Early Saturday morning I woke up with a start - I looked over at the clock, it was 3:15am. I still had over an hour to sleep before my alarm went off to make the drive down to RFK for the half-marathon. My nerves, however, wouldn't let me get those extra z's - but, it was a good nervousness. I was feeling confident in my training - I knew I was ready for a fast one that day. My confidence also reminded me that an anniversary of sorts was around the corner.
I started thinking about my senior year of college, there was about a six-week period starting in February until the end of March of that year when everything seemed to go right where my running was concerned. I won the 3k & 5k at indoor conference (MCC - now Horizon League) - and then on March 25th, I ran the 10k at the Alabama Relays.
It's not that this was really an important meet - I don't remember being especially nervous about it. I do remember starting out with the lead pack - feeling very relaxed. I remember my assistant coach on the back stretch calling out my splits every lap. I remember that my first 5k split was ~15:15 - which was on pace for a big PR. I then remember feeling stronger as I went through the second 5k - soon I was running on my own - the laps falling away - not that there wasn't effort - but, it wasn't a forced effort - it felt natural.
As I came down the the final laps my coach seemed to be getting excited - I don't quite remember when he started telling me I had a shot at it - but, I remember him yelling with 600 meters to go that I needed a 65 last lap for a sub 30 min 10k. It sounds ridiculous now - but, somehow I found a little something extra - sprinting that last lap as hard as I could. As I crossed the finish line I looked over at my coach -who was running towards me along with a half dozen teammates. He was yelling "you were under!" - soon my teammates were piling on me - like I had made the last second shot in the NCAA basketball tournament.
Although I had some chances to run faster that year - including Penn - I never got within 40 seconds of that time. I guess that in some ways I keep running to recreate that "one shining moment." I'll never come close to that time again - but, the great thing about running is that I can find new goals - and feel just as good about meeting the new goals as I did on that cool March evening 10 years ago today.
Man, I'm getting old.