When I signed up for the 60m race on Tuesday 5th, I was quite sure I was going to be in way over my head. While the doctor had cleared me (and my achilles) for racing, it had been just four short months since I’d done tentative short jogs at 6:30km/h pace, and I’d just had a couple of months to gear up my track training. Which had mostly been at a sustainable endurance sprint speed (like 300m repeats), not top-of-the-line aggressive sprints like a 60m requires. I hadn’t worn spikes in about a year and a half. So I guess you could say I was a little concerned.
I arrived at the Coque at around 2pm, went to the “Chambre d’Appel” to confirm the early signup my club had done and then still had a little time to talk with a few people.
About one hour before the race, I headed back outside to warm up. In other years I’d always stayed inside for warm-up laps, but inside the Coque, Luxembourg’s only indoor track, there’s no real dedicated warm-up space. Furthermore, it’s always too hot and the air is drier than Death Valley, so I preferred to venture outside into the grey drizzle.
Came back inside for stretching and strides, and then got a peek at the starting list: I was in heat 5 out of 5; which meant that I’d need to stretch out my warm-up a little longer.
Put on the spikes later than most other people, did a final short sprint which confirmed the achilles was still holding up, and then headed towards the starting line. I knew that there’d be a few people faster than me in my heat, so there was no pressure. We set up our starting blocks, and then lined up. I’d say “the gun went off” but there’s no gun anymore, just an electronic signal.
My reaction time and start were better than average. I was behind the two leading guys, and pushed hard to maintain that position. Somewhere around the 30m or 40m mark I probably lost a little time (and elegance) by pushing too much, which had a negative impact on my running style. Still, I made it across the line in third position (out of 7) and was relieved that there was no severe pain anywhere. The achilles had held up. That was the most important, but the time wasn’t horribly bad either: 7″51. A far cry from my PR of 7″00 that dates back to 1998, but I’m a whole lot older now and no longer a competitive athlete.
There’d be an A and B final later on, and while I thought my time was good enough to be somewhere in the B final, I ended up as last qualifier in the A final because one athlete had decided not to run. Out of 33 athletes, I had the 9th-best time.
Being the worst qualifier meant I was in lane 1 and far removed from the main action of the race, which obviously takes place in the middle lanes. So again, no pressure, except that I didn’t want to false-start. Again, the electronic gun went off, but this time I left the starting block a little slower (bad reaction time, no aggressive push during the first 1-2 steps). Outside of the start, my race as such was a little better, because I didn’t have that weak moment at 40m but instead pushed through to the best of my abilities. Of course I was DFL (dead f—ing last) for most of the race, and I only managed to get across the line in 7th place because Christopher Weber pulled a muscle and slowed down on the final meters. Pol Bidaine won in 7″10, but could probably have gone a little faster.
The final result for me was 7″50, a hundredth of a second faster than in the series. Most importantly, I had made it across the line again without severe injury. Both achilles tendons were sore, but that was to be expected.