My Irrational Fear of Track Meets

My past track experience is not all that impressive. I honestly couldn't tell you a single time I ever ran in a single track meet through middle school, high school, and college. I think I have effectively blocked most of it out. I just recall that I never loved track the way I did cross country, otherwise why on earth would I have bailed on it sophomore year of high school to play a wench in Man of La Mancha? Coincidentally my times suffered after that in both cross country and track and never really recovered until a few years ago (for those counting that was a 10 year span of not improving my 5k time from cross my sophomore year).

Looking back I probably missed out on some great experiences. Don't get me wrong I liked outdoor meets in high school, lots of hot skinny guys in short shorts, what's not to love? But I never really excelled at track, even when I was a decent runner. Outdoor season they tried to get me to do as many long distance events as possible and I was expected to get points in all of them, it was just a lot of pressure, especially considering my general lack of track talent (I never even came close to going to states).

I believe I only ran one indoor meet in high school, and I couldn't tell you the event, I just remember Ian Gold and I were the only runners that went. (Yep I ran with an NFL player in high school!) I know he was super speedy but I can't recall even running a race myself that day.

Enter college. Freshman year I bailed on cross late in the season due to a presumed stress fracture. Sophomore year I decided to try indoor. The meets took up nearly the whole weekend, I didn't get along with most of the runners, and the actual racing, well one word: mortifying.

I wasn't fast in college, and you know what they do with slow gals, stick them in the long distance events. For me that meant 5k, 25 laps around a little track. I think I competed in two meets, maybe 3. The only one I remember my dad and David came to watch. I was chubby and slow, and I remember getting lapped, and my thighs chafing so bad they bled (bun huggers were not my friend). The next meet they were going to have a 10k, not normal for indoor, and not appealing at all, that is what coach wanted me to run, so I quit, getting lapped once was quite humiliating enough thank you.

I guess I feel that running track is extremely vulnerable. In a road race or cross country, you have a bad day, no one really notices, there are plenty of people streaming in, most people just see runners in one or two spots on the course. On a track it is extremely clear who is doing well and who is about to get lapped/dropped because they are way out of their league. You can watch every instant of each individuals race. This makes it extremely exciting for a spectator, but for me as a runner it freaks me out a bit. You are out in the open, and there is literally nowhere to hide. I remember it being so overwhelming once in high school I sprinted off the track and forced myself to heave.

So tomorrow it is likely that I am going to have to overcome these little track demons (I should be running 3k at the Spartan Relays tomorrow, as long as I entered in time) of mine. I know that I am no longer that slow chubby girl, but now I wonder will I be that old lady trying to regain her youth.

I am absolutely clueless as to how to race on a track. I was never really in a serious track race where I was good enough to run with the lead pack. I am intimidated to say the least.

Oh well, hopefully this old lady can at least give these college gals a run for their money. I don't expect a spectacular time since we just started in on speed training, but it would be nice to get the competitive juices flowing, I need to work on being more aggressive for sure. The good news is 3k is the first track event so I can scoot out of there really quick if it doesn't go well and it will all be over in less than 13 minutes even if it goes badly!

ps. if any locals want to come cheer/warm up/cool down with me the company would be appreciated! 3k should start at 1pm.


Heidi Swift - Grit and Glimmer said...

Ah! Great post. I always felt the same way about track. It's amazing what the smell of icy-hot will do to my stomach.

Good luck - you'll be great! I love that you are jumping back in there to give the college girls a run for their money and I can't wait to read about how it goes!

jeff said...

have a great race, e! give 'em whatfor! show 'em what old bones can do!!

Keen Bean Company said...

go E!!!! I can't wait to hear all about it!! It is awesome to get out of your comfort zone and look that fear in the eye (and then kick it to the curb :)

Robin said...

Good luck tomorrow! I can't wait to read all about it - your race reports are great reads!