By Jay Silvanima

I hadn’t run competitively on a track in over 2 decades, so I thought “what can I lose” as I pulled up to the Mike Long Track on June third. Once on the track, I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of youngsters loosening up. At first I felt strange, an outsider in this world of youth. However, in a matter of minutes I was warming up with the “old” Gulf Winds interval crowd and I was beginning to feel less like an odd ball.

I planned to run the 100 meter, the mile, and, if I had anything left, the 5K as a training run. Several persons asked “What are you running?” Tim Simpkins asked and I replied, “The 100, and the mile.” Tim’s advice was “don’t rip a muscle out.” He then went on to inform me of all the horrible things that have happened at summer track meets. These included the death of a competitor who collapsed after running a 4:20 mile some years ago. Tim said the person had a hereditary heart disease. All right, now I knew what I could lose, MY LIFE! However, Robert Pautienus, Tim and I all joked at the thought of dying on the track, “what a great way to enter heaven’s gates.”

We watched the youngsters run the 100 meter dash. Thank goodness that we didn’t have to run with them. They were all so FAST! Next, the Gulf Winds’ women lined up for the 100. Don’t ask me what happened, because I was too nervous about my own 100! I do remember the start, but from 100 meters away the finish was anybody’s guess. There were enough Gulf Winds men for two heats. We were asked, “If you think you’re slower than five of these guys, line up for the first heat.” I looked around and said out loud, “how should we know?” After some deliberation, I decide to run in the second heat. My thought being that running with faster runners would make me increase my effort.

The gun goes off for the first heat. I see Mike Sims bolt into the early lead, and then weave from one side to another in his lane. Right when we think Mike has it sewed up, Will Walker’s second rocket booster goes off. Don’t ask me who won, we did see Will holding up his hands in apparent victory, but from 100 meters back I wasn’t going to make the call.

The second heat of five of us set up at the line, and the gun goes off. As I accelerate down lane three, I note that I got a late start and am in dead last place. The young guy beside me in Lane two is clearly 5-7 meters in front of me at 20 meters. I dig down and accelerate at 50 meters. I’m still in dead last, but I see that David Rodgers is limping slightly. Hobson Fulmer, Doug Gorton, and another young man appear to be getting closer, or is it just a mirage. In for the kill I go. At 75 meters I’m with David, and go into hyper ventilation mood, and roll my eyes back into my eye sockets. As I near the timers I note the guy in lane two has easily won and that Hobson’s easily taken second. I cross the finish line and keep going. I end up about 30 meters from the line and “my timer” comes over and shows me his clock stopped on 13:00 sec. I still have no idea where I placed.

All right I say to myself, not bad for an old fart. I write down my time on the time sheet. As I start talking with Will Walker, we note that there appear to be discrepancies in the reported times. His given time 12:87 is way ahead of Mike Sims 13:30 yet the two finished very close together. My time is listed as faster than Doug Gorton’s. Cool I say to myself, that is until Doug finds out. He was slightly in front of me the last time I looked, however, don’t ask me where we finished. Being the kind soul that I am, I noted this on the score sheet. However, I was happy with my time, even if it was bogus!

Oh well, all joking aside, there’s always next week to decide who can run the faster 100. That’s the great thing about these track meets! And without a photo finish, there’s always going to be a dispute, but who cares! I could have asked head timer David Ogletree what he thought about the finish, but why bother when the timer placed me ahead of Doug! Doug did make sure there was no question as to who won the mile, as he easily did in 5:07. I huffed and puffed into fourth with a 5:20. And yes, I did run the 5K. This at an 8 minute per mile pace for the first 1.5 miles, and then serving as a pacer for Tim and Robert’s finishes, which were by the way something like 16:40 and 16:20 respectively.

See you at the Track, JAY