This year I have said I was going to step out of my comfort zone. When I said that, I didn’t think it would be to run the 400 meters on a track. Looking at the Grand Prix list for the Atlanta Track Club, I realized I was going to one event shy for a participation t-shirt. The All Comers Meet had two additional opportunities and I decided running 400 meters would be less embarrassing than attempting shot put.
The day of ended up being crazy busy at work and I still had an hour plus drive to Decatur. The whole way there was filled with me along excuses about how traffic was getting in the way and I should give up. I had read that sometimes events run early and it was looking like I may miss check-in time if so. After I told myself no excuses because I wanted to chicken out, I made it to the stadium in plenty of time. And it turns out there were others more like me who were more like me that wouldn’t be setting records. I was convinced that I would be holding up the show on my own.
As we lined up in our heats, I chose to take advantage of being the seventh heat and learn something from from the earlier heats. There was also discussion around me that discussed various strategy. I also made friends with others who worried about not being fast. Oh, and remember how I said others wouldn’t be setting records? I wasn’t talking about 92 year old Betty Lindberg. Last year in the All Comers Meet, she set a world record for the 800 meters for ages 90+. This year she was doing the 400 meters and shooting to break the American record. As Ms. Betty rounded the curve heading toward the finish, the crowd and other participants started cheering her on. It was such an amazing moment to be a witness to as Ms. Betty got the American record. I can only hope if I live to be 92, that I can be just as active as Ms. Betty.
Soon after this, we were led onto the track for 400 meters or one lap around the track. In miles, this is about 1/4 of a mile. The one thing going in my favor was a flat surface. After the gun went off, I took off, hoping I wasn’t at a full sprint early. As I got near the end of the first straightaway and started rounding the turn, I willed my legs to keep moving. I was not going to walk. As the finish line came into view, I felt an extra surge of adrenaline and someone catch up to me. I surged forward and managed to finish in a time of 2:08.9. I also didn’t finish last! I’m not going to carry on an under 9 minute mile pace for a full mile, but I’ll take it for a 1/4 mile sprint.
After trying to get my heart rate down, I went to get water and cheered on later runners. I knew I worked hard and maybe pushed too hard when I spent the next couple of hours with a terrible cough. Dr. Google’s diagnosis was exercise induced asthma, which I hadn’t experienced since before I was a runner when I climbed to the 10th floor after a fire drill. I guess my hopes of a 9 minute mile are out for now.
All kidding aside, I’m glad I did this and it felt great to run on the track. It was a great experience for the camaraderie as well. If you get a chance, go try the All Comers meets as there are two left this season at the Marist School on June 6 and June 13. Go to Atlanta Track Club upcoming events for more info.