Back in the mud - Horsenden Hill
And it was really muddy - apparently not as bad as it has been in recent years. But the water was forming some puddles in places and the previous categories have left quite a mess. Even my 9mm spikes did not help much - and from what I have heard neither the 15 mm spikes. I started relatively slow and was expecting a battle for half an hour with myself which it really was. After only a couple of minutes I was thinking of every possible excuse to abandon the race as it was no fun at all. However I came all the way here and everybody is in the same situation so I knew I had to deliver the best I possibly could.
In this three lap course there were places where I didn't had any grip at all, constantly slipping. It seemed the runners around me were better off. However in the bottom part of the course the grip was better and I was able to take over a few runners.
As I was running I could feel all muscles connected to the greater trochanter (where you feel the hip bone) because I have been braking up the facial tissue with a foam roller around it. Over the years this area has stiffened up considerably so I thought its the perfect timing of the year to make a change. From the research I have read (mainly G. Schleip) I thought I have to try for myself. And it really seems to have an effect as the muscles have to compensate now for the lack of stability of the passive structures.
I ended up on the 31st place - not being able to close the gap to the runners in front of me on the last lap. Considering the type of course and my form I think the result was ok - it could have been worse. Cross country running is tough and always a good exercise to analyze strength, cadence and core stability. I think the strength training I have done is certainly doing some good but I have to keep working. However it was difficult to bring the legs forward - especially as the shoes were glued in places to the ground. Next and last stop of the Met League series will be Ally Pally in February.
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Canterbury 10 - or how to battle for a place on the podium
The first Kent Grand Prix was held today over the distance of 10 miles in Canterbury. With nearly 1200 finishers it was well-attended. Probably more than they were expecting because the organizers were struggling handing out the numbers, there was a lack of available toilets and also the bag drop was overextended once all the runners came back.
I made up my thoughts what I want from that race. It was important to me not to start to quick and to maintain the speed in the bottom half. I would have to see how to adapt as the race was unfolding. There was one young runner quickly getting away from the field. I thought fair enough - he would probably hit the wall at some point. Greenwood from Kent AC was chasing him. I looked on my watch and decided to hang on with the bunch as I couldn't have gone any quicker anyway.
I was soon forming a group of three with Jackaman (Cambridge) and Rendall (Tonbridge). I could barely follow them and kept myself back in the last position as we ran roughly a 3:20 min/km (5:20 min/mile). They both seemed to be confident and my thoughts were how long I was able to hang in there. This would change as we came to the first hill. Jackaman soon lost touch and I then followed Rendall to the top.
As it got flat again I could feel that he was struggling a little so I pushed a bit harder. I knew I wouldn't be able to hold onto the 3rd place on my own for the second half so I let Rendall get back to me but made sure he had to suffer for it. He then took over the lead again and tried to get away after about 10 kilometers. I really struggled to follow but was able to stay with him. Soon after he was not able to maintain the pressure and as we hit the last hill just moments later I made sure there would be a little gap as I seemed to be more efficient uphill. It was now less than 4 kilometers to the finish but I only had like 10 meters. Sometimes that is all you need! The mind game was full on. I made sure to show no sign of weakness. I focused on a steady pace and effective stride (harder does not mean faster - and a tick faster is not necessarily harder). I reached the finish after 54:13 minutes in third position, just 8 seconds in front of Rendall. I was sorry for him because he did a lot of leading work until I was able to put a gap between us but that is racing.
Abel Tsegay was the young African lad getting away quickly and finishing in 51:36. Certainly a runner to look out for as he has not reached his 20th birthday if I was informed correctly.
I really enjoyed this race with its competitive field with the change of rhythm. It was also great to see so many familiar faces from the Maidstone Harriers family!
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