Southeastern Masters Championships at NCSU in Raleigh, NC, fell on June 19th and 20th this year. Right in the midst of an incredible hot spell. There is temperature and then there is “heat index”. The temperature got to 96 (98 according to a pal) and the heat index … 103! Standing around had to be hell for the officials out in the field. The athletes had some respite beneath their tent (if they had one) or in small shaded areas alongside the track. Two misting tents were available, providing a very light mist which, if one walked beneath it several times, helped.
I went to the event on Friday to watch some of the pentathlon and for the throws clinic (hoping to hear how to throw the javelin.) I met Joyce Hodges-Hite (79) who was there to do the 10,000m and maybe break the meet record she previously set. A few Piedmont Pacer teammates were there, to do the 3000m, 5000m, and 10,000m races. They can have them! Ugh.
Mary Szymkowski, Pacer, did the 3000m, with one knee wrapped after encounter with her exuberant young dog the day before. Terry Ozell, Atlanta Track Club, ran with Mary since this was a mixed age-group heat. Mary and Terry ran most of the race together until the end with Mary crossing the Finish in 13.44.01 and Terry in 14:04.03. (Also running this event, along with Mary, was another former NU Wildcat: Cynthia Lucking - the NU howls must have been drowned out by the wolfs roaming the NCSU grounds.)
|3000m women's lineup|
|Terry Ozell & Mary Szymkowski|
I spent some time in the hottest part of the day practicing block starts. I read my cheat sheet (and as it turned out – mis-read it!) indicating that my right foot would be the “quick” foot and therefore in the back block, and my left foot the power foot and forward. That was okay with me since it’s my right knee that does not like to bend acutely. So, there I am, in the blazing sun, trying to pop out of the blocks after awkwardly folding myself into position. I can get out of them but can’t tell if this is any better than switching back to what I had previously been practicing (right foot forward). I did try one with right foot forward. Cr-e-a-k, the knee gets into position but I have to raise butt to ease angle of bend. No better than left foot forward. And is either any better (or slower!) than my three point stance? I packed up the blocks and went back to watching the running events.
|blocks on a soggy April field|
Anne Sluder ran the 800m of the pentathlon all alone. Not a soul to chase or keep ahead of. Nonetheless, she ran it fast enough to have it mentioned that she set a record – what kind of record? Don’t know. (I have not been able to verify or correlate the time with records). She ran 2:36, and that is fast, regardless!
I did not get to watch the 10,000m as the throws clinic was moved to the same start time. As it turned out, the clinic was populated by discus and weight throwers and so the focus was on that discipline. Meanwhile, Dixon Cook (Pacer) and Mary Hodges-Hite trotted their 10,000m in the oppressive heat. The race was over before the clinic ended. Cook ran it in 47:02.15 and Hodges-Hite in 1:41:02.46 (not eclipsing her meet record of last year.)
I spent the night worrying and doing more research about the blocks. One expert said to cross your arms and the hand that goes underneath is the quick side. Hmmpf, that’s the left for me. Another said, well, it is the foot you would kick a ball with. Yeah? That’s the right side. Tick tock, the night moves on and no decisive answer. I gave up.
Saturday, the 20th was even hotter than the day before. My first event was at 11 a.m. I got there early and watched some high jumping. I don’t know how the jumpers get that lift. Especially those of us who are in the older brackets. An official took some of the early arrivals out on the field so we could practice throwing. That was great for me since this was my first attempt at javelin. Angela Staab had let me try her golden 500g javelin at the May Powerade State games. Most of the throws ended up skidding across the grass where I was practicing. She told me that as long as the point hit the ground first, it was probably a valid throw. (I’d been thinking that unless the javelin stuck upright in the ground as one sees during Olympic events, it was no good.) The javelin throws event was to begin at 11 but was delayed while many of the women were still doing other field events. Shot put? Many athletes stood in the shade near the back end of the check in building or alongside the railing in a thin strip of shade. By the time the event started, I had already consumed a bottle of water. Imagine the officials! Some wore wide brimmed straw-type hats, others caps, and some nothing!
During the wait time, the 1500m event was contested. Mary Szymkowski (52) ran this, knee still wrapped but better, as did Terry Ozell (61), and now 80-years-old Martha Klopfer. I managed to take some photos of these sweltering distance folk while waiting. Mary and Terry stuck close to each other until the end when Terry pushed ahead in the last 100m.
Terry crossed in 6:34.37, Mary in 6:43.51. Martha finished in 9:42.28.
Omar Wiggan (36), local runner, ran the same event in 4:33.26 and three Piedmont Pacer men – all in the 65-69 AG - competed: Dixon Cook, 5:47.23; Russell Smith 5:48.21; and Jay Smith 6:17.67.
|Timothy Higgins and a Pacer Russell and Jay Snith|
Women went first in Javelin. We all had six attempts. Several of the women not only showed good form, starting way back and gliding forward, but threw some arcing throws that landed point first, sticking up! Not me. I varied my throws from mid-way back, to short, to stutter-shuffle step. Of my six throws, one was a skidder, not counting, and the other five landed point first but none stayed upright. Needs work. Ann Carter had the best throw of the three of us in my age group: 11.33m. The longest throw for women was by Nicole Kelly (34) with a distance of 35.13m. For men it was Edward Hearn (65) with a throw of 43.8m.
I had been worried about running out of warm up time for the 1 p.m. 100m. I had a good half hour to warm up before my race. I had used some of my wait time during the javelin event to start some warm up routines, but did not really feel that I had done enough or was ready to go all out and not look turtle-like. Only six women were there for the 100m, so age groups were mixed. We ranged from 55-59 AG to the 70-74 group. I think I ended up in lane 4 (or was it 5?) Becky Simers (55-59) was somewhere to my left and Ann Carter was on my other side. I had decided to go with right foot back. Waiting for the gun, I tried to recall what I should be doing. I did at least one of them! Bang – off we went. The folks to my left flew out in front of me. I ran as fast as I could down the straight away. (Don’t we all say that?) It felt good, but not super. Becky Simers (SC Striders) ran 14.74. I managed to get back in the stands to watch Eric Johnson (47) run his 100m heat and win (11.89).
Oscar Peyton (62) ran the 100m in 11.99 and 70-year-old Ty Brown ran it in 13.09. Aren’t these guys something!
Next up was the 400m. I was not looking forward to it. Instead of running two age groups together (with 2 competitors in each) they ran just two of us, Angela Staab and me. I was in lane 4 again, I think and Angela was two over from me. I ran out fast and then eased up a little so I could breathe as I went down the back stretch. I tried to focus on footstep rather than the dwindling energy. By the time I got to the final turn, I was feeling stressed. Just get to the finish is all I could think – that and keep moving the legs; ignore the screaming mind and pump those arms. It wasn’t pretty but I got there without walking. But I was feeling it. I felt dizzy and after catching breath went right to the mister and then the water. I walked a little and then decided what would work is cold water on the head so I went over to the infield side (after the next 400m heat came through with Becky Simers and Leandra Funk pushing each other. Leandra 1:13.43; Becky 1:13.45.) The water cooler was near the weight throwing pit. One official stood outside of the ring, close to track edge and he glanced over as I walked by. I took a look at the throw area. Another official was sitting in a chair a little to the outside of the ring-pit. The big guys were up, swinging that weight around and around. Anyone who officiates that event deserves extra pay. If the weighted ball slips out of a competitor’s hand, an official has no time to clear away. Certainly not the guy sitting in the chair. And this being a Master’s event, anything is possible! Damn scary. I got my cold water and poured it over my head. It helped. Later, I did that a few more times. Leandra Funk, here from Indiana, asked if NC was always this hot at this time of year. Yep, it happens. She was going on to St. Paul to compete in the National Senior Games (as were others at this Meet.) A notable men's run was that of Leon Bullard (41) who completed the 400m in 51:45.
I watched Cynthia Lucking run the 2000m steeplechase. She needed to ice one leg after the event. Some of the younger men just hopped over the hurdles and the water barrier (which, earlier in the day, I swore I saw Anne Sluder walking through to cool off!)
The 200m was next up for me and I went without blocks. I was in lane 1 – a first for me. Becky Simers was in lane 4 maybe and she was using the blocks. Ann Carter did not run this one. With all the field events she had done, in the heat, she chose the wiser course of cooling off. I ran what seemed to be a good race but based on my times (yes, I did come in last of the group), I need improvement here, too. Now I could watch the 40-somethings and the men run this fast sprint. The mixed age group that included Oscar Peyton (62) ran a tight race. From my vantage point on the other side of the field, I thought Oscar had taken it but 55-year-old Don McGee took it 24:02 to 24:14. To put this fast time in better perspective, 19-year-old Marlon Allen ran it in 23 flat. One second difference; yet a 35 and more year age differential!
Mary Syzmkowski ran the 800, as did many of the Piedmont Pacer men. I was thrilled to see that Erika Charles (26) was here to compete in the 800m. As she did at the Powerade State Games, she blasted off, finishing this tortuous race in 2:11.95. The last group to go off got hit with a beginning rainfall that turned into a downpour just after they finished. Everything I had in the stands got soaked (I was on the infield queuing up to do a relay, which got delayed.)
The last events were the relays. It seemed only the Piedmont Pacers fielded teams, so in the 4x100, it was three men Pacers vs the women Pacers (Hollis Oberlies, Shawn Greer, Lori Stresemann, and the crone). Our lead off Pacer was fast and got a great lead on the men. By the time the baton got to me, the oldest anchor, I had an unbreakable lead to the Finish. I wimped out of the 4x400 so the rest of the women who had just run as well as Mary Szymkowski ran it and then the 4x800 which followed.
I’m watching USATF.TV’s USATF Outdoor Championships from Eugene Oregon as I write this. (watch and learn, crone!) 91 degrees and they are saying after the athletes ran the 800m that they want to get out of the sun and into the cool. A little windy. (Several of the sprints with fast times were not “legal” in sense of records because the wind kept going over 2 meters per second, up to 4.5m/s at one point.) And they expect temps up to 100 during the weekend. Welcome to our world!
Becky Simers was awarded the Southeastern Masters Phil Raschker plaque for best female combined age graded 100m and 200m as well as the Timothy Dickens award for best age graded 400m. The women's team award went to Atlanta Track Club
|ATC Women, including Terry Ozell, accepting award|
|Piedmont Pacer men (Jay Smith, Kevin Gobble) accepting award|
and the men's to Piedmont Pacers. The highly anticipated award by those who regularly attend these award dinners was the Ed Barron award for the person contributing the most to the sport. A most deserving person, acknowledged by all, was event announcer Peter Taylor.
|Peter Taylor accepting Ed Barron awatd|
|Peter demonstrating his virtual unlock of memory bank|
I don’t know all the stats but he has announced at 32 Nationals, one international, the Penn Relays, and others. All I know is that this man has a phenomenal memory. He says all he has to do is associate the athlete with a place and the data comes pouring forth. Yes, it does! When one thinks of how many events he has announced, it is incredible how he keeps it all straight. Not only that, he knows faces! He has set the bar very high for all announcers. Announcing is a harder task than running a race.