Sunday, December 8, 2013

Canadian National XC 2013

Ahh Nationals. This race always scares me. For some reason I am more nervous when you put me off road onto either the track or trails. I tried my best all week not to think about or stress about the race too much. I had been asked about my goals for the race and I had stated "Top 10" but I truly did not know whether or not I was capable of that. I knew 100% that I was fit, but would that transfer over to the dirt, mud and hills? 

The weekend of the race I was scheduled to work, so I took off both Friday and Saturday by swapping shifts with my coworker. I thought about heading over to Vancouver Friday night, but in the end decided to stay in town and sleep in my own bed. Instead, I spent Friday night supporting a local team (VIU Mariner's Men's Volleyball) in a home game match. Over the last year I have become a fan of the sport, though I won't lie, I totally jumped on the bandwagon last year when the team made it to Nationals and came 4th. I had asked for a 3-0 win so I could get home and to bed, but was still happy they went 3-1 that night (and the next day), but enough about them. 

Saturday morning I got up and thought "Why didn't I go over last night." You see, I normally work 2-10 which means I stay up late and sleep in, so waking up at 7:15 is NEVER fun for me. I knew I could catch a few winks on the ferry though and that I did. Curled up with my blanket in my truck. Ahh the best part of ferry rides. Yes sleeping in my truck on the car deck. 

All week long the weather had been sunny and nice, then Friday night it started to rain and it continued on Saturday. I arrived at the course just after 11am and in time to see the Junior women run their 5km race at 11:15. Great to see Nanaimo girls in the mix, including Miryam Bassett (Oceanside), Marita DeSchiffart and Amy Morris. Right away I could see the course was getting sloppy so the decision was made to ditch my 9mm spikes and go for my 12's. 

The junior men went after, including Nanaimo boys Thomas and Peter Oxland (Oceanside), Sean Miller plus Chris and Anthony Serban. I had to miss the last lap of their race as I raced off back to my truck to put in my spikes and get ready for my warm up. All the kids gave their best effort in sloppy conditions and made me proud of course. 

I headed off on my warm and and while it was raining I thought it wasn't too bad, then after 10' I turned around and hit the headwind and thought "OMG." This was going to be an interesting race. Some drills and strides, a quick visit with my sister who came down to watch, spikes on, more strides, clothes off, whining that it was cold and then we were on the line. 


At 1:50 we were off and the race went off quickly and then settled down as it usually does. There was definitely some jostling at the start to find a good route. I think as we hit the first big puddle at about 850m or so, there was some laughing. I don't think anyone was expecting with just 24 hours of rain to have that much mud so fast. Being the 5th race of the day didn't disappoint. 

First loop just before hitting the first big puddle (photo credit Warren McCulloch)

The route is 1 x 1km loop, then 3 x 2km loops for 7km total. During the 1st 2km loop, I found myself in 10th place. Yes I totally counted, twice in fact to make sure I was right. Alright I thought, hold it here and hang on for dear life.  I fell back from the lead pack and then off from the chase pack where I wanted to be ideally.

Photo credit: Craig Odermatt

 Photo Credit: Rita Ivanauskas

During the 2nd 2km loop I think I picked off one girl, Bevin Kennelly I believe to put me in 9th. I kept pushing along and things slowly started to feel better. Yes, as the race went on, I felt stronger. In fact, when I hit the 3rd and final 2km loop, I was able to pass Jodi Nesbitt and then as we climbed the hill up the back I could see Sabrina had fallen off and she was coming back to me. I pushed the hill and the downhill and was determined to close a gap that had once been at least 100m. I would say in the final 700m maybe (I am horrible at estimating distance), I caught Sabrina and just kept pushing. Over the final little bump and through the mud pit onto the finish where I crossed the line 7th. 

Heading into the final hill section of the final lap (photo credit Craig)

 Final 500m of the race (photo credit Warren)

 Done!! (Photo credit Chris Kelsall)

Overall, very happy with the race. There are always things to improve on, such as wishing I had been more aggressive mid race; however, I came on strong in the end and achieved my Top 10 goal and simply CRUSHED the disappointment of finishing 34th last year. Maybe XC isn't so bad after all? ;) I also improved on my 4th place finish at BC XC to finish 2nd place for Team BC. 

MUDDY!! (and cold!)

Right after finishing, I visited with my sister and former (could be great again) runner Jay plus Craig who had found me and then headed back to get my clothes. By the time I got back to my clothes, I was freezing and shaking so bad. My spikes were covered in mud and I was struggling to untie them so I simply ripped them off my feet. Eventually I ended up doing my cool down in order to warm up while keeping an eye on the men's race. 

From there onto the awards where Team BC placed 2nd for Senior Women. Team BC and Team Ontario actually tied with 27 points but it came down to our 4th place finishers. Team BC had placed one spot behind Team Ontario.

Top Provincial Teams (Ontario-back, BC-middle, Alberta-front)

I stayed in Vancouver to hit the after party, but then in a bonehead move, I realized that I had apparently gone to Vancouver without my driver's license, which was since found in the bag I take to work. Doh! I am sure everyone else had a great time at the party though! I won't make that mistake again! 

The good news is that I placed within the top 10, and as 7th I am the first alternate when it comes to NACAC's in February. That could potentially mean Team Canada should enough girls commit. I have already heard at least 4 have said no, due to the trip being self funded and also due to it being a non World XC year; however, being my first Team Canada opportunity, I will go if enough girls say yes! Stay tuned for that news! 

Results are found here. Congrats to Natasha Wodak for the women's win and Luc Bruchet for the men's win.  

For those who missed my BC XC report that I just posted tonight (finally) here it is. 

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