All in all my first Southern Mens League meet was a rather bizarre and enjoyable experience. The meet consists of a selection of 4 teams (out of a total of 16 in the division) with A and B events for each discipline. As long as you have 2 representatives in each event you are guaranteed at least a point for each. This of course leads to some farcical situations where you have shot putters running the 5k and unwilling victims being forced to negotiate the steeplechase barriers in the spirit of taking one for the team. I was almost swept along with the current and had to thrust my hands deep in my pockets and bite my tongue when volunteers were requested for the triple jump. That really would be rolling back the years - and peeling back the knee caps.
2:45p.m. 800m. I'd resolved to be in 2nd place at the bell whatever happened and not to give the leader too much rope. Ideally I would win with the minimum of effort or go down fighting. Felt pretty good during the first lap and managed to split about 59, according to plan. Typically in the third 200m of 800m races there's a bit of a lull during which I'd planned to close right up and pressure. As I closed the leader seemed to pull away with good form and I was starting to have to work very hard down the back straight. I kept pushing to line him up for my kick but he kept pulling away. I never got to kick in the end as the lactic started to build up and he was uncatchable - so I took my foot off the gas in second for the last 40m or so to save myself for the 400m.
Turns out I'd met the winner before but I was too gormless to realise - the same guy had won the Watford Open race I was in last week. To my surprise I ran 1:57.7 so was kicking myself for easing up. The difficulty in today's race was that there was absolutely no respite throughout - the 3rd 200m was brutal and then just got quicker.
3:30 p.m. 400m. Drew the inside lane with some very unlikely sorts outside! Ran pretty much evenly but was missing a bit of spark in the legs. Only really one guy for competition and had run down his stagger by the final straight where I accelerated clear to win by a second. Slightly disappointed with my time of 51.8 because I thought I was much quicker this year - but who knows how the 800m affected me.
5:15 pm. 4 * 400m relay. I ran the last leg and it soon became apparent we had no chance of winning. I took the baton in 2nd place and let the third place guy overtake me on the far straight. This was the guy who I'd beaten in the 400m so I stuck with him and kicked clear to get second. Decent effort given the circumstances and I apparently split 51.3 in this leg - although we all know about the vagaries of team mates and hand timing!
It's about 16 years since I last ran a relay and I must admit to really enjoying it. I typically choose to tread my own path in life and that partly explains my sports of choice but it was good to be part of a team - and one that did pretty well. Oh, and as a club we won the meet as well.
I wonder how I'll feel tomorrow.