Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Checking in...

This is the longest period I've not posted on Sprint Forever.

Just wanted to check in and report that I've been staying off the track and continuing to stay active with resistance work, bicycling, swimming, and some running on grass.   The initial report on my MRI shows no significant issues that would indicate surgery or treatment.  I am awaiting the hard copy of the report and a follow up with the orthopedist.

I've been shifting my emphasis to guitar playing, which is my profession.  The time I've taken away from it has increased my passion for it.  Life is a balance.  So, instead of sore feet, I now have sore fingers from playing so much, and it feels good.

Compared to last off season, I am in exceptional shape.  With the pubalgia issues behind me, I am working daily on core and upper body.   I did 3 sets of glutes last night and am getting anxious to get back on the track but I really should not do more than once a week , maybe beginning in mid Sept.  I need to keep the spikes off until maybe Nov. and I'm looking at new training shoes.

While I'm sure I've lost some aerobic fitness, I'm pretty certain I could turn a sub-59 sec 400m right now.  My weight is excellent and I've kept really low body fat.  I'm still at race weight despite the fact I'm eating pretty much anything I want... bread, chips, occasional greasy food.

I was 139.4 lbs this morning.  If I can maintain this level of fitness, I should be rarin' to go by the time the MTSU Christmas Invitational comes around in 14+ weeks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Knee exam, Track and Field news

Today I'm going to get my knee checked out.  It's not been bad, but just want to get an image to see what is going on with it.  Maybe there is a loose piece of meniscus or something.   I doubt I would submit to any surgical remedies, and I doubt there is any therapy I could do for it, but interested to see how a sports medicine orthopedist would evaluate it.  It'll probably cost me $400 out of pocket, so I wonder why I'm doing it, but maybe I could adapt future training to help minimize wear.

The Olympics were great.   I enjoyed every bit of it, sometimes even watching the track events 3 times.  Once live on line, replay in primetime with Tom Hammond and Ato Bolden, and the replay of the replay after midnight.  The most remarkable performnces were the 4x100 WRs by the US women and Jamaican men, the second fastest 100m in history by Bolt (9.63), and the 4th fastest 200m in history by Bolt (19.32) which equaled Michael Johnson's previous WR.  The Jamaicans ran average splits of an incredible 9.21 on each leg of their 4x100.  The US team was not far behind with avg splits of 9.26.   I'm generally not fond of sports commentators but Tom Hammond was superb and put an epic spin on the coverage.

The track season is not over.   There are four major Diamond League track events left this season.   Just three days away, there is a meet in Stockholm, then every weekend afterward for 3 weeks.  Many Olympians are scheduled to run this weekend, and Bolt and Blake are expected to race in Lausanne, Switzerland on Aug 23.  With 2 consecutive meets in Switzerland just a week apart, I think many of the elite athletes may run in both.  The last meet is in Brussels on Sept 9.

Sprint finishes, dignified losers?
Note the finish of the Olympic 100m final.  Only .01 separate Gatlin - who got a medal, and Gay who finished 4th.   If Gay had put his shoulders down and dove for the finish, he likely would have nipped Gatlin at the line.  In a slight lean for the finish, usually the chest breaks the finish line.  If one would dive for the line with the upper body close to parallel to the track, the tops of the shoulders would cross the line first.

With a lifetime of work and all the blood and sweat it has taken athletes to make an Olympic 100m Final, I don't know why we don't see more people diving for the finish in such very close races where an Olympic medal is at stake?  Even if Gay were leaning like Blake (in second), he might have nipped Gatlin.   Is it seen as too desperate and undignified or unsportsman-like to dive for the finish line?

I would.  I have.  In the 400m National Final, I beat the Bronze Medalist by just 0.14 seconds, I leaned very far, far enough to stumble and go down at the finish.  I think one can pick up as much as .05 sec or more from such a maneuver.  I did it because I just wanted to be sure I beat the guy coming up on me.  I still think I would have beat him if I didn't make that lunge, it would have been very close.  Nothing worse than getting caught at the line like I did in last years 200m Final.  My friend Dan who watched the finish, said it was a good thing I leaned so hard.  I asked a former many time National Champion sprinter about this and his reply was, "You take the medal, I'll keep my skin."   Skin heals quickly, much quicker than a lifetime of regret ... especially if it is one's last chance at an Olympic medal, probably Tyson Gay's situation.  I say, dive for the line in those championship races.

Below is my undignified dive that helped me beat D. Neumann in a lane one. The difference between Silver and Bronze. (winner is non-US: Jamaican)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Can't stay away

A hint of fall in the air this morning... low 60sº, brilliant sun.   

I squeezed through the locked fence at the Dean Hayes track this morning.   I just wanted to do a light workout to start my weekend.  Wanted to feel that nice 'post workout feeling' this morning.  Nothing hard, just enough for a light sweat.

Everything felt fine.  Left ham a little tight, some knee clicking but no pain.
Spira training shoes on 
600m warmup on grass, stretches, drills 
800m - 2:35 (75, 80)
I probably should limit my track training to once a week for the next month or so.   The track has become an old friend, a routine I've become fond of.  I want to really develop a solid aerobic foundation this fall, but I don't want to do too much road work so as to affect my knee.  Maybe I'll race a 5K this fall.

I went to the weight room yesterday and have been doing core work.  My weight is staying around 141 - 142, excellent for the off season.

Also, I'm enjoying playing my guitar, watching the Olympics, and doing some reading.   How 'bout those USA 4x100m ladies .... WR!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A non-sprinter sprinter

Well, the season is over.  I'm happy with the way it ended.  I value the friends I've made and experiences I've had.  

The discipline of going against my grain as a 'night person' and being up before sunrise was part of the journey this summer.   Most of my training was done during those 'magic hours' of dusk and dawn, a time where there seems to be profundity and awe in nature, particularly the hour of complete darkness to sunrise.   It feels spiritually refreshing and nourishing to be up and experiencing that part of the day.  Nearly all of my training has been a solo journey, something I almost always do alone.  Enjoying the morning after a workout is a really euphoric and relaxing experience, having tea on my back patio with birds and flowers all around.

As a relative new-comer to Masters Track, many of the people I met, especially some of the older athletes that are retired, define themselves as sprinters, runners, jumpers, etc...   It is central to their life.

For me, I don't want athletics to be my defining discipline/activity.  I feel I could walk away from it and do something else.  Yes, I'm a sprinter, but also a guitarist, teacher, lover of nature and the earth.  Lover and student of science, politics, art and culture.

When I was a kid, I was a 'practical sprinter' .. or a practicing 'functional sprinter.'   I could just bolt at any time.   Not only was I fast, but quick.   An extremely fast accelerator.  I never really worked at it.   I just did it.   I did it for the sheer joy of sprinting full speed at night through my backyard in bare feet.  It felt like I was flying, barely touching the ground.  I also sprinted for sheer transportation.  I was once stopped by the police in Cortland, NY for sprinting down the street full speed at night.   It was cold and I wanted to get home fast and get warm ... but I guess sprinting very fast on a public sidewalk at night  "looked suspicious."

Now a days, I almost never sprint full speed.  In order to even come up close to full speed, I have to go through a long, sweaty warmup that takes at least 15-20 min to do it right.  I have speed but it is not 'practical speed'.   It exists as a reserve in a 52 yr old body that when called upon, I can make it happen with the right preparation.

Sprinting is natural to a certain extent.  Some fast guys don't look fast.  I met M. Krulee at my hotel.   The dude has been sprinting for 40 years and at age 55, he looks like an average guy, not particularly fit, lean, or powerful.  But he ran 11.88 in the 100m last weekend.  5 years ago, as a 50 yr old he ran 11.47.  That is fast.. I wasn't much faster when I was a hot shit highschool sprinter.

Three things that are encouraging for me this season are:
1) I got faster from last year
2) I've learned more about it
3) I'm not injured the way I was at season's end last year

Since the season is over, I ate some of the foods I rarely eat during the season.  Chips, fries, etc... and I have to say... food binges are overrated.  I've felt pretty bad - both physicallyand mentally after some recent eating binges.

Now, going to spend time with my guitar and friends, watch the remainder of the Olympics.

I'm putting the Pumas away until the next meet.    The MTSU Christmas Invitational is just 17 weeks away.

Future posts here will be on my season in review, what I've learned, and what I'll be doing in the off season.  Thanks to all who have followed my journey this year to a Masters National Indoor 400m Championship and a Silver Medal in the 400m Masters National Outdoor Championships.

Monday, August 6, 2012

MTSU sprinter and jumper at the Olympics: UPDATED

Heh, I can say I raced against an Olympian this season.

Noah Akwu, MTSU 200m sprinter made the Nigerian Olympic team.   I saw him in June training on the MTSU track and asked him, "starting kind of early, aren't ya?" ... thinking the college season was long over.   He said he was training for the Nigerian Nationals.   Well he made it, just qualifying for the Olympic 200m Standard (20.55) by running 20.54 in his last chance meet on July 6.   Awesome!!!

Even more competitive will be MTSU grad long jumper Stanley Gbagbeke. He uncorked an Olympic A Standard jump of 8.20m or 26'11" back in June.

What an experience these guys are going to have.

The great thing about running in college track meets is sitting along side guys like Noah when we lace up our spikes.   Noah was at nearly every college meet I ran in this season, and also at the Penn Relays.  You would think these African kids would find it a bit funny to see an old slow white guy in the starting blocks... but I've received nothing but kind words and polite respect from these guys.   An acceptance of sorts that has been valuable and meaningful to me.

I don't know Stanley, but I do know Noah.  He is the nicest guy.  I hope the best for these guys because participation is more valuable than winning.  I have to remember that as i advance in my age group and stop winning medals.

Story: DNJ

Wow... if one would want a memorable Olympic experience, Noah Akwu just had one: he drew heat 1 lane six, right alongside Usain Bolt!   He represented himself well... running a 20.67, finishing 5th in his heat but sadly, missed qualifying for the semifinals by just one one-hundreth of a second (0.01).  There were 2 slower sprinters that qualified (20.72) for the semis by placing 2nd and 3rd in their heat.  

 MTSU's Noah Akwu representing Nigeria in green with headband

MTSU's Noah Akwu left of Usain Bolt in the 200m Olympic round one


Sunday, August 5, 2012

2012 USATF Outdoor Masters Nationals - Day 4 report

GPTC 4x400m M30 Relay Team
Kevin Forde (48), William Yelverton (52)
 Nick Berra (43),  John Goldthorpe (34)

Today was a fun day, even though it hurt to sprint.  

If this were any other meet besides the last day of Nationals, I would have definitely scratched.

Everything hurt ... left ham, right quad, and especially left groin.   Nothing that won't heal in a week, so not serious.

200m Finals
All things considered, I ran a respectable, but not great 200m:  25.11 - 5th USA (6th overall).   Got edged out by Neumann for 4th by 0.04 sec.   If a medal were at stake I certainly would have dove for the line and probably beat him... like in the 400m,  but it wasn't worth it.   Still, it was my 4th fastest 200m - a time that would have taken a Silver medal last year, more than a half second faster than my disastrous '11 200m final. I was happy to run a 24.88 PR in the semis.

I had lane 2 which I didn't mind.  Peter Taylor was kind enough to announce me as "Indoor American Champion in the 400m" everytime I lined up to race.   As he appropriately announced, it was a "packed final" with tons of speed ... including 5 or 6 world or national champions.   Tissenbaum - second fastest M50 sprinter in the world,  Barnwell - 60m world record holder,  Waller - '09 National Champ, Briscoe- Jamaican Champion, DiSalvo, and Neumann.

My start was ok, not as good as yesterday and I made up the split on Waller but couldn't hang with him for long.   I fought Neumann all the way down the straight and we were in a virtual dead heat.  Definitely hurt a bit

Our 4x400m GPTC relay team took a Bronze Medal ... actually an accomplishment since we were running in the M30-39 age group.  I was the old man of the group.  It was a totally mixed group with me - 52, Forde - 48, Berra - 43, and Goldsmith - 34.   (relays are defined by youngest member).  We were the only club members that we could get together in this last and final race of the last and final day of the 4 day Masters Nationals.   Kudos to Nick Berra for even doing this after running a 1:57 800m leg in the 4x800m relay that came within a few seconds of an M40 world record, less than an hour before our relay.     We did OK, ran 3:56 ... I'm pretty sure my split was under 57,  I was running in a bit of pain but I finished 2nd on my leg.  We finished 3rd out of 4 clubs... but some of the others were exclusively 30 yr olds.   We were definitely the oldest team and I was the oldest person participating in that division.

M85-95 200m race
I watched more of the meet today.  There were some amazing performances.   Watched a 95 yr old and a 92 yr old run the 200m.   At age 95, just getting out here and walking around in the sun all day is a challenge ... let alone running a 200m race.

With Bob Lida - fastest man in the world at age 75
I also met Bob Lida ...  the fastest man over 75 in the world, possibly the fastest ever his age.   The 13.49 100m he ran on Friday (I think) is a World Record.  

Another season in the bag.   It was a great one, a tough act to follow.   A great experience.  I'll miss the training but I need time to heal.   I will be very sore tomorrow, probably limping.    I am very happy I did not reinjure the hamstring at least.

After having to wait a long time to get my relay medal and my measly 5th place ribbon for the 200m, I looked out on the empty track and thanked a few USATF officials.

It looked kind of empty and sad.   But... not nearly as sad as my last year's flight out of Chicago - without a medal.

 I snapped this parting shot.
Benedictine University Track
Site of the 2012 USATF Masters National Championships

I got to Midway airport to find my flight delayed 4 1/2+ hours.   O well, gave me time to make this post.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012 USATF Outdoor Masters Nationals - Day 3 report

200m semis: 24.88  PR -- 4th fastest qualifer for finals tomorrow

I felt a bit sore and vulnerable today.   Got to the track a bit late and hurried my warmups.  I forgot to stretch my groin adequately and strained it a bit during striders.   I felt all kinds of issues... groin, sore ham, hip flexor... I was not confident I would survive this race.   I got into the blocks in lane 5 behind Barnwell in 6.   I had Waller, DiSalvo, and Nuemann in my heat as well.  I got a good start and it felt fine.   I didn't try to push real hard and just floated down the straight.   I can't believe I ran a season PR and no BS... I was not trying 100% !   I felt I was running conservatively, defensively, gingerly.  Yet only Barnwell was ahead of me... (by a lot), but finally, Waller came up and got me at the end, just 0.18 ahead.

It was extremely hectic getting to the track since I lost my car key 15 min before I had to leave.  I did find it.  I declared just 5 min before cutoff.

Waller had tape on his leg, DiSalvo was complaining about a strain... so I'm not the only one who is beat up.   My left ham is quite sore but not strained.   I think the soreness is not in the same muscle group as my tear 7 weeks ago... at least I hope.  I wish I had brought a resistance band to do a little adductor work tomorrow before the race.

So, how is this possible to run a season PR without trying?  The new "animal start" technique helped.   I also think it was better to relax and not try to run the 200m all at 100% like I always have.  There was also apparently a tailwind, but I didn't notice it.  I ran with sunglasses on, which I almost never do.

Finals outlook:
With Barnwell, Tissenbaum and Waller in there ... my outlook for a medal is poor.   My only chance is if someone scratches, gets injured or under performs.  I hope everyone does well, I'm happy to already have a medal, and would not wish injury on anyone.  But, shit happens.  It's a strong final with Tyrone Williams, Tony DiSalvo, Rudy Briscoe, and David Nuemann.  Any or all those guy could beat me.

I'm really beat up and hope I feel better tomorrow.  After this evening's severe storm, it'll be cooler tomorrow but a gusty headwind is forecast... so probably no PR.  

4X400m Relay:
It looked like the GPTC relay was off because of Rob Schwart's injury, but Nick Berra said he'd stand in.   Nick and 3 other guys are going to make an attempt at the M40 world record in the 4x800m relay.  I can't imagine he'll have a lot left after that with less than an hour to recover.  I don't intend on saving myself for this relay, I'm going to leave chunks of myself on the track if necessary in my last individual race of the season, tomorrow's 200m final.  So, if I'm hurt, I won't be a hero and run.   If I can, I'll do it but I'm sure I won't be running 55s.  It would be nice to pick up another medal.   If Nick and Kevin can do it, we may win, or likely medal.

I had a good time hangin' with some of my 'speed brothers' today:

William Yelverton and Tony DiSalvo (M50)

 Marcus Shute (M45), William Yelverton, Michael Waller (M50), and Ben James (M55)

with Deb Hofmann - W50 400m National Champion

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012 USATF Outdoor Masters Nationals - Day 2 report

Silver Medal M50 400m 


Not a PR, but my second fastest 400m.   I can say I did bring my 'A-game' to this meet.  

It was even hotter than yesterday, around 90º with clear skies.  I felt a little weak, so I did very little warmup, wanting to conserve energy.   I checked in, retreated to my air conditioned rental car, then 45 min before race time, I did a brief 12 min warmup.   Just a 400m jog and the usual stretching and drills.    Again, retreated to my car.  I got to the check in tent about 20min before race time.  They were keeping us in the shade while we waited for our races.  The atmosphere was a little tense... one of the officials said, "we have water here, stay hydrated."  Rudy Briscoe yelled out "where's the beer?"  Reminded me ... hey, let's have fun here.     

As expected I was in lane 5.  C. Moody was on my outside and I saw he had tape on his thigh.  I was a bit nervous getting into the blocks and got a decent start.   Very soon after the start, Moody pulled up so I was on my own.  Felt good, felt too easy, so... I again put the hammer down maybe a little too soon, at about 210m.  I was leading coming off the last turn - and for a moment, I thought "I can win this."   But, Briscoe and Williams in lanes 4 and 3 surged past me running side by side.  I felt ok the beginning of the homestretch but started tying up (again) in the last 20m.  I felt Neumann gaining on me and I wasn't going to let him beat me, so I did a big lean/dive at the line and came in just 0.14 ahead of him.   

Again, I should have waited 10-20m longer to make my move.  Tyrone told me I was already ahead of him when I made my move.  He was virtually even with Briscoe and was really pissed that he lost by 0.04.  So, since Rudy Briscoe ran for Jamaica at their Nationals, and at Penn, he's considered a foreigner and I collected the Silver Medal even though I finished third.  

I'm satisfied.  It could have been better but also much worse... like last year.   My 400m final today was more than 2 seconds faster than my disastrous performance in last year's 400m national final.   

It's been a great season.  I came for a medal and I got one.  I have the 200m tomorrow, and hope my wheels hold together.   

Check out my competition.   Can you believe I can run with these guys?
Rudy Briscoe (Jamaica), William Yelverton, Tyrone Williams (USA)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

2012 USATF Outdoor Masters Nationals - Day 1 report

Today went pretty well.   I was the #2 M50 400m qualifier with a 55.81, fastest American behind Briscoe from Jamaica.  I was surprised to win my heat from lane 7 with the World Silver Medalist, C. Moody, on an inside lane.  Obviously, Moody didn't bring his A-game to this race and he was gaining on me at the end.   I gave it 100%.  With some slight adjustments, I possibly could go faster.   Kind of prophetic that I ran my last training run from lane 7.

In lane 7, I could see only Wallack in 8.  He has run under 56 this year so he was good to pace off of.  I  made up the split by the beginning of the final turn, staying really relaxed, and then put the hammer down at about 200m and blew by him easily, I never saw anyone else except for Moody at the end.   I ran out of gas in the last 20m or so, but didn't totally rig up.  Neumann was more than a second behind in 56.95 in third.

It was hot, 89º ... I've seen worse.

Sizing up the 400m finals
Tomorrow, if they seed this as expected, I will be in lane 5 with Briscoe in 4, Moody in 6, Williams in 3.   Not a bad place to be.  Moody - the fastest American - will be right in front of me and I can pace off him.  I hope he doesn't go out seriously fast, I'd be tempted to go with him.   The adjustment I will make tomorrow is patience.  Instead of putting the hammer down at 200m, I'm going to wait til 220m.

There are 2 non-medal eligible foreigners in the finals - I. Smith (UK), and Briscoe (Jamaica).  So, I could finish 4th in the race and still win a medal, or even 5th if I. Smith beats me.  I really only have to beat Granowski and Neumann to win a medal and 2 things are in my favor:  1) they both are running the 100m prelims 90m before the 400m.  (not an issue if they are in shape.. just the heat and fatigue are factors).  2) I beat them both soundly today....  and I really think they were trying since they finished 3rd and 4th in their heats.  I. Smith was faster than both of them today.

Standing next to Briscoe and Moody was a little intimidating... very tall, muscular African men... their asses seemed to come up near my chest.   After today, they don't scare me.

I feel pretty spent but good.   I had a good dinner at one of my favorite college-era restaurants - Fudruckers (fish sandwich and potatoes).   Then I went back to the track to walk lane 5 and relax... go over my race plan and think.  I talked with a few other athletes.   Generally, I just need to relax, conserve, be patient, and when it's time to put the hammer down.... keep form, don't get tense, and dig deep.

Here's a stadium photo from my evening walk ... the point near which the race "begins."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pre race day - USATF Masters Nationals

The nine lane track at Benedictine University
Lisle, IL
As I was telling a friend, whatever happens at the Nationals, I'll be fine with it.   It's been a great season, a National Championship, all new PRs.  

Last year, it seemed like so much more pressure and not a lot of confidence.  Riding to the 400m final in Berea last year, I told my parents, "this feels as serious as cancer."  A dark attempt at humor, but I did feel pressure, and I ran a dumb race.  I was devastated by missing a medal in relatively uncompetitive M50 200m final last year by .05 sec.   It haunted me for months.  I ran much slower in the finals than the heats.

This year, it's much more competitive and I recognize my chances for a medal are less, especially in the 200m.  About double the number of competitors this year.

Dan S. emailed me from Lisle and said the track has  long sweeping turns, not tight.  It looks rather old and stained on the satellite image.  At least there seems to be some woods and shade nearby.  (Actually, the local highschool track a mile away looks much better and newer).

The 400m
My best chance for a medal.  C. Moody the World Silver Medalist means business since he is not signed up for any other event.   He ran 52.50 last year and will win even if he has a bad day.   Two other guys have run under 55 sec - T. Williams and R. Briscoe, but Brisco is Jamaican and not medal eligible.*   Wallack, who must have just turned 50, has run 55.90, as has I. Smith but Smith is a Brit and not medal eligible.*  Neumann, Granowski, and J. Smith have all run mid-low 56's.  There may be others I don't know about.

My guess for the M50 400m finals in order of seed will be:
J. Smith
*I. Smith

There is a 9-lane track so I wonder if they'll take 9 to the finals?  With 8 guys capable of 56.5 or better, the prelims will be a serious race.  Scott G. has a habit of really rising to the occasion, like he did at the 200m indoor.  He's new like me but has a good coach and more experience.  And, I haven't run sub-56 in a meet for 3 months, despite what I think I've done in training.  So, no guarantees that I'll make the finals unless I bring my A-game.

The 200m
The 200m field is stacked.  It will take a few scratches to allow me to be competitive, and my ham has not been tested at 100% since the injury.   Barnwell and Tissenbaum are both sub 24 and easily outclass the rest of the field.  Next in line for the bronze will be M. Waller, former many time National Champion.  Briscoe will take a lane in the finals, so there will be 6 of us vying for the remaining 4 lanes in the finals.   There are a number of us capable of running sub 25 or close ... Wallack, Nuemann, Disalvo, J.Smith, Williams ... to name a few.   So even if one of the top seeds scratches, it will be very difficult to medal.   A realistic goal would be to make the finals and not get hurt so I can run a 4x400 relay.

Conditions are calling for temperatures around 90º, humid, chance of showers, and a light southerly breeze providing a headwind on the homestretch.  Today, it's really hot ... 92º at 1 pm at my place, 95º in town.  It'll hit 100º today easy.

My weight is good, 139.2 this morning.  Need to eat a good dinner tonight, and something small tomorrow morning.

As I say, I'm going for fun and to participate in the season's 'last hurrah.'   My main goal is to make the finals and not get injured so I can run in a relay on Sunday.