Friday, November 18, 2016

Relays and inspiring performers in Perth

Inspiring ...

Some of the most inspiring performances came from the age group above mine, M60.  The World Champions in both the M60 200m and 400m were faster than the M55 Champions.  The freakishly fast Steve P. at age 63 ran 24.11 in the 200m ... he would have beat the M55 Champion by 2 steps and about 1.5 seconds faster than Bill C., M65 Champion, just 2 yrs older. The most inspiring to me was Gerhard.  New to the M60 age group, after losing out in the medals in Lyon by just a few hundredths, he had a spectacular meet in Perth.  Earning Bronze in the 100m, Silver in the 200m (24.63) and Gold in the 400m (55.03).  These times were much faster than he had run last yr as an M55.  His 400m time would have won M55 easily.  His 200m time was his fastest in 4 yrs.  This confirms to me that it is still possible to retain speed through the 50's and into 60.

Souvenir medals from the relays

4 x100m M50
It was nice to win Gold in the 4x100m in M50.  We were the only USA Men's team to win Gold in the 4x100m.    I bandaged my shoulder and forehead and put on the USA team kit, and went out to do battle one last time for the season.  I was really stiff, and we had stiff competition from the Germans.  They had three M50 100m Finalists on their team including the World Champion and Bronze Medalist. With us in lane 4 and them in 2, they front loaded their team, putting their fastest guys on 1st (11.55) and 2nd (11.34) legs.  They put their slowest guy on anchor.  I ran third leg.  Don, the M55 100m Champion led off and held his own.  Robert, racing the German 100m World Champion on second leg, handed off to me about even with the Germans.   Not wanting to screw it up and knowing Robert was running into a stiff headwind, I played it a bit safe and took off not as fast as I could have.  Our exchanged suffered a bit as he ran up on me, but it was a solid exchange.   I heard him yelling "go baby go" as I took the stick.  The German on 3rd leg, running in lane 2 had run 11.87 in 100m final.  The Germans had a faster exchange to third leg than ours, and with him having the inside lane, he pulled up even with me on the turn and handed off with a few meter lead to anchor.  Being the slowest guy on the team, I just wanted to get the stick to Clinton and he got it about 3m behind the German anchor when he hit the straight, it was a good exchange.  The German anchor, Andreas, was an M55 guy who didn't make the finals in any event, and when Clinton hit his stride, he went by the German so fast it was ridiculous.  He won by 5m.

To my surprise, we ran a smokin' time of 45.15, an avg split of 11.29 ...   it was just 0.68 off the World Record.  About 2 full seconds faster than both the the M50 and M55 teams in Lyon, and just 0.18 slower than a very strong USA M45 team that won Silver.  Clinton was especially happy.  I really think he was relieved actually that I got him the stick in competitive fashion.  With a history of USA failures in the 4x100m in international competition, it was nice to get it done with just a minimum of rehearsal.  We beat teams from Chile, Germany, Australia, Italy, France, Great Britain, and Japan.

Rob took this photo afterward.   I still haven't seen any photos of our medal ceremony.  Nice to stand and hear my own anthem for once.


Our 4x400m team was a throw together team with 2 M60 guys, Kevin M60 and George M64, and Reggie the M56 400m hurdler.  For some inexplicable reason regarding 'lost paper work', our World Champion, Corey was not on the team.  With Australia having 4 guys in the 400m final and Great Britain having 3, I knew it would be a good race between them.  The strong Aussie team won in a time (3:49.03)... slower than our M55 4x400m in Lyon last yr (3:48.33).  Reggie stumbled and fell at the end of his first leg, I know what that is like.  By the time I got the baton to anchor, I was at least 80m behind.  I ran a casual but stiff 400m, just making sure not to get caught.  We got the bronze.   Nice to join George and Reggie on the medal stand.  Our time was really slow... an average of over 62 a leg.

Anyway, some nice momentos.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Yeah, I'm over it.  Shit happens.

Was thinking about racing at Vandy's first indoor meet on 12/3,  just a little over 2 weeks away... but I probably shouldn't.   I thought I'd take 15 days off from the track, but I probably need more.  Alan T. says, "you need more than 15 days, gear up for January."  Probably good advice since it's been 10 days and my feet still hurt in the morning, however, the improvement is noticeable.

I know my body and I know I was really in shape by the time the 400m final went down in Perth.  I kind of hate to lose this level of fitness as I am still fairly light.  But, I've got a bad chest/sinus cold right now.   The only thing I've done physical is bike up the mountain on Monday which was a killer workout.  I think it made my cold worse.  It's bad but at least there is no fever.

400m fitness is hard fought and goes away quickly, at least for me.  For every week of non activity, it takes almost 2 weeks to return.  So, if I take 3 weeks off, it could take as long as 6 weeks of training to get it back.

So, WTF happened?
After running less than great 200s - all over 25, I felt maybe I wasn't aggressive enough in the top half of the races.  Even in the 200m final, I ran 25.04 and was closing on the field at the end, maybe a tad bit left.  So, I planned to take a gamble and go out hard in the 400m final.  I thought 55.5 could win it.  I also said to myself to be prepared to lean hard if it's close.

I think I hit my 300m split just a tad too fast, about 39.5.  Running in lane 5, I paced just a tad ahead of Trevor in lane 6.  I beat him and everyone else around the final turn.  Wow, would I like to live over that last 3 seconds of the race, but I can't.  Leading with just 20m to go to a World Championship, I started rigging, Corey and Trevor began to pass me.  I wasn't aware of where the others were... it seemed like 'everyone was passing me'  at that moment.  It was a terrible and helpless feeling, but I thought I might be able to pick one of them off with a hard lean so, 10m out I started to gather myself for a lean...  but that was a mistake.  I stumbled and fell 2.5m in front of the line, sliding 2m and coming to rest with my face just inches from the finish.  Nightmare scenario.  I thought I was closer to the line than I actually was and I thought I had fallen over the line at first, but no.  If I just relaxed, I could have medaled easily, and run a respectable mid 55's time.   I was 2 steps ahead of 4th place Richard and he ran 55.8.   Richard said, if I had fallen a half step later, I would have slid across the line in third.  It truly was a matter of inches.  I was happy to see Corey edge Trevor, earning the Gold for the USA.   It was his fastest race in 3 yrs and he executed perfectly.  He ran a great race, 55.28.
Here a photo of us with 20m to go, and the fall...

Rigging up in the last 10m is ok because one's momentum can still bring it across the line.  In the last 20m is a little harder to manage.  I could have run a smarter and bit more conservative race plan, but I went for it and lost.  The nature of the sport.  This was a tough one though, traveling 25,000 miles round trip to come up literally inches short of a medal and a step from a world title.  I'm ok with it now, can even laugh about it, but it will haunt me for years.  Still, 10 days after, I have scabs on my hands and skin peeling from my shoulder.  

Yes, I think it could have been worse.  It's not like I didn't run fast.  I met many people who traveled from far corners of the world to be eliminated in the semis and prelims.  

I've made my bookings for Albuquerque and Daegu.  I need to focus on that and heel up these hurting feet.   I'll have many more photos to share from Perth during this down time.

Running down into the M50 age group, we won Gold with a smokin ' 4x100m relay, 45.15, just .6 off the World Record... 2 full seconds faster than our Gold medal M55 4x100m in France.  More about that and some inspirational performances in Perth in my next post.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

World Masters Championships - 400m Final

This is one of the hardest posts I've ever written.  Today, after leading the World Championship M55 400m race with 50m to go, I got passed, stumbled and fell inches before the finish line ... when solidly in Bronze medal position.  I was two steps ahead of 4th place with less than 10m to go.  It was an unparalleled disaster.  I went out hard and rigged in the end, was being passed in the last 10m and I try to set up a lean at the finish too soon, and fell, sliding just 6 inches in front of the finish line.

Humiliating.  Disappointing.  Devastating.  I was en route to a certain Bronze medal at about a 55.5 pace.

I cut my forehead, skinned my shoulder, knees, and hands.

To spend thousands, train for a year, and go home with nothing.  All I can say is, I'm feeling the agony of defeat in the worst way.   Suffered to get here.  Suffered in defeat.  The Buddhists say, 'Life is suffering.'  Maybe this is what I needed.

From leading the world championship race .... to falling on my face

I feel broken right now.  A loser, surrounded by so many colleagues that are winners.

It's going to be hard to get back on that track and train for indoor.



Friday, November 4, 2016

World Masters Championships - 400m Semifinals

Won my semifinal heat in 56.24.  Advanced to the World Championship Final on Saturday. Second fastest qualifier.   

It's hard to recap the race because I have not yet seen a video.   Unfortunately, I am unable to really analyze my race and plan strategy as well as I could with the video of my race, and the video of the fastest qualifier in the first heat.

I had lane 4 with my toughest competitor, an Aussie in lane 3.   He has run faster than me this year so I expected to see him at some point during the race.  Outside of me was the other Aussie, the 400m hurdles World Champion.  I was surprised to see him start without blocks.  He started quite slow and I made up the stagger on him within the first turn.   I floated down the back stretch at a nominal pace, not really pushing it to the edge.  Still, no sign of the Aussie as I entered the final turn, I think I was leading at this point.  Just as I was nearing the end of the turn, the Aussie in lane 3 pulled up along side.  We ran side by side for a brief time before I pulled away.  Glancing up at the big screen, I saw that my lead was significant, but I still ran it fairly hard to the end.    I won by almost a second.  I really don't know if he just let me go, or if he didn't have it.  We'll find out tomorrow because I'll be tracking him, as he'll be on my outside.  It seems that if I beat him tomorrow, I should be in the medals.

I'm in lane five with both the next fastest qualifiers inside me, Corey in three and the top seeded Brit in 4.  It's not where I would have liked to be, running blind.  This situation, like all 400m races is like that game of 'lag' in billiards.  Closest to the wall wins.  Hit the wall, lose everything.   So far, my races have been well executed on the conservative side... for the first 200m.  I think my 200m was close to what it was yesterday, 26 low.. which is ok considering a headwind.  Anything faster than 26, I'm playing with possible failure in the form of rigging up in the end.  Tomorrow a 15mph headwind is forecast and hot temperatures.  I need to get that 200m in at around 26 with as little effort as possible.  My competition runs closer to even splits than I, and I need a lead coming into the stretch because he'll likely finish faster than me, he's a tall long-strider.   He beat Corey down the stretch today, mostly in the final 50m, beating him by 0.7.   Corey was pushed, they both were.  I think that could be their maximum effort.  Corey ran about the same time at Nationals as he did today.  I really think that it's possible that anything under 56 could win this and low 56 might even medal.

I need to take it out... good start, stay relaxed, don't panic or tense up if I get passed.  Tomorrow is the day.  I need to bring it.  I feel good.  Whatever happens, happens.

Here's a pro photo of my win today by USATF photographer, Rob D'Avellar.

Hanging with the fast guys - Team USA World Champions: Antwon, Karnell, and Don.
Brotherhood of speed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

World Masters Championships - 400m prelims

A pretty good day.  Knew it would be an easy heat to win, and 4 scratches in my heat made it even easier.  I ran a nominal 56.89 out of lane one, fastest qualifier.  I ran with 5 in my heat.  From lane one, I had empty lanes 2, 3, and 4 next to me due to scratches.  The first guy I could pass was in lane 5, and the second fastest guy was out in lane 9, finishing 5.42 seconds behind me... or about 35m.  
I was fairly conservative and think I could go at least a second faster in a better lane, based on my splits. 
Analyzing my race... these were my approximate splits: 
200m - 26.4 / 200m - 300m - 14.4 / 300m - 40.8 / 300m - 400m - 16.1
My goal splits are 26 (13,13), 40 (14), 55 (15)... so my last 100m was the most lacking.  I think I can shave off at least a second on that 56.89 ... and who knows, that might be enough to medal, even win.  I need to hit that 300m in 40 flat and bring it home in at least a 15.5 or better.  It's nice that they have a race clock at the 200m mark.  

It's an odd time of year to be in 400m shape for everyone, and that can help me.  Hard to tell what kind of shape everyone is in... whether they're 'sandbaggin', not tryin', or just out of shape ... or slow.  The Brit who was second fastest qualifier looked good - he already has a Silver in the 400H. Corey looked good as well.  Everyone else pretty much took it real easy and ran over 58, so... I don't know.  I'll likely see the same top contenders in my semi that I'll see in the final.  We'll see who has been doing their homework.  

I wasn't digging the stadium announcer.  He was calling me 'the little speedster', making comments about my turnover making up for my lack of height, and then going off on some tangent about Billy Mills.  Weird.  

After the race, I hung out at the USATF training area, chatted with George and Karnell, both world champs.  Karnell chatted with me about training and foot issues.  I was curious about the 300m hurdles.  Thinking maybe I'd give em a try when I'm M60.  

The USATF has two NormaTec units for the team.  These are pretty awesome machines.  They are essentially leg massagers that work with vacuum pressure.  Really felt great after a 30min session.  I also was able to get a rubber resistance band to work on my adductor a little tomorrow on my day off.  


The heats have been announced and I have lane 4 (heat 2) with the 2 strongest Aussies in 3 and 5.   It should be interesting.  They both ran slow in the prelims, but that doesn't mean anything.  We'll see how it goes.  

Havin' fun.  This place is beautiful.  Took a sunset stroll on the beach.  Saw a group of lifeguards doing sprints on the beach.  In most circumstances, I would've joined them.  But, I thought... better not.  

This beach is less than 100m from my room.  This hotel was a perfect choice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

World Masters Championships - 200m Final

After running two fairly weak races in the prelims and semis, I got my confidence back a bit with a decent race in the 200m Finals.  Finished 6th in 25.04.  Sure, I would have liked to run faster, but after a disastrous 25.47 in the semis - resulting in lane 7 for the final, I'll take it.  It's actually 0.04 faster than my Bronze medal race in France last year, and one of my faster non-wind aided times this year.   It was a fast group, 5 under 25, (compared with 2 in France last yr).  3 Aussies, 2 USA, 2 Brits, a German and a Japanese.   It would have taken a 24.6 to medal, not out of the question for me but, not today.  Don McGee won in 24.44, his second World Championship.  It was fun, the Aussies took Silver and Bronze - 24.60 and 24.61.  They were a riot.  The officials were reading some stuff telling us all to turn off electronic devices, Rudy chimed in 'alright guys, turn off your pacemakers.'

I witnessed some awesome performances today.  Steve Peters, M63 ran a hundredth off the M60 WR in an astonishing 24.11.   He is quite an individual.  An Olympic track coach, psychiatrist, and a dominant masters sprinter.  He was watching our race finish and said he 'couldn't believe it' ... 'shoulders and knees and heads bobbing all over the place...' a study in bad running form.  Steve is a high knee lift runner, as opposed to me - a low knee lift / high turnover runner.   He said that's why I run so well indoors.  Gerhard new to M60, who I narrowly beat in Lyon, also ran his fastest 200m in years, 24.63.

With Steve Peters
Bill Collins won his second Gold today in the M65.
With Bill Collins

Tomorrow is the 400m prelims, followed by a day off.  After no shows and not including scratches, there are 44 competitors, and there will likely be more scratches.  There are 5 semifinal heats and I drew lane one for my prelim.  It looks like my biggest competition will come from the Australian champion who has run 54+, Corey - who took second at nationals, and both the Gold and Silver Medalists from the 400m hurdles.  The big news is that the Brazilian who won Silver in Lyon is a no-show.  I'm feeling OK, except for a sore groin.  I think I've gotten out of the funk that I was in and I'm ready to run a 400m tomorrow.  I just wish it weren't from lane one ... with a sore foot and a sore groin.  There likely isn't anyone who will run under 58 in my heat, but you never know.  I'll try and run it hard, because with a day off afterward, it would be good for me.