Rita Wears Spikes--Part II: the inner dialogue of a (sarcastic) indoor track virgin
I had several second thoughts after signing up for the JDL indoor track meet. Initially, I regretted that I had to drive 4+ hours for a race that would only last about 10 minutes...who does that?! I even hate driving 30 minutes for workouts that last 2 hours! Moreover, upon arriving at the this glorious “fast track” in Winston-Salem, I was surprised by how warm and dry the air felt when we stepped inside. Lastly, I was likely the oldest woman in the race, which was challenging. I mean there were older coaches and moms of the athletes there, but geeze, these kids can’t even have a celebratory beer after the race!
After realizing that there are many rules that I never knew even existed in this world of indoor track, I put on my shoes to warm up...thinking we could warm up inside, ya know, on the track.
You warm up outside, in the cold rain. You also have the privilege of getting your socks wet too if you don’t pack extra. I noticed that some athletes choose to not wear socks with their spikes...I mean are they begging for blisters and broken toe nails? Speaking of spikes, what are the race officials checking them for? Contraband? I passed.
Next, I was not told that we need to “check in” for the race 30 minutes prior, similar to elementary school when you arrive before school starts. Even better, before the race, they line all of the athletes up by numerical order and count heads. Also similar to elementary school. We had to walk in a line around the track, basically holding hands, so no one would get lost from the check in site to the starting line.
After we found the starting line with the help of the line leader, we were basically yelled at by the referee of running. I think I estimated that he gave his speech over 50 times that day. I’d be mad too. These kids, I mean collegiate athletes…were easily below my shoulders, and more like hip level for some. They would ask me my indoor PR time for the 3k and wish me good luck. I thought that was super sportsmanlike of them all and wished each of them good luck too! I think they could tell that I was not direct competition for their college races.
We were told to line up. Me, being number 7, got to be on the waterfall with the pacer. How exciting. To be excluded from the pack of spikes and elbows ready to trample me at the start! Coach Steve said I had a terrible position, but I was excited to stay in one piece! The pacer was going out in 36s, so I knew I could just trail behind her until the cones ended.
My real goal was to know where I was in the race; counting 15 laps can become cumbersome when there’s limited oxygen going to your brain and your arms starting to get numb. Additionally, I felt like the leaning tower of pisa the entire race! I mean I basically just leaned left and tried to run hard. By the time I hit lap 13, I saw my teammate Andie. I did think this was odd at first, but then just figured that she was being an awesome teammate and came back to run me in. Ya know, in road races, this is typically an ok thing to do. I figured it was the same in track. NOPE. Poor thing had to take to the sideline for a few seconds to figure out her digestive tract. Very inopportune time if you ask me...
Anyways, I finished the 3k with energy to spare. My eager goal of 10:20 was not quashed by a measly 10:37. Welp—that went by way faster than I thought. How is it already over? The thought of getting back into the car to return home for my Mom’s birthday ice cream celebration didn’t satisfy. I needed to redeem myself here. Plus I need to wait around to cheer for my teammate Sammy! I jokingly told Coach that I had energy to race the mile a few hours later.
Mistake. Don’t joke with Coach Steve.
He signed me up.
This time, I wasn’t going to be distracted by the cute little collegiate runners asking me questions nor the rail on the inside lane that was trying to trip me the entire race, nor the super bad wedgie and urge to pull it out every lap.
To start the mile, I was marked 3rd. That meant that I could line up on the front line. Welp, I did not know this, so I went straight behind #1 girl in the second line. I am seriously glad the official specifically asked me if I wanted to be there...apparently I did not.
The mile was fun. I got spiked. I wasn’t as aggressive at the start and I should’ve been (I mean come on, these kids live and breathe track races, I have to give them something to relish in). Sure, I could hear the parents yelling at their kids to pass me, but I reverted to my high school sports days and just figured they were cheering for me. And also pretended that my name was Amy or Claire.
I made my move with two laps to go around a pack of 3-4 and suffered for it on the last lap. 5:25 or something like that. Yup, that felt a lot harder than that. But, apparently you get a few seconds taken off on a 200 meter, non-banked track. Who knew?!
I think I’ll be sticking to my outdoor road races for the near future. They at least have adult beverages afterwards!