On Friday night, I got to do something that not many people get to do after high school or college: I ran in a track meet!
The meet was the Augustana Indoor USATF track meet. For a mere $13, I was able to enter as many events as I wished... not to mention relive those old days of running track meets.
"Run your own race" is a bit of advice that we runners often offer up to one another, and it could not have been more valuable to me than at this race. I was guaranteed age group wins in every event that I entered because there were no other women between the ages of 30 and 34 there. That was cool in that I like to take home blue ribbons, but less cool in that there was no one there who was appropriate competition.
I lined up to run in the slow heat of the mile. My fellow runners included college students, kids, and two older women who are elite local athletes (I recognized their names from course records at races I've run). And in that race, each and every one of them passed me. I came in dead last.
That might have been disheartening, but it wasn't, because my finishing time was 7:09:05. That is an outstanding pace for me! I may have been last, but in running my own race, I could not be happier with my finish.
I was also reminded very quickly of why I always hated running indoor track meets. The dry air is just miserable. You know how it feels when you have a cold, can't breathe through your nose, and wake up completely parched? That is how I felt just one 200 meter lap into that race. My fellow runners and I stood around between events just hacking.
I ran the 800 next, and I'm happy to say that this time, I didn't come in last (I came in second to last, if you must know). Better was my finishing time of 3:08:08.
I had good intentions of running more events. The 600 meter, maybe the 200 for the heck of it, along with the longer distances of the 2000 and the 3000. But that dry air was hard on me, and my paces had my legs burning. So I opted to just run the 2000.
Throughout the race, I hung behind three college-aged women. I was happy just to be able to keep up, but in the final lap, I pulled past one, then another. Better still, when the race was over, one of the girls I passed puked.
Any event that allows me to pass a girl in her 20's... and make her vomit from the effort... is a victory in my books.