December 12, 2003
Despite the name of “Distance Carnival,” this event was a track meet with 4 races. Most of the competitors were high school and junior college age, but Todd Rose, Todd Byers and I also went, because the cost was $5 for all events you wanted to run (and $10 just to watch).
The event was at night and about 40 degrees out – cold enough to see one’s breath – and not particularly ideal for the first event – the 2000 meter Steeplechase.
I have never done a Steeplechase before, and I am not particularly good at jumping. Maybe there is this preconception that tall people are great jumpers, but I am not. I can usually reach up higher than normal people, but I can’t get my legs up higher or easier than normal people. Also, there is the ‘my-legs-are-still-really-stiff’ issue. While I was not planning on doing a hurdle-like jump over the barrier, my plan was certainly not to come to a complete stop and then climb over the barrier!
When I got to the water barrier, I had the same problem, except that I didn’t have good enough balance to stand on top of the barrier and jump over the water, so basically I sit on the barrier and drop straight into the water and… run with wet shoes.
I am briefly not in last place, as one of the kids ahead of me trips over the barrier and does a header into the water… but when he recovers, he powers on past me.
By my second to last lap, I discover that there is a very small ledge on the other side of the water barrier. My feet are narrow enough to stand on it edge-wise and not drop directly into the water. Except for the kid who tripped, everyone laps me twice (he laps me once). I finish in 9:51.9, in last place, but the best “Open” finisher – the ONLY Open finisher!
The next race is the 800 meters (approx. 1/2 mile). I do get a short break, because there are too many people to run all at once. I’m in a heat with Todd Byers and Todd Rose. Out of 43 total competitors, we three finish in 41st, 42nd and 43rd place. This is a decent field, given that I ran 2:59 (5:58 mile pace).
The third race (and no, my shoes have NOT dried out, and my feet are really cold!) is the 1600 (~ mile) and I am pretty tired from the other races. Again, there are multiple heats, so I get a little bit of a rest. There are 65 competitors… can you guess, Todd Byers, Todd Rose and I come in 63rd, 64th and 65th. Again, I have a good time – 6:59… but it is the worst of the group.
For the last race, the 3200 meters (~ 2 miles), I don’t get a break. Todd and Todd don’t run the race, so I am alone with a bunch of people 10-15 years younger than me. I think I am an odd sight (besides being a head taller than most of them) because I am wearing a hat, and don’t have the speed that everyone else has.
I am lapped by the entire field… twice, so I do get a big cheer from everyone as I try to finish without being embarrassed. I finish in 14:38, which is a really decent time, considering that I ran all 4 races AND I did all of them in wet shoes (and I was only lapped by people half my age).