Saturday I opened up my 2011 track campaign with a 3000 at the Husky Classic at the University of Washington in Seattle. I was entered in an altitude converted 8:22 from 2008, which only put me in the 5th of 6 heats. This meant that I would be racing in the morning session at around 8:20. Luckily I had my young friend, and roommate for the weekend, Tim Freriks in my heat. Throughout the weekend we traded off reassuring each other that the race would be at 9:20 Mountain time. So much better, right?
We woke up at 6:15 and I got down a bowl of my favorite Coach’s Oats. At around 6:45 we hopped in Coach Mo’s van with a couple milers, Caleb Potts and John Yatsko, that were racing a couple heats after me and Tim. We arrived to the Dempsey (UW’s 307m indoor track) around 7 and Tim and I got to warming up after a little bit of stretching. After my warm up I had a Gu with caffeine. I am fairly new to the caffeine craze as I’m not a coffee drinker and I rarely drink tea. I have read some interesting articles professing that it boosts performance. Sounds shady, but if everyone is doing it…
When I finally spiked up and made my way to the outside lanes of the track I got that old, familiar feeling that you only get before track races. It had been too long. I took a look at some of my competitors and it struck me how young they all looked! How old am I? I should have asked if anyone was born after March 1993. (As loyal readers of RunPD I don’t have to tell you the significance of that date, right?) I thought to myself, “I wonder if any of these guys have raced at cross country nats three times?” Doubt it. Too bad I have already gone over how track is a different sport.
I should have known that my first race back on the track would have a false start. I think I could devote an entire post to false start experiences I have had and what goes on in my head after one… maybe if I have another false start this season. In trad-PD fashion, I got out great on the second start and made my way onto the leader’s outside shoulder by the first turn. The pace felt very comfortable, but I figured it was still honest as the first, and “slower” heat went out in 66. No such luck for us. “69!….70!….” It took me about half a second to realize this pace was unacceptable and wouldn’t even get me under the Big Sky qualifying standard of 8:30. I took the lead and pulled the field through the next 400 66. From there the original leader came back to the front and took us through 1600 in 4:32 — still just on 8:30 pace. The last kilometer or so things really started to heat up with a few different surges, including a valiant one by Tim. I really should have chosen one of those surges to latch onto, but instead I kinda just slowly picked it up. Poor form on my part. How many times has someone said “he just slowly picked it up toward the end of the race” when describing a great track race? Never. I ended up running 8:26, the same time that I ran here three years ago. Ughhh!
After feeling rather disappointed in my effort for a few moments, I convinced myself it was a good rust buster. I got a conference qualifier and this race was something to build on. I’m hoping my workouts will continue to get better and better and I can have my best Big Sky track meet yet.