Last night, I went to the track at Augustana College for my running club's weekly track workout. To my surprise, there was a track meet going on. People were setting up hurdles, pole vaulters were warming up, and the place was teeming with people of all ages in brightly colored running clothes. Just as I was starting to think that my plans to run on the track with the club had changed, an announcement came over the loudspeaker: Cornbelt Runners, go find Russ. He'll give you your bib number.
Well, allrighty, then.
I tracked down Russ, who is our coach, and several other runners trickled in with me. "Russ, what do you have cooked up for us?" I asked. Russ grinned and said that we were going to run in the 1500 meter race.
I have to admit, one of the first things I thought was, "If I'd known I was running a race, I'd have worn something different." My black running skirt and neon yellow marathon training group just isn't the fastest looking outfit I have. But so be it, because my second thought was, "Hey, all I have to run is a 1500? Nice!"
I warmed up and chatted with my fellow runners. Several of them had never run a race so short and had never run a track meet at all, so the excitement and nerves were high. Before I knew it, it was time for the 1500. All of the Cornbelt Running Club runners walked over to the starting line - and there were a lot of us! They had the women go first, followed by the men. And we women were joined by several kids.
Now, I have learned my lesson about kids at track meets. I ran against several of them at
an indoor meet in January, and they are freaking fast. I immediately decided to just discount the kids and focus on running against the grown-ups. We women rationalize that it was okay if the kids beat us because, um, they didn't have to work all day.
The gun was off, and so was I - probably way too fast. I glanced down at Paula The Garmin in the first 200 meters or so and saw that my pace was at a 5:something mile. I resolved to relax. Before long, there were a couple kids in front of me (ignored the little scamps), along with Kathy, who I know is one of the best runners in the area. I figured I'd have no chance of catching up to her, and sure enough, I think she ended up finishing about 150 meters ahead of me.
At around the second lap, a younger woman passed me as well. I focused on running strong, keeping my arms relaxed, and making a game of pretending to be the main character from Once A Runner, out running the mile of my life.
In the final straightaway, I picked up my pace and shaved quite a lot off of my time by chasing after one of those young whippersnappers. No, I didn't actually catch him, but again, kids are fast.
My final (unofficial, Paula Garmin) time was a speedy 6:11, putting me as the third grown-up to finish the race, and probably first in my age group if I'm right about the ages of the other two women.
I spent the rest of the night on an absolute runner's high. I hung out and watched the guys run, then headed home. As I was pulling up to Stately Wasser Manor, I saw Steve out for a run, so I parked the car and joined him for a Gentleman's Three, a great opportunity to cool down and tell him all about the race.