I ran my second cross country match of the season at Ham near Kingston a few weeks ago. It was fast and furious, and I didn’t sustain the pace as well as I had at the first race.
Looking at my watch is a much repeated mistake after a few hundred yards, and the 4.30mpm pace left me sure I needed to slow down. I did, but I still struggled as the race progressed, with it all seeming harder than it should have on a flat and very runnable course.
Probably implementing the reverse advice of any sports psychologist, I spent the rest of the race trying to work out why it was proving so difficult to smash out the pace required, with the recent Amsterdam Marathon leading a growing list of excuses. It was only in the last 800 metres that I pushed on; in a successful attempt to keep to the club rule of not letting anyone else go past you at this stage of a race. I finished in 78th place. It hurt though, as this picture (am no.190) testifies:
A day later I found out why it was all harder than it should have been. A bad cold that had defeated my whole family finally got hold of me. While I wallowed in typically male self-pity for a week or so with very little running as a result, at least I had an excuse other than the marathon for my performance.