I started off outside and quickly dashed to the inside lane, immediately in first place. The pace was quick. Too quick I worried. Rubber shoes thumped loudly on the soft black track. My red shirt and hat leading a group of white-shirted jogglers resembled a giant, lit candle marching around the track.
As I joggled, the sounds behind me got softer. The feeling of being part of a group dissipated. I heard one of the other jogglers shout “Hey, where are you going man!?” Apparently I had ran off much quicker than the rest. It sounded pretty far away, but I figured it was just one of the slower jogglers. In the second turn, I realized how much farther ahead I was. By then I had already built about a quarter lap lead. This was not going to be a neck and neck footrace but more of a speedy workout.
For the first few laps, I joggled fast. No watches, no thoughts of competitors, just focused joggling. The Gballz floated effortlessly in front of me. It still amazes me that they don’t drop to the ground. How do my hands know where to go?
By the 8th lap, I had lapped all the other jogglers. I slowed my pace figuring to conserve energy for the rest of the races.
In the end, I finished (21:50) over 2 minutes ahead of the next closest competitor. It was nice to win the race, especially after training so hard. I was a little disappointed not breaking 20 minutes, but with a big lead and no chance to break a record, energy conservation made sense.
Joggling 5-Ball 100 Meter
Regrettably, I didn’t race in the 5-ball 100 meter. I don’t know why but I didn’t want to look silly dropping every 10 yards. Too bad, because I would’ve at least gotten third or maybe even better. First place in my division was almost a minute. Next year.
Joggling 3-ball 100 meter
While the 5K is a race of controlled endurance, the 100 meter is a flat out sprint. You’ve gotta just run as fast as you possibly can and hope you don’t drop. If you drop, you can’t win. I dropped and lost. (You can see my drop in the last 16 seconds of this joggling video clip).
Before the race I felt good, confident. My win in the 5K gave me a lot of confidence that I would win this race too. The other jogglers seemed to think so too saying things like “Wow, your fast.” “You’re really good.” Of course, they could’ve just been playing mind games. Tricky jogglers.
Six of us lined up and waited. The starters hand went down and we were off. I sprinted hard keeping the juggling throws below my neck and no wider than shoulders.
Unlike the 5K, the rest of the field stayed with me. A joggler on my right (Chris Essick) was really pushing the pace. We stayed neck and neck for the first 60 meters. Then he started to pull away. I couldn’t believe it. Was I really going to lose this race? I flashed back to 2003 in the parking lot of Comisky Park after a White Sox game. My brother-in-law Lonnie and I were sprint racing this stocky drunk kid. He didn’t look fast but he won every race pulling ahead right in the last 10 meters. It was like he had one of those Turbo buttons like KITT in Knight Rider.
I summoned all my power and started gaining. But the juggling pattern started to falter. The throws went higher and wider. My arms flailed just to keep them aloft. Sprint joggling must be done below your chin.
20 meters from the finish, the balls flew out of their pattern like 3-second old electrons in a Fermium 250 isotope and fell to the track. When they hit, my medal chances were gone. I quickly retrieved them and finished the race but didn’t even get my time. Chris Essick, the runner who was neck and neck with me won it with a time of :14.75 seconds. It turns out, he is the current world record holder for joggling the 200 m and 400 m.
Humbled, I approached Chris and congratulated him. Winning would’ve been nice but the race made me happy. This was going to be a great competition.
Conclusion in part 3 tomorrow.