My own footsteps

I ran track in junior high school (sorta), high school and college. I wasn't particularly fast, and kept running shorter and shorter races (the mile in junior high, the 800 in high school and the 400 in college).

Going to a small, division-III school meant that, well, I could still rack up the points at tournaments coming in second or third against a lot of other small schools. I wish I had been stronger mentally, so that I could have been a better runner, but I did okay.

I and three of my teammates held the 4 x 400 relay record from 1991 until it was broken in 2003. Not too bad, actually. Even had our names on the big record board in the women's locker room. Ooooooo, warm fuzzies!

Today, I was goofing off online, randomly googling for friends, when I stumbled across Andy's 9th overall triple jump distance in the Caltech records.

I immediately went to check out the women's top performance's, too. I recognized a lot of names of classmates and teammates on the list, though many of them were lower on the list. The relay times weren't listed, which disappointed me a little bit, until I realized, holy crap! one of my times was listed! I was the 8th fastest 400m female Caltech runner. Holy crap!

I showed the times to Kris, and his first comment was, "Hey! You were fast!" I was always disappointed that I never broke 60 seconds, but he commented, "I don't know that I could run that fast now. I'll have to try."

Almost makes me want to train to try again, now that I know how to be mentally tougher.

Almost.

I actually remember the race, which is funny. The meet was the last one I would run in for Caltech, might have been the Division 3 qualifiers or something. I lined up in a lane just inside of a runner who, quite honestly, looked like a chump to me. I remember thinking there was no way I was going to lose to this woman. The gun went off, around the first curve we went, and I passed her, as I should since I was in the inside lane.

Coming around the last curve, I remember hearing her footsteps. I remember thinking again, "No way," and starting to run faster, as hard I as I could on those last 100 meters. My focus was on staying ahead of that woman, not on the finish line, on that woman.

I beat her, coming in 4th or 5th in the race. My team's assistant coach's daughter came in first with a time around 59 seconds.

After the race, I walked back to the bleachers to sit with my team, as my coach was jumping around all excited, and my boyfriend was laughing. Both were excited to see me. What happened, I asked. Why was everyone so excited?

Coach showed me my time, which was 3-4 seconds faster than my previous season's best, which was great. However, Rob (the boyfriend) told me about how the woman I had heard had been starting to catch me around the back curve, but, come that back straight, I had clearly run as I had never run before, the gap between us growing dramatically with every step.

By the end of the race, the only footsteps I had heard were my own.