There were about eight or 10 women who wanted to run the mile, so we had our own race after the men's open mile. Five of us were right on pace at the quarter, but then Mary Ann and Ona, who were in the lead, slowed down, and I had to go around them just after the 660. Suddenly it seemed like a real race.
I was 3:01 at the half and 4:33 (with Connie right behind me) at the three-quarters. Mike hollered, "You have to run an 86." So I picked it up and strained to accelerate again when Kenny shouted, "Go at the 220!"
Coming into the homestretch, Connie was still behind me. I remember imagining invisible wires trailing from the back of my head to pull her along. I knew we could do it.
I crossed the line and staggered onto the infield. Kenny came over and told me my time: 5:55.9. I must've smiled—I was glad—but mostly I was wiped out. My eyes felt as if they were going to pop.
Connie and I tottered around to recover. Her husband said, rather sheepishly, that he had timed her in 6:00.2. "I jumped up and down and shook the watch, but that's what it says," Mike said. But I know I heard 58 or 59 as Connie crossed the line behind me. I say we both broke six.
Afterward I was psyched up and frenetic. So I ran the 220 with Carole Hollister, nipping her at the finish. And then I jumped into the two-mile, which I knew was a mistake after three laps. But even the horrible stitch I got on the last lap couldn't bring me down.
Now that I've done it I don't have to be so nervous anymore. Trying to work down to 5:40 won't be nearly so terrifying. But I suppose if I ever get close to five minutes it'll be the same story as this time. There's something about breaking a minute barrier....
Today I ran 5:49.5. Marvelous, marvelous high. Afterward people asked what I'd run, and I kept slipping and saying, "4:49.5." Well, maybe someday?
Later some high school women wanted to run a 440 relay. Somehow we managed to scrape together three teams, though we had to drag a stranger out of the stands to do it. I don't remember who won or even who was on my team. Two teams didn't have batons. I ran anchor, and I think I came in last. But we had a great time.
The sun began to go down, and by the time the 220s were run it was hard to see across the infield. Children dug holes in the sand of the long-jump pits. A slender boy in a blue turtleneck and long pants executed a series of slow, graceful cartwheels, casting long shadows on the grass. Someone finished the 220, and his 10-year-old friend asked, "Don't you feel dizzy in the legs?" One pudgy girl asked another, "Are you glad you came?"