Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Day 4 - Malaga World Masters Athletic Championships

My fourth day of competition was relay day.  I would like to post more about the entire Malaga experience - both as an athlete and a tourist, but I don't want to turn this into a travel blog.  However, in the days to come, I'll post more stuff about Spain, and my entire experience including the tourist things.  After all, I had more time off than I was expecting.

M55 4 x 100m - Gold Medal - USA:  47.40 (11.85 avg/leg)
This was the only day I'd be running at the big main stadium.  Seemed like a pretty nice track.   I really wanted to run on this team but didn't know if I would be til the last minute due to flaws in the selection process (see below).   We had 4 solid legs and if we could get the passes right, we could win. 

We met out front of the stadium, measured steps, and practiced handoffs for about 20 min.  Rob to Damon, Damon to me, me to Don.  I had 3rd leg, the turn and needed to get the stick to Don, hopefully with a lead.  Don was tired, having run 9 races by now.  The Brits had some fast guys, Neil and Paul who were 200m finalists in Daegu, and John who was a 200m finalist in Malaga ... so they had a solid team.  Australia did as well.  We had lane 4, Aussies in 5 and the Brits in 7.  I felt really good, no signs of ham soreness and a bounce in my stride.

The race started and Rob seemed to hold his own and the exchange with Damon looked ok but the Brits had a slight lead.   Damon came and I was about even with the Brits but ahead of everyone else when I got the stick in a good pass.  I was against Paul (4th in Daegu 200m) and I made up the split  and gave Don about a 1-2m lead.  Our exchange also went real well and I remember the baton slap into his hand and I ran behind him half way down the straight yelling 'Get it Don!! Get it!'.  I was a bit worried as John from the UK started closing the gap at the end but Don held on to win by 0.37 in 47.40.  Good time, not a great time as we were .25 faster in Lyon.  Our splits as posted on the team spreadsheet were:
Rob - 12.80
Damon - 11.80
Me - 11.40
Don - 11.40
We were fortunate to win as I had learned later, Damon had injured his ham during the race and had to withdraw from the 4x400m team. 

M55 4 x 400m - Silver Medal - USA:  3:51.31 (57.83 avg/leg)

We were not going to beat the UK in this one.  They had 4 of the top 5 finishers in the M55 400m.  So we were dueling with a strong Australian team for Silver.  They had Todd and Darren, tall 400m/400mH guys front loading their team.  Don led off for us, me second, Rob (subbing for Damon) third, and Marcus on anchor.  We were in lane 5 while the Aussies were in lane 3.  I got the baton from Don behind the Aussies and well behind the Brits.  Determined to beat the Aussies to the break, even though Todd had inside lane, I took it out a bit hard and paid for it in the end.  I took at least a few meter lead in front of Todd and expected to hold it, as I wasn't rigging, but to my surprise, the tall Aussie came loping by me in the home stretch and I passed off to Rob about 3m behind.  That sucked, I hate being passed in a relay.  Rob held his own giving the stick to Marcus just behind the Aussies.  Marcus at 6'4" tall was racing an Aussie who was about a foot shorter than he.  Marcus ran a good smart leg and finally passed the Aussie with about 40m to go giving us the Silver.  The Brits won by a ridiculous 9 seconds in 3:42.42, setting a European record - averaging 55.6 per leg more than 2 sec faster than our avg 57.83 per leg. 

Splits as recorded on the team spreadsheet:
Don: 57.2
Me: 56.6
Rob: 60.4
Marcus: 56.6

The Aussie who passed me on my leg, Todd is 58, and John, the Brit who won Silver in the 400m running 55.95 is 59 yrs old... and Gerhard who won M60 at age 62, ran 55.88 - which tells me M60 is going to be no picnic in the 400m.   I'm thinking I'd be more competitive in the 100m at M60 - the bronze medalist ran just 12.74 in the M60 100m finals.  Of course Don and Allan will both be moving up as well at the same time as me.

USA Relay controversy

Unfortunately, the USATF Masters committee is overwhelmed by the task of putting about 40 relay teams together, and because the decision has to be made quickly and the criteria is vague, the system often fails.  Filling out paper forms with some scribbled notes is not a good way to do things.  I will propose at some point an online form with clear criteria and links to athlete performances so everyone is privy to the situation and there are no politics involved.  It's a complicated issue, especially when comparing athletes who, for example - don't usually run the 100m, for placement on a 4x100m team relay.

All that said, there was controversy and I had to make my case that I should be on the team because one of the members - like me, who only ran the 200m/400m,  had: 1) ran slower than me in the 200m Malaga prelims,  2) ran significantly slower than me in our last recorded 100m races from '17 (12.25 vs 12.65).   I was told by team captain Phil, decisions are based 90% on performance at this meet.  I had emailed team captain with no response, talked with Rex the masters chair, no response, then finally contacted Robt. who agreed with my case.  He asked me 'why I didn't make my case to the team captains at the Friday night social?'  The fact is, I did.  That is when I talked to Rex.  I didn't know why I had to make my case if they had the data.   It was 11:30pm the night before the race that I found out they made the change and I was in the M55 USA 4x100m.   This unfortunately caused some bad feeling, particularly because, unbeknownst to me, someone close to me contacted the athlete in question and asked him to do the right thing to which he responded negatively and with some falsehoods.  I was very embarrassed and extremely upset that it had come to this.  I didn't need anyone meddling in my issue, didn't matter who was right.  I felt the fallout later.  I hope I can salvage an apparent lost friendship. 

In Daegu WMACi '17, I was placed on the M50 4x200m relay team by the team captain.  At the last minute I was replaced by a guy who in the same meet, had run a 26.31 200m.  I had run two 200s at 24.86 and 24.82 in the meet.  It was the wrong thing to do and I never complained to the team.  It cost me a relay gold, so I wasn't going to let this issue go quietly.

I've always produced fairly well in these short relays.  Setting the WR twice in the M55 4x200m in Albuquerque in '16 which still stands; and in Perth, our Gold medal M50 team ran a blazing 45.15 - that's 11.29 a leg.  I looked and it was significantly faster than Willie Gault's 4x100 in Sacramento. The only WMA M50 Championship 4x100m that was faster was the Bill Collins team of 2003, and only faster by 0.2.  We were just .6 off the WR.  So, I feel I can hold my own on a sprint relay.  I did my job and we won. Good passes, good leg.  As team co-captain Jerry told me afterward - referring to the fiasco, 'all's well that ends well'.    It's a nice medal... heavy. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Day 3 - Malaga World Masters Athletic Championships

Been reluctant to make this post since I must report the fact that I ran my worst 400m race of the season at the worst possible time - when it mattered the most, in the 400m M55 semifinals.  Good thing I don't make my living doing this!   It took Don's best 400m of his season and my worst (of 7 I raced this year outdoor) for him to beat my at the tape by few inches or 0.07 sec and eliminate me from the final.  I was nervous, not relaxed and I completely rigged up in the end, went out too fast, a stupid race.  I ran the prelim easy... 57.00 while slowing up and looking around all the way down the stretch.  All I had to do to make the final was to do the same thing again.  I ran 57.54 my worst time of the season.  A mere 57.47 would have got me into the final.  Needless to say, I was devastated.  I really let myself down.  After all that painful work, I just threw it all away.  Wasted.

Still, my easy 57.00 prelim was the fastest time at the meet by any US M55 400m racer.  But it would have taken a sub 56 to win a medal, which I think I could have done if I executed perfectly, but that obviously didn't happen.  Don who beat me in the semi, completely collapsed in the final and ran 59.88.

I was so pissed that night I could not sleep.  I stayed up til 4am and guess what I was doing... booking arrangements to go to Poland to race the WMACi Indoor in March.  I stopped short of buying a plane ticket, but I think I'm going to go.  Might as well, already have the request for time off approved.  Ending the season in good shape, no serious injuries.  I may even race the district Senior Games... which start in 2 weeks.

So, I ended up having 3 days off unexpectedly in Spain... went to Cordoba, Ronda, and had a great time.  I really have enjoyed being here.

I'm looking forward to some consolation medals in our relays.  I should be on both the 4x100m and the 4x400m.  The initial listing had Marcus ranked above me and me as an alternate, but that was a mistake and if I hadn't pointed it out, they may have gone with it.  When choosing 4x100m relay members, you have to look at 200m times when guys haven't run the 100m, or the most recent 100m a guy has run even if it's last year.  If they go by the numbers, there is no issue.  So, I hope they correct it by tomorrow.  If not, I'll be going to Robert and Marcus directly.  I don't want a repeat of the Daegu situation where I got pulled off a relay at the last minute and someone's friend or roommate got put on instead.  As of tonight, they still haven't fixed it. 

One more free day in Spain.  Thinking about Granada.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Day 2 Malaga World Masters Athletic Championships

Day two of racing was a bust for me.  Under-performed again, still only a 25.70 from lane eight in the semis, finishing fourth.  Did much like I did in the first round, except stumbled slightly at the start.  I was even with the top 2 coming off the curve but rigged in the last 15m and was passed by the Japanese who took 3rd.  I led him through the whole race until the last 20m.  I lost so much time at the end he beat me by 0.24 sec, or about 2m.  Don't know what is the matter with me.  Have felt generally weak since I got here and have lost confidence a bit.  This is the first event at a World Championship that I've been eliminated from the finals.

If I had run what I ran in June twice - (25.30 and 25.32), I would've made the finals and finished 6th.  If I had run what I ran in Lyon twice (25.04, 25.08) or in Perth (25.04) or in Korea 3 times (25.04, 24.84, 24.82), I would have medaled.  Hell... my 200m split in my 400m final in Daegu was even faster (25.5).   No excuse.  Conditions were good.  Can't really explain it.  Seems like I must have peaked back in June before that series of injuries.  To race at my A game, I have to be on a roll.  I'm not so good I can win with my B game at M58.  Plus, I really haven't done much 200m race modeling, although my times in training shoes were faster than 25.7, and my 200m split in a 300m event run was about 25.7, this lack of speed is pretty bad.  I think I over estimated my fitness and under estimated how fast I was running in the first 100m.  Can't run a 200m like a 100m.

This photo was of my semi, about 40m before the end.  I got passed by the guy to my left from Japan.

Was planning on doing a big drive today and take some friends into the mountains, but no one wants to go and many are sick with colds.

Well guess what... Corey Moody - the defending World Champion from Perth IS here, and he's in shape.  He just ran a 2:14 in the 800m semis.  Shoot, if he can run the 2:14 in the 800m semis, he's going to kick ass in the 400m.  Going to be tough to make the 400m final.  Corey hardly ever races and no one knows whether he's going to show up or not.  He qualified 10th of 12, be curious to see if he'll run the final or if this was just a warmup. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Touring in Spain

First day off, the first real night of sleep I've had in 3 days.  I finally got out of bed, dressed and out the door by 3:30pm and decided to pick up John and Carlos and drive to a mountain village called Tolox in the Sierra de las Nieves, a town I just selected off the map within an hour drive.  We drove through the olive groves and small towns until we reached the end of the paved road high above the city at a historical spa called Balneario de Tolox, and a hotel called MontaƱa.   The road was really beckoning me, but it was for SUVs only, unpaved.  How I wished I rented an SUV.   It probably would be cheap here. 

The spa opened in the 19th c. and is reputed to have waters infused with gases that are therapeutic. I noticed many of the people visiting and apparently waiting to get in were elderly.  I walked down the stairs and peeked in the windows.  I told John, "you gotta see this."  The place had nice tile and ceramic designs, but the inside looked totally bizarre, with institutional like booths set up with 'inhalators' where patrons could inhale the magic mist from the local waters.

We then drove down to the hotel where John and Carlos had an awesome looking apple pie and home made ice cream. I had the usually superb Spanish cafe con leche. 

In this region of Spain, we saw many many olive trees and some orange trees.  It looked tropical, like Florida, but with mountains. What was most stunning was how very quiet it was. 

I stopped and picked a few olives.  They are a bit bitter when unripe.  Some of the small olive trees had big thick trunks, denoting they were very old.   They've been growing olives for a good long while here.

The flora here ranges from dry scrubby grassland to lush and tropical, with unusual barkless trees and pines.  The mountain roads are typical cliff sided with no room for error, my kind of roads.  My dad's favorite too.  ;)

Hungry when I got back, but the local supermarket closed.  Wow, closed at 8 pm on Saturday night, unimaginable in the US, so I had to drive into Malaga to get some food.  Time for bed and another go at the 200m tomorrow.  May run it once or twice, hopefully twice.

Day one in Malaga World Masters Athletic Championships

I'm here.  After a pretty much sleepless flight over, which seemed to go by quite fast (compared to trips to Australia and Korea), I picked up my car in Malaga, and drove directly to the main Stadium to pick up my credentials and declare for my events.  Well... not 'directly'... I drove around quite a bit, lost in town, found the stadium after a while.  Despite my fatigue, I stayed to watch the 100m finals and chat with friends.  Knowing I would be racing the next morning, I stopped on the way to my hotel at the University track.  It looked good, a blue Mondo.  Then I got to my hotel about sunset which is late here, about 8:38pm local time.    Hotel was fine, clean, good bathroom, quiet... good choice. 

200m prelims
Drawing lane 7, I had only one fast guy in my heat, a tall impressive looking Estonian who had run 25 flat last yr but not under 26 this yr.  He had lane 6.  Outside of me was Bob from the UK who is a mid 26 sec 200 guy.  Despite the jet lag, I felt fine, although a tad sluggish.  I was in the 7th of 10 heats.  I got a decent start after a long hold, went out very hard and immediately passed Bob in lane 8.  There was shifting crosswind, stiff... giving us a tail wind at the start but it turned to a headwind that hit us hard at the top of the straight.  (The wind reading was a -2.5 headwind).  I was leading the heat with about 50m to go and started fading due to my aggressive start and to my surprise, was passed by the Estonian.  We finished well ahead of the others and he ran 25.30, I ran 25.72...  quite a poor time even considering the headwind.  Not a good executed race.  I do believe it was the Estonian's maximum effort.  Since I've run 25.30 twice this season after a 400m, I should be able to at least get to that by next race.  It will take at least that to make the finals.  I was only 10th fastest in the prelims, and I have a tough heat with the same Estonian, the 100m World Champion from Italy (25.10 in the prelims), and a Japanese who also ran faster.  Unfortunately, I drew lane 8 which means I really have to run my race and execute well.  These much taller guys will be coming at the end so I need to not burn the turn and save some for the last 50m.  If I don't finish at least 3rd in the semi, I probably won't make the final. 

After the race, lunch at the stadium with Dale, Roxanne, Emma, and others.  Finally met Pat Logan of UK and had a nice long chat with him and John Wright.  (Both ran a tad slower than I did in the semis).  Then I went to the third track Carranque where events were going on under the lights til 9:30pm.  Being right in the middle of the city, I drove around almost 45 min before I found it.  I needed to see where it is and the parking situation since I'll be running one race here, the 400m prelims on Tues.

We went out for dinner later, I had a shrimp omelet, chicken and salad w/ tuna.  Food is fairly cheap here, and having coffee here reaffirms the fact that the USA has the worst coffee in the world.  Coffee here is wonderful, even in a stadium cafe.

Today, Saturday, a badly needed rest day, is raining like hell.  But I need to get out and do some sightseeing and shopping.  This is an enormously picturesque place surrounded by the Mediterranean and the Sierra Nevada and the Sierra de las Nieves Mountains.   People here seem courteous, drivers not too crazy ... generally an attractive breed of mostly fit healthy looking people.   I was driving in the city and got into the wrong lane by mistake, and it was a taxi that stopped traffic and let me in to make my turn.  How often would that happen in the US?  Never.

I hope I can make it through the rounds and at least get to the finals of the 400m, if I don't make it in the 200m.  I wonder sometimes if I can still run fast.  Fortunately, I have no injuries, just a bit of fatigue.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Final workout

Low 80's and very much like Malaga weather here in Sewanee in mid afternoon.  I contemplated what to do today.  Since I ran a rather disappointing time trial yesterday, I thought about doing another 400m, but decided it would be too much.  I needed some race modeling so I ran a beeper paced 300m event run...  it went really well.  Now we're talkin'.  Much better than yesterday.... even though my pace was about the same through 200m.
Hoka trainers on 
300m warmup, stretches, drills 
2 x 30m from blocks 
300m event run from blocks - 39.8 (25.7, 14.1) 
Hoka trainers on 
3 x 150m w 30 sec rest - 22, 22, 21
3 x block starts

An 'honest' 300m even run, from blocks, reacting to a beep start.  Fastest 300m I've run in training this season.  Was still under 26 at the 200, although it didn't seem that fast per my effort.  When I hit the 100m in well under 13, I relaxed a bit but it was still fast at 200m.  Huge difference from yesterday.  Why?  First reason, weightI weighed 141.4 after workout today.  I was about 3 lbs heavier at workout yesterday.  The other reason is intangible.  Some days you just have it, feel it, etc... some days you don't.  At the end of the run I felt I could have run the last 100m in 16 or less which ... theoretically, would put me sub 56... but I don't want to get too optimistic.  Maybe I'm moving toward a peak.

I finished with a brief but hard set of intervals, ran mostly for form and not a maximum effort.
I may go out tomorrow and just stretch, do some strides, resistance bands, nothing much. 

Hasta luego.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Time trial

Very warm tonight for Sewanee in Sept., 80ish around sunset.  I put the spikes on for the first time in 2 weeks.  Went ok, not great, but I felt good afterward, no strains and feel fine.
Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
400m from blocks- 56.96 (25.8, 31.1)
I went out a bit too fast and rigged real hard in the end.  It was exhausting.  I self timed and had Roya timed my 200m split, she actually had me in 25.4 for the opening 200, but was looking from 100m away and starting on my movement, so 25.8 is an estimate... too fast for my fitness level.  Lost a lot of time at the end.  My last 100 was certainly 16+.  Bad... but not terrible overall, just need to execute better.

Maybe a bit heavy, was 145 ish before workout, but I ate lean today, so I think I can drop 2 lbs by the time I race Friday.   I may be in better shape for a 200 than a 400.  We'll see. 

I may go out tomorrow to do a brief conditioning workout, like 3 x 150m w/ 30 sec.   Tues I'll do a shake out light workout and I leave Wed, arrive Thurs, round 1 of the 200m on Friday. 

Not in 'medal shape' ... but it's about the journey, and making the finals.  The rounds will be like 'training'.