It was pretty much the way I had pictured. Me and 14 former track stars running the 1500. (one former star even chose to wear her old college track uniform and was lamenting the fact that it had been 6 years since she raced - at the time I thought if the uniform still fit, she was still in running shape.)
I had looked at the previous year's results and knew this was not a well attended event. DJ had encouraged me to sign up so it was just one of things worth trying once in your life. As late as last night when I set the alarm clock I was on the fence about whether or not I would actually attend. So.... the alarm clock goes off, I decide to go. The event started at 9:45 but advertised that they might start as early as 30 minutes early so I needed to get to Marietta by 8:30ish. In my mind, I know I need to do some sort of warm up when I get there, no idea what kind of warm up or for how long.
I get to Marietta High School at about 8:30, check in and get my goody bag. There are maybe 40 people in the stands or running about including the volunteers. They start the 5000m race which had about 8 participants, men and women combined. Let me just say if you prefer to blend in with the crowd when you race, track meets are not the thing for you. I decide to take a 2 lap jog around the track to kill time (err, warm up). That done, not sure what to do... continut to warm up, check in on the field, how does this thing work anyhow? At 9:40ish, my event is called so I go down to the field and check in. I am given a number to adhere to my shorts for the "photo finish". Clearly, my reputation preceded me....
I am number 3. The significance of this is that there were only 3 women in the event. I think the men's numbers went up to 11 or so. The other two women appeared to be in their late 20s and were in official trackstar clothing. Not unlike this:
I, however, opted for my favorite black Nike running shorts with the pink insets and black underarmour shirt - so no one could see me sweating in fear. (picture not available ;)
I am clearly the newcomer in this crowd. Several had run the 5000 earlier, others had just finished the 4x100 relay. It kind of reminded me of a swim meet with people participating in multiple events. Anyhow, this newcomer had spikes/cleats/shoes with pointy things on the bottom trying to look like I knew what I was doing. When DJ encouraged me to sign up for the race, that was the only thing I was told - to get spikes. I had them. What to do with them, who knows... I am checking out the other's footwear, most have regular running shoes, some have spikes. I finally ask one of the men who seemed to know what was going on. I showed him my spikes and asked him if I should wear them or running shoes. He said I should try the spikes since they were lighter than my running shoes. (At my current level of speed, I suppose anything would help.) One more question, sir, where is the start line? Could I be any more of a tourist???
We make our way over to the start, there is some commotion over whether or not everyone is there (at one point, I thought they might do roll call - they could have - there were only 14 of us). Then there was further commotion about whether or not the women should run first and separate from the men. Luckily, the 2 women track stars protested and the men wanted to go ahead and run too. Thank goodness.... I had a brief flash of me running against (or desperately trying to catch up with) the two track stars.
Everyone lines up, men and women, the gun fires and we are off. My intention was to try and somewhat keep up with the pack for as long as I could. In retrospect, maybe not the best idea. I did keep up with one track star and one 20ish guy for about 2 laps. After that everyone left me in the dust, no one was really around me to help pace, I just had to kind of run as fast as I felt I could while still try to save something for the last 300 or so. (That was my strategy based on my extensive viewing of the Olympic Trials).
On the 3rd or 4th lap, the guy who gave me advice on the spikes runs past me and says "good pace" and keeps going. At the time, I thought he had already finished and was on a cool down lap but Rick told me later that he had been pacing off me the whole race and then kicked it in gear at the end. In retrospect, I should have kicked it in gear with him had I known he wasn't on a cooldown lap. So my planned sprint on the last 300 didn't really happen, it ended up being more of a sprint around the 150 mark. The same sort of sprint I do when the finish line is in sight at any race - I even sprinted at the ING at the end of 13 miles. I have no idea what my time was, I imagine it will get posted online at some point and I will pass it on. I do know I was not last. There were two men behind me. The one immediately behind me said to his kids, "well someone had to be last". To which they said "No, Dad, you weren't last - the guy in the green quit!" So, thanks to that guy and the guy in the green, I was not last. I also can proudly say I did not get lapped. In fact, I am pretty sure I won my age group which makes me a gold medalist at the Georgia Games. Does it count if you are the only one who shows up in your age group? :)
The track star diva in her college outfit who had not raced in 6 years... her time was 5:09. She's still "got it" as they say. DJ, the one who thought this race would be a good idea, didn't show. Another event for the memory bank.