“What many runners need to remind themselves of before a xc race is this: it hurts like hell. It isn’t like the track or the roads with its rhythms and flow. XC is unrhythmic. I have seen so many fit runners enter a xc race believing that it isn’t work start to finish the way a road race is. XC is focused balance and lung searing mid way through 10-12 kilometers of agony. XC combines the power and explosion needed to run a 1500m with the aerobic strength of a marathoner. No other event in the world of distance running meshes the disciplines as well.”
-the late Pat Porter (9 x US XC Champion and 4th at world XC)-
The above quote was sent by Pete to the ZAP team a few days ago in our daily training email. Bottom line: cross country is different than any other type of racing. The track is fast and all about rhythm and specific paces while the roads are less about splits but still allow you to get into a good rhythm during the course of a race. Cross country running, however, throws all of that out the window and demands that you be focused and dialed in for the entire race. Every up, every down, every sharp turn demands that you keep your mind focused on one thing: racing. Cross country is pure in that it only truly matters who you beat and who beat you on a given day.
With that in mind, ZAP is preparing to race the USATF Club Country Championships this weekend in Bethlehem, PA at Lehigh University. The race is the only time all year that we get to compete as a team. Last year, we lost by 1 point(!!!) to Champions League Athletic of Colorado in a race where many of us turned in some very average performances. The course in Bend, OR was very difficult and technical which may have caused some of us to struggle but this year the Lehigh course offers a much better fit for our team’s strengths with much more consistent footing and more gradual climbs. There are several solid teams entered in the race but we have only 1 goal when we head to the starting line on December 13: WIN.
On Wednesday, I was able to get in a workout on the course because Esther’s apartment is only an hour away from Lehigh. Overall, it was a decent session on the grass in spikes. I realized halfway through the session that I had not put on spikes since last year in Bend and I was certainly feeling a bit like a baby giraffe (uncoordinated) for much of the workout, but I became more comfortable as it wore on.
I opened with a moderate 5k in around 16 minutes then did 4x1k from 3:05 to 3:00 and finished with 4×1 minute hard. Two days later I came back and did a moderate progression run as part of my normal run. My splits were as follows: 8:25, 6:54, 6:10, 5:57, 5:49, 5:23, 5:19, 5:22, 5:11, 5:05. I then put on my spikes and did 8×30 seconds on a steep grass uphill. I was happy to be able to get in another moderate session only 2 days after my Lehigh session. All in all, I feel my fitness coming along nicely and I am excited to lace up the spikes this weekend and give it my all for the ZAP team.
Here is my last week of training (11/30-12/6):
Sunday: AM: 16 miles (1-2-3-3-2-1-1-2-3-1 minute surges)
Monday: AM: 5 miles PM: 6 miles
Tuesday: AM: 12 miles (8×20 seconds post run) PM: 6 miles
Wednesday: AM: 13 miles (Lehigh xc course workout)
Thursday: AM: 12 miles PM: 6 miles
Friday: 12 miles (mod prog run) PM: 6 miles
Saturday: AM: 10 miles
Total: 104 miles, 11 runs