May 15, 2010 - 1:22 PM
"...This may be your only chance to compete on Hayward Field," my running instructor Joe Henderson explained. Up until that point I hadn't been paying attention to what he was saying, but his appeal caught my attention: a chance to run at Hayward?
After he got done addressing the class I inquired about the track meet, and Joe explained that there was an intramural track meet that would be held Friday afternoon. I hadn't run in a track meet since high school, but I figured it was a good opportunity to see how (un)fit I am and actually compete on the legendary track at Hayward Field.
Friday afternoon rolled around, and I headed over to Hayward with my girlfriend Melissa who I obligingly talked into going with me. I signed up for both the 800m and 1500m runs. I had 30 minutes before my races, so I was able to watch the others compete. There was actually some really good talent: the winner of the 100m ran a 10.85 (only .03 seconds slower than running back Kenjon Barner on the football team) and the distance runners posted some quick times in the 3,000.
At long last, the 800 was called and I made my way to the start line. Joe blew the whistle and we were off. Everyone jostled for position and I was cleated in the calf, but I fought my way to the front of the pack. I am usually uncomfortable setting the pace, but no one else was willing so I lead the entire first lap. However, as I started the second and final lap, a guy breathing down my neck passed me and I tried to hang with him for the next two hundred meters. I was gassed at that point, but I started my kick with 200m to go, unable to catch him, but finished in second place with a time of 2:27. It was about 20 seconds slower than I ran in high school, but it was still fun to compete.
I ran the 1,500m next with only a 2 minute break (the only race in between the 800m and the 1,500m was the 4x100m). I had no energy left, but it felt like four victory laps. I'm glad I participated; some took the event too seriously, but it was fun nonetheless. I got a good workout and the opportunity to run on Hayward, so I'm happy. Plus, there were workers adding a fresh coat of paint to the Hayward bleachers while we ran, a reminder that the NCAA Track and Field Championships are fast approaching. I bought tickets for the Championships yesterday morning, so I am excited that the next time I step foot in Hayward will be to watch some real competition. I strongly recommend you do the same; visit http://www.goducks.com/ to get your tickets now.