It's been a great season for me. And, I don't want to be too negative in this last post, since I won the NCCWMA M55 400m Championship, but I can't sugar coat it... I did not come close to achieving my goals and was very disappointed in my performance in this last meet, particularly because I had worked so hard for it. On the plus side, I really peaked when it counted, at the World Championships in March. So... before I summarize the good and the season overall, I have to review my failure at this meet. Maybe I can learn something from it.
Beyond what I did or didn't do, the bottom line is I had fun, especially the last day running the 4x4 relay and spending time with my dad. I have to think that matters a lot and I have to remember what it is like to participate and not win anything. The joy of this thing is people, colleagues ... this track family that I only get to see a few times a year, and being able to run fast without injury with the fastest guys my age in the world. I don't need to get hung up on my times and forget about all the good stuff, especially when I come home with an individual Gold medal (and a relay Gold). Many friends didn't get anything, some even got hurt.
One of the greatest perks from this meet is the support from USATF and Nike. We got an amazing Olympic kit, the same used in Rio. No other athletes in the world get this except USA Masters Team and USA Olympic/World Championship team. And... it wasn't just a singlet. In addition to the sleek high tech rubber studded racing clothes (our choice between singlet/tights and one piece), we got a full warmup suit, and both long and short sleeve T's. I chose the 2 piece since it's more flexible and better for a 400m. I had to stand in line for an hour plus to get the kit, thanks to my dad who waited in the car... all this while trying to coordinate a plumbing emergency repair at my home with a friend's phone (mine didn't work in Canada). What is cool is that I now have the US Olympic uniform from Beijing '08, London '12, and now Rio '16. The new thing is the triangular rubber studs, assumingly placed to help wind resistance. It fit really well, very comfortable. Singlet was light as a feather. Check it out:
Ridiculously, we had to run a 400m prelim. George warned me to not run it fast. Jim said, 'we just have to beat one guy'. I knew there were some stragglers in my heat, me and Jim ended up in the same heat due to a typo (someone seeded in 1.4 sec, meant to write 1:04, didn't even show). I was jumpy and false started after a long hold. We got off and Jim and I coasted down the back stretch together, and I felt good so I made sure I beat the guy outside of us on the turn. I hit the 300m in just under 41 which was a tad less than goal, then jogged the last 100m in 17. Finished in 57.78, Jim about 5m behind. Felt easy but both Jim and George said it was too fast and unnecessary. Anyway, that put me in lane 4 for the final and Jim in 3. Daryl said he strained something but won his heat in 1:03. There was a guy in my heat that ran 1:18, he muttered something about his 'first race in 15 yrs.' He was overweight. We had to run this prelim because he chose to enter, one of the few circumstances working against me, would have been nice to just run a final.
Before the race, I asked my dad to drop me off thinking I could get to the track faster. Huge mistake. Got lost on campus and walked/jogged about 2 miles, sometimes in a mild panic trying to find the track. I got misdirected and few people were helpful. I finally got to the warmup area about 50min prior to race. I was a bit tired. I warmed up and headed to the track. Rain looked imminent. We already had a rain delay earlier. Thought I heard thunder. We had 2 scratches, so there wasn't much competition except Jim. We got in the starting blocks and I got a decent start, went out hard for about 50 - 60m and got called back by a second gun. I thought, OK... rain delay. But no. Judges ruled 'unfair start'... someone didn't hear the 'set' command. Ok, more wasted energy. Finally, we got off and I cruised easily, knowing that the only way I'd lose was if I got hurt or rigged up really bad in the end. I was too conservative. I hit the 300m in about 41.35, even slower than the prelim. (I've run that fast in training shoes). My last 100m I felt ok, no rigging, in about 15.75 ish... I looked at the scoreboard and was disgusted with my time: 57.10. Even slower than Nationals. All that work for this!? Very frustrating. Jim took second and ran a 59. He looked at me and said, "why'd we run so slow?" It was a failure to execute. Didn't have that aggressive backstretch. Was probably close to 27 at the 200 instead of 26. Splits were probably 13, 14, 14.3, 15.7 or 27 / 30. Goal was 13,13,14,15. It was primarily the second 100m I think. Saved too much. My goal was to better my ranking and run under 55.55. It was a fail... but I still won easily. That wasn't the worst part.
The schedule greatly favored the 100/200 guys and really screwed us 200/400 guys. The 200m prelims were immediately after the 400m. I had about 75 min. This was the fastest M55 200m field in years, and of the 20+ guys, only me and Jim had just run the 400m, all the other guys were fresh, having run their 100m final 5 hours before. The first 2 heats were really fast. 6 guys under 25 in 2 heats. (Perspective: I took Bronze in Lyon with 25.08). Because of Leondus, who put down a fake seed time of 24.08 then scratched, Jim ended up in a very slow heat and won it in 25.9. I had Val in my heat, who I beat at Nationals last year with my A game, but didn't have it, having just run a 400m. We ran shoulder to shoulder and he beat me by a few tenths and I finished in a pedestrian 25.6. For the first time ever in a masters competition, I was eliminated from the final. The World 200m indoor champion - eliminated. James, who did make the final with a slower time, apologized and said he felt like I got screwed. Wasn't his fault. My dad tried like hell to change his flight and flee the scene on Sunday, but he found it wasn't worth it. $$$$ Afterward, my dad and I went out for a late dinner, had Thai food, I had a rare beer. Felt the season was over. Didn't know whether we'd have a relay or not the next day.
It was a super competitive M55 200m final. Don was beaten for the first time in years in both the 100 and 200. Alan had a stellar meet, running 24 flat winning the 200m, and the 100m in 11.83. If I had run the same time I ran in Daegu or Sewanee, it would have been only good enough for Bronze. They did have a +2.9 wind, that helped.
The 4x400m relay was me, Jim, Daryl, and Dale. But I was glad to get Val on the team instead of Dale, since Dale had just run the 800. I got to the track late, probably 45 min before the race, warmed up a little. Took a few photos. Decided to run second leg, Jim led off. We were racing a spectacularly fast USA M50 team, a Trinidad M50 team, and M55 teams from Mexico and Canada. I was happy and joking, threatening Jim that I'd be standing at the end of the zone, and how far did he want to run? Lee was laughing. Karnell and Lee had the M50 first legs, they were way out in front but Jim was closing in on the M50 Trinidad team which I passed immediately after the hand off. I just took off. I swear I held my own against Lee on the back stretch at least, he's a 53 guy. I felt like I was flyin' and I didn't seem to get tired. Jim ran about a 60-61 on his leg and when I handed off to Daryl, the clock said 1:56. Which means I ran at least a 56 leg, someone said 55.6. Figures. I didn't care, I didn't warmup, I just let it fly. I just ran! Probably the way it should be. That was well worth doing. Our last 2 legs averaged only about 62 so our time wasn't great but we still won, had a good time. Happy for Daryl and Val to get medals. Dad elected to stay in his room, didn't go.
Front and back:
After the relay, dad and I watched the World Championship 4x4s on NBC, then went to a nice park on the coast and had an excellent seafood meal over looking a marina.
It was nice. Glad he could come and happy to have been able to see a small part of the coast.
Scarborough Crescent Park
It was quite beautiful. I snapped this last photo while dad sat in the car.
It's always hard to walk away from a season, a training lifestyle, spartan diet. Already I've had my 2 cherry pastries yesterday. 6 pieces of crunchy sunflower bread toast with butter and cappuccino this morning. Just a small consolation for months of hard work. I won't stop being fit even though I must stop running for a while. Bike and weights. Work on my upper body and core, rowing machine. No need to make it harder than it needs to be to come back. I have Sr Games district meets I can run in Sept / Oct. Maybe I will.
I'll have more to say in a summary later, but all those who have followed this blog, I appreciate the interest and I'll be posting less regularly for a while as I make the shift to becoming a musician/music professor again.
Thanks to dad for the support and interest.