In 2006 when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, which takes places in October every year, I ran an 800 m race in July just for giggles. As it turned out, I wound up running a 2:16.05 which was/still is my 5th fastest time ever. I'm not saying that to brag... okay, truth? I'm TOTALLY saying that to brag because I think running a 2:16.05 800 m on marathon training is probably my favorite running accomplishment EVER - even better than my actual 800 m PB or the Chicago Marathon that came after it. So, bragging aside, I was hoping to pull off the same thing today at a local 3000 m track race.
I have not, of course, been training for short distances. I have been working my butt off to get ready for the Montreal Marathon but I am naturally better suited to 1500-5 km than I am to anything longer so I hoped to pull off a 10:10 or so... During a run this week I threw in 1 km in 3:22 that felt awesome and easy and I figured, maybe even sub-10:10 for the 3 km.
Then the heat sheets came out, or, as they are called here "battle sheets". First, the women and men were being run separately. Argh! Why? Why? This isn't national championships or even regional championships, it's just a local fun 3 km on the track, why not organize people by speed instead of gender. Anyway my seed time of 10:30 was the fastest in my heat by 50 seconds. There were three women between 11-12 and everyone else was over 12 minutes. Did this make me feel like a super speedy runner? No! Not at all. It made me feel like this race just didn't happen to attract women around my time and that the organizers should have mixed the heats especially since the first men's heat had a fastest seed time of 10 minutes and a slowest time of 12:30!!
Okay, grumbling aside, I did find it very interesting that this 3000 m race attracted 3 heats worth of women with 15 women in each heat with an average age of about 40! Talk about cultural differences, in Quebec it is rare to find athletes over the age of 18-20 running middle distance. A typical women's 3000 m race will have fewer than 5 athletes in it or will be cancelled altogether due to lack of participation. Given that Trieste (yes, I live in Trieste) has 1/10 the population of Montreal, this is a startling difference.
So, on the the race itself. I felt great during my warm-up, I had to hold myself back from running too fast. It felt fabulous to be on a flat, softish surface again. It has been 4 years since my last track race! I went out in what I thought was a conservative 3:29 first km (I had thought my self chosen seed time of 10:30 was probably a good bit slower than I could run). By the end of the first km I was already lapping women, not a great experience for me or them. I tried to pick things up in my second km but only managed a 3:30. Then the asthma took hold in full force and I remembered why I had put aside middle distance for longer distances. However I was able not to panic or give up - I really have become mentally tougher this year. I told myself to "float" for 600 m and then try to kick. I ran the 600 m float section in 2:11 (or 3:38 km pace) but was feeling far from fiesty at the bell lap. Nevertheless I managed to bring it home in 82 seconds for the last lap, 3:34 last km, 10:34 total time.
What can I say. Eh. A so so race, 37 seconds slower than my personal best. I am not training for 3 km of course, I did not taper for this race and I did have breathing issues. Yet, I am still dissapointed, I was hoping to pull a great one out of the bag. Oh well.
[Update] The race was chip timed and I just noticed that there are splits on the website:
200 m: :42
600 m: 2:07 (85)
1000 m: 3:30 (83)
1400 m: 4:53 (83)
1800 m: 6:18 (85)
2200 m: 7:44 (86)
2600 m: 9:12 (88)
3000 m: 10:34.48 (82)
Here's a photo of me looking awfully tired for being only 100 m into the race :)
800 m to go, feeling bad