As a little kid, I loved to speed over the grass, feet flying. Someone would holler a destination, yell “go,” and our group would dash away. It was fun to throw myself wholeheartedly into the race, always beating everyone to the finish line.
Then I got old enough to run track. Even though I saw myself as a sprinter, the state record holder was on my team and I wasn’t that fast. Our coach decided that I’d do more good for the team running the 880. That might have worked out if he’d done a little coaching – like, perhaps, explaining what that meant.
I’d always taken off as fast as possible at the start of a race, and always done well. Then again, I’d always done the 100 and 220. I didn’t even know what the 880 was. For those only familiar with the current metric-measure on races, that’s not how we used to measure track events.
- 100 – sprint down the straight stretch on one side of the track (changed to 110)
- 220 – sprint starting in the middle of a straight stretch, around one curved end of the track, to the middle of the opposite straight stretch
- 440 – run around the track one time
- 880 – run around the track two times
At our first meet, the starter’s gun went off and I exploded in my usually fashion. Not realizing the distance involved, I was well out in front of the pack for three-fourths of a lap. Then I started wondering where on earth is that finish line? I slowed, and slowed, and slowed some more, but kept going.
By the time I’d completed one lap I was ready to quit. A few teammates stood at the edge of the track cheering me on, “Only one more lap! You can do it!” One more lap? Are you crazy?! I can’t do another lap! Pretty soon all those people I’d left in the dust at the start of the race passed me. They’d started the race knowing something I hadn’t – the 880 is a distance run, not a sprint.
Pre-RA, I would throw myself wholeheartedly into activities, knowing that I’d be exhausted, but also knowing that I’d recover quickly.
Now it turns out that I’ve been moved to a distance run. I’m learning to pace myself.