Monday, April 16, 2018

Subdued in Landover -USATF Masters Indoor Championships 2018

March 16-18, 2018

Prior to USATF Masters Indoor Championships in Landover, MD, I went to two indoor meets in Winston-Salem, NC at JDL Fast Track. The first was a Youth, Open, and Masters Meet, Jan 14, in which Angela Staab and I went to see how we would do. For Angela, this was her first meet with her new bionic hip. We were of course the oldest and stood out among the younger folk. One problem with going to this combined event was the lack of area in which to practice. Loaded with high school teams, JDL was packed to the max. It was a bit chilly outside so my outside practice did not last long. Neither Angela nor I really warmed up before any of our events. I saw some swift high schoolers, one being 14 year old, Kendall Harris, who ran the 800m in 2:31.37 in his first ever track meet! In the 400m there was a 40 year old, an 18 year old (who had turned 19, ending up being listed as Open) and Angela and I. I ran the 60m and 200m with the 18 year old. I left knowing much work needed to be done. Angela was happy with her 400m and weight throw but felt some discomfort from the outing.

The second pre-Landover Meet was the SouthEast Masters Indoor Regionals on Jan 21 at JDL. I did the usual three events (400, 60, and 200) and shot. I stunk at shot. Among others that were there were Barbara Warren, William Rhoad, Lesley Hinz, Lane Wilton and some of her other Carolina Track Club members as well as our Piedmont Pacer teammates. Atlanta Track Club as always was well represented. So a week after the initial meet, I did a little better in the 60m and the 200m but, oh, boy! That 400m! Based on the prior week's attempt, I had decided to hang back a bit on the first 200m. I began my speedup just prior to entering the last curve and felt really strong running the straight away 60m or so. I felt fast and not out of breath. It felt good. Until I looked up and saw my time. Almost FOUR seconds slower than the prior week. I was stunned. It had felt so good coming down the home stretch, feeling better than I ever had before in a 400m. Yeah, no wonder! I apparently slogged too much on the initial 200+ meters. Aaargh.

Between then and the Landover Meet, I practiced on greenways and bridle paths three times and the track twice. Mostly, I tried some 300s (no 400 for me!) and then 3 or 4 200s and similarly 100s. I also ran a social five-miler and, the week before Landover, Pie Day Pi K (1.96 miles) in the rain (the reward small apple pie was the incentive.)

Leading up to the Landover event, I lacked enthusiasm. (and still do.) Basically, I was going through the motions in Camp Gladiator and life in general.

Thursday, March 15, I started off for Largo, MD for the Landover Meet. I took two 8.5 oz. bottles of Coca Cola© along, in case I began to feel drowsy. (At most, I drank about half of a bottle during the entire time away.) On my way out of town, I got a Starbucks Quattro (4 shots of espresso) which I did not start drinking until an hour into the trip. It took me to Fredericksburg, Va, without generating a need to make a stop, though I did, also picking up a Milky Way Midnight Dark bar. In Fredericsburg , at WaWa (really?) I got a regular coffee for the rest of my trip. I was grateful for the decent driving weather up to Landover and even more grateful for the WAZE app which gave plenty of forewarning as to when one would be moving to the right lanes or left lanes in the mess that is I-495 around D.C. It did take me off I-95 once to avoid, I imagine, a tie-up and put me back on later.

I arrived at the hotel about the time Angela was landing at Dulles. We decided that I would go to the event site and see if I could pick up both of our packets while checking out the drive from hotel to venue – Wayne K Curry Prince George's Sports and learning Complex. It was a short trip. Upon first seeing the track, I was impressed. Viewing it from above, it seemed immense, with the stands and track below. 
 I was too early for pickup, so took a walk around the track. I encountered Lesley Hinz also checking out the track. I was standing in one of the finish line lanes, 2 or 3, talking for a minute or two, when I got brushed (bumped) by a fellow sprinting the lane who said something like “move!” I had not seen him prior to stopping and talking. This was a younger guy, maybe 40, who was obviously fast, and IMO, full of himself. When I am practicing at a track at home and others are out there (Gaelic football players or others) who stand in my lane as I come around from a 200m or 100m, I veer around them. This fellow though he had the right to be perhaps annoyed, was plain rude. There is a NY term, rhyming with muck (no, not the one starting with “f”!), that applies nicely to him, at that moment in his life.

In the packet pickup area there were oodles of free goodies, including some sweets and lots of Gatorade©, plus towels to pick up and stuff into the commemorative bag. George Melichar, USATF Inclusion Committee, was there providing good vibes in the crowded area. I had a photo of Angela's license on my phone but did not need it to pick up her packet. That was good as then she would not have to rush to get it before pickup shut down for the evening. We both had the 400m at 10 a.m. so had to be there prior to 9, to declare. We were concerned about a long early morning queue to pick up the packet before 9.a.m. It was just as well I got Angela's stuff because it took her TWO hours by Uber to go from Dulles to Largo. Yes, it was during peak traffic but it seems she also got the D.C. Scenic tour (WH, probably Supreme Court and whatever else was on her route.) It seems they avoided the D.C. Beltline and took the circuitous way.

It was near to 6:30 p.m. when Angela arrived. By the time she got settled, we were both starving. The last I had eaten was my Milky Way and an apple. Before Angela even got there, she was texting me to find a good place to eat. Me – who knows from nothing! She wanted me to ask at the desk. We did that once in Baton Rouge, I think, and ended up with a so-so meal. Instead, I did a google search and came up with Old Towne Inn in Largo.

It was a simple drive to Old Towne Inn, mostly along Lottsford Rd. Along the way, we saw someone being ticketed on the other side of the road. (and again upon our return later, another one being ticketed.) Parking was at a premium when we arrived at Old Towne. When we entered, there were about three steps up into the restaurant proper. It was crowded. One of the two cops standing there told us it would be at least a 45 minute wait. Ugh. We thanked them for the info and decided to go to Outback, which we had noticed on our way there. It took us awhile to find it because we did not go far enough down Lottsford. We did find it and once seated, anxiously awaited our food. I ordered a garlic roasted filet with potato and broccoli and Angela also ordered some scrumptious meat. I devoured my meal but ¾ of the way through, began having piggy pains of an over stuffed goose. Real pains. It also pained me to have to leave some of my food, but I did. The discomfort lasted most of the rest of the evening. Not what one should be feeling the night before the dreaded 400m.

The Meet packet contained a pretty nifty, high class, booklet, detailing event schedule, including number of heats an event might have based on number of participants in that age group. (This was a six lane track, except for the 60m which had an additional two. ) It also listed every official! (A nice feature for the officials who work tirelessly during such a meet as this.) The Meet organizers (hosted and planned by Potomac Valley Track Club) had also been good about pre-Meet informational emails. All in all, I thought the organizers did a bang up job. (There was one hiccup, if it could be called that, described later.)

Friday, March 16. The dreaded 400m.

It was dang freezing! 36 degrees with wind gusting to 34 during our outings outside. Angela and I got there in plenty of time to check in (actually, too early so we had to wait until later.) 
Angela removing cold weather wrappings
A note about the spike check: they chose to wrap a yellow (or was it blue?) tape on the end of a shoelace. Several times during the event, this wrap thing came off. I had it replaced a few times then just forgot about it. No one ever looked any way!

I spent the time slowly warming up. Walking, with some leg kicks and butt kicks interspersed. I was not about to do lunges until my knees warmed up, else they would bark. I trotted the track with Coreen Steinbach and then transferred to the warmup area, eventually jogging slowly then picking up my pace as knees felt okay. Eventually Rose Green and Mary Robinson showed up to also warm up for the 400m. I did not yet see Marie-Louise Michelsohn, who was supposed to be running the 400m. Mary was being careful not to stress her knees which were criss-crossed with KT Tape. Not being capable of running 100% this outing, the race would therefore be between Marie-Louise and Rose. While warming up, I saw a lady who resembled Marie-Louise but it was not. Come time to check in and no Marie-Louise. She did not show. Well, okay. Too bad. I am not nervous. Well, maybe. I worry that I will not get beyond 300m without having to drastically slow up or walk. There are four of us since Marie-Louise did not show: Mary Robinson, Rose Green, me, and Angela Staab.

We watched the 80 year olds run their 400m. Jeannie Daprano led from the start and retained the lead as expected. We were led onto the track. I was in lane 6, Rose in 5, Mary in 3 and Angela in 4. I may have started with a few fast steps but then just tried to keep a steady pace as Rose passed me while we rounded the curve into the backstretch. I sensed that Mary was near but I tried to keep up with Rose. We rounded the curve towards the break line (cones) that would allow the runners to move into lane 1 once we passed beyond them. Remembering well my hesitation 4 years earlier in an Indoor 400, I sped up to cut into lane one before Mary got there and then I stayed on Rose's heels – in fact too close so I backed off when we turned back into the backstretch again. I stayed near Rose as we traversed the length of the back area. About half way around the last curve I pulled out into lane two to try to pass Rose. Now we were both heading down towards the finish line. I still had enough energy to keep pushing and as we closed on the Finish, Rose pulled ahead enough to take it by 2/10 of a second. What I did not realize until looking at the video yesterday, is that several times Mary was right on my heels and almost on me – once when we headed towards the cones, she had the edge until I sped up to cut in and then at the last turn, once again she was right there. I was only aware of Rose while on the final backstretch and heading to the Finish. Had Mary's knees been better she would have probably passed me somewhere in that run.  
Rose, after win.

I felt good at the end because I had managed to finish without walking and had felt as if I was running as fast as I could without my legs giving out and my breathing hanging in there. Probably the best I have felt in a 400m except for the Jan 21 JDL outing when I thought I had done well only to discover I was slower. This time, I was faster than at JDL so I was happy. After returning home, I wondered if I had cut into lane two too soon thereby using up energy I could have used in the last 60m or so. However, had I waited, I might not have had enough distance left to even get close to Rose. Those split second decisions based on partial prior experience are not always correct and each race is different from the last. One is a different person physically in one way or another. Rose was off that particular day, allowing me to get close.
and so it goes

We still had to figure out who would be the fourth in our 4x200 relay. Mary Robinson had found that there was no NON CLUB 4x200 record in our age group. So, we needed someone no younger, which left out a few potentials. We were going to try for Kathy Bergen if she was not running the relay with her SoCal Striders group. Turns out they had asked her to run with their younger group but Kathy had opted not to run any relay since the relays were at night and the prelims for the 200m was early Sunday morning. (IF all showed up. Two of those registered had not shown up for other races, so there was a possibility that if they did not show, we would not have a prelim.) But we had to be there at check in nonetheless before 7 a.m. So, here we were, Mary, Angela, and I with no fourth. Barbara Hensley was too young, Jeanne Daprano, though older, was fast, but was running with her Atlanta Track Club. Someone discovered that Carolyn Langenwalter, , the next age group up from us, barely, was not running with anyone, so we enlisted her and she was delighted to be able to run a relay.

Angela and I and Kevin Gobble our Piedmont Pacer leader, there for one day to compete in the 3000m, sat and watched the afternoon events.
Angela greeting Kevin Gobble, in from the cold!
We watched the men's 400m races. Several men had to pull up with what seemed to be hamstring issues. One, just after first turn into the finish side straightaway, and another at the far end, just as entering that curve. Angela said the most dangerous time for pulling muscles in that event is while in an inner lane and accelerating while in the turn. She indicated that most came out of the curve before accelerating unless in an outer lane. She had broken a leg in CA. during a National Senior Games event when speeding up in a turn. We watched younger Piedmont Pacer Matt Holtry attempt the 1500m race walk. He had not had a great experience in his prior attempt, so had been practicing and was hopeful. Prior to his event we had watched the women compete, several of whom were yellow carded then DQed. Despite the strict rules for this event, there still were different styles evident. This is not an event I would try for even 100m! Matt finished his race walk without a hitch, winning his age group. I bet his shins were barking when done.

Because of the number of race walkers etc., Kevin's 3000m event would start too late for him to make his flight back home from BWI. He had been in town for work and had hoped to compete but it was not to be. Sigh.

Sitting for that length of time had made bionic Angela feel uncomfortable. She was ready to get back to the hotel.

That evening, Friday, Angela and I decided to try to get to Old Towne Inn early so as to beat the crowd. We managed even to get a decent parking spot. I ordered
Sauteed shrimp tossed in a spicy alfredo ajun sauce with julienne red pepper and green onions, served on top of penne pasta. I usually do not order shrimp but this sounded SO good! And again, I was hungry. It took quite awhile for our meals to arrive so I dug in. It was good. But after the preceding evening, I knew when to stop, so unfortunately had to leave some food still on the plate. But at least I left not in pain!

Saturday March 17, 2018

Weather still very cold but not as windy. Today, because there was a competing gymnastics event, the track folk were banished to the far outer limits parking area. From there, we could see the FEDEX stadium, home of the Washington Redskins. Huge. The walk back up to the venue was delightful in the chill. Saturday I had the 60m and Angela and I both had afternoon shot put and the evening 4x200 relay. Today, I had more than Rose and Mary to contend with. It was a forgone conclusion to me that Kathy Bergen would be out there way in front. Two of the registered competitors did not show up, so there were five of us. We watched the older group (hah! Most not much older than me, except for 102 year old Julia Hawkins!) Julia was there with her red outfit and flower in her hair. She was running with the 80-84s and one 85 year old. The 80s consisted of a competitive group - Christel Donley, Flo Meiler, Carolyn Langenwalter, and two other ladies. It was a very competitive race between the first three finishers with only hundreths of a second separating them. Julia trotted down the track in her steady no nonsense way, to a battery of photogs and reporters.

Our group lined up. Kathy, Mary and Rose were to my right and Jane Simpson to my left. They got us ready but then called a halt twice. It seems the reporters at the far end interviewing Julia were blocking the finish area. I do wonder why they were not moved off the track, out of the way. I expect there was a psychological impact of priming for a start and then not going. In my case, I had decided to try to use one block to push off from (versus a 3-point start). When the gun went off, I was the last to get going and watched the others, except for Jane, rush down the straight away. I managed to catch up to Mary though I don't recall much of that event other than my cruddy start. It was not my worst start but the usual last to get going start. Kathy (9.88)and Rose(10.78) had long since finished by the time I came across the line. No news there!

I watched some of the subsequent groups run the 60m: The battle between Joy Upshaw and Sandy Triolo with Joy winning by just over 2/10 of a second; and in another AG the clear win of Jane Barnes, my NC compatriot.

When it came time for the shot put, it was in a side room. We competed in a combined group of 75-84. One lady seemed to be a stickler for rules and was questioning this or that before we started. I have little tolerance for nit picking, but I guess for the Pros, it is critical. Julia Hawkins was doing shot for the first time and Christel Donley was explaining and showing her what to do and to be aware of how to exit the circle. Christel is always helpful that way. Fortunately, the nit picking and semi complaining ended once we began throwing. Every one was courteous and supportive. The competitors exhibited multiple styles of throwing. I think one did a modified spin, most did some kind of windup, and some just threw. All of the 80s threw farther than us younger ones! I managed not to foul but after my first throw, everything was shorter. I tried to recall how I had done the one good throw at Outdoors in Baton Rouge but apparently, I never found it. Needs work.  
Barbara Warren

Since we had the relay scheduled for 7:10 p.m. this meant we had to all be there before 6:10 p.m., Angela and I decided we were going to eat light somewhere before getting back to the hotel. We ended up at a Chipotle not far from the hotel, where we both had salads.

We were back at the track before check in time. The check in area was swamped. It was truly chaos. People were looking for their teammates, the check in crew was calling out for club age groups (was that club or non club he called?) Really pandemonium from this person's perspective though it may have all just been organized chaos. As it got closer to 6:15, we were all there except for Mary. We were beginning to panic. None of us had Mary's cell number. Eventually Angela decided to go upstairs and use the rest room. Carolyn was beginning to feel the pangs of disappointment; I was immersed in a mental cocoon – no feeling at all, withdrawing into nothingness. However, eventually, I got worried when Angela had not yet returned. We were falling apart. The clerk was still calling Clubs. Angela returned then Mary strolled up, not the least bit worried, having been through this mess numerous times before. The USATF Masters Indoor Championships article by Castro, Seto, and photog Rob Jerome in
National Masters News stated that there were 160 relay teams registered. 640 folks crowded in the check in area of the venue! No wonder it was crowded!

I watched some of the men's longer relays. One in particular was dramatic. The Men's 40 to 49 Club relay. 4 laps each runner. The anchor of the Garmin Runners, Mark Williams took the baton and sped off, increasing the lead substantially even before rounding the far bend. His lead kept increasing through two and a half laps. By the third lap he began losing speed (or the pack increased theirs.) The pack was closing in on the last bend. There was about a 20m gap between Williams and the lead runner of the following pack as they came down the finish stretch. Williams just made it across the Finish before being over taken. The effort so exhausted him that he fell across the Finish covering his and part of the adjacent lane and stayed there, as the other runners veered around to finish. The man gave more than his all to bring the win home to his team.

The club teams, men before women, ran before the non club and in the order of longest distance to shortest (800m relays to 200m relays). Rose Green was going to run the 4x200 with the Potomac Valley Track Club with three other ladies who were either new to track and relay or used to a more leisurely distance outing. Having the 200m early morning prelim ahead, she was fine with not killing herself on this relay. I couldn't wait to watch! They had to run against the Atlanta Track club big guns in the 70-74 AG. Atlanta had 81 year old Daprano and Potomac had 79 year old Rose. Just looking at the ages is SO deceptive. These ladies dispel any thoughts of great grandma in her rocking chair. So when Rose's team came out, I was surprised to see some of her folks jogging at a decent pace around the track. No one walked . (More than could be said for myself at times.)

When the non club women were led to the infield about an hour beyond original pre-Meet scheduled time, some had already bagged it. Of the 4 teams listed, one did not start. While waiting, I watched the last of the women's club teams compete in the 4x200. Charlotte Track Club won their 4x200 45-49 AG with Anne Sluder, Kris Kazebee, Lane Wilton, and Melanie Walker. Joy Upshaw's Jackrabbits (love this name) won their 50-54 AG.

Non Clubs do not have fancy names. We are assigned non club A, B, etc. When the time came, our three non club teams lined up. The lead on the track and the rest of us off to the side in the order in which we would follow. Mary Robinson was our lead off, she would hand off to Angela Staab who in turn would hand off to Carolyn Langenwalter, who then would pass to me. As was expected, the younger 35-39 team came roaring around to hand off followed by the 60-69 team with Susan Loyd, Amanda Scotti, Jane Barnes, and Leanda Funk. This team set a new American (USA) non club record finishing in 2:24.05. The thirty year olds (McAllister, Edwards, and two others) finished first in 1:56.53. We did not look too shabby in our runs around the track. Mary handed off expertly to Angela who took her bionic hip around the track in a nice clip then handed to Carolyn who was darn speedy. She was so speedy, I miscalculated and stood too long before moving because she came up on me faster than I anticipated so, once again, I glitched up a handoff. Meanwhile, Angela on the infield is yelling at me that we were going to set a record. I just want to focus on getting the baton and not dropping it. (I am a b.... when focusing during an event) any way, I took off and maybe halfway down the back stretch knew that my legs were not up to par. They were not moving as I had hoped. Oh, well. I managed to get to the finish. Our time 3:21.53.

I am still gasping off the track when Mary says look at our teammate and she is looking back to the infield area. I turn around and there is Angela, sitting in a chair by the edge with some men attending to her. Excitable Angela finished her evening in a grand way, which I am bound neither to relate nor show the photo I later took. Another hallmark that adds to our relay sagas. (Along with the baton that travels to and from Meets never to be used.)

Sunday March 18

Angela has the 800m and a weight and super weight throw and we both have the 200m on the agenda for Sunday. The 200m is scheduled for 8 a.m., a conflict with Angela's weight throw. We made sure to get to the venue (again having to park in the outer limits) well before 200m check in time of 7a.m. As we enter the building, Kathy Bergen is leaving dragging her stuff behind her. She said the 200m was a rollover. Aha! The two who had not shown for earlier events still had not appeared. We headed to check in any way so they would see that we had met the requirement. Mary and Rose also checked in, so now we were set for a 12:23 200m Final.

Legends Mary Hartzler and Barbara Warren

Angela went off to do her weight throws and I watched the ladies throw that hunk of metal. Not something I am likely to try. One wrong move and sciatica might return. Barbara Warren was there for that, squeezing it in among her many events. Hurdles were now ruled out as something happened during Friday's pentathlon events such that her inner knee was not happy. (later determined to be a torn MCL and possible meniscus injury.) She did win her weight (5.45kg) and super weight (9.08kg) throw AG as did Mary Hartzler (also not quite 100%) in her younger AG. Mary Robinson and Roslyn Katz swapped victories in the weight (4kg) and super weight (7.26kg) throws, with Mary taking the super weight. Angela and Jane Simpson also did a swap of third and fourth, with Angela getting third in super weight. 
Mary Robinson throwing weight

Angela Staab throwing weight

Angela won her 800m event. She only walked a little bit once but mostly kept up her steady pace, increasing her lead. National Masters Champion to add to her relay results Then came the 60-64 AG 800m. I knew Lesley Hinz had her sights set on that (as well as the mile the following Tuesday in NC's JDL Fasttrack). Four times around. She led from the start and by the time she was on the last lap had a good lead . Good enough to give her the win and a new World Record with a time of 2:36.57 (Debbie Lee, second, finished in 2:58.77) And, indeed, the next week she set a new Indoor World record in the Mile (5:43.75) Coreen Steinbach handily won her 800m (2:59.49).

There were five of us in the 200m. Kathy Bergen, Rose Green, Mary Robinson, Angela Staab, and me. I have a slip of paper tacked to a kitchen door which has the 100m and 200m times of Kathy and Rose – it's been there for a number of years. Inspirational and a motivator? These days, I ought to just salute and say good going, ladies! I enjoy the 200m and below events. Just to get out there to see how fast I can run – to get that feeling of going all out. I think I skipped the block this time and just did my three point start. Kathy blasted off with Rose chasing her. The rest of us chased them. Kathy (35.90), Rose (37.92). In the end, I did run a little faster than I had in January, but not that much faster.

Angela Staab and Rose Green 

Jane Barnes won her 200m (34.58) with a very close race for second and third between Hannah Phillips (35.07)and Coreen Steinbach (35.28).

All in all, it was a well run Meet, from my perspective. Peter Taylor and Lisa Rosborough did a seamless job of announcing throughout the Meet. The officials were flawless.

My times were also a bit better than at my prior Meet. This was the last Indoor for me. Three. Next year, probably two since I will skip the Youth and Open Meet. Folks like William “barefoot” Rhoad go to as many Meets as they can that are within a driving distance and do as many events as they can in a Meet. He keeps improving or holding his own as a result he just loves to compete as does his cohort Barbara Warren.

WAZE had me go off the road at Lorton (after a very long crawl to the exit while the none exiting lanes zipped by). We seemed to wind here and there. I did notice a very interesting community on a river or large waterway that had a nice mix of townhomes and homes. WAZE also died (went into limbo – directing me somewhere I was not headed) not too far from home.

Next up is the first Outdoor Meet tomorrow American Masters track & Field Championships in Durham, NC. Barbara Warren and William Rhoad and Angela will be there as will some others from Landover. I am three plus pounds heavier. Supposedly it will be in the 80s during the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Louise, you did an absolutely wonderful job with this detailed accounting of your meets, especially the big one in Landover. Thank you for acknowledging me. You really capture the spirit of the events and of dining out in strange places.

Peter Taylor