Sunday, June 25, 2017

Another Bust–National Senior Games Birmingham June 6-11

National Senior Games Track - high expectations - but oh, boy!

June 4 Powerade State Games NC

 I had been training for the forthcoming track meets for a few Thursday nights  when I saw a post on another track runner’s Facebook page recommending that he try dry needing.  This reminded me that I had had that and cupping done about eight months prior.  Well, why not, I thought.  It can’t harm and might help so I made the appointment and off I went.  On May 28th I had dry needling (not bad) and then the cupping. Oh, my!  The cupping!  Scraping that cup down my calves hurt like helll. Yes, Hell.   Can I say Yeow! When I left, my calves were bruised (not unexpected) so I iced when I got home.  Perhaps my mistake was going to the track the next morning to try a few 300s and some 100s.  A few steps into a slow 300 and my right Achilles balked.  I slowed even more and finished it.  I did two more 300s slowly, the main object was to see if I could get that far without gasping (even at a slow speed.) The Achilles ached but I still tried two 100s before leaving.

Monday night I did a slow jog but more walking in the weekly nOg Run Club outing (we are on a 13 week mission. I had to get nine Mondays in before some time in August.) Thursday night I did not go to train at track. I did nothing. In the meantime, oh, yes, I did Camp Gladiator Monday and Wednesday mornings gingerly, though Wednesday morning after about a half hour I was able to do very short sprints between two parking lot lines (after being tentative for all the preceding workout.) I had planned to just do two CG camps this week since the next week I would be going to Birmingham.

However, before Birmingham, there was Sunday June 4th’s Powerade State Games of NC in Greensboro.  Initially I had no intention of signing up for this since it was too close to the following week's events, but I followed the lead of another and did so.  Besides, I was curious how I would do in the 400m, which I had not signed up for in the  Birmingham Games.  My Achilles was stiff upon arrival at American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, where I met some other Piedmont Pacers. Besides me, two of the others were injured or in a recuperative stage. The track was lightly covered with a softer surface.  Perhaps better than the surface of Martin Middle school where I usually practice, but showing wear. I had signed up for two field events, shot and discus, besides the standard 100m, 200m and 400m.  In one day events with field intermixed, I stress out.  I don’t know how those I know who do both field and track handle it.  Trying to fit in the field event, warming up for the track, and the track competition is torture for me.  The field officials (actually, mostly one overworked young lady) were great about letting the few track folk squeeze in where we could.  The field events were down a hill behind the curve of the track so I was trudging up and down this hill checking to see when the event might start or when I could squeeze in, while also walking around up top trying to ease the Achilles.  In the end, I took two shot throws and two discus throws.  Nothing great about either but I did not feel badly about them.

I must mention the starting blocks made available for us. 1970s vintage, for sure!  Fixed angle and instead of a spike bottom, a hole to stick a ground pin through.  People were recruited to stand on the back of the blocks for those who used them.   My first event was the 100m. We had been discussing these blocks when Carol Stein, (60) lined up next to me using her own blocks, and, gosh, they looked as old as the ones supplied by the school!  In seeing a video of the event (taken of another younger runner in the heat) I look like Tim Conway’s The Oldest Man (Carol Burnett show) shuffling down the track. (Stein was pretty fast.  16.05) Becky Bowman won the event in 14.35. I was last, of course. (20.30)  Well, okay.  Next up was the 400m.  My aim was to finish without walking.  I somewhat jogged around the back stretch just thinking about breathing easy. After rounding into the last 100, I ran a bit faster and did finish (1:44). I was happy.  Not hurt and breathing okay.  My 200m time was like a slow training session (43.43).  So, done.  My injured pals did their events (one having run seven miles the day before.  bet his doc would not be pleased) then doing an unplanned 1500m just because!  The Achilles hurt that evening. 

NSGA  Birmingham June 6  - June 11

A note  all ages I list are the NSGA age as of December 31 2017.
Monday June 5th was the drive to Birmingham (two of us splitting the driving.)  I discovered when in SC that my suitcase with non-track clothes and prescription etc., was still at home, hiding from the dog (who was now ensconced in his luxury quarters.)

The Dawg

I-65 in Alabama was backed up for a good half hour or more outside of Birmingham.  This turned out to be an every day occurrence on that road. (We eventually took to back roads from Hoover to the track at Samford University in Homewood.) Monday night, we ate at a nearby place, On Tap Sports Café that had poor service, and, apparently, too spicy chicken in Becky’s salad, as she later found out. Then, it was off to the Walmart Superstore so I could purchase off-track clothes to get me through the rest of the week.  I bet I was in Walmart every day thereafter.  That and CVS.  Hoover, AL is proliferated with “Gallerias”.  Galleria this and Galleria that.  Walmart’s was just down about two miles from the hotel (however, finding the Supercenter versus a Walmart grocery store, well, it took a few tries.) 

I did not have good nights in Birmingham.   I also used the ice bucket and my boot most of the nights. Ibuprofen became a staple.

On Tuesday, the 6th, we picked up our credentials at the Birmingham Convention Center, where I talked for awhile with the Ohio contingent of the two Marys (Robinson and Hartzler). It was good to see them.  Becky wanted to go try out or survey the track so we managed to find our way there.  The track looked nice. 

Samford Mascot

Certainly better than the one we’d run on Sunday. However, surprise surprise.  Though the blocks folks were practicing starts from were at least from this decade, they, too, were at a fixed angle. A steep angle.  Very awkward.  Some folks made an adjustment of having the front of their foot on the track to reduce the tilt of their body. 

I ate at a taco place with my NC friends Anne Mitchell and Claudette Ross who, on their way to Texas were stopping to watch me run and our sister softball team. The WhyNots, compete in the NSGA tournament.  It was a better meal than that of the night before.

Wednesday morning was spent sequestered in the bathroom with ice for an hour from 4a.m. to 5 a.m. in preparation for the 50m preliminaries.

Later that  morning I had the 50m preliminaries.  I talked to Ann Carter (SC) who was also running it as well as doing some field events.  In the 50m, there would be 2 heats in our age group.  Jeanne Daprano (GA) was there, also planning to do the 50m.  She and Flo Meiler (VT) were in separate heats. However, since there were just nine in that age group, they got a roll over (no prelim - move on to the final the next day)  There were two heats scheduled for my AG.  While waiting for our stroll to the Start line, I spoke with a lady, Sharon Excel, who was apprehensive about the event.  This was her first National Senior Game track meet. Joann Sampson (FL) was in Heat 1, which she won in 10.15.
happy JoAnn

Mary Robinson and I were in the same heat. I used my three point start in which I push off on the bad Achilles foot, but a standing start does not work for me. Mary took the lead.  I followed.  I was near but not upon her about 4/5th of way down the track when Achilles barked enough to almost stop me such that I slowed and just got across the finish before the next person.  Not good. I had to hobble around and get ice from the Medical tent. Mary Robinson won our heat in 9.89, Ann Carter and Hannah Ashworth (AR) followed me to the Finish.  I spent the rest of the day watching others run while iced up. 

Jane Barnes (NC) 65-69 AG (hard to believe!) dazzled with her 8:04 prelim.  In the 55-59 AG there were three heats with Speedy Lee Triolo (MD) running 7.68 and the next three in her heat all running under 8.00, including Becky Bowman (NC). I later watched the 400m preliminaries. (I had wisely chosen not to enter the 400m event.) My pal Angela Staab (NC) was running it despite an inhibiting injury.  She managed to get at least 3/4 of the way around the track in her unique trot, before one leg balked.  But she managed to finish.

I went back to the Convention Center to check for shorts (none for sale) and ended up buying a supposed balm to help me heal. SuperStar ointment. (At home, I would not have spent those bucks, but desperation leads to impulsive behavior.)  While there I also took a photo of Alabama's legends.

Legend of Alabama, Bear Bryant

Wednesday night brought a great steak at Outback with Becky and Jane Barnes.

Jane Barnes & Becky Bowman after great 50m

Thursday was the race of the 90 to 101 year olds, in a combined group.  Julia Hawkins (LA),  wearing all blue, jogged, not walked, down Lane 1 to finish first! (18.31)  They were all marvelous but she was exceptional.  I went to the Medical tent to have them tape my Achilles with the KT Tape Pro Extreme I had purchased in CVS. 

Getting taped turned out not to be such a good idea.  The first time I was taped - Achilles and calf - the tension was too tight, hurting to walk a few steps.  So, he redid it with guidance from another.  However, instead of having my foot in a dorsiflex mode, he did it in plantar flex - toes curled towards sole.  I thought at the time this was strange, but I could walk.  So, now comes the 50m Final.  Oh, boy!  I had trouble running, feeling a burning and resistance.  However, this was nothing compared to the lady next to me in lane 1 , Betty Frydrychowitz (FL).  I saw her suddenly veer to the side and fall across the white metal strip separating the track from the field. Her arms flew out to break her fall.  I didn’t know she actually got up and finished (in 53 seconds) until much later.  While I was in Medical getting a bag of ice, she was there in a chair, her leg abrased. The fellow asked where on her arm she hurt and she pointed to just above the wrist bone.  Eventually, she was taken off in an ambulance, holding up both of her arms.  Except for her falling, I would have been last. Mary Robinson won it in 9.70, Joann Sampson next in 9.88, then Ann Carter in 10.29 and Hannah Ashworrth in 10.64.  I was 10.70.  Oh, yes, the battle of the 80s. I was most curious to see how that would go.  They were up ahead of us so I was able to watch.  Jeanne and Flo were next to each other.  I know Flo used the blocks but can’t recall if both or just one (in the 100m, Flo used just one block.) They went out together. By about midway, Flo took the lead but Madelaine Cazel won it in 9.59, followed by Flo (10.06) and Jeanne (10.08).
Guess which one hurt!
Shannon, Trio;o, Wilson, Bowman, B

Yearwood, Jane Barnes, Cohn 50m

The Preserve village artwork

That evening, we went to Vecchia, pizzeria and mercato set within the 300 plus acre natural area of The Preserve, a high octane community in Hoover. (homes just under or well over a $Million) The drive to and from was gorgeous.  Rolling hills that presented spectacular views.  It reminded me somewhat of New England. Not what I had expected in Alabama.  We had the Giardino pizza : san marzano tomato, cherry tomato, broccoli rabe, mushroom, castelvetrano olives,  fresh garlic.  Excellent.


More icing.  On Friday morning, I removed the tape and re-taped as I usually did at home.  Bottom of foot, up calf, with a strip across Achilles.  I still could not really warm up because I could not run (yet, here I was at a track meet thinking about doing the 100m prelim.) I was not sure if I would scratch.  I tried stretching on and off and walking with maybe a few jogging steps.  Joann Sampson said to follow my heart.  Good advice.  Leaving it up to my sensibility or lack thereof as many would say.  In the end, I decided to try it. The worst is I could be last but if I did not try, I would not know. I stretched more and forced a partial jog then decided to do the preliminary. There were five of us in the first heat.  I did my three point start and was maybe a third of the way down the track when I heard someone yell then an air horn go off.  I hesitated, thinking something had happened but then realized a gun would have signaled that so continued running.  The lady next to me had stopped but picked up running when she saw that I kept running.  When we were standing around after, wondering what had happened, one of the ladies said that we should protest. She thought that the second heat had to have run faster than us since they did not stop, and we would all miss qualifying for the Final.  She did file a protest with the main track official who agreed, saying he too had heard the air horn.  So, we would re-run the race at 13:45.  I wasn’t sure my Achilles would last but okay.  We re-ran and I had to push hard to finish first to ensure I would qualify.  I just beat Hannah.  As it turned out, I saw the original heat results and Hannah and I had both qualified (neither of us, of course, having completely stopped.)  Once more, I went for the ice.  Ice does not penetrate well through KT tape. 

So, all I really wanted to do Friday night was rest with ice on my Achilles.  But no, that was not to happen.   At six o’clock I was at the Celebration of Athletes at the BJCC in downtown Birmingham, having eaten only a few apricots my pal Angela had   We congregated by state, with some intermingling.  Having left my suitcase home, I was not in the NC “uniform”.  Oh, well.  We were all standing in an outside courtyard. I wanted to get off my foot but only the really elderly were sitting on a stone wall or conveyance.  I saw Mary Sharon Excel
Mary Sharon Excel, ND

who was the North Dakota flag bearer and the only woman in their contingent. It must have been least a half hour before they started moving us towards the Convention Center, passing and greeting the Alabama contingent. We went down a vehicle entrance way to enter into the Center.  Having been standing around too long, two of us found our way to the rest room before joining our contingent. Other state groups paraded in, followed by the international groups, mostly from the Caribbean such as the Bahamas (large track presence) and Trinidad Tobago (one athlete on crutches with a boot!)  

NSGA officials spoke followed by the mayor of Birmingham, William Bell. I was sitting near a fellow from Durham and we both smiled since the former mayor of Durham is also a William Bell. He was followed by the featured guest speaker Katheryn Switzer, of 1967 Boston Marathon fame (the lady who the race director tried to pull off the course since no women were allowed at that time.)  A short video preceded her talk.  She said in the past the emphasis was gaining appreciation for the capabilities of women.  Now, it was to show how seniors can do more than sit at home.  She has joined Humana in promoting health and active lifestyle for seniors.  On Saturday, she was going to run the 10K (not as a competitor) but hoped to return for the 2019 NSGA event in Albuquerque as a competitor.  Angela and I left right after she spoke.  We were helped in finding our way out of the Center by very nice women employees.  Birmingham was well represented by its people.  While we waited for a lift back to Angela’s hotel, we met two other NSGA folks there with their Labradoodle, who somewhat freaked when seeing the Vulcan man.

Vulcan Man


He barked and darted forward and back until finally settling down.  

Saturday morning, I retaped my Achilles my usual way but adding a strip across the upper calf.   I watched some of the folks doing field events at the pits while I walked back and forth and others ran along the back stretch of the track.  My calf and Achilles felt tight. I kept stretching and trying to run, but today I could not run as well. (Now that is a joke – I had not been able to run well since I got there.)  When our turn came for the 100m, I did not have a good start but that did not matter because a third of the way down both the Achilles and calf began burning so I slowed up.  Kathy Bergen won, setting a new AG NSGA record with 16.32, followed by Mary Robinson and Joann Sampson. Based upon how I felt, I decided not to try the  200m preliminary.  Though I might qualify, I would not do well and at what cost?  On Wednesday morning I had agreed to run a 4x100 relay with Ann Carter, Mary Robinson, and Hannah Ashworth, depending upon how my Achilles did.  I had to save it for that.

Ashworth, Robinson, & Carter

I watched the men’s races in the afternoon.  There was a 100 year old gentleman as well as a 97 year old running the 100m  Prior to their race, one was sitting in a chair on the course while there was a delay.  It was a warm day,  Paul Miller (IL) 100, finished in 1:05.06 and Howard Hall (KY) 97, did it in 39.57!  Joseph Summerlin (TX) 86, had run the prelim in 17.00 but came in second to John Hurd (FL) 86 who ran it in 17.43 to Summerlin’s Final time of 18.57.  The difference a day (or intervening events) can make! Bob Lida (KS), 80, tied the NSGA record with a time of 14.71.  Charles Allie (PA ), 70,  ran it in 12.83. Oscar Peyton, MD, 65 rwon the 100m in 12.33.  The youngest, Manny Garcia (NH) 52, ran the 100 in 12.07.

    That evening I chose to eat a sandwich from a nearby café.  I packed up most of my things for the trip home the next day.  In checking the relay signups, I did not see any in my age group so figured that perhaps they had decided I would not be able to run. (It did not occur to me that I actually had Ann Carter’s cell number.) I was back at Walmart early Sunday morning.

Becky was going to do a relay so we were there by about 11:30. Relays were to start for the older crowd around one and for Becky around 1:30.  I encountered Ann and said I saw they had decided not to run the  relay.  Wrong. (for some reason the Carter team did not show on the listing.).  Opps. So I grabbed the track clothes from the car and changed. I managed to watch Edward Cox (NY) 90 set a new NSGA 200m record with his run of  41.98.  I always enjoy watching this man run. He is exceptional.  After doing some warm up and lots of stretching, I decided to take off all of the taping.  This removed some of the pressure on the Achilles though I knew I was risking further damage.  I tried jogging (not well) and stretching near the wall beneath the stands.  While doing this, I watched some of the women’s distance Finals. 

Rebecca Baum (IL) 70 set an NSGA 1500m record with a time of 6:38.66.  Darn good!  Cora Hill (MI) 74, a speed demon came in second at 8:28.60. One lady, don’t now what AG,  was having trouble as she entered the final 100m.  She was in Lane one and I feared she might trip or fall on that divider, as had the woman in my 50m.  She did not but she slowed up and walked, almost stopping actually, then began walking on. In the meantime, another runner rounded the curve and kept a steady pace forward. She decreased the distance from the front runner and came up upon her.  Meanwhile that runner had started a slow jog.  At the Finish, it was hard to tell who actually won.  The races all seemed to mesh together.  One men’s race ended with the leader (older AG) falling just before the Finish (he had been wobbly leading up to it). He was passed by others but managed to sort of crawl a foot forward to get across the Finish.  I was told, though did not see, that another gentleman had fallen, receiving a compound fracture.   With all of the assorted injuries, it is surprising that I only noticed the ambulance in action once. 

I was not the only one with ice!

While I tried warming up a bit, Hannah Ashworth and hubby sat by the wall watching the events.  Ann Carter was off at her  triple jump event (she got second.)  Those competitors sat beneath a shade tent along the perimeter of the field. coming out only to do their events.  This was the hottest day, in the mid 90s.

This was Hannah’s first relay event so we (Hannah and I, then joined by Mary Robinson) practiced the handoff.  Slap the baton down in the hand, says Mary to whom I am to hand off.  We practice a few times and I seem to have it.  The officials  combined our AG with the next younger group to make five teams on the track, two in our AG and three in the younger.  I was in lane five I think.  The lady to my right was apprehensive.  This was her first relay as well.  (When I looked at results later, I saw that three folks on her team (Works)  were actually older than us, but one was in our AG.  Shame. They had to run as a younger AG.)  I talked to her trying to ease her concerns then the track official came along and also gave her some guidance. (She did fine in the actual event.).  To my left, two lanes over was a lady in a skirt! At least it looked like a skirt.  Well, okay.  We had had a lady in the 50m who was wearing long pants, a shirt, and a long sleeved flannel looking shirt over that.  But she was there and ran in the heat.  She may have made the Finals, too.  I hope she had a good time at the Games.

I really did not hear the starter’s gun but saw the movement.  Ann Carter led off, passing to Hannah Ashworth.  I saw Hannah coming down the track to me pretty fast and was trying to judge when I should start my move. I was moving when she easily passed the baton to my left hand. I began running, switching it to my right and trying to run fast.  I ran as fast as I could, I was not at full speed but I was not hobbling. I was not feeling much restriction in the Achilles. It felt better than it did in the 100m Finals.  I focused on my lane zeroing in on Mary Robinson waiting for me just past the curve or at the edge of it.  I had trouble focusing on her hand (was it facing up or down?) I knew I should slap the baton down but  my handoff was sloppy.  I made her hesitate, but then she was off and on her way to the Finish. 

Mary Robinson racing on to victory

As I walked along in my lane, I saw Cora Hill, all in blue, come charging down a lane to my left.  She began closing the gap to Mary.  Aii, I am thinking.  But then Mary crossed the line and we had won our event. (Cora was actually in the younger AG, along with hurting Angela).  Barbara Knight Warren’s team (Four Play) won their AG relay and Angela’s team (Ingram) was second, followed by the Dashing Divas.

Barbara Knight Warren (on left)

We had run fast enough to set a new NSGA 4x100 record for our AG, with a time of 1:26.43, two seconds off the non-team USATF Outdoor AG record.

Carter relay team.
Ashworth, Robinson, Carter, me

For the 65s, Jane Barnes team (Cohn1—Cohn, Lowery, Bowman J, Barnes) set a new NSGA AG record with a time of 1:04.52.  Jane had the anchor and wow – she streaked to the Finish!  I watched Becky Bowman run the second leg in her relay (Wilson 1) and she, too, was a streak.  Their team (Wilson, Bowman B, Shook, and Triolo) also set a new 55-59 NSGA record with a time of 57.07

I had only competed in an NSGA track Meet once before (though softball three times.)  Softball competition schedule conflicts and not wanting to board my dog more than once a year, if that., kept me from going.  However, because of the number and level of competitors I found in Birmingham, I regret not going to their track meets sooner. In terms of the Meet itself – it was a good time.

Two weeks after the relay I am still not running and in injury recovery therapy mode (Chiro & Graston). 

The Doctor is In!

And so it goes.  Baton Rouge next.  Will that be strike out three in terms of track performance?

Me and Angela Staab -- ready to go home.


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