In the mile, the first three steps take on more importance than they would over it’s metric brother- the 1500m. Why? The mile begins on a curve, meaning that all who start will be bolting for the inside lane- often resulting in contact filled with elbows, spikes, and the occasional fall.
Within the first two steps, I knew that my reaction to the gun has been too slow. I watched as the runners as crashed into each other, sorting themselves out over the first bend. We flew into the first backstretch, and I settled in the rear of the field, feeling that the pace was plenty fast for my liking. Attempting to float, I found myself in lane two around the second bend, running extra yards. The field was quite crowded, and the atmosphere had put the milers in a state of aggression.
We were going for it tonight.
Relax… relax… nothing matters here… let them have their fun… be patient….
I looked ahead at the leaders screaming out of the final bend- tight on the rabbit- still burning on adrenaline.
Up the home stretch, I remained in contact, 15 meters down, trying to go into cruise-control. I looked and listened, but failed to see our first lap split. The noise was deafening but through it all I heard a shriek:
We entered the second lap… the announcer singing his approval, attempting to get the crowd into it.
These Irish enthusiasts needed no form of stimulation. They were already as entranced as we were.
Around another bend, the pack moved along. I noticed several familiar faces in front, but also many who were unfamiliar. The pre-race hype had succeeded in guaranteeing a fast race. I had finally found the rail, but found myself in a constant state of stop and go. The crowded field was continually shifting as the runners entered the first waves of fatigue. It would only get worse from here.
I was comfortable but unsure of my status. It was impossible to judge the strength of the others in a race so short. I went back to focusing on the pace, knowing that if I came through the bell in 3:00, I could run a thrilling final circuit…. IF I had the legs…
To the cheers of the crowd, the pack of a dozen men flew through the halfway point…
That’s fine Jordan, that’s fine… just stay attached, keep burning through the seconds…get ready, get ready, get ready…
The rabbit- spent from a fantastic effort- pulled off, leaving the milers were left with two laps of racing. I continued to bide my time as the front pack begun to contract as each runner began to accept the pain and prepare for the all-important final lap.
At a thousand meters, the thinking began. Caught in traffic, I was forced to stop and go as runners- who had let the early commotion take them off too-quickly- began to fade towards the rear. Stepping to the right, I moved in lane two, around an Irish runner, and to the rear of the main pack of roughly ten men.
I monitored my fatigue, attempting to get a feel for what I had left. The preliminaries had been negotiated, some with better luck than others. Regardless of whatever fortune had occurred early on, there would soon be one lap to run, and with that, the race would truly begin.
At long last, after three laps of positioning, jostling, and pain, we passed the finish line for the penultimate time…
Think Jordan think, pay attention and start to line it up… you can win…you can win… there’s still time…
The crowd erupted as the bell sounded, flooding adrenaline into both runner and spectator…
I was giddy now. There was no pain. I could feel the power in me, urging me to fly, to absolutely scream away! Thirty meters ahead, the milers began to wind it up, each attempting to shift into the gear-box, looking for speed, speed, and more speed.
I was completely lost in it, racing on what I can only describe as pure instinct. Rounding the first bend, I swung into lane 2 and felt it:the backward, forceful flick of the arm, the high horizontal knee drive, the forward lean- carefully honed products, resulting in acceleration!
I heard the announcer, yelling frantically as I shot past a handful of milers, streaking into the backstretch,
Sixth… Fifth.. Fourth…. yes Jordan, that’s it….YES… MORE MORE MORE!!!!!
I was watching myself from a place far away, moving the chess pieces, setting it up like I had before.
With 300 meters remaining, I had abandoned 4-minute-pace. Without even knowing it, my will to win had launched me into uncharted waters. Striding freely into the final 200, I split a gap on the inside, taking me past the Australian national champ over 800 meters.
I felt my body acting on it’s own accord. I was the passenger, watching as my legs covered ground, carrying around that final bend, magnetically pulling me towards the leader’s shoulder.
Four meters…three… two… YES YES YES!!!!!!!! COME ON COME ON COME ONNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The final tactics had been played perfectly. The thinking was done. I simply had to run that final straight-away as fast as I could. After all the commotion, I pulled onto the right shoulder of the leader, having somehow lined it up perfectly. My heart was soaring as I mentally captured it- the crowd screaming, the Irish sky, the empty eight lanes of mondo surface in front of me… I could have smiled right then and there…
Unable to hide my joy, I crossed the finish line, having prevailed in a lifetime best- a time that six months ago would have been self-described as damn near impossible:
On that still Irish night,over half a dozen men dipped under the magical 4 minute barrier.
Later on, I slowly circled the infield, watching as the setting sun displayed fiery hues of orange and red… I was trying to come to grips with it all, and though it’s still a bit scattered, I’ll never forget that feeling as I roared around that final bend:
Yes, that’s it, THAT”S IT!!! Damn you Jordan!!! You knew you could, but really you did it! You’ve actually done it!!! Now RUN, SPRINT, GO GO GO GO GOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!