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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Who was that Girl?

Last night as we pulled into Emory University and we walked to the track to check in for the ATC Track Classic 3K, all I wanted to do was get in the car and go back home.  It was everything I remember and hated about P.E. in school.  I was not that kid who waited anxiously in my seat, leg bouncing, could not wait to get to P.E.  I was the kid always trying to get a note that said I could not participate.  As much as I hated team sports like field hockey, and kickball that made up most of my phys ed. experience, nothing symbolized it more than the track.  This is where they lined you up for the timed mile and everyone in class suddenly knew who was and who wasn't athletic.  Get which side of the coin I was on?

Now I realize that I am 44, and far away from that gawky teenager who finished last and had to dress back and get a late pass from a disappointed gym teacher.  Or at least I thought so, until I stepped onto that track. My husband would say he has probably never seen me that nervous before a race.  Not even my first half in February.  It was late.  My heat went off at 8:25 hubby's at 10:30.  I was so happy to go first.  All I kept saying while we warmed up was "I just want to get this over with."

To make those of us unfamiliar with the track experience more comfortable, they had the Harbinger of Doom line us up.  This was his speech before a bunch of over 40 women, some in their sixties, took off for 71/2 laps around the track.  "Listen up ladies, you need to run in lane 1.  It does not matter how slow you are.  The fast ones will go on the outside to pass.  If you run outside of lane one the faster runners will hit you."

"Um, Excuse me? Yeah sure no problem, and I am much less stressed now."  I was next to my friend Kelly who is markedly faster than me, but always thinks I am a much better runner than I am.  So that was comforting.  The gun went off and I did not die of a heart attack, solid start and one fear down.  As we got into the race and I moved to lane 1, as I had been so gently instructed to do, something happened.  All the fear went away and I was just running.  Running like I do nearly everyday.  Running strong, feeling good.  An ATC regular, Melissa, was in front of me and I settled in behind her thinking this pace feels good I will just stay. Kelly streaked by, but did not lap me as I expected.  The two competitive runners in the field lapped all of us.

As I came by what would eventually, 7 laps later, be the finish line hubby was standing with my good friend Herb.  I had not seen Herb in over a year.  He retired from Cobb Water 5 years ago and works with a running store now.  Herb was laughing and cheering for me.  It gave me extra energy.  After a lap and a half I wondered what I was so stressed about.  In the final 200 meters I still had plenty left in the tank and could have out kicked Melissa.  Melissa had paced me the whole race, given me something to concentrate on, and I did not see the reason to kick past her.  I finished in 15 minutes. Got my first sub 8 average pace.  I placed 3rd in my age group.  None of that compared to the feeling that I was not the same girl that stepped on the track that night; I definitely liked the one that left more.  Also it was kind of a high.  If you were never a jock in high school, you never got to do anything "under the lights."  It was kind of cool to be out there under the lights running last night.

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