On Saturday, I watched the team slog through the Derwood, Md cross country course. The race was a practice (for both runner and organizer) for the ballyhooed USATF XC Champs in February. Intel suggests McDougal, Ritz and Torres will be present. The course is a 2k loop that rolls up and down around cornfields. It's a scene out of the Kansas countryside. The course does NOT appear fast as there is a great deal of slanted ground and plenty of suction-cup mud. The yesterday race looked "fun", albeit painful, but I've decided to forgo any racing until 2009. I ran 9 miles around the course to get a feel for the loop I'll race in a few months (see AP wire photo above). I'll be heading back to the course once I get healthy for some much needed workouts. The race could be brutal. I am praying for mud, snow, wind...and fire(?)...anything that can make it harder for runners to get to the finish line. I think you will need to out tough other runners in addition to out race them. Such was the case last December at the USATF Club Champs in Ohio; cold shin deep water and ankle deep muck. A quagmire. If the race is dry and easy...it won't make for a good blog post.
On SUNDAY I met Reaves, Billy and Bain for a 15 miler on some USDA land in Greenbelt. Temps hovered in the mid-40s but there wasn't much sun. As we cruised at a good clip around a giant circle/square/figure-8 type loop, the wind battered us from all sides. Attempts to "draft" proved futile. Reaves and Billy might be our biggest runners so I tried to tuck in behind them...but never fared too well. After about an hour I got a little antsy and wanted to pick up the pace. I am stale from my lack of workouts and just wanted to give the run a little push. As we began our push up a small incline, a headwind smashed us back. Reaves and I dug in deep and began to fight back. We hammered hill and dale for the next 3 miles while pushing into a battering ram of wind. It was laughable at times. My eyes teared at the onslaught of wind. On our second to last hill, the wind was so severe that Reaves went into the red zone. I wasn't too far behind. We were lurched forward, parallel to the ground, like an "L" on its side...but we still hammered away. We relaxed a bit on the downhill, made a left and then began the climb up the highest hill of the day. Luckily, we agreed to call it quits at the top, but not before giving the hill all we had. As we inched forward, I turned my baseball cap visor to the right in an effort to hide from the "un-hidable" drafts of cold air rushing across the open agrarian countryside that surrounded us. We were finally done. We all cooled down together and got into much warmer clothes. NO hip pain at all this weekend! And somehow by running in cold weather, my cold disappeared. Go figure.