Final Thoughts from the USATF MN 8K Cross Country Race

>> Thursday, November 09, 2023

If you missed it, I posted a race report on Monday from the USATF MN 8K Cross Country Championship Race. It was a fun and hilly race. Here are 7 final thoughts:

• I was ready for the race to read a little "long" on my Garmin, but I was also actively working to "run the tangents." An 8K is 4.97 miles, so I was quite happy logging 4.99 miles - I was going to take it as a "win" if I got back to the line before my Garmin beeped for mile 5. With a course that looks like this (running the "straight" section 4 times [out-and-back and then out-and-back] and the big loop 3 times), I knew I'd have to hold a decent line to avoid running too far:

(The numbers are half-mile splits, and you only see a
10th split because I didn't turn off my Garmin right away.)

• There were a LOT of speedy people there! I finished in the bottom half of the race! That doesn't usually happen. I was 34th out of 60. As I noted in my race report, I was counting how far back I was from the leaders around mile 2 (on the out-and-back section), and it was easy for a while: 2 guys here, 3 guys there, 1 more guy here... But then there was a PACK that came through well in front of me. There were a lot of finishers around 27 minutes, which is faster than 5:30 pace (and my 5K PR pace for a ROAD race was around 5:33 pace - and that was on a pretty flat PAVED course, was nearly 2 miles SHORTER than this race, and I was in my 20s when I did that!). FAST FAST RACE!

• Here's how close I was to people around me. I noted that I was SLOWLY gaining on a guy in front of me, and that the 2 of us were gaining on someone else a bit faster. I NEARLY came up along side the guy in front of me with about 0.15 miles to go, but then he pulled away again. I was just over 0:02 behind the guy in front of me at the finish, and he was about 0:04 back from the guy in front of him. But there was quite a gap between the 3 of us and anyone in front of us, and also a decent gap between anyone behind us:

• My even splits treated me well. I had a nice comment from Rob on Facebook after the race. He's a running coach and finished exactly a minute behind me:

• It was hilly, and I had to look back to my last CC race to compare. I actually was curious about hills AND pace. For reference, my normal 5-6 mile loop along the river has about 170-190 feet of ascent. I did Rocky's Run 6K CC race in 2016 as my last CC race - I didn't remember that one being as hilly, but it had 318 feet of ascent, and I ran that 6K (3.81 miles according to my Garmin) in 24:03, or 6:18.7/mile.

This past weekend's 8K was 4.99 miles (according to my Garmin) in 30:45, or 6:09.7/mile. And it had 422 feet of ascent.

So proportionally, they had the same amount of elevation change / mile, but 42-year-old Steve ran a faster pace on a longer course than 35-year-old Steve back in 2016. I've been feeling good about my running lately!!!

• Speaking of the hills, my Garmin noted I went up a lot of "flights" on Sunday! When I had been at the race course and walked around for a while, my Garmin buzzed when I was back at my car at one point to let me know I'd climbed my 10 flights for the day. And then just after I finished, I noticed that I had 60 flights! So yes, I "climbed more flights" than I'm used to climbing in a day:


Big spike on race day a few days ago.

To higlight: green was race day, red are my run days (more flights),
and the big red arrow was a treadmill run that didn't have any flights.

• My legs felt GREAT after this CC race! I tell ya... running on grass is a bit slower, but it's SO MUCH EASIER on your body! After all those hills and working so hard for 5 miles, my legs were just a little "tired" later that day. And they seemed totally fine the next day. My calves should have been SCREAMING after those hills, and my legs would have been MUCH more "beat up" if it was a road race. Maybe getting-older-Steve will be all about the CC races!

Again, if you missed my race report, click here to check it out!


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