Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The race of the meet!

Little noticed by the media was perhaps the most dramatic and enthralling race of the Trials, in my humble opinion. The Oregon TC put on a joggers mile, and--because I had made the silly promise to you and my daughters--I ran. This only two days after my back went out on me on an hour run in Alton Baker Park. This would be my first track race since I was outkicked by a heavyset French woman in the media 800 at the World Champs in 2001. She smoked a cigarette afterwards. Sometimes my foolishness knows no bounds--I try not to let pride limit me.

At Hayward Field, an amazing 300 runners showed up for the mile race. The 5-6 heats were grouped by projected times, so I went with the 8-minutes and up crowd. The earlier races were nothing to sneeze at. The fast heat went in 4:24, with Pinckney grad David Emery running 4:26 in training flats, after a seven mile morning run. In another heat, Paul McMullen dusted off his legs and ran 4:52.

Then the gun went off for my race: I had resolved to start slow, so my back wouldn't spasm on me. I went through the 400 in 2:02.6--right on target. I eased into a faster pace, and his 3:52.8 at 800. Then I got into the fun of passing people (to give you an idea of how slowly I started, I had to pass a race walker). Lap three was my fastest yet at 1:45.6. Then I looked up and saw the green grandstands towering over me. Hayward Field--the track where so many legends have run. I almost got a little misty-eyed. I unleashed my devastating kick--so called because it looks especially devastating when used in an 8-minute mile heat. My last circuit of the track took 1:37.1, and my final time was 7:15.5 (keep in mind this was no namby-pamby 1600m. This was a full mile--1609.34 glorious meters).

My back cramped so badly I felt like Quasimodo. But I had raced at Hayward Field in the footsteps of ghosts and legends. And most importantly, I beat my 12-year-old's best time. I've still got it. Not much of it, but I've still got it.

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