Let me bring you up to speed on all PD-related running things (or is it running-related PD things?). About a week after the Stanford Invitational 5000, I went to University of New Mexico in Albuquerque to get a steeplechase in since I hadn???t raced the event in over two years. That race was mediocre at best, 9:27.02 converted, but I knew it was going to be rough: first steeple in a couple years AT altitude??? oh, and I did my first steeple workout the week prior. The steeple is one of those races with a learning curve, so I wanted to get a crash course before I really go for it.
After that meet, it was back to Flag to focus on 10k training. This weekend???s Mt. Sac Invitational was to be my first 10k on the track (speaking of learning curves). During those couple weeks of mental preparation for 25 laps, I was fortunate enough to share several meals with David McNeill & friends. As if sharing a meal of kale and Brussels sprouts with a two-time NCAA 5k champion wasn???t enough, the ???& friends??? made it extra special. On the first occasion ???& friends??? included a few NAU teammates, which was a lot of fun. The second time was with Ryan Fenton of Flotrack and Ben True from the Oregon Track Club, whom we had some great discussion with about the different levels of ???professional??? athletes in the sport.
But then a week ago, Dave asked if I wanted to join him for dinner with ???Kip and Abdi.??? You know, that???s short for double World Champ-3:26 1500-multiple American Record holder Bernard Lagat and three-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman. I thought for about half a second of all the exams I still had to grade and the Smart Materials exam I had to study for, and I said, ???YES! I would love to!??? So on Sunday I helped put furniture together for Co Mo???s and Dave???s apartment (Lagat signed the bottom of one of the chairs), ate dinner, and then watched the 2007 Osaka 5000m Final, all with Bernard Lagat. (For the record, he was only worried about Kipchoge in that race.)
Since then I have come off cloud 9 and back to the reality of my own mortal efforts that include cruel truths like lactic acid. As I said, this weekend was my first 10k on the track, which should never be confused with a 10k in cross country. I know now that those are two completely different beasts.
Unfortunately for Coach Heins, NAU had 7 different people competing in the 10k???s on Thursday night, spaced out amongst 6 different heats. The first beginning at 8:10 and the final one concluding at about 11:50. Those of you that pay attention to the details will notice that those 150 laps almost spanned across two days. Coach handled it no problem, and was still spry and full of character by the end of the night ??? no doubt the marathon training for the 2008 Trials paid off that night.
My race was one of the last ones, scheduled for 10:40 pm. I would have liked to be in Tim Freriks heat, for so many reasons, but mostly because 10:40 is usually after my bed time, 8:50 is not. I was able to have a very low-key day and arrive at the starting line without a yawn. There was a little confusion about hip numbers, so the 40 or so of us athletes were held in purgatory a few more minutes while they cleared it up, awaiting our 25 laps of hell.
The gun sounded and off we went. As we rounded the first of fifty turns, I found myself in the lead and thought, ???Tim and Coach Mo are going to kill me for taking the lead, again.??? We came through in about 72 and about half a lap later someone else took over and I rode the train hitting 71???s. At about 3k I had a bit of a smirk because I felt great and I thought I could keep hitting those splits all night. I came through halfway in 14:52, which was exactly where I wanted to be. Then a few laps later, it started to get rough. 71???s turned into 73-74 and I was hurting bad. From 8 laps to go until about 2 was really rough. I had come unhitched and couldn???t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was well on my way to running a 30:15 10k or so, but was able to rally the last couple laps. I came to 200m to go in 29:30 and kicked with all I had: 31 seconds. 30:01.31 was my final time. Hurts just to write it.
30:01 is a solid debut, but it is currently only 50th in the West region and only 48 qualify (if I were in the East region I would be sitting pretty in 30th??? confirming what everyone already knows), which means it won???t get me into the Regional meet. So what now? The only other 10k I might run would be at Conference, and those are usually slow and tactical. So my next chance to qualify is in the steeplechase in a couple more weeks at the Double Duel meet down in Tempe. For at least the next two weeks, I will be a steeplechaser.