The last time I ran in Van Cortlandt Park, it was Christmas Day, and I had been running for less than two months, so suffice to say, the 10K loop was quite the challenge. Now, several months later, I was there to do twice that distance. I had no time expectations because of the difficulty of the course except to just finish it.
I travelled up with my friends Wallis and Vicki and we arrived at the site fairly early. I met up with my other friend Rebecca, who only planned on doing one loop. We hung out for a bit, collected some free stuff they handed out, including a free bandana, and made sure we used the bathroom beforehand. After taking some pictures, we were ready to go.
Looking back, I probably should have warmed up a bit more (or rather, at all) but you live and you learn. At least I got the nutrition part right. Next time I'll jog from the train to the event.
Wallis and I stuck together for most of the first loop, and it was far more difficult than I anticipated. We were going slowly at first due to the traffic, but as we progressed, I realized that the trail itself was getting to me. I wasn't used to running through the woods, much less the muddy trails, and quite frankly, I was acting like a little girl. Several times, I considered quitting, but I plodded through. There were some very rough hills which I had to walk up, but as I finished the first loop, I felt some of my energy start to return, and I knew I'd be ok for at least most of the second loop so I continued. I stopped for a water refill, and ate a few shot bloks before continuing.
Since the public bathroom was closed, I snuck into the golf club bathroom. After that, I got back on the trail to complete the second loop. I started to tire by mile 9, but by then I found someone on the trail ahead of me who was running by themselves, so I joined them and started a conversation. The last four miles would have been horrible without my new friend, but we made it through. My finishing time was almost 2:35. about 30 minutes more than my usual HM time, but as my friend put it, XC courses deserve their own PRs. You can see my splits here. It's pretty clear which mile I used the restroom - without that time I probably would have gotten a 2:30 but during a race, time doesn't stop for anything.
It was a difficult course, but if I could complete it even with a later starting time, even on a much tougher course, I know that I can handle the Queens Half. Although it was technically a free race, I donated $10 since I would like to break my XC PR on Labor Day, and they need the funds to hold this race! I'm already looking forward to Labor Day!