Sunday, May 24, 2009

2009 Southeastern U.S. Masters

May 2, 2009. I had no great expectations for this event. I had not trained much (aching knee) and had been running road races, not sprints. I tried sprinting at a local track and had a dreadfully slow and exhausting time. So, I thought I would just go and get the experience since I had signed up some time ago.

I knew the quality of competitors would be high. I had heard about the event for years, but always had a softball practice conflict. Upon arrival, I saw one of my running buddies running the 1500 meter. 79 year old Thelma Wilson also ran that race. Other than for Philippa (Phil) Raschker (one of the top five athletes of ANY age), I was not familiar with the competitors. Raschker I had seen years before when she was in her 50s, competing in National Senior Games. She was a streak in the 100m race. She continues to set records now that she has reached 62.

I was able to watch Earl Fee, from Canada and in his eighties, break another World Record. He ran several races that day. He does not run like any 80 year old I have seen. He ran faster than others half his age. He also has a book out The Complete Guide to Running How to be a champion from 9 to 90

It was a warm, sunny day. My first race was a 100m. They mixed age groups to fill out the field. To my left was Sharon Warren (58) another World Masters Champion (2007 in the 60m and 200m) and way to the right was Phil Raschker. (10 gold medals at World Masters in Italy) To my immediate right was a lady in red, Ann Carter. When the race began, Raschker and Warren sped down their lanes and finished before the rest of us had gone a few steps. (Raschker in 14.41 seconds, Warren in 14.57 seconds) To put that in perspective, the Women's 2008 Olympics 100m was won by 21-year-old Shelley-Ann Fraser in 10.78 seconds.

I concentrated on staying with Ann Carter (seeing red in my peripheral vision) and just edged her out at the finish. (18.16 to her 18.46) However, in my age group I was beaten by Joann Sampson (17.98 seconds), who I had not even seen in a lane somewhere to my right.

After a rest and mingling with some of the runners I knew, I ran the 400m. Anything over 100m is an effort for me. I don't start fast and worry if I will finish. As it happened, I won the 400m in my age group with 1.39.30, but Jeanne Daprano, 72, ran it in 1.27.77

Next up was the 200m and Joann was amongst the competitors in my age group. She had told me that she has just begun running the 200m. This turned out to be a memorable race which I thought I'd lost to Joann even before the turn towards the last 100m,. She was already well ahead of me. I have written about this race elsewhere and so shall just say that I managed to come back and win by the incredibly small margin of 6/100th of a second! (39.66 to Joann's 39.72)

I finished the day by running the 800m. I only entered this one to be with my pals. Shall I say I hate it? This is another of those races for people with stamina. Not me. Thelma Wilson, I repeat, 79, was also in this event. (She had already run the 1500m earlier.) When the race (in my case, amble) started, I let everyone get in front of me. I only hoped to get around the track twice without dropping to a slow walk. My pal Angela was running with a cramped foot which acted up before we'd gone even one circuit. As we turned into the 2nd lap, I passed her and eventually in the final 100, I passed Barbara to win the 800m in my age group 4.11.14. But, remember Thelma? Thelma Wilson beat all of us with a time of 4.09.02

Angela's foot problem was probably due to lack of electrolytes. Next time we shall all bring at least a sports drink with potassium etc.

The fun thing about these events, win or lose, is of course running and surviving, and seeing your running pals. And watching the stars burn up the track.

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