Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tri-color champion(ships)

(Results) On Sunday, the USATF New England outdoor track championships took place at Regis College. Let me just take this opportunity to opine that Regis College's track facility is extremely nice. There are signs telling you where to go, and the throwing area is on the far side of the track.

The only weird thing about it was that the steeple pit was just past the finish line, so they had to start the steeple 200m around the track from where it usually starts, and it ended at the 200m mark instead of at the finish line (so they were hand-timed). That's okay, though.

I wanted to run the 10k, because I wanted to be the New England 10k Champion. Unfortunately, no one else shared my sentiment, so it was cancelled a few days in advance (there were only two entrants, me and a guy, for this mixed race).

(I also wanted to run another track 10k. I consider the 10k to be my best event, so I am sad that there is only one track 10k per year that I can do. Perhaps next year I will fly to California.)

Luckily, I had also signed up for the 5k and the 3k. Onwards to the 5k. What with my altitude training and all, I thought I might be able to run under 17:00, so I got on the pace train with Kyle and her pace-setting fiancé. I valiantly ran 2k of the 5k at 17:00 pace, and then I fell off the train. Precipitously. 2k later, Aly passed me. Bye, Aly!

I managed to finish up the race with a surprisingly respectable time of 17:32. Crazy, to have such a bad day and still run 17:32. My 1600m times were something like 5:24, 5:40, 5:52. Not the best way to run a race, but hey! You can't run under 17:00 unless you run 2k under 6:48, and that I did.

Bronze medal!

Then I sat in my car for a while to get out of the sun. I emerged a few hours later for the all-important task of informing my teammates that we would be running the 4x400. (My attempt to field a 4x100 team was stymied by our only having two people present; the others were coming later.) Why? So that there would be more than one team in the race! It's just embarrassing to sit there and watch the GBTC slurp up 5 uncontested points.

Much less embarrassing, of course, to lead off the relay with a 70-second quarter and pass off the baton literally 50 meters behind the other team.

Silver medal!

That left the 3k as my last opportunity to become the New England Champion. The 3k started approximately 5 minutes after the conclusion of the 4x400. There were two entrants, myself and a high schooler. I unashamedly asked her what she was hoping to run (10:20). I told her I was trying to equal my 3k split from my 5k (10:18).

The starter stood about 10 feet away from us. When he fired the gun, I literally heard my left ear go quiet. It hurt. And the starter wasn't wearing ear protection. Even now, a few days later, my left ear hurts occasionally. That wasn't cool.

I fell in behind as we went through 200m in 40 seconds, just a bit fast. Then she started sprinting! She came through 400m in 78, me at 82. I was pretty confident that dropping me by 4 seconds in the first lap of the race was going to come back to bite her, so I continued with my race plan of running 82 seconds per lap. Honestly, my legs were totally tired and it was still pretty hard. I came through 1600m in 5:28, the product of four perfect 82s, and only two seconds behind.

Over the next 200m I caught up, and just tucked in behind and jogged. We ran that lap in 85. She slowly moved out, so she was running next to me, and then moved behind me, so I was in the lead without having to pass her. That was surprising. We ran another 85.

With 600 meters to go, my only goal was to be New England Champion. I suddenly realized that I had perfectly executed my strategy up to this point, but now I had no plan. Kick 600 meters out? Or wait? So I went with the old standby: Kick at the bell and then sprint all-out from 200 meters. And it worked. Whew. I was second-to-last, but it was enough.

Gold medal!

Someday, this meet will be well-attended, and then it will be more difficult to win. But as I like to say -- "the key to winning races is choosing your races wisely."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, New England Champion!