Monday, July 18, 2022

If Only

I was watching the World Track and Field Championships last night and was struck by an impossibility.

The first 400 meters of a 1500 meter preliminary heat were run, as heats often are, in a cagey manner. The first lap was only run in 60 seconds, which is quite slow for world-class runners. The only objective, though, is to qualify for the next round or (in the finals) win the race, and I've seen many 1500 meter races where the first lap was this slow.

Far, far back in the day, when I was a freshman in college, I could run a quarter mile in 57 seconds. It didn't seem like a big deal, and it wasn't, because it's not really that fast, at least not compared to people who actually run track. 

I realized, though, that back then, I could have run with this pack for roughly 450-500 meters before my heart exploded. And during that time, at least for the first 400, I would have looked like a world class athlete, running with the pack.

Could anyone fake it that long in any other sport? It doesn't seem like it. I can't think of a single sport where you could look world class for a a minute+ when you were just an enthusiastic amateur. Not even university level.

Golf, if you were a scratch player, perhaps, but even then, not for very long. I wasn't the equivalent of a scratch runner, though. I was well below that. I never broke 18 minutes in the 5k, and my best mile was only 5:12. That's pedestrian, even though it's not slow. I was never going to be a great runner, or even a really good one.

Still, though. 70 seconds of glory.

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