One day in the Fall, one of the moms from Sophie's class that I'm friends with asked me if I was a runner. "No. I used to be." Right around that time, I went back to UVA for a sports reunion weekend (I ran track at UVA). These two moments fueled kind of a crazy idea: to return to Track & Field and compete in Masters Track events.
My crazy training plan started in early November. I've been working with Nike since the summer, so I joined the Nike Track team on Tuesdays for a track workout. Although I felt incredibly out of shape and slow after 20+ years of no real running, it felt great! I jumped back in with both feet, and quickly developed an overuse injury in my left ankle. Then I got back on track and tweaked my hamstring racing my husband on the beach. I started to wonder if this was such a great idea.
On Tuesday, that thought reverberated through my whole body as I prepared for my first track race in 21 years, and the first time racing the 300-meter dash in probably more like 25 years. Yet, although I was terrified, I was also incredibly curious. What would it be like after all these years? How could I sprint after all these years? What are the kids wearing these days?
I walked into the University of Portland's Chiles Center for its open track event, Tuesday Night at the Races, to familiar sights, smells and sounds. Sports cream. Warm-up routines. Start guns going off. It all came back, except I felt clueless. When should I start warming up? Should I start in blocks or standing? At age 43, I had no team or track coach to tell me what to do. So my warm-up was like a combination of running drills and nervous pacing.
Then it was my time to run. The women's 300m was divided into 5 or 6 heats, and I was seeded in heat 3. I looked around, and I was the only one over the age of 20. I wonder if these high schoolers knew they were racing against a mom of two!
The gun went off, and I made up the stagger pretty quickly and was in the lead. I had no idea how far ahead I was. I just ran my mama butt off and hoped I could keep it up and cross the finish line first. And I did! I felt like a grey-haired badass. My time of 49.23 placed me somewhere in the middle of the pack.
I didn't really care how I placed. I did it. I didn't chicken out. I didn't pull a hamstring. I didn't chicken out! And it was a lot of fun to boot.
Maybe I'll wait to color my greys until after the next meet.