My First 800m

So tonight was the last race of the Southern Counties Veterans season.   The venue was Medway Park which is the home venue for Medway and Maidstone AC. Each meeting there are a number of events and this time was the men’s 800m. I am not fast enough to get in any of the teams but I went along as a non scoring entry. Non scoring entries are for people who didn’t make the team but still want to compete, there are no points scored, as the title would suggest, so the placings have no effect on the final team positions.

Now I’ve always been a long distance runner, 5k being the shortest event I have ever done.  But I have heard other vets talking about it and thought I would give it a go.  This would be my first ever 800m race.  I was a little apprehensive beforehand, why, I don’t know, not much could really go wrong, I either run 2:40 or 2:50 or 3 minutes or come last….there are worse things that happen!  I signed in and warmed up, but that was my first mistake.  The 800m event started at 7:30pm, but with many different age categories the non scoring race was another hour away.  Even in the warm evening I was starting to get cold.  We were then called to the start line and the butterflies started, not helped by the timers not being ready.

The gun went and straight away I found myself in last place.  Ok, I thought, still 700m to go.  But by now, I was tight to lane 1 and had another runner on my outside and one in front, without dropping back I was boxed in!  To my surprise I stayed calm and it started to open up at 300m.  I could see the runners up front were 30 metres ahead and Neill was leading comfortably.  I passed 400m and the bell went, the friends and families were all cheering and I even heard my name.  My second mistake, I looked at my watch to check my 400m time, just habit but in hindsight, why did I need to?  It could have put me off my rhythm.  But I did and saw I was 75 seconds, on course for 2:30 – I’ll take that I thought.

By 400m I could feel it, that feeling when the lactic acid is burning, not just in my legs but arms too, surprisingly a lot in my arms.  I was gasping for breath but had a good rhythm so just able to hold on.  I passed someone on the back straight and but no one else was close.  With 200m left my legs were feeling ok so I stuck in there then with 100m to go that was it….I was gasping for breath, in pain and my legs were jelly but I felt I could go….and I did…I pumped my arms and pulled my funny running face and passed another runner with about 20m left.  But that was it, no one else was close enough.  That being my third mistake, I crossed the line and actually felt ok, could/should I have kicked earlier?  Saying that after the race is easier than during.

I crossed the line in 8th place in a time of 2:32:1.  Which was 8 seconds quicker than I had hoped.  Also in the field was Alun and Neill, Neill won the race, miles ahead of second place and Alun got a 3 second PB.  Well done both of you.

So for my first 800m race, I finished with mixed emotions… a little annoyed at myself, as usual, I feel I should have gone faster.  But on the other side, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Like I said, I usually run long distance but the different terrain and discipline made a nice change and I’m looking forward to doing another one already.