Last weekend I took to Seville to take part in my first senior cross country race for England, and it was an experience I will never forget. It taught me so many lessons and gave me an insight into the competitive world I want to be in. It was for sure the hardest race I’ve ever done in terms of the quality of the field I was up against.
When you turn up to a race and the likes of Hellen Obiri and Rose Chelimo are there, you know it’s going to be a case of finishing the race and not caring about your position. Once I became aware of those I would be competing against, I only had two aims: to enjoy the race and get to the end. Fortunately, I managed to achieve both of these. I can openly say before the weekend I had never been in a race with recent world and Olympic champions, but now I have. It isn’t everyday you get to say you’ve raced against such people, so I took the experience in and used it to learn lessons to help me as I get older and progress.
We arrived in Seville Friday evening and the race wasn’t until Sunday, so we got to use Saturday morning to explore the course and assess the conditions we would be racing in. The forecast said Sunday was meant to be warm and sunny, but the weather for walking the course was quite the opposite. The good old home comfort, rain! The course itself wasn’t particularly muddy but was soft enough for spikes to dig in. It had no massive hills, but it was also not flat at all. You were either going up or down, and the majority of the time you seemed to be running up hill. It was also quite twisty with lots of bends. After we walked the course I felt excited for the race ahead, it was a testing but good course.
The race itself.
As I said earlier, it was quite daunting to be lining up on the start line of a race next to Obiri and Chelimo. However, for what was such a rapid field, it went out quite conservatively. For the first few laps the pace felt good and comfortable the field stayed relatively close together, but then it began to spread out. As it came to the final two of the five laps, my legs were feeling the undulating nature of the course, but I kept pushing. In all honesty, my legs were feeling quite heavy and I felt as though I was almost running backwards at some points. I always run with my watch, but I never look at it. When I crossed the line and looked at my watch, I was surprised by the pace I ran at for that course! This made me feel relieved as I was worried I may have let the team down, but I know I gave my all on the day and that’s all that matters. I was proud to have earned my place in that race and no one could take that away from me.
The best part of the whole experience was the team I was lucky enough to be a part of. They made the entire weekend amazing, and I laughed so much, and enjoyed every minute with them. I met some people I had so much in common with and people I could have a joke around with whilst taking the race itself seriously. It is making new friends along the way that makes this journey all the more exciting!
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!