Last Sunday I made the quick trip over the Bay Bridge into Golden Gate Park for the first annual Bay Area XC Challenge. The Bay Area Track Club, founded by Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and my boss and Bay Area track coach Tony Kauke, is group of professional athletes who promote healthy living and strive towards their dreams of running in the Olympics. This cross country race on Sunday was a chance for runners of all abilities to toe the line with these professional runners, including 3 Olympians. I haven't run a cross country race since my senior year at Michigan, so I decided to give it a shot.
The field was a whose who in the running world. I had a good time warming up and catching up with some former runner friends from college like Eastern Michigan National Champion Boaz Cheboiywo and Stanford standout Jon Pierce. I didn't really have a goal for the race. I wanted to get in a good workout and have fun. It went out hot, which was to be expected with a bunch of professionals going for prize money. I saw 3:05 for the first 1000 and was about 4:55 at the mile mark. Then.....I died.
I remember when 4:55s used to feel easy in the beginning of a cross country race. Those days were a long time ago. The front pack stayed at 4:55s and even sped up throughout the race. I, on the other hand, faded. I was stuck in no mans land for most of the race after the first mile with no one around me. I tried to keep it a consistent tempo of about 5:30s for the rest of the 8k.
Overall, the race hurt pretty bad, but it was fun. I did just about as well as I thought. It was cool going out in 4:55 just to see what it felt like at my current fitness. Running 5:30s the rest of the way gave me a great workout for the day. I ended up 21st out of about 55 people and ran 27:00 (5:24s).
I ran a little cool down, jumped in the car and headed home to watch football. It was a good Sunday!
Thanks to the Bay Area Track Club (BATC) for putting on a great race. Maybe I'll try again next year and run the first 2 miles in 4:55 before completely dying. It's all about improvements!