In the Summer of 2004 I was still riding the high of my sub three hour marathon. There was a National Masters track meet in West Seattle that brought the best from around the country. I decided to enter the 5000 meter and 1500m races. Both would be on the track. The 5000m is about 3.1 miles (a little more than 12 laps) and the 1500m race just short of a mile and a little less than four laps.
It was the hottest day of the Summer. It was over 90 degrees. Dangerous for running races. For some reason my body does well in heat. The first race was 5000m. As we were warming up I felt like I was the only guy who didn’t look like a runner. Everybody was super thin and I remember these guys from New York who sounded like professionals. I figured I would get embarrassed. I wondered how many times they would lap me. I don’t recall much besides it feeling like an oven. I wish I remembered what place I got. It was first, second or third. I got a trophy!
For the 1500m I figured I would get killed but at least I did OK in the first race. The 1500m is for super fast people. One of the guys I knew. Everybody knew him because he often won. I watched him warming up but was not that impressed… I also thought he would win. The race started quickly and I just decided to be controlled. As we came down the first straight I realized I was in fifth or sixth. I felt comfortable. I stayed there and after about 1.5 laps I was right behind the guy that had such a good reputation. It looked like he was working hard but I felt relaxed. He was in third position. I told myself to stay there but I felt like I was going to run into him. Finally I just thought that I would pass him and pass him fast and finish strong and see what would happen. If you pass someone, do it fast! Act like it is easy because it will defeat them mentally. I made my move and I could feel that he was dropping behind quickly. How fun!
The person in first was so far ahead he surely didn’t even know I was on the track. The person in second looked like they were weakening as we started the third lap. He was probably 100 meters in front of me. I decided to aim for him knowing it was unlikely, but miraculously I was pulling him in. I passed him on the third lap and as we entered the final lap I was in a distant second, but felt great. No way would I catch the guy leading. I decided to give everything I had. With 300m to go he did not know I was back there about 30 to 40 meters behind. I was closing fast.
As we rounded the last curve I would estimate I was 10 meters behind but he still didn’t know I was there. I was giving it my all. The crowd was going nuts. I was closing the distance. With about five meters to go at the most, I was passing him and leaning in to finish.
It was too late for him to respond. I beat him by maybe a foot or two. It was wild! I won!!! So I went home with two trophies that day. I learned to never underestimate myself. My time that day was 17:40 for the 5000m, but I don’t remember the 1500m. It was below five minutes but I can’t recall by how much and I can’t find the results online. What a great, surprise of a day!