So this race lived up to its name... low 30s, snow, wind, already saturated trail conditions... exciting. I went into the race not expecting much, doing it to secure my placement in the MCRRC cross country standings and to have some fun. However, after being confronted by a couple of rivals who challenged my manhood, I decided that I needed to get serious, without getting TOO serious.
I went out slower than usual, which I considered practice for the road races. A teenager took it out very fast and was breathing (panting, rather) quite heavily by mile 1, but continued to push the pace... but it was clear he was fading. After a couple last ditch sprints to keep the lead, he fell behind me and Mark Hoon quickly. It became a showdown between Mark and myself. I had a winning streak against him so I hoped I could keep the lead through the finish. At the same time I knew he's a very experienced XC runner, so I made sure I kept my head and stayed patient, not panicking if I heard him get closer to me.
Halfway through, I was feeling wonderful. The snow provided some slippery conditions, but I was wearing my trail running trainers, so I felt sure in my footing. I wasn't tired and felt I would have a strong second half. Mark was still within 5 seconds of me. I remained patient. Then I saw the 5K marker... only 1K to go and I'm still strong. I begin to pick up the pace and lengthen my stride. I heard Mark behind me... and then I didn't. I looked back and I didn't see him. I cruised to the finish in 25:35(Something like that... a pretty good time for the course), winning by at least 15 seconds with a little energy to spare.
That's race victory #5 on the year! And I still feel great physically. I'll definitely be at full strength for Jingle All the Way next weekend.
This victory was exactly what I needed.