Last weekend I was lucky enough to travel to the USA Club XC Championships as a member of the NYAC team. The trip was amazing and I loved every minute of it. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to tackle the grueling 6k (2k loop) course with! Although XC is neither my favorite nor my forte, I would never want to miss this trip. It is the one weekend of the year that I get to pretend I am a still a DI XC runner!
It is a bit difficult to get to Bend, OR from the east coast (or from anywhere for that matter) so both Thursday and Sunday were devoted travel days. We arrived at the Riverhouse Hotel late Thursday night and tucked it shortly thereafter. Friday morning we jogged up the hill from our hotel to check out the course constructed by Cornellian Max King at the River’s Edge Golf Course. I feared viewing the course would give me nightmares. My fears were confirmed but in the end was glad I saw it before the race. We spent the rest of the day resting, working and exploring Bend! We had an awesome team dinner at 900 Wall in downtown before calling it a night.
Race morning consisted of the normal rituals although everything was pushed back a bit to account for the 12pm start time. We warmed up as a team at the base of the hill before hopping on a short shuttle up to the course. After some drills and strides it was finally time to face our fears and goals (stay on our feet) and race! I got out surprisingly well and navigated the snowy patch about 100m in and then the steep hill about 300m in before settling in somewhat for the first of three loops. The loop consisted of a downhill section with muddy ravines and sharp turns followed by a cinder tree weave and then an uphill section concluding with a 20% grade hill (think staircase)!
During the first loop I found myself near Lauren Fleshman which was pretty awesome! I figured she must know I thing or two about the course given she lives in Bend, OR. Terry and I had spoken of starting the race off more conservatively. Lauren seemed to be employing this strategy as well so I attempted to tag along. She ended up dropping me and making up a lot more ground but not before this cool photo was taken!
The last loop was tough and I definitely lost a few spots there. I ended up in 41st (29th team) and first for NYAC (12th). The team competition was really intense this year with the point dispersion super close from 7th to 13th. Hopefully next year when the race is in our backyard at Lehigh University we will get some redemption! Until next year XC!