Battle Belgium

Explanation of the title:
The title of this post comes from a sign we saw while running past what looked like an indoor arena on the outskirts of Hasselt, Belgium on Sunday morning, after the big track meet in Heusden on the previous evening. For those of you who didn't read my last post, I ran in a heat of the 5000m at the meet (it ended up being the "National" heat 2, or the fourth heat) hoping to set a new PB.

Boring details:
For you running nerds, here are some times I remember passing a clock during the race: 1:06, 2:51, 4:31, 9:41. Side note: there were rabbits in the race who were supposed to run 2:48/km (14:00 pace) until 8:24 at the third kilometer. I wasn't too far behind those guys for the first part of the race. Matching my splits above with their respective distances indicates I started the first 1600m (4:31) faster than I ever have, except for the 4:26 I ran at the 2003 NCAA regionals, when I finished in 14:10 for fourth and qualified to nationals. The 9:41 was the 3400m mark, I believe, making my 3000m/3200m splits something like 8:33/9:07, which would be a bit too slow for my taste. Then obviously I died in the last 2km. I got really confused at the end and thought for sure I would still be under 14:20 until I saw the clock while on the homestretch.

Ohio shoutout:
I had race number 513.

Some thoughts on the race:
It was cool being at a meet with all of those talented people. But, clearly the talent wasn't in my race. Honestly, I felt like I was on the track with a bunch of elementary school kids. One guy pushed me back right at the start and then a few laps into the race, he reappeared and tried to cut me off for an entire lap, pointing to the rail telling me I should let him over. One time, when he tried to come over, I refused to move for him, and he stumbled and I believe he had to put his hand on the ground to keep from falling. But, then he still didn't leave me alone! I ended up letting him get in front of me, and then I passed him on the outside (never saw him after that). It seemed like no one else on the track knew how to run, either. Everyone was pushing and cutting me off, and another guy who cut me off later in the race almost went down when I didn't move for him. These guys are seriously idiots. They turned my whole race into an obstacle course instead of a nice, smooth run. But, it doesn't change the fact that I was struggling to breathe as easily as I should have been during the race; that was my main problem.

More whining:
Overall, the race was close to a worst-case-scenario, but I am happy, though, that I took the chance I did. I had to spend about €400 on transportation and hotel, and if I would have run well, it would have been worth it. At least this time around (as opposed to some other races I've run in Europe) I had friends with me, who also ran, and we had a good time. Only one of the three of us ran well, but that's the way it goes, sometimes. It was also cool to see the faster heats (my friend Martin was in the third, and ran 13:46) where there were a lot of recognizable names and faces.

Euro meet anecdote:
I apparently sat next to Pamela Jelimo in the van back from the stadium. Among other things, she was the Olympic gold medalist at 800m in Beijing, and and won a cool million dollars by winning all six 800m races of the 2008 Golden League series. I didn't recognize her in the van because it was dark, but after we got out of the bus, Martin told me that he thought it was her. I don't have confirmation though. Looking back, its funny to think that I asked a millionaire Olympic gold medalist if she might be able to "squish over a bit" because another athlete wanted to get in.

Something/someone else cool:
Thomas Chamney dropped 3.5 seconds off of his 1500m PB in Heusden, bringing him down to 3:37. Last week he missed the world championships A-standard in the 800m by 0.01. He gave this interview after his race in Heusden:

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

When he said he was "going for a pint", he wasn't kidding. We saw him at the kebab shop at midnight, and then at a pub between 2 and 3am. One of my friends knows him, so he came over and talked to us for a while. Yeah, he acts like that all the time, and it's really hilarious. And his girlfriend is smokin' hot. But he had time to talk to us "little people". Actually, I was with a 3:39 1500m guy and a 13:36 5000m guy, so I was the only "little" person around. The last thing I saw Thomas doing was, as he was leaving the bar in the drizzly, chilly weather, ripping his shirt off and was yelling like he had just scored a goal in the World Cup.

Closing remarks:
I guess all of that is what happens at European track meets. I've decided I like to do that sort of thing every now and then, but I don't want to make a habit of it. It can get lonely, and chaotic, and it's not all that much fun, unless maybe you run really well, which is not something I want to bank on. Plus, after chasing some cash in Baltimore, I realized I don't like running for money, though I have no problem taking it after the fact. That'll be my excuse why I'm not a professional; I want to be the best amateur I can be, and also do something else with my life.


RM said...

That was probably the best post I've ever read on here, definitely the most interesting (to me - ha!). Liked how you broke it down and organized it. It sounds like it was an awesome experience.

Pamela Jelimo - you couldn't see her because it was dark? You racist.

fbg said...

Funny. This is my least favorite post, or close to it. I only wrote it because I felt like I "owed my readers" for the overdramatic post before the track meet, and also because I had already written a few paragraphs in emails to my family, so I just copied and pasted.

I'm not racist. I also can't see you when it's snowing.

The Other BG said...

Dude, I just came back to this post for some reason, and I've changed my mind about it. I like it, too. I need to be more consistent with writing crap.