Yesterday was the USATF Cross Country 8k Championship race at Natirar Park. This wasn’t on my race calendar earlier in the year (because it’s a cross country race), but now that I am the RVRR 40s Men team captain I felt some obligation to be there.
It was a beautiful morning, and a scenic location, so of course I didn’t take any photos. Maybe next time I’ll get my act together on that front, but thanks to the magic of the internet, here’s a picture taken by Marvin:
A friend recently posted a review of some Inov-8 shoes he had worn for a cross country event (I’ve got find that post and link it here…). I knew I didn’t have the right shoes for a cross country race and perhaps that’s been part of my problem in the past, so I bought a pair of the Inov-8 Bare Grip 200s.
The shoes are tight compared to my other zero drop shoes, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about them, but they really did look like they would offer the promised grip on the grass and elsewhere. My first mistake of the day was not wearing the right socks. When I changed into these shoes at the park the socks I was wearing made them feel too tight. I made the choice to wear them without socks. As the race wore on I could feel the blisters forming, but it never got to breaking point so that was lucky. If you’re looking for a zero drop cross country shoe, this is definitely the one to choose.
Despite my prior feelings towards cross country, I enjoyed this race. This was even more surprising given the nasty hills (that you had to do twice) and the nasty winds. I found myself in a small group mostly running together with small gaps opening and closing again on the hills (for me in particular, I would make up time up the hills and lose some down). I also had the goal of trying to catch a friend who had opened up a lead on me early on and seemed to be increasing that lead for the first half of the race, only for me to start closing the gap slowly in the second half.
In the end I didn’t quite have enough left to close the gap completely and finished a few seconds back.
Surprisingly, my time was my fastest 8k race. The only other 8k I have raced was the Ashenfelter Classic, which is on the road. My Garmin only recorded 4.8 miles on this course, which may be because it’s been acting strangely lately, but it’s not usually that far wrong. Perhaps that’s why it was faster?