I came, I saw, I didn't embarrass myself. So I am calling it a job well done.
The Spartan Relays were Case's first indoor track meet of the season. Case is division III so I knew as long as I didn't completely die I should be able to hold my own.
I had a couple goals and two different race plans depending on circumstances. Goal 1: Don't get lapped, Goal 2: Run at least the pace I ran at Reindeer Run (I realize this is a soft time goal, but given my current fitness I wasn't expecting anything spectacular), Goal 3: Don't embarrass myself
Plan #1 Go out with whoever is in first and hold on for dear life, Plan #2 try to run a bit more even splits, targeting all laps under 44. I assumed if I met these goals I would likely place in the top 5 women, perhaps having a run at 3rd place.
Well I met all three goals, but both plans got thrown out the window, and I did indeed place top 5.
I got to the track meet about 90 minutes before the start of the 3k. The women's 3k would be the first running event. So I found the Case coach and checked in and forked over my cash, then I chilled and watched the throwing and jumping events while I nervously waited for coach to arrive. Checked the list and was glad to see another local road racer from the Vertical Runner team, TM, was running the 3k unattached with me. Despite knowing it was irrational to feel like the "old lady" on the track, it made me feel better knowing I wouldn't be the only one!
No other women ran unattached in any of the events, but there were several male masters who ran in the 55 m dash. This was an open event, but I don't know how highly publicized that is, or perhaps it is just off most locals radar because they are like me and have been avoiding track since college. Apparently there was an open meet the week before at Kent, that I was unaware of, but that TM had run, so she had a taste of indoor already. It was good to know what she ran there so I had some sort of gauge of what I could do on no speed training in the middle of winter :)
Coach showed up and sent me off to warm up. Did 10 minutes easy jogging around the indoor track, then about 5 minutes of stretching followed by 6 ~55 m strides. Finished that up about 15 minutes before the start just as TM arrived (got lost) and we picked up our hip numbers.
After getting my hip number I turned around to find my friend Robin and her daughter had come to cheer, as well as G&N and my husband. It was nice to have a support team and it helped soothe the nerves.
I got lucky hip #1 which meant I was starting on the inside. I have no clue how they seeded that event, my seed time was somewhere in the middle of the pack, and the girl who was seeded #2 was towards the back of the pack. We joked at the start about why we were seeded where we were, and that lightened the mood for me.
Before I could really think we were all lined up and the gun was shot. As you can see in the video in the previous post I went out fast, and for much of lap one I had absolutely no clue what was going on behind me. I was just running as hard as I could. Shortly before the end of lap one I got passed by Case's #1 runner. Plan 1 got thrown out pretty quick. I just ran as hard as I could trying not to fall too far behind her. Before the race JL pointed out Case's #2 runner who was running low 19s in cross so I figured I should target her. Only problem was she was right behind me, not in front of me for the first 4 or 5 laps. I just tried to focus on my form and hold on for as long as possible. The inevitable happened though and she passed me around lap 5.
There was no clock and I decided not to wear a watch so I was completely clueless about my pace and/or time. The only visual was the lap counter counting down our laps. It must have been at 1000 meters I could here someone calling out splits for Case's #2 runner and heard 3:30, but could not process that if I had wanted to. Again at the mile I listened for her splits and heard 5:42. I was happy with that being last year my 1 mile time trial was 5:35.
Shortly after the mile mark I got passed by Case's #3 girl. I did my best to stick with her but I was fading fast and we were starting to lap other runners at that point, which was taking a bit of extra energy. It was a 200 m track so it was bound to happen. If you read my post about my track fears you know that I have been in the position of that girl, the first one to get lapped, and I know it is no fun. I gave the gals a good job as I passed.
Shortly after heading into lap 14 I heard the bell indicating Case's first runner was heading into her 15th lap. I definitely didn't want to get lapped and told myself with 400 to go I needed to pick up the effort and try to close on #3. I managed to hold off on getting lapped (she finished about a second after I headed into my last lap), but couldn't catch #3, I was losing steam fast and had to pass quite a few runners the first half of the last lap.
I finished and my calfs started to cramp, my lungs started to seize, and I started to hack, but I was happy to be done and happy to have friends to share it with at the finish. 11:10.87, exactly the same pace I ran at Reindeer Run 5k, given I haven't done any speed work since then and I had a week off for the knee I was pleased. This was a good speed effort workout and gave coach an idea of what kind of fitness I have without any speed training. I got over my demons and even managed to have fun. I'm thinking I may try it again in a few weeks at Kent (and a 300 m track, because old ladies, we don't corner so well!).
After the race we cooled down with the Case team and they were all great girls. Friendly and enthusiastic, it is hard not to get pumped up about running when you listen to them.
Huge thanks to my cheering friends, it was so nice to have friendly faces at each end of the track. And thanks to coach for getting me outside my comfort zone. I still have a lot of work to do, but we are getting there.