Dave Powner Reports: I’ve written some lengthy reports in the past, but you might find that this is the first one that takes longer to read, than it did for me to complete the race.
This was to be my first ever track race. I hadn’t even trained on track before, so wasn’t really sure what to expect. In preparation, I scraped the hardened mud off my cross country shoes, swapped the 15mm spikes out for some suitably short ones, and ran round the dirt track at Rowheath.
I was not sure how long to stay in lane for in a race like this. Do we run one whole lap in lane, then drift into the middle? Do we start on a curve, and go straight into lane 1? Or would there be a marshall directing me inwards just after the water station? So imagine my relief when the full entrants list was published on the BMC website, and I had been drawn in lane 1!
There were numerous track and field events listed at the meet, and my race was slowest and last of the eight 800m races. You could tell how fast each race was going to be, as they provided a pacemaker, whose intended pace was shown. My race’s pacemaker was 77 seconds per lap. This suggested that the other runners in my race were going to be a bit quicker than me. My race was to include four teenagers, two seniors, and myself. I concluded that I would be coming last, but was looking forward to the experience.
I turned up early at Tipton Sports Academy and watched a couple of hours worth of kids races ranging from 150m to 600m, before the BMC 800m races got underway.
The two seniors in my event hadn’t turned up, leaving me in a race with a bunch of 13 year old girls. “When I read your name, make yourself known to me”, ordered the official. “Dave Power?”, came the Freudian slip. He looked around the five competitors, pretending it wasn’t obvious that I was the 40+ year old male. I made myself known to him. “Lane 1”, he confirmed.
After reading the remainder of the school register, he sent us to our starting points. I settled behind the line, pausing momentarily to look at the others to make sure I was actually facing the right way.
I poised with my finger on the start button of my Garmin. None of the other competitors were wearing a watch. They must all be too experienced to need it. Why was it taking so long for the starting pistol? I now began to worry about doing a false start, and was trying not to twitch.
We were off!
While we were still in lane, I wasn’t sure how I was doing compared to everyone else. After the first bend, everyone moved in from their lanes, and I was relieved to find myself in third position. Despite 7 lanes worth of room to my right, I felt cramped, as we were all hugging the left, and I worried about being spiked, or spiking or tripping someone.
I held third position at the bell, and helpfully the officials read out our time as we passed. 80 seconds. That was a couple of seconds quicker than I was expecting, but I felt good, so wasn’t worried I had overdone it. Barrie and Dean had advised me not to go out too quick, and I was determined to comply!
In the back straight, I still felt good, so stepped up the pace. I expected the two in front of me to do the same, but they didn’t seem to respond as I passed them. I passed the pacemaker too, who I assumed was ending the race there. Being out in front was weird! I fully believed that the two girls behind me knew what they were doing, and would overtake me on the final bend. I didn’t want to look over my shoulder, for fear of looking too competitive against a bunch of kids, so I stayed out in lane 2, to allow them to pass on the inside when they kicked.
Into the home straight I was still out in front, although I had no idea by how much. I was torn between trying to look casual, and trying for a good time. I think I struck a good balance. At least, I couldn’t hear any boos from the moms and dads in the stand as I crossed the line a couple of seconds clear.
I shook hands with every one of my competitors, although some of them were slightly confused about how to shake hands in the traditional manner. Or maybe it was me being confused about how to shake hands in the modern manner.
My official time was 2:37.5, and I reckon next time, I could shave a couple of seconds off that.