15k. some might even consider those conditions perfect for cross country races - ha. still, despite the great weather last year, i struggled to finish that race. between a nasty cold and malarone (malaria) pills for an upcoming trip, my 1:19:52 was the slowest 15k time i ever posted! so, rain or no rain, this year the race was a bit of unfinished business.
i was glad when rob decided to go in - despite the rain! there was little chance i'd get nine miles in that morning, unless it was during a race. still, was second guessing myself halfway down my driveway to his car - i was soaked before getting in the car! that was merely a prelude to the drenching we'd undergo in the short trip from the car to race registration. at one point i had to laugh as the paper entry i had in my hand started to disintegrate before i could reach the table to hand it in!
between registration and the walk across the flats to the start, there was a break in the rain. it was still windy and raw, but it had quieted down enough for the starter to make announcements and for the crowd to move up to the actual starting line. i was wearing shorts but had on two tech shirts and my windbreaker. i also wore a headband and baseball cap, covered by the hood from the windbreaker. it was hardly the picture of aerodynamic smoothness! when the gun went off, i was at the back of the pack. i was shivering, and not in any great rush.
a good chunk of the parade grounds was fenced off because of construction. we followed the curve of dirt track along that fence (and faced a lot of puddles), before we started the first of three loops. by design, the first loop was longer than the second two loops. at the south end of the flats we went off the dirt track and cut across the grass to the other side. that's where we were greeted by some incredibly powerful wind gusts. for me, that windy stretch was the most daunting course element (more so than the hills themselves).
midway across the east side of the flats we turned right and headed onto the trail and hills. there was one decent climb, among the rolling hills, before we reached the footbridge and crossed over to the back hills. that loop included 2 more decent climbs and a couple of steep drops before we returned to the footbridge. back on the other side, we had a nice downhill all the way back to the flats, then back on the dirt track to finish the loop. the first time around took me 27:01 complete. the second loop and third loops went by with almost identical splits: 22:23 and 22:22, respectively!
i was very pleased with my 1:11:46 finish. while it took me a good 10+ minutes to warm up, by the second mile i was running strong. i took off the hood and headband just before i finished the first loop - and kept on the cap, to keep the rain off my glasses. i wore my new balance 840 trail shoes - which would have been perfect in better weather. i would've been a little happier if i'd worn the sturdier 908's, given slippery and muddy terrain.
all in all, it was a fun time. i saw my friend tom finish and collect an age group award (last seen at the terry ryan memorial races in hastings, where he also collected age group hardware). i said hi to ruth on the course (but never caught sight of sal). after rob finished, we headed straight back to the car and drove back with the heat blasting. it will be a miracle if he and i (or any other runner out there) don't catch a pneumonia for taunting the weather gods!
here are some soggy race photos :D
from the 2007 pete mcardle xc classic (what perfect weather):
grant, emmy, me, and francoise.