Sunday, September 8, 2019

NCCWMA 2019 - a learning experience

NCCWMA – another world.
Aka: OY! What an Experience!

Right from the start, I got agita about the forthcoming North America, Central America, and Caribbean WMA (NCCWMA) event in Toronto. For months, it was the issue of the “uniform”. It became clear that the requirement back in April, was that we had to wear either the Team USA red London 2012 uniform or the blue 2016 Rio uniform, else, at a minimum, we would not be able to run a relay. For those who had not previously competed in an international event, and been provided the requisite uniform (sizing, I heard, was an issue) they would have to purchase one from the USATF store. Except the store did not have all sizes and there were NO blue Rio uniforms (top or bottom) available. This being one of the posts that set off a firestorm.:

April 27

Official Uniform info:
Unfortunately, USATF does not have sufficient uniform inventory to provide uniforms for those who have not previously participated in WMA or NCCWMA meets. However, USA athletes must wear a uniform top that identifies them as representing USA; other tops such as club team uniforms, race/meet shirts, etc. are not permitted.
Suggested tops, in decreasing order of preference, are:
Blue “Rio” uniforms (the current Team USATF uniform)
Prior Team USATF uniforms (red London and older) - several styles are available in from the Team USATF Store

As I mentioned, only the red seemed to be available (top at $60 at the time.) There was the black IAAF Meet top with the requisite chevron shaped USA and flag, but I believe it was more expensive (though gorgeous). Folks were going on Ebay looking for used or similar tops. There were several who purchased a top with USA in block letters across the front (not chevron), a few went out and got red (or blue) shirts and had USA printed on the front. Bottom line, there was so much uproar about it that it became acceptable to have anything with USA on it, regardless if chevron shaped or not. And hopefully with the flag but, as stated, many had shirt without the flag.

As to the bottom – well, I freaked out about the red London bottom. The USATF store image showed a woman with the waist of the half tights below the belly button, and of course snug. (intended of course for those in their 20s) I did not think below belly button appropriate for me (and then it turned out, sigh, that I already had a few such bottoms – shorts – below belly button but always covered by a shirt. ) However, with my at the time, barrel shaped ab, such a snug bottom, even if covered, would just not do! Fortunately, the word from on high was that one could wear any bottom as long as the top complied.

The whole idea was for the US, like other countries, comply with the WMA requirement that each country have a uniform that identifies their nation , Key is the phrase “approved by their national Masters Member” - in our case the USATF Masters rep to WMA.

Rule 143 Clothing, Shoes, and Number Bibs 143.1 In WMA Championships all competitors must wear a competition top that is approved by their national Masters Member. In WMA Championships where team events are contested, or where an athlete does not have an affiliated Masters Member, it is mandatory to wear a uniform clearly identifying the country that he represents as accepted by the Call Room Referee or the WMA Technical Delegate.

To play it safe, I also bought a blue RIO training t-shirt with the chevron USA and flag. (Then, while in Ames, I bought a white 2012 Team USA marathon shirt. So, I was well covered to meet the team USA requirement for NCCWMA.)

Once that was out of the way, there was still the matter of training during June and July. I have mentioned in my NSGA and Ames blogs about my lack of training. Essentially, my events in Ames had to serve as my training for NCCWMA since there was little time between,

Prior to leaving, Angela Staab called and said her travel agent had said Canadian customs required that any medication (including vitamins) had to be in original containers, not separate. Oh, cruds, I said (actually, I said something else.) I had already put my meds (now two) in a seven day small container and the vitamins in separate packets for each day. No way was I going to put the meds back in their prescription bottles and the vitamins? Ha Ha! So, I decided to put them in the roller bag and check it instead of doing carry on.

Day One: Horrors!

I had purchased my round trip flights via Expedia for a good price and except for not being competitive, was ready to go. On the morning of my flight on the 17th of July I wanted to get to RDU before 5 a.m. for my 7:04 flight so I got up at 3:30, drove to my pre-arranged parking area and then took a hotel shuttle to the airport. First, I got the boarding pass then went to the Delta baggage check. There, the agent asked me for my passport and ID. I gave her my license and passport card. No, she said, I need the passport book. What! The passport card was supposed to be valid for use in Canada and Mexico. She then told me only for land entry, not air. Aargh! I did not have the passport book with me. She sent me to the special Delta line to change my flight (to one which would give me time to get my passport and return.)

I was on that line for fifteen to twenty minutes, maybe more as they helped a family from elsewhere with their issues. After I told my story, the agent went away then came back and said she could not change my flight because I had booked via Expedia and would have to go through them. What? Inwardly I was freaking. How was I to get in touch with Expedia? I decided I had to go back home, which meant getting the shuttle to the hotel then my car and driving home to get my passport. It was close to 6 a.m. By this time. I was home by about 6:20. 

If I had gone home straight from the baggage check counter,, I might have been able to get the passport and return in time for my original flight. But no way could I make it now. I ended up finally getting in touch with Expedia (via phone) only to hear that there were only a few flights they could get for me (forget the one I missed – that money was down the tubes., as it was non refundable. Originally, I had taken cheapest deal.) Since I was to meet Angela in Toronto, I was hoping to get one that, with the two flight trip, I might still get there in time for 5:30. Nope. They told me of several one way (since my return flight was still okay) flights. Some arriving the next day. No, (At the time, I thought Angela had a throws pentathlon on Thursday, but it was the hammer. )
I did check into the multiple trains that would get me from Pearson airport to Toronto and then to Univ of York's TTFC, but at what time? I would have to coordinate with Angela to get from there to the hotel, and she would be busy competing. So it had to be the 17th, Wednesday. There was a flight for $775 that would arrive at 9:30p.m. in Toronto. Nope, too late. Angela had an early morning event and I did not want to get to the hotel after 10p.m. Another at 11:28p.m. Nope. Finally he came up with a flight that would leave RDU at 12:35 that day and with change of planes, get me into Toronto at 5p.m. The cost? $665. Almost double what I had paid for round trip. Ugh.

Since I had time before this re-scheduled flight, I mapped out and wrote down how I would get to York University's TTFC track by the multiple trains (and a bus) from Pearson airport if need be, I determined that I could get the Presto card (used when taking multiple trips) using a credit card, since I had no Canadian cash at this point. Angela had gotten the Canadian cash and I was to pay her when we met.

Two painful lessons learned (and that was only the beginning.) (1) Book directly with the airline and (2) always use passport Book.

During my wait in Atlanta for the flight to Toronto, I texted Angela who was also traveling this day. She said she would come back and pick me up (her flight would arrive in Toronto around 3:40p.m.) She needed to get her parking pass and then we needed to get to TTFC to get our credentials by 6p.m. It became a joint texting with Barbara Warren, who had been there a day or so, scoping out the eating places etc. and the trains. At 7:49 that morning, she said she could pick me up, as long as she could drop off her implements in time for checking. So I told her my flight # and time of arrival.

What happened next could have happened in a Laurel and Hardy movie. Not sure how I should begin this. Maybe with Angela's saga,

Angela arrived in Toronto and picked up her pretty blue car (smaller this time than the white SWAT- team-like vehicle in Ames.) She activated her Waze but it didn't pick up her location. She figured it was because she was still within the covered rental car area, so drove out, expecting it to pick up location once outside. She got on the road and ...nothing! Now, Toronto has heavier traffic than where she is from and many of the places she has traveled to for her Meets. It has city traffic. The highways are crowded. She had no idea where she was in relationship to where she wanted to go. Had I been there, I would have been just as confused. The signage may tell you what the next exit is but if you do not know which road to be on, that is no help. She panicked and pulled off to the side. (A feat in itself!)

Her phone still worked (Verizon) so she called Barbara Warren. Barbara said Angela needed to activate Verizon's international roaming. However, to do that, she needed the internet, which she did not have. Barbara suggested she get off the highway when she could and look for a place that she might be able to get on the internet. Meanwhile, Barbara (who does not have Verizon but did have full phone and internet function) used the Team USA WhatsApp to ask if anyone using Verizon knew how to activate the international roaming feature. She got an answer and while on the phone with Angela, who had found a hotel and begged, nicely, to use their internet so she could activate the function , walked her through it. Once Angela got Waze working, she was on her way, but still had to contend with unfamiliar roads and Toronto traffic. She was less than comfortable. By the time she got to the hotel, she was a wreck.

My saga. So, I arrive at the Toronto gate about 5:06. I texted Barbara that at minimum it would be 5:30, maybe later by the time I got out the door near the baggage exit. I had not counted on the queue for Customs. Actually, it was quite interesting following the signs just to get there. Once there, I found an available entry machine and at first put my passport in wrong side down. It took a slow minute for me to realize why nothing was happening before I inserted it in with info side down for the scan and looked directly into the camera. Out comes a paper with my passport info as well as the photo.

 Now, I proceed to – one of the the two (I recall) - Customs agents at the exit. He takes my paper, looks at me, then sends me on my way, keeping the entry paper certification. No checking of any bag for drugs (my meds). All that worry for nothing. It then took me a bit to find my way out of this huge area. Lots of people. Lots of ways to go. While in the queue, I had texted Barbara that I was in customs and it would be closer to 6 by time I got out. Which it was. I got out to the pickup area worried that Barbara may have already left. I texted her to indicate which area I was at.
 And that is when I noticed that all the texts I had sent since landing were still in the sending mode!None had completed. So then I decide to call her. No dial tone! The bloody phone was essentially dead. No texting, no cell service, no internet. (My service is Virgin Mobile) Disaster! I was beginning to freak. I did not want to leave in case she was still around but I was beginning to think about the train, but still somewhat panicked because how would I get in touch with anyone since taking the train to TTFC would do no good if no one was there. With no phone to call with. Heck, I would not even be able to call for an Uber or equivalent. Now that we are so dependent upon cell service there are no longer pay phones (and if there were – I had no Canadian money!) I would be like folks on the Amazing Race who when in similar situations beg passerbys.

Wat saved me was a gentleman who was standing nearby when I began grumbling about lack of cell capability when he took his phone out. He offered to let me use his to call Barbara. A life saver! Turns out she was still there and shortly afterwards pulled up, stopping in the lane. I struggled to get my roller bag into the back seat over her pole vaulting equipment. She said she had been lingering in an off area used for cars awaiting arrivals and had kept track of my plane's arrival and had an idea of when I might exit. Smart woman and oh, so, patient and kind. She entered the now very heavy traffic, talking to Angela who was at the hotel. (Holiday Inn Express on Norfinch, right next to Toronto PD's Division 31 satellite station.) The plan now was to go get Angela's parking pass and our credentials. I dropped my stuff off and we all went in Barbara's car. The radio kept playing a medley of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and We are the Champions over and over. 

 Meanwhile, there were problems on the road. One exit to another freeway below us we were to take was closed. We could see no reason why. There seemed to be traffic on it. It was also closed going in the other direction. So Barbara had to find another way around this when the Waze or her app kept trying to send us on that closed road. Eventually, we found where Angela could pick up her parking pass to one of the TTFC parking lots. Next we went to see where TTFC was. Then finally off to eat. We went to the place Barbara had eaten at before, a Vietnamese-Thai place. They had food she could eat. I had lemon chicken with rice. It was so-so. I ate mostly the rice and peas. (Again, I could not eat much.) but I do remember the guy at a nearby table who received an enormous bowl of what looked like soup. Really enormous. It could have fed a family. And then, he left at least ¾ of it. Barbara said that it was the stuff inside the liquid that he ate.

On the drive to get the pass and to TTFC, Barbara told us of the not so hot experiences others, who were staying at the dorm, were having. One had what appeared to be bedbug bites, so Barbara had some cream to help it. Another said room was “smelly” and did not have what she had signed up for. She actually left (they charged her double but she got that straightened out.) She was fortunate enough to find lodging with another who had a hotel room. Another changed rooms within the dorm due to problems. In the room there was no microwave but one in a shared kitchen area. There was a long walk outside to a place where one could get coffee and something to eat. Barbara was picking up fruit etc to give to the isolated ones. Angela did not say “I told you so!” to me but I could read it in her mind. I had been saying, not to worry - it would be like camping out. She said she was not a camper-outer!

That evening I at least got some connectivity – internet and WhatsApp, by using the hotel WiFi. So, as long in hotel, I was in touch with the world. (No texting of course.)

Thursday July 18, TTFC. Acclimation.

Angela had hammer at 10:15, I had nothing. The Holiday Inn Express had a buffet style breakfast area which had the usual plus one neat machine that made pancakes! Angela tried them, I went with the cheerio style cereal. The track was ten to fifteen minutes away, depending upon traffic. We were on Norfinch DR (next to the Toronto police Division 31 station.) Waze took us onto Finch then to Jane St, eventually to Shoreham and Ian MacDonald Blvd. There seems to have been an easier way (Norfinch to a right onto Steele Ave W with another R onto NW Gate etc. Fewer left turns.) The traffic was heavier than Angela was used to. It certainly was not like Ames, IA!

Sherry Hott (in blue) helping out (again)
The parking lot that Angel's pass was for was not as far from TTFC as it seemed to her when first viewed. It was an easy walk, on an overcast morning. We entered the TTFC building and after passing through an entry way, were in the inside track facility. Tables with packets for the entrants were set up near the wall on our left. The banked track right in front of us. The Declaration table was farther down an adjacent wall and beyond that, near a door exiting to the outside track was the Check-In table. We picked up our credentials and saw Sherry Hott near the Declaration area.
Christel Donley

 Angela declared in plenty of time for her event. While she was competing in the hammer, I watched some of the field events while sitting on a side hill.

 I watched Barbara Warren, Christel Donley, Jane Simpson, and Mary Trotto do the penthalon high jump

The folks getting ready at the high jump area

In the  individual high jump at Varsity on Saturday, Barbara Warren got second, jumping 1.05m, Jane had to stop, and Kathy Bergen, W75, set a Meet record.

In the younger AG events,  Neringa Jakstiene (W55) and Rita Hanscom (W65) both set Meet records, jumping respectively 1.40m and 1.26m Some approached and sort of flopped over whereas others were a bit more of the classic jump and take it sideways. I was too far away to see Angela's competition well. 
I had moved from the hill to the fence alongside the track to watch, with Mary Robinson, some of the men running the 400m prelim. Later, I attended the Team Manager meeting around 10a.m. on the benches at the side of the indoor track. Before the meeting there were some male athletes who were annoyed that at the last minute another athlete was allowed to check-in. One was supposed to check-in an hour before your scheduled track event (40 minutes before a field event). Nonetheless, they all went off to the track. I got relay sign up sheets for both Angela and myself. They said they would be using WhatsApp for most of the communications (which we had been informed of well prior to the event.) When the events moved from TTFC in York to Varsity in Toronto, team meetings would be held in the stands.

Angela threw 10.24m, coming in five of six, ahead of Jane Simpson (who was still limping after Ames, yet was doing the high jump.) Yoko Nakano of Canada came in first throwing 24.41m. Nakano was a tough competitor in all of her events.

Myrle Mensey (W70) continued her winning streak by setting a Meet (and WMA) record by throwing 38.63m, followed by Mary Hartzler, throwing 32.69m. 

 Angela and I got to talk with Mary Robinson and Mary Hartzler
after the hammer throws, while Myrle was being interviewed by Rob D'Avellar (who had probably gotten super shots of her efforts.)
Rob interviewing Myrle

Before we left the track, we both completed our relay sign up sheet. I indicated only the 4x100 and Angela, debating what to do, put both the 4x100 and the 4x400, but with a note for the 4x400 that only if they really needed her. She wanted to do only one relay and preferred the 4x00.

For lunch we went to McDonald's. A different fare offered than at the US McD's. I got a cashew asian salad and a coffee frappe. Angela had Asian salad. Both were good. We did our Walmart shopping, picking up some fruit and, for me, protein drinks. When we got back to the hotel and got up to our floor, we discovered that both of us had left our room keys in the room!

We had dinner with Katherine Willis and husband Bill at Angelo's Homestyle restaurant on 3300 Steele Ave W, in Vaughn, (really, just down the road a piece from the Holiday Inn Express.)
Katherine Willis and Bill
I had three pancakes and bacon, and yes, I finished it all! The others had more normal meals. Katherine would be running the 5K on Saturday, at Varsity, so they had come into town and were staying at a place exorbitantly expensive. Our USA Team manager had told us at the team meeting that one reason the downtown hotels were so expensive was because there was a huge influx of people for another large event going on in Toronto at the time.

Friday July 18 - the dreaded 400m

Today Angela had the throws pentathlon at 8 a.m., the first time she was doing this event.
I had the 400m at 4:18. The breakfast area was crowded. Since I had no early event, I tried the pancakes. When Angela made hers, the first one out was a baby. Then it seemed to take a long time for a normal size one to emerge. You could watch the progress as the mix rolled along. I put a dollop of scrambled egg on my plate while waiting. Many of the Mexican competitors were staying at the same hotel so we were a mix of business folk in suits or utility uniforms and NCCWMA people.

Angela was worried about getting her 800m in at 10:15 while in the midst of the pentathlon. Would the event be such that she could squeeze it in? Turns out that the event was organized such that there were five age groups in her slot and all had to complete one of the events (such as discus or javelin) together before they moved onto the next event.
Rob D'Avellar

While we were walking from the parking area to the track, I commented on a fellow ahead of us who was wearing seemingly a non country denominated shirt and had a longish white beard. Something about him seemed scraggly. Maybe it was the overall appearance, with the outfit, green shorts I recall and the shirt and beard. Being an older gentleman (probably younger than me!) it was as if he had stepped out of a long ago time to come to this event. Methuselah.

When Angela went off to her event, I sat in the stands by the pole vault area as they set up. I also watched the Methuselah-like gentleman trot around the track. He had a mild bent over stride, and I believe participated in the 2000m steeplechase. I think he was in the oldest or next to oldest AG, but appearances are deceptive. He may have come in last in his mixed age group. I watched Mary Trotto and Tami Graf do the 2000m steeplechase, Mary being W70 completed it in 16.04.38 and Tami, W80, in 17.19.43. Mary and Tami carefully went over the hurdles and water jump. Mary later said that as she was going over the water jump, she saw a younger woman in pain, off to the side, but there was someone with her so Mary kept going. The only woman in the W35-84 who did not finish was Carol Douglass. I later saw her on crutches at Sunday's shot area where she was giving out Team USA NCCWMA 2019 Toronto wrist bands she had brought. I later spoke to her and she said that was her first event in the competition. Imagine the disappointment! I think she injured her knee – it was wrapped up. She planned to have it tended to when back in the States. Cruddy! Reminds me of my first time seeing Christel Donley. It was at an Indoor Meet in Albuquerque, 2016. She was coming out of the Convention Center, within which was the track, on crutches! (hurdles, I think. But she did compete in other things later.) However, another person was carried out on a stretcher, moaning. That Meet had a lot of injuries.

Then, I watched the women pole vault.
I had an excellent seat so managed to get some good shots. One lady differed from the others in that when she ran her approach, she slid the pole along the ground (rather than holding the pole up off the ground) to the stick place then tried to raise herself up. Most had the pole raised in a diagonal angle, then planted it in sufficient time to get the bend they desired.
Barbara Warren
One of the Piedmont Pacers, Bob Milan, who had run the 10K road race the day before (54.65) when dealing with a slight injury, came along and we talked for awhile. His injury was not feeling so good so he was not going to do the 5K the next day. There was an event back home he wanted to do the next week so wanted to recover. At the time I could see the pack of folks doing the Throws pent., but not how they were doing. Angela did get to do her 800m running against Cora Hill in her AG.
Cora Hill
Cora won 4:17.80 with Angela following in 5:26.55. Cora had had a rough few months beforehand but decided late to do NCCWMA. Glad she did. It was a good idea – besides winning gold at NCCWMA, she had new scenery and was with her mates. So Angela's big worry about getting the 800 in was over. Now it was back to her throws pent. Due to the number of contestants in this combined AG, it went on forever! During the course of it, all athletes experienced a weather delay. Lightning in the distance then rain. We were all herded inside and told to go upstairs. Well, Angela and I (and a few others) did not go upstairs. Cooler and less crowded where we were, sitting on a bench by the stairs.After about a half hour or so, the athletes were allowed back out to the track.

I had moved back inside to start my warm up for the 400m. The time for the event kept being pushed ahead. I talked to Coreen Steinbach who had already won her 800m (2:56.52) and was also going to do the 400m. The 400 was scheduled for 4:18 but kept being moved to a later time (partially due to the earlier rain delay for other events.) I would attempt to warm up, sometimes just jogging around the inside track, sometimes trying short bursts of speed. Marina Worsley was also there and also warming up. Marie-Louise Michelsohn showed up and sat with Coreen and others on the padded block inside the track. I had not seen her since Winston Salem NC Indoor Championships in 2015, where she won the 400m (and other events.) Since then, she had signed up for other events I was to be at (Indoors, Landover, for one) but did not attend. For a few easy trots around the track we caught up on each other's life. Obviously, I knew she would leave me in the dust today, but that was fine. So might everyone else. I was still in shadow land.

I was worried that Angela would still be doing her throws pent. by the time the 400m was to start, but somehow she made it. So, there we were, six of us, all US except for Susana Jacobo Fonseca, Mexico, on the start line. The gun goes off and we start. I knew enough not to go fast as I needed to be able to finish. I think I was in lane 7, not sure. We get around the first bend and I am close to maybe a quarter of the way down the back stretch, whereas the others were at least half way, when the gun goes off again. I don't even recall if I knew it was for us but others did because they stopped. We all looked at each other wondering, what the Hey! We get back to the Start area and they tell us the clock did not start!

The officials decided to let us rest for a bit while they ran the next AG. This was the 70s, with three, including Mary Hartzler and Barbara Warren. Mary came in second (1:35.94) to Mexico's Altara Beltran (1:33.97) and Barbara third in 2:20.77 (after having also done umpteen events, including the earlier pole vault.) I know the others in my group were a bit disappointed, perhaps annoyed. As for me, I did not know if I could do it again. I had already expanded what little energy I had in this, now my most abhorred race. I hated the idea of trying to go out there and do it again. Everyone else had also used up some of their steam, I expect. Especially Angela, having spent since 8a.m. doing the throws pent. As expected by me, Marie-Louise won in 1:36.17, Marina second in 1:37.33, and Mary Robinson third in 1:39.19. I was fifth in a probably personal worse 2:13.13 (ABQ was also 2:13) After wards, Marie-Louise said she felt Marina on her heels and Marina said she felt the same about Mary. That's a good race!
Worsley, Michelsohn, and Robinson

Coreen Steinbach's 400m was against the renown Canadian Karla Del Grande. That is either an incentive or a nightmare, depending upon how one looks at it. This was also the second Meet since returning from her injury, and just after the return meet in Ames. Well Karla went out and set a Meet record which was only 14/100 of a second off of the world record, running 1:08.35. Coreen came in second in 1:18.34.

Angela's throw pentathlon finally finished. Yuko Nakano having won it in Angela's AG, far exceeding the existing meet record by almost 600 points, finishing with a score of 3655. Angela got fourth (of five) with a score of 1770. In the younger AG, both Myrle Mensey and Mary Hartzler beat the existing world record, with Myrle setting the new mark with her score of 4799, and Mary coming in second with 4582. Canada's Cheryl Closkey got third with 37.17, Barbara Warren fourth with 2641 and Mary Trotto fifth with 2331. For comparison with the younger AG (who use heavier implements), the W40 winner, Angela Herzner, had a score of 3836.

At one point I went into a deep funk.  I recall how I felt but my memory of it seems to be that it occurred while at Varsity, while sitting against the corridor wall. However, at Varsity I was probably just thinking about the earlier funk because since I have few notes for Friday, I'm pretty sure it was then, after the 400. This would make sense. It was not about how badly I did, which was not a surprise and understandable to me, but it was at how physically awful I felt during it. Drained, as if all of my reserves were being sucked out. This was quite depressing. At that point, I was thinking it was time to not just give up the 400m (done!) but every other distance as well, including the 50m. Basically, giving up track. A very dark time for me. Probably not so hot for my pal and roommate Angela because I get either quiet or grouchy or both when like that.

Meanwhile, Marie-Louise, who wanted to form her own 4x400 relay team, was cajoling Phil Greenwald and Jerry Bookin-Weiner to make this happen (despite the well documented procedure that these two plus a few others would select the personnel for each relay group, based upon folk having submitted their relay preference and their past performance.) Marie-Louise's ideal team would be herself, plus Mary Robinson, Rose Green, and Marina Worsley. She intended to set a new world record.

Angela and I surveyed the apparel concession stand, debating. Angela found something. I finally decided I would get one of the camo-like shirts but the smallest size they had was small. The lady said they might get an extra small the next day. (I am not normally an extra small but in this shirt, yeah.) Some folks got the Training for Toronto 2020 shirts. Too far away and unpredictable for me.

A very long day out in the hot sun (except for the rain break!)
Rita Hanscom and Major

Upon exit from TTFC, I saw Major!

Love - both ways
Joy! He was there with Janean Shannon's granddaughter again. Then Rita Hanscom exited to greet her dog, her pal, her traveling companion. It would be tough to stay in a low mood around Major.

Despite being tired, we did stop at a shopping mall as I was hoping to find an inexpensive cell phone I could use in Canada. There was nothing I could find, so the next concept was to see if a SIM card change would work. We went to one place that ended up trying at least five different ones. None worked. Well, yeah, it turns out that Virgin Mobile no way supports non domestic cellular, regardless of SIM card. And, there is no option to sign up or upgrade for international cell service with them. So, lesson number three: change to another provider that does support international service (optionally) if I ever leave the states again (debatable at this point, though I hope to.)

Hello World

Hello Internet

Of course we ate at Angelo's again. Good food. I had a regular meal this time and not breakfast. We saw that some of the officials also had discovered (or knew from prior events in Toronto) Angelo's.

Later that evening, Angela lets out a yelp. She had just looked at WhatsApp and the relay committee had posted their spreadsheet with relay assignments. I was assigned to the AG 4x100 along with Angela, Mary Robinson and Marina Worsley. But Angela was also assigned to the AG 4x400 along with Marie-Louise Michelsohn, Marina Worsley, and Rose Green. She freaked. No way! She knew that Marie-Louise had her eyes set on a World record and Angela said no way would they even come close if she had to run with them and then Marie-Louise would be unhappy. (okay, to be polite – disappointed.)

So, she indicated on WhatsApp that she was only going to be able to run one relay and she chose the 4x100. The next morning she tried to call Phil Greenwald. She somehow got him and explained and, he, knowing that Marie-Louise had originally wanted Mary Robinson said he would have to check with Mary. Angela felt a bit badly for Mary since Mary might then have to run two relays (after already running the 200).

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Photo by Barbara Warren
My mood was a bit better by the next morning. This was to be an early day for us, plus one in which we would start off at TTFC and then switch to Varsity in downtown Toronto. After Angela's experience upon arrival, she realized this was not a drive to make, which then meant she would have to take the subway. Something she had said back in Ames – no way! She is claustrophobic and the mere thought put her on edge.
Photo by Barbara Warren
I know she got up worrying about it. Our weight throw at TTFC was at 8a.m. And my 100m at Varsity was at 1:18. with a 200m prelim scheduled for 2:30 for most of us, including Angela, so the subway was still a necessity for her. 

Photo by Barbara Warren

There were seven of us in my AG and Mary Roman the only one in hers. Four from the U.S., two from Mexico and one from Canada, Yuko Nakano.  

In this instance, Yuko Nakano came out second, behind Mary Robinson who chucked the weight 8.71m to Yuko's 8.18m. Adele Ochoa Gonzalez came in third with 8.13m. I came out last (6.14m), behind Angela (6.17m). Mary Roman threw 7.41m. Myrle Mensey set a Meet record in her AG with a throw of 13.48m, with Mary Hartzler second with 11.33m. Barbara Warren fourth with a throw of 8.19m.

Afterwards the four of us, Mary Robinson, Mary Hartzler, Angela and I headed for the Pioneer Station subway. Mary R. was going to calm Angela though she was not keen on taking the subway either. The first decision was how to pay for it. The kiosk sold both Presto passes and individual round trip tickets. A very helpful attendant came over and suggested that in our case, since in the two days remaining we would do two round trips, that the day passes would be better. One pass would cover unlimited rides until 5:30 am the next day. So that is what we did and we could use credit card so I did not have to worry about Canadian cash, though I had it. For my two day passes, it cost CAD $13, US $9.99. The lady also showed us how to tap the card on the reader and enter the station.

Now came the worrisome part for Angela. First, we went down an escalator. Okay. But we were not done. Oh, no, I thought, We had another down escalator to go! Angela was holding up all right.
Photo by Barbara Warren
Once we got down to the platform, we would get the train to St George station and Varsity. While we were waiting there, another US participant who was also taking the subway mentioned something about the buses overhead. Not a good thing to say to someone claustrophobic. When the train arrived, it was a pleasant surprise. It not only was clean inside, it was wide! Of course, also not crowded since a weekend. I should have recalled how nice the subway car would be as Barbara Warren had sent us photos before we even left the states, since she got there earlier. She had told us about the Presto passes etc. Each car had a lighted panel with the route of the train showing and lights representing every station, so as one progressed more lights appeared and you knew how many more stops to your destination. Automated announcements indicated which side of the car the door would open. As we had been told, the trip was about a half hour.
Photo by Barbara Warren
We all survived the experience and Angela was much better about it now. Yea, something else conquered!

When we exited from the station onto the street we turned right and it was a short walk to the end of the block. Across the street was the Varsity complex. Easy! Upon entry to Varsity, we were in a wide concourse, along which were the Declaration Table and some vendors.

Using the term loosely, the concourse was packed with athletes. There were massage tables, entrance ways to bathrooms or the check-in area, and on one side a partial view of the track as the concourse was lower than the track area. There were stairs periodically leading up to the viewing area and stands overlooking the track. Walking into the check-in area, there were two tables for checking in, along the wall facing the entry was the current schedule for the track events. Inside, there was a wide corridor, stretching around what was an indoor event area (maybe a large gym?) Some folks sat on the floor inside, others ran the corridor, warming up. I don't recall where I found to warm up. I think it was a brief warmup in the concourse area.

We saw Katherine Willis, who had done the early morning 5k. She said it had been hot and the air was heavy. She stuck with her plan, keeping pace with another running her target pace. Until the person slowed. Then, Katherine passed her and pushed forward, earning a Bronze! And now over her nerves!

Mary Robinson and I checked in for our discus and were taken beyond the track waiting area to another where those of us doing field events waited. Kathy Bergen was there wearing an Incrediwear sleeve on her knee – she had not had time to have it looked at between Ames and Toronto. She knew the W70 lady representing the Netherlands, Annelies Steekenburg, as the woman also lived in CA and had been in other events with Kathy. There were 21 of us in our three age group collection. This would be a long event!

I had forgotten my water bottle at the hotel (this, my now treasured YETI) and was thirsty! It was quite hot. There were two separate bench areas, one beneath a tent, the other beneath a tree. I was mostly behind the covered bench. To attempt to quench my thirst, I ended up cupping my hands, trying to collect water from the water barrels. There were no cups. After awhile, a wonderful volunteer somehow magically obtained some paper cups so I could more easily alleviate my thirst. My first throw was my best (11.43m), however I got some tips from Elspeth Padia W80 who won her AG and set a Meet record (20.59m) who said to skip the two to three wind ups and just throw. (same for shot.) Since there were so many of us, I was concerned about the declaration for the 100m. I could not recall if I had declared the day before while at TTFC (duh!) But my wonderful pal, Christel Donley, came along and I mentioned my worry so she went off and checked and yes, I had! I was really spoiled while doing this event because Angela came along and said she would go get me something to drink if I wanted and she went off and got me, yum yum, a Starbucks cold coffee frappe – it was cold and delicious!

Rose Green, our speedster, now a full fledged field aficionado, got second in her AG, throwing 12.27m and Mary Roman third with 9.64m.

In my AG, Yuko Nakano brought home the gold for Canada, throwing 22.93m, Kathy Bergen got silver for US throwing 17.36m, and Mexico's Adela Ochoa Gonzalez got bronze throwing 14.13m. Mary Robinson threw 13.51m. I was last of seven.

Mary Hartzler, W70, won her AG and and a Meet record throwing 24.96m. Canada's Cheryl Closkey got second with 22.03m. Myrle Mensey coming in third, throwing 21.68m

At check-in time for the 100m we were led to a set of chairs based upon age group. There, we put on our shoes and once led out, there was an area to the right where they were taking bags and sticking stickers on with last name, then dropping them in a pile. Jane Simpson had come limping in at the last minute, making the cutoff. So there were seven in my AG. This included Kathy Bergen and Canada's renown Carol Lafayette-Boyd, Mary Robinson's cousin. Two of the biggest hitters in our AG, to use a softball analogy. True superstars. I was looking forward to their matchup.

However, ahead of us was Rose Green versus Canada's Christa Bortignon, another amazing matchup. Again superstars. Christel Donley had these two to contend with. Sometimes, it does not pay to be in certain AGs! And ahead of them was our other senior superstar with many world records behind her through her illustrious career, Irene Obera, now 85. (She says she is hanging up her track shoes after this meet - or season, in case she had another one in CA upon her return.) Irene was racing Mexico's Ernestin Ramirez Garcia. Obera won, setting a Meet record while at it, running 20.12 seconds. Ramirez Garcia ran 22.04 seconds.

Okay, so the three 80-84 AG sets off after Rose finishes adjusting her blocks (love watching her work at getting them just right, ha ha) Boom! Off they go. From back behind the starting line it is really hard to see who came in first between Rose and Christa. After we crossed the Finish I found out that Rose had beaten Christa, setting another Meet record, 17.45 seconds to Christa's 17.53. Yea! Happiness! So thrilling. Christel came in third at 21.25. Next year, she will escape from that loaded AG!

Well, now it is time for our 100m. I can't recall what lane I was in. I think lane one or two, I believe I was next to Mexico's Susana Jacobo Fonseca. Everyone else was out and down the lanes before us except for limping Jane Simpson. I tried as hard as I could to beat Fonseca, but could not! (Fonseca 20.49 to my 20.54) I was 6 out of 7, and not last only because Jane was hobbled as she ran. But what made me overjoyed after getting to the finish was hearing that Kathy had beaten Carol. YES! 15.93 to 16.10 seconds. I cannot describe how happy I was that both Rose and Kathy had won their races. Though Carol is a lovely, gracious, and incredible sprinter (and Mary's cousin) I could not help but be thrilled for my US compatriot.

Marina Worsley came in third at 18.90 and Mary Robinson fourth at 19.04. Poor Jane came in last.

Our 200m prelim rolled to the Final the next day because Jane Simpson scratched due to her injury. She had had a hip adjustment and was told to lay off the running for awhile. Yep. As usual, that did not happen but it will now! Hopefully, she has had it tended to now.

We stopped at Tim Horton's.  I had an iced mocha latte.  Coffee, cold, and sweet. It was not the first time we stopped there!

Our return trip to Pioneer Village (TTFC area) went smoothly and Angela and others were less concerned.

Angela had thought to go back to Angelo's Homestyle for dinner but I thought let's try something different. So she found a steak place, Montana's BBQ and Bar.
It was not that far away and essentially a straight shot on Steeles. (2011 Steeles Ave W, North York). I decided on the 7 ounce filet with baked potato, cole slaw, and crispy onion ring strips. Oh my heavens. Nirvana! Despite having had a Tim Horton's shake after leaving the track, I was starving. A first in recent months. Surprisingly, they had sweet iced tea!

Sunday, July 21,2019

I had javelin at 10 and shot at 11:30. than Angela and I both had the 200m at 2:33, followed by relays starting at 3:50. Since Angela did not have anything until mid afternoon, she really did not have to get up. If I could find transportation to TTFC to get the subway, she could stay in bed. But she said she would drive me (too bad nothing near Norfinch). We had calculated back from check-in time of 9 allowing for subway and brief walk so the plan was to get to TTFC by 8. I got there in plenty of time. Angela went back to the hotel for a rest and leisurely breakfast. I was worried about her eventual trip on the subway by herself in the afternoon. Would it be overly traumatic? She had to conquer going down to the underground. I think it was not so much the train that was of concern now, but being underground that would be bothersome.

The javelin group
The W70-94 AGs were bunched together for the javelin ,so it was a huge group.
We were in the same area as had been for the weight throw, but now would be using the javelin runway. In some ways this is good so one can observe how others throw. As I recall the 92 year old, US Shirley Dieterich, used a walker but not to throw of course. She walked up to near the front demarcation line and threw. She threw once then fouled on the second throw and passed on all the others. Her good throw was 4.21m. Being the only one in her AG, it was worth it since she got Gold.

In the W70s, Liz Strong started from way back and flowed forward. Her javelin arced high and flew far. Yet, at times, she was not happy, wanting to do better. I think she is working on her jav throws. Closely following her in throwing similarly was Mary Hartzler but not starting from as far back. Barbara Warren, like me, was having trouble getting it just right. She would change approach or release (as did I). Mary Trotto was also in that AG. In the end, Mary Hartzler threw farthest ( 21.78m), Liz Strong next farthest (21.45m) – how close is that! - and third was Canadian Cheryl Closkey (17.93m) All three broke the existing Meet record of 16.83m. Mary Trotto got fourth throwing 15.09m, Canadian Miklos den Iseger fifth with 14.69m, followed by Barbara Warren's 12.29m on her last throw (found the ticket!)
Rose Green, Barbara Warren

In my AG, I had Kathy Bergen and Mary Robinson to contend with, plus others, but these two, I anticipated would be throwing the farthest. Christel Donley was there, reminding me about holding the jav through the hole formed by thumb and first finger (now, wouldn't it funny if I am not remembering it correctly? Which might explain why I kept messing it up. All in the brain and muscle memory.) However, also in my AG, was Canadian Yuko Nakano, who had been excelling in everything she did. So the end result of our jav competition was, in this order, Yuko Nakano 19.55m (a Meet record) , Kathy Bergen 15.56m, Mary Robinson 14.88m, Mexico's Eduviges Lopez Felix 13.25m, Mexico's Adela Ochoa Gonzalez 13.21m, and me, on my last throw 11.36m (well, my last throw was actually a foul.)

There were three in Christel's group. Elspeth Padia throwing 19.21m setting a new Meet record, Christel Donley with 12.83m (wait until her wrist is fixed!), and Mary Roman with 9.49m. I recall Mary in Michigan a number of years ago, not too confident in her throws. We both laughed at our throws, commiserating together.

Next, some of us moved onto Shot, which took place farther across the field near a tree that had begun dropping mulberries, I am guessing. Unfortunately, most had already been squashed. I managed to get two or three by stretching up and pulling a branch down. My group was the W75-94, with many of the same folks as at javelin, W85 Irene Obera joined us. Elspeth said that rather than prime the pump, one should just go up and chuck it. She believes this is true also for the weights and I imagine the discus. One of her grandkids was watching from a distance. Of course she had one foul and where did it go? Right toward the young teen! Just in his direction but not near. So, anyway, she had to go and set a new Meet record in her AG, throwing the shot 9.06m.
She was followed in her AG by Mary Roman who chucked it 6.79m, followed by Christel Donley with 6.36m.
Elspeth Padia, Mary Robinson, Mary Harzler

The 91 year old, Shirley Dietderich's best throw was 2.39m, Irene Obera set a Meet record, throwing 5.36m. I was last in my AG (surprise!) Canadian Yuko Nakano first (7.73m), Mary Robinson (6.81m), Roslyn Katz (6.41m), Mexico's Eduviges Lopez Felix (6.34m), Mexico's Adela Ochoa Gonzalez (6.21m), then my 5.57m.

As I was walking off, Angela came along. She had made it! I was very relieved. We had a lot of time before our 200m so we lazed around. After spending time with Katherine Willis and Bill, Angela went off socializing and I sat against the corridor wall, doing nothing. I was next to the NormaTec which was not taking a rest!

This time, I found a better place to warm up, one many others had been using - around the back of and down the hill from the building behind the stadium seats, is a paved walking-running path, with some benches. I found Rose Green there, doing her warmup. There were walkers who came up on us, one asking about why we were running. They were quite impressed when Rose told them. I can't imagine that they had any idea how much of a senior citizen Rose is and if they had, they would have been astonished at her speed. There was a small bridge leading to a closed door in a building. Rose began running on that (maybe softer surface) and then down on the side on another flat area. Carol Lafayette-Boyd had just gone down there to warm up as well. I was less energetic. I only did a few short sprints down there.

For the 200m, we were led out to near the 200m start area and placed off to the side to wait our turn. It was hot in the unshaded area. Irene Obera and Mexico's Ernestin Ramirez Garcia were in their lanes. It seemed like a very long time we were all standing out there. Standing, waiting, These two were opposites in terms of runner form. After they took off, it was clear Irene would win and win she did, setting a new Meet record by nearly five seconds with a time of 44.27 seconds. Ernestin finished in 52.14 seconds. A lot faster than I will if I reach 89 and am still running a 200m. (are you kidding?) Not until we were ready to leave Varsity did I get to see Ernestin, after finding out she is 89. Kudos to her for managing to do track in a country where it was probably not customary back in her youth for females to participate in track. (It was not that common here, either, back then. I sometimes raced the boys down a city block but track? Never even saw one back then.)

Similarly, as in the 100m, Rose Green was up against Canadian Christa Bortignon. It was just the two of them. The head to head of Rose and Christa, as it had been in the 100m and also in Torun Poland, earlier in the year. Standing at the side of the track, all I could tell as they ran the last 100m on the straightaway, is that they were just about neck and neck (or butt to butt!) Again, I did not know until after our race completed, who had won that one. Sure was not obvious from way back on the other side of the track.
Angela Staab on last day

As with Rose, Kathy Bergen was again up against her equal Canadian Carol Lafayette-Boyd. The other Team USA runners were Mary Robinson, Marina Worsley, Angela Staab, and I. Mexico's Susana Jacobo Fonseca also joined us. I think I was next to Susana, probably in lane 8. I somewhat empty my mind when it is time to run, Sometimes I try to focus on one thing, whether it is to take a deep breath before the starting gun fires or telling myself to remember to keep my head down in the beginning of the run. Mostly though, I am an empty head. Once again, when the gun went off I was only aware of the lane before me. I kept my head down for about 30m , running a faster pace then I would end with until I came up on and rounded the turn for home. Then, it was just hold on and finish. Susana had already passed me.

In the end, Kathy Bergen won the 200m, running 33.88 to Carol Lafayette-Boyd's 35.29 seconds. Once again I was thrilled for her and then for Rose Green, too, when I found out she had won her race, 38.94 to Christa's 39.54. In my AG, coming in third was Marina Worsley (40.54), then Mary Robinson (42.34), followed by Susana Jacobo Fonseca (44.62). I straggled in 6th (45.99) with Angela and her flaming ears in 59.54.

To be honest, I think Carol Lafayette-Boyd was off her game this Meet, for she has run far faster times, just a year ago and had done so consistently. Even the greatest sometimes have off days. This does not take away from Kathy Bergen's wins for she was running a bit handicapped as well, with her injured knee. That is the fun with track, one never knows which version of self or competitor will show up or how any particular race will go. One tiny mental slip and everything changes.

Angela and I talked to Mary Robinson, who was now, after doing the 200m, going to have to do two relays, as was Marina Worsley and Rose Green, who was running the 4x100 with Irene Obera, Mary Roman, and Christel Donley. That is a lot of hard running when not in the range of 30 to 60 years old any longer.
Angela and Marina before relay

I went off to warmup briefly since the 200m was somewhat of a warmup. Then, Marina, Angela, and I practiced the handoff. I would be third and handing off to Marina, the anchor. Since I have problems in this area, we practiced and practiced and Marina said just to remember not to drop it and be sure she had it before letting go. I was a wreck, worrying that that is exactly what I would do. I don't think I have been this worried previously. After all, this was even more than the Nationals.

It was a mixed relay group when we were led out. A bit of confusion at first but it was all straightened out. As it happened, Christel Donley was also the third runner on her relay so we were in adjacent lanes, with Christel being a bit ahead of me since I was in lane 1 and she in 2. Of course, she warned me not to pass her – ha ha. At the gun, I sort of saw Mary, since she is taller than many. She passed off to Angela at or just before the turn, then Angela came chugging along pretty quickly. I had moved towards the back of the passing zone, which btw was quite extended for this relay. I began moving when she was almost upon me and she passed nicely to me. I have no idea where Christel was, if she was ahead or still in her waiting spot. I ran as fast as I could (turtle on a bicycle mode), racing to Marina, who was waiting at the far end of the turn, before the straightaway to the Finish. I came up fast on her figuring she would take off and I would have to be quick. Well, the gremlin came along for the ride. I came up on Marina who was moving IN PLACE so I actually crashed into her but thank heavens she was adept enough to grab the baton and run on with it. So glad I was more turtle than rabbit else we both might have skidded on our bellies down the lane.
Angela Staab, Mary Robinson, Mary Hartzler

As it turned out, we set a new Meet record for our AG, running 1:29.04. Rose and Christel's team ran 1:32.04. Of the four teams, three American and one Mexican, only the US W60 AG had a competitor, the Mexicans. The W60 came in at 1:00.32 with Amanda Scotti, Leandra Funk, Susan Loyd, and Karen Maxwell. The Mexican team came in with 1:16.34. The US W70 with Brenda Matthews Steele and Mary Hartzler finished in 1:09.14.
Marie-Louise and Angela

Next up would be the 4x400 after the younger US women dazzled with their relays. Marie-Louise Michelsohn showed up and thanked Angela for giving up her spot so Mary could run. She was so excited, anticipating a good relay. Come the time to check-in, by 20 minutes before, Rose was not to be found. I asked her coach and pal Cortez if he knew where she was. He did not really but guessed over getting her many medals. The medal area was outside of the track on the side, near the turn before the finish straightaway. There was a large crowd queued for their reward. I could not initially see her. Finally, I did. I just about grabbed her and hustled her back into the concourse where she gave Cortez her medals and raced into the check-in area. In time.

Angela and I went up to the raised area just in front of the stands to watch the relay. Mary Robinson led off and did the grueling 400m before passing to Marina Worsley.
Marina on her 400 lap
Marina ran her lap as if it was nothing, then passing off to Rose who trotted around, also not looking beat, Rose then passed the baton to Marie-Louise, the most rested of the relay team. Marie-Louise ran her lap, heading for the 4x400 finish. It was on her now. (I was surprised that Rose was not the anchor but in retrospect, it does make more sense that the anchor be fast and rested.) Then, I could not tell if they made the record nor did I know their time. Their time was 6:53.27, each running a little over 100 seconds. Wow!

Good enough for a new AG non Club 4x400 relay World Record.
Michelsohn, Worsley, Robinson, Green

The ladies were of course excited. They had done it.

We all chatted for awhile as we gathered our stuff and prepared to pick up our medals before leaving Varsity. Angela helped Rose get ready (find shoes) so they could get a photo together. Another photo was taken after they got their Gold, plural for three of them.

We all bid farewell, hoping to perhaps see each other at another Meet. The high point of a year is getting together with all the track pals. Angela and I took the subway back and this time I noticed in this particular car, amusing little motifs on the upper panels.
For instance, an image of an ear + LY in front of an image of a bird. Early bird. Or: image of a ship -IP + UT and image of an eye. (you can figure that out. If not, have fun!) Great stuff.

Can you guess where Angela and I ate again? Montana's! And I had exactly the same thing. Two nights in a row means it was really good and I was really hungry after all day without eating except for coffee and cereal.

Monday, July 22, 2019

We had planned an extra day so we could take a trip or look around. Sunday we decided on Niagara Falls. Barbara had said it was an easy drive. Yes, in theory, it was. But then we hit weekday Toronto traffic. Horrendous. Lots of stop and go. We wanted to be back before dark of course. As the delays and crawling continued, Angela got concerned and was thinking of turning around and going back. We almost did but the traffic began moving again and eventually we did get to Niagara Falls.

It was well worth the trip (easy for me to say. I wasn't driving.) I had never been to Niagara though have seen many photos. We watched some of the tour boats (Maid of the Mist and Hornblower) go under the Falls or rather really on the outskirts such that they got a good dose of the spray.
What was interesting is that the folks on the boats from the Canadian side wore one color of raincoats, blue,whereas the US based boats had their passengers in a different color raincoat, red (or vice versa!). We discussed the foolishness of people who got up on the railings despite the warnings (saw just one sitting on it) For a very short while, there was a light rain. Not long enough for us to leave. We visited the sculpture of Nikola Tesla, instrumental in developing the AC motor.
We then went to the tourist shop. I bought a kid's Mood ring. Sometimes I need to know what my mood is, and a Lil' Hunk Beaver. For me, not my dog!

And, yes, we ate at Montana's again and again I had my 7 oz steak strips etc.

Tuesday, July 22, 2019

My flight was way before Angela's but she decided she would drive me to Pearson so she could have her navigator on this last Toronto road outing. We got separated as I tried to get my boarding pass at a kiosk while Angela went right on ahead to the Delta area to get hers. I recall also having to scan the passport again and getting that sheet of paper (or my mind is slipping into the past.) There was a long winding queue to get to the Canadian Customs agent.
At one point, I saw Angela way back in the queue. I think three agents were on duty. Once I got there, I gave him my paper, he asked what the purpose of my visit had been and then sent me on my way.

The rest of my trip home was uneventful except for an approximate two hour delay at JFK due to weather. But, I got home. Boom!