Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Adventures in Track and Field

My son Liam runs track and field with the Airdrie Aces.  I really enjoyed watching him race in 2014 and often wished I had entered some of the masters events at the meets he went to.  So this winter....I went for it!  I returned to the track after almost 20 years.  My plan was to attend 3 meets, Golden Bear Open in Jan, Alberta Indoor Games in Feb, and Athletics Alberta Provincials in March and do the 3000m at each one.

I had some downtime in Nov/ Dec due to injury and illness so didn't have a ton of prep for the first meet.  I set a goal of 11:15 and felt comfortable I could achieve that.  They had the masters women run with the youth girls (grades 10 and 11).  When I toed the line the young gal next me asked me what my time was ( I remember asking other racers the same thing back when I was that age ).   I had a little laugh and told her I didn't know, I hadn't ran track in 20 years.   She kindly told me that anything under 12 was really good (again, I remember thinking the same thing at that age :)).  I went out with the leaders and quickly settled in second place behind a speedy gal from MAC Track.   I wasn't able to stay with her but ended up running 11:00.56 which I was really happy with.  Did I mention I those 11 minutes were some of the hardest racing I have done in awhile??   It was a much faster pace than I was used to!

After the first meet was done I got a little ambitious.  I looked up the masters records and saw for my age group the record was 10:47.  I figured that was a great goal to shoot for by March.   So my plan for the meet in Feb was to pace for 10:46 and try and hold on, knowing I had another shot in March.  Before this race I did an 800m speed work session just trying to hold 10:46 race pace and it was so hard!  In this race they put the masters women in with the Senior women (ages 19-34).  I got to race against the speedy triathlete and U of C dino Sarah McArthur.   I let her go and ran my own race, sitting in second the whole time.  With 3 laps to go I was right on pace so dug in and went for it and ended up finishing in 10:44.15 and getting the record.  Again, for me, so fast and sooooo hard!!!

1500m sprinting :)
After achieving my goal in Feb I got all crazy and decided to try a 1500m.....what was I thinking!   I never train at speeds that fast, literally!  If you had asked me to sprint 100m that's my 1500m race pace!  Again for this meet we were paired with the youth girls and after looking at the entry list I figured I needed to go out in 3rd spot.   I was a bit nervous of the start, it was a full heat and I hadn't ran anything as fast as a 1500m in a very long time.  I was right to be nervous because I got boxed out right away and found my self running the first 300m out in lanes 2 and 3.  I was finally able to get in behind the first two gals and settle on their heels.  It was at this point I realized I was literally sprinting!  Holy smokes!  I did my best to hold onto these girlies and stayed fairly close to them crossing the line in 4:56.22, 4 seconds faster than my goal of 5 minutes flat.  Did I mention how hard this was?  Definitely taking me to new levels in the pain cave.
The next day was the 3000m and after how hard the 10:44 was, and running the 1500m the day before, I definitely didn't have plans of setting a new PB.  I was in with the youth women again and was once again up with the speedy gal from MAC track.  I figured I would go out with her based on her previous seed time of 10:40.  Well she had other plans and went out way faster than a 10:40 pace....oooops.  As my son said she burned me.   I eventually let her go and held on for dear life and finished with a a new PB and record in 10:40.66.  I was thrilled to set a new PB!

My lessons learned from track and field as a 38 year old?  I am faster and fitter than I was when I ran track from 15-21.   I have defined new levels what it means to work hard in a race.   I know exactly how my son feels when I'm telling him to "pick it up in the middle".  It's not so great.   But, I loved it, it was a lot of fun and look forward to squeezing in some races in the outdoor season.

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