Monday, August 08, 2011

Philadelphia Track Pentathlon

Yesterday, in meltingly humid, warm weather, I participated in the Philadelphia Track Pentathlon, which is put on by the Greater Philadelphia Track Club.

I should note that there's this "glutton for punishment" thing going on with me, so I can't imagine a more fun way to pass the time on a hot, humid Sunday morning than running (in the order listed) a 3k, 200, 1500, 100, and 800. I know, I know--you're envious! But don't worry--this is in its second year and we expect it to be an annual event, so upon having your appetite whetted by my adventures on the track today, you have a year to train and join us for the party next year.

Oh and did I mention that I was somewhat sleep deprived last night, having gotten home from NY yesterday evening--I'd gone to volunteer at the Maggie Fischer Great South Bay Swim. More on that in another post, but spent a lot of time on my feet Friday for that event.... Okay, but no excuses.... however, you can refer back to this paragraph if you feel I need an excuse.

Okay, now settle down and relax with a cold beer while I tell my story:

3000: Goal time for this one was 17 or under. Since my eyes were still closed at this point, I felt it necessary to wake myself up gently, no sudden (or not sudden) bursts of speed, and although in later laps, the pace felt less and less gentle (not to mention more and more slow), I did manage to reach the sub-17 goal by two seconds (give or take some hundredths of a second, records of which I haven't kept precisely). Age grade percentage, I seem to remember was 66something. Okay not a bad start considering I woke up somewhere around one mile (8:55) and wondered why I was having this odd dream of running on a track--only to discover that in fact I was... running on a track. (Splits for those interested in some precision at least: 2:06, 4:20, 6:30somethingorother, 8:55, and the rest are blurs.)

200: Fantasy goal time: to break 50 seconds. And although by this time I was conscious, my awake self said, "you're kidding, right?" I shushed her as best I could, ran 51 seconds and wondered how a person could go into such extreme oxygen debt in such a short time.

1500: Goal was to break 8 minutes. At my last track meet, I managed an 8:03, but today it was not to be (and if you noticed that I rhymed, I half intended to... working on a running rap song... maybe... or maybe a running blues song... or not. Either). I had some mild hope--2:07ish (?), 4:something, 6:33, 8:07. (Last split is at the start line with 300m left... and since I've done 300s at about 90-93 seconds in workouts, I can't say it was too bad of an effort. Well, I could say it, but I'm all about keeping it positive.)

100: Okay, MOVE OVER, CARMELITA JETER--You're going down on this one! I'm sure she would have quivered in her spikes if she'd heard me say this before the event, but she wasn't there, so we'll never know. Actually, if she was using a cane or walker and/or wearing a cast, I think I might have had a shot at her. But laying aside the more lofty (and wildly unrealistic) ambition suggested by this trash talking, I thought a more fun approach would be to pretend I was 8 years old, that a pile of leaves lay at the other end of a big grassy lawn and that I was dashing across that lawn to throw myself into those leaves. It is an odd mantra to say the least to repeat to oneself "pile of leaves, pile of leaves, pile of leaves." But it worked well enough for my purposes. My time of 23.8something beat a recent workout 100 by ... point1something.

800: Maybe you've never been broke enough to search around for change under couch and chair cushions, but try to hold that image in mind for this race. Earlier ambition was to run this event in under 4:10. Maybe even, dare I say, under 4:05. But the humidity somewhat warped and expanded these figures and my goal on starting out was--finish standing up, and oh... if you can make it in sub-9 min. mile pace, that's great too. First lap, 2:07.... Finish time 4:18ish (I only looked at my watch since I needed reading glasses to see the results on the board.) This was slower than last year's time. The other times listed (I think) beat last year's times except for the 100 which wasn't contested last year.

I must admit (it's scary, I know--could this mean I'm going all sprinter on y'all?) that I most enjoyed the 100 dash. It was pure push, just run as fast as you can toward the fantasy pile of leaves (and it's a darn good thing I knew it was a fantasy b/c it would have looked a bit odd if I'd thrown myself into the ground face first in the manner of a kid diving into freshly raked leaves).

I wasn't in the top 15 (awarded) age graded performances, that I know (my age grade percentages ranged from 54 to 66, with the higher numbers going to the longer distances). No worries. I went in with the expectation that it would be a fun, hard workout and given the weather and a couple of hectic days preceding the pentathlon, would require a sense of humor. Oh and florescent orange and blue Brooks ST Racers that I just picked up to replace my more conservatively colored ones which were about to fall apart.... If you can't run fast, at least look pretty. And color coordinate the text color in your blog entry with your shoes, of course!

Maybe that too could be a mantra of sorts, although "pile of leaves" has its own charm.