So as I mentioned, this was my first time running in the BC Championships since I quit the Nanaimo Track and Field club back after the 1999 XC season. I ended it on a bad note, having one of my worst BC XC races ever. I was determined to go into this race and get my revenge.
The Prairie Inn Harriers picked me up as a 4th team member for their Senior Women's Team, along with Natasha Wodak, Lucy Smith and Jessica Sedlock. Our race started at 2:30, so another of my competitors Melissa (who lives near Parksville) and I took the 7:45am ferry from Nanaimo over to Tsawwassen. We arrived there around 9:45am to which we then proceeded to wait about an hour in the terminal until Lucy and Jess's ferry from Victoria arrived at 10:45. They picked us up and we were on our way to Aldergrove, with a few stops along the way.
We arrived and parked on the road. When we walked into the park towards the course we saw the hill. Wow and what a hill. After a few "OMG, that is huge" we turned it into more positive thoughts about "dancing up the hill" and "it won't be that bad."
This hill was much worse in this photo
We found Gary Duncan (PIH member who ran in the Master's race earlier that day) and he gave us our numbers. We then decided to walk the course discussing strategy on the way. Since my coach had not arrived yet as he didn't race until 3pm, I took tips from Lucy along the way.
After our walk through, we relaxed a bit and then got ready for our warm ups. The 4 of us along with Natasha warmed up along the course. Guess we didn't really need that walk through after all! ha. My nerves were going crazy from the moment we arrived at the course. They lessened during the walk through and warm up, bu then as I did my drills and strides, they came back. I felt sick and wanted it all to be over.
Before we knew it, we were on the start line. On the line were a few that I knew, along with Malindi Elmore who I knew would take the win. There were also a lot of people I didn't know. Not knowing people sometimes makes me even more nervous! Looking at start lists before the race, I changed my goal from top 10 to top 6. You see, top 6 would get selected to go to the Canadian National XC Championships in Guelph Ontario at the end of November.
The gun went off and everyone went out fast. Malindi took off, followed by Natasha and Lucy, then a girl from Valley Royals, followed by Melissa and then the rest of us. I remember counting positions. I took the hill comfortably the first time. You see the course goes up the steep hill, along a flat section briefly before a steep downhill, flat for a short period and then up another steep hill. After that, it was a gradual down, barely flat, up a smaller hill, down and around a grass loop and up past the finish. It was a 2km loop. I was hurting after the first lap. My lungs burned along with my legs. 2 more loops I told myself, 1 at a time.
After 1 lap
I just didn't have the effort today to stay up with Melissa as she slowly pulled away running strong. The valley royals girl fell back and left myself, Jessica and Catherine Watkins to jockey back and forth for 5th, 6th and 7th. These 2 ladies would pass me on the downhills, especially Jess and then I would catch and pass them on the up hills. This happened each and every hill, each and every lap. I told myself near the end of the 2nd lap, that one of us would not make nationals and I did not want the 7th spot. Then Catherines coach/fiend said "you're in good position for Nationals, the first girl doesn't count" which reminded me that Malindi was registered with Alberta athletics and did not count for team BC.
I was hurting so much at that point that I briefly told myself fine all of us make it, I don't care what position. Matt yelled at me on the final lap to tuck in behind and play it smart. Basically to work off of them. After some "oh my god I am dying looks" towards his direction, I did just that up the hill staying right behind. Jess flew down the hill and gained some ground, but I pulled her back in on the 2nd uphill and Catherine was right there. I pushed it down the gradual hill and made it down there in front? I can't remember exactly, I was either in front on the gradual downhill or I passed them on the final climb.
Anyways, I pushed it down the final hill hoping to god that Jess wouldn't fly passed me again. I pushed it around the field and remembered a tip that Lucy had given me. From there I pushed it to the final straight, where Matt yelled at me "She's right behind, you have go to." No idea if she was actually gaining, but I pushed it in and claimed 5th spot overall, 4th person from BC. I got the last automatic spot as the top 4 were automatic and the 5th and 6th were due to selection. This was later confirmed that they would take 5th and 6th automatically as well.
Coming up to the finish
Jess came over the line shortly behind me and collapsed on the ground giving it her all and Catherine followed not far behind that. Team BC is comprised of 5 other ladies who are great competitors and people I know fairly well (Natasha, Lucy, Melissa, Jess, Catherine and myself).
So there we have it, I am going to the National Cross Country Championships in Guelph Ontario on November 27th. I have never been to Ontario so I am excited and looking forward to it. Previous years have been cold and snowy, with last year mild. What will this year bring? I guess we will find out.
We did a quick cool down, grabbed our stuff and headed out as Lucy and Jess wanted to catch the 5pm ferry. I was only able to catch the first couple laps of them mens race, but my coach Matt finished 3rd also qualifying for Nationals. Congrats Matt. Marilyn Arsenault even traveled over to watch. It was great to see her up and walking around!
PS. For those who voted for me, I won the Wii! Thanks!