It’s taken me a while to write this, stared at the screen for far too long, started over a half dozen times- this is not how I imagined my cross country racing coming to an end.
I raced only 3 races this season, which is less than normal, but in my opinion there is far too much racing in the university cross country season. I skipped the first race to do Barrelman instead (a very good decision). My legs were quite sore after this race, but nothing alarming.
October 4th was Waterloo Open for cross country. Most schools don’t bother to come to our race as many are in the US for some big races down there. So it wasn’t the most competitive race, but I won, which is the first time I have ever won a cross country race. 🙂 We had some spectacular weather, sleet and rain, lots of mud, and a little chilly. I guess you could say a ‘true cross country race’. My legs were sore afterwards, but I chalked it up to first time racing in spikes in a year.
The following week we were off to Queen’s to race at Fort Henry. This was to be the course for OUAs so there was a good turnout of schools, although Guelph and Western were noticeably missing, as were others. (for those that don’t know, Guelph is rather dominant on the university cross country scene, to put it lightly). We had fantastic weather (no sarcasm) for this race and it is a course that really suits me as the ground is fairly hard-packed (basically a grass-covered rock), without any steep hills. I had a pretty good race coming in 6thoverall in a time of 21:52 (6km- 3:38/km). Since I was still under the weather from a cold I’d had all week I was really happy with the result and was ready to come back in two weeks even better. But that didn’t happen.
Things went downhill pretty quickly after the race as my leg was causing me a lot of pain. I went to the university athletics therapy where they informed me I had several knots in the muscles in my right leg. By the end of the week I was skeptical about the diagnosis and had a bone scan arranged for a few days before OUAs. I ran only twice between the Queen’s race and OUAs two weeks later, but wasn’t too worried about fitness as a 22 minute race is really not that long. Easy to tough it out, right? I was not contacted with the bone scan results before OUAs so I just assumed that there was no problem.
OUAs is the Ontario Championships for cross country- the end of the season for many as not all schools will pay for their teams to go to the Canadian Championships (which can be located anywhere in Canada- this year they are in Newfoundland, the past four years they have been in Quebec/Ontario). The race started out at a brisk pace, with me going through the first kilometer in about 3:18, which is faster than I would have liked but was not so fast that it would screw me over for the next 5km. I slowly worked my way up the field over the first 3km, but the pain was setting in fast and I was struggling to hold on. The last two kilometers were complete agony, to put it nicely, but being competitive I kept pushing. My quads and calves had seized up by the 5km mark and I would estimate that my last kilometer took about 4 minutes (i should have been running about 3:35/km for the first few kilometers); I went from 12th to 18th pretty quickly but there was literally nothing I could do. I was informed after by my friend’s parents that my face was as white as a ghost and they didn’t think I was going to make it to the finish line- I would say that accurately describes how I felt. (Finish time was 22 minutes on the dot, 3:40/km). I did not take one step past the finish line but opted to crawl under the finish chute rope and lie in the grass for the next 25 minutes. I don’t think I have ever hurt so much in a race before, so looking for the positives, I have learned that I can push through a lot of pain and still make it to the finish line. I think the positives may end there though.
The bone scan results came back a couple days later, and yes, you guessed it, I have another stress fracture. I have no idea how, given my very limited run volume, so if you have the magic answer, let me know. So no more running for me this year, and no more cross country, ever. The bright side is that my team gets to go to the Canadian Championships because we did well enough as a team (although the school doesn’t think I deserve to go since I won’t be able to run, despite the fact that I was our top runner and team captain; ending rant now, but so much more to it than that), and my swimming has improved remarkably already from not running for a week.
So that is the update for the time being- I will be taking the break from running as an opportunity to really work on my swim to hopefully see some improvement there. I know I said I’d have a season review part 2 post but that is going to have to wait a little longer as I am waiting to hear about what the Rev3/Challenge merger is doing with their races, as well as if the recent partnership between Ironman and LifeTimeTri is changing anything with those races.
As always thanks for reading! I will try to think of some things to write about over the winter so I don’t appear to drop off the face of the earth.