Friday, August 2, 2019

NSGA 2019 - A turtle goes to Albuqiuerque

NSGA 2019 Albuquerque


My so called training before NSGA was minimal, for various reasons. I had two straight weeks with no running then a week or so with two outings to the track. Not optimal, but so it goes. So, to set the stage, I was not expecting great things or even good things, just so so. But that's life. One is not always in optimal condition for big events. This is true for many older athletes. The prior time I had competed in NSGA track, 2017, I had a severe Achilles issue and did poorly. This time, though for a different reason, would probably not be much better. Had I not already made arrangements perhaps I would have canceled. But then I would have missed the fun with Angela Staab.

My flight from RDU was uneventful to Phoenix, however the flight to Albuquerque got quite bumpy the closer we got. I thought of my friend Anne who would be flying on Sunday with our softball team and (1) did not want to fly and (2) was a wreck about it. Oh, no, I dare not tell her about this.

I was staying with Angela Staab at Embassy Suites on Woodward, off of Lomas, not far from the Univ. of New Mexico track. She was meeting some relatives for dinner so I decided to go out to McDonald's to get takeout and to start getting acclimated to the altitude. I have been to ABQ before and three years earlier had walked and trotted from the Convention Center to Old Towne in search of a watch (not found) and back without much of a problem. The subsequent year when there, I had unknowingly developed bronchitis and could barely walk across the street from the hotel to the Convention Center where the USATF Indoor National Championship meet was being held.

At 6 p.m. It was 92 degrees F with a 23 mph wind. Again, I thought of my friend Anne! She is not crazy about heat either. I tried trotting and did not get far before reverting to a walk, because my knees hurt.. My breathing was okay. So, I get to McD's about ¾ of a mile away down Lomas. I have to cross a street to get to it. I ordered a Southwestern salad with Southwest sauce to go. As I was leaving there were two guys in khaki pants and a light brown shirt (not listed as proper ABQ PD uniform dress) with some kind of an an emblem on the sleeve. I was thinking maybe private security. They were taking note of a fellow approaching the door, holding a bottle in his hand. (Later on a subsequent visit, I saw a woman in same outfit, but this time I noticed the gun. Later, Angela and I found out why a constant APD presence.) I continued out the door and proceeded back the way I came. This time, breathing was the issue. The return trip had a slight uphill incline. I really had a hard time with this. There was no trotting, just a slow walk with a lot of gasping. I guess I should say that I had not been optimal at home, either, so others should not expect to have the same reaction. The wind also seemed stronger. The salad was more than enough and quite delicious.

At breakfast Saturday, I met a lady from Rhode Island who was there with others  to do the Powerwalk event. I had never heard of it. This was the first tine NSGA was having this event, no qualifying needed. She said it was same as Race Walking except that the rules did not require a stiff (straight leg) knee. One had to come down on ones heel and not toes, however. This was her first time and she was nervous about it, despite being a marathoner.. She had no expectations other than to finish. She did say that at the info session for Powerwalkers, there was one lady who was quite strident, questioning and challenging the presenter. This somewhat intimidated her. The lady from RI may have been Cynthia Tanz, who did okay in her event.

Angela and I picked up lunch to go at McDonald's, both of us getting the Southwest salad, which we ate at the hotel before going to the convention center to get the credentials. We had heard that for some there had been a long queue.  We did not rush . Angela did the driving during the entire trip (as she does on all but one of our Meets because she rents the larger vehicle that makes her feel safe.) We used WAZE. We were supposed to make a right on Marquette street. We never saw it. We realized that we had gone too far and pulled into a small local supermarket place (where I had gone shopping one early evening three years prior on my first USATF Masters Indoor meet in ABQ.) It turns out that the Martin Luther King blvd we had passed was denoted as Marquette on WAZE  Arrgh! There was almost no queue when we got into the Center after a long hike from the parking garage. I got my credential easily but Angela's was not to be found, so they made one up . Upon seeing mine, Angela was pissed. Mine was big and bold for name and state, but Angela's was as had come off the printer – smaller. She intended to go back and get one like mine (which was pre-printed). So, we put that on our todo list. As we later found out, an entire box of credentials had been lost.  The box with S! So, she never got the preprinted credential.

The track was open for practice from 1 to 3pm. It was close to two when we left and tried to find the track. At first, we turned into the wrong parking lot at the DreamStyle stadium. Once we found the correct entrance by the big billboard it was close to 2:30. Only a small part of the track, a side area used for pole vaulting and jumps, was available for use. However, the track was closed to use for 30 minutes due to lightning . We were allowed in at around 2:30.T urns out they were running Powerwalking events on the track, so I did get to see some of it. The practice area was short, but I did some slow jogging before attempting sprints for about 35 to 40m. The jogging sapped me in terms of breathing but the sprints were okay. This turned out to be true for all of my later warm-up expeditions. I managed to get in some decent sprints by the time they told us to leave.

Saturday night Angela and I ate the left over Southwest salad from McDonald's after the hotel complimentary wine (me) beer (Angela) and snacks.

Sunday June 16

My first event was the 50m. There were four heats. This year, they were qualifying people for the final based on time rather than have semis etc. The fastest eight would go into the finals. There were 22 of us in this age group. It was hot, hot, hot! (no rain during the entire event) Ann Carter and I were in the same heat, 2, with one incredible woman over in lane 8. I tried my crouch stance but had a hesitation when the gun went off. Lady in lane eight, all in black, (in this heat) was gone down the track while the rest of us were just getting going. (turned out to be Hannah Buford) Someone was next to me, making me push hard to get to the Finish. Afterwards, I discovered it was Ann.

Ann Carter

 Mary Robinson was in the third heat, racing Georgia Kightlinger, also from Ohio. They finished within one hundredths of a second of each other. Georgia at 9.57 and Mary at 9.58! When all was said and done, I did not make the finals, missing out by two hundredths of a second (really three) to Hannah Ashworth's 10.53 to my 10.55 I was not really disappointed. I was not expecting to do great, but it might have been nice to make at least one final. The 50m would probably be the one I had the best shot at since the others, being longer distances, would wear me down too quickly.

Becky Bowman, my NC track lil sister, had 39 in her age group in the prelims! She was most concerned with Linda Wilson, whom she had competed against previously. Linda has some past association with the Olympics. In the 50m Prelims, Linda Wilson, Becky Bowman and Amanda Scotti ran one, two, three in 7.61, 7.81 and 7.91.

Becky and Linds

There was no practice area. The one we used Saturday was now in use for long jumps and pole vaulting. Some were warming up behind the stands, in a little bit of shade (shade was hard to find) One competitor said she was run off a grassy slope by an official. Really! Cruddy. I had used a sloping unshaded area towards the side of the parking lot. 
My warm up patch of grass - hot!

 Between the 50m and the 400m (in the afternoon), I found some shade with others, high up in the stands (should I tell you how hard it was to go up the steps? Almost gave up.) beneath a canopy overhang.

Before going up there, I was left mouth open when watching the 90 year old men run the 50m. The one who astonished me was a solidly built fellow, Curt Davison, who looked 50 years old from a distance and ran like one. He ran the 50m in 9.99! (beating the crap out of my time, for sure!).

 I was consuming bottles of water like they were the tiny ones I used to use in Camp Gladiator.

Angela Staab ran the 1500m, her second time doing so, I think. She wanted to see how it would be compared to her first time at Indoor Nationals at JDL in March. It was searing hot and I know she does not like the heat, but she kept up a steady pace and was happy with her ending time.

So it was now time to practice, warm-up, for the 400m prelim.  There were twelve in our AG.  Mary Smith and I went to my patch of grass, but Mary used a shaded area of pavement. 

Mary Smith getting ready
 I used the patch of sloping grass adjacent to the parking lot, because pavement was too hard on my knees. There were three trees there. I tried jogging downhill then back up but it was an effort. I had to stop after each traverse back and forth. The sun was blazing but I was not sweating since it was so dry. I then tried the short sprints from 70% up to 100%. These were a bit easier, not as taxing for some reason. Maybe because the sprint was downhill for 35 steps then walk back. Once done, I joined Angela and Mary Smith who were beneath a tree closer to the entrance to the track, munching on some food.

Angela with her yogurt
 Angela had brought my track shoes from the car but had not brought my red CG bottle which had the BANG I was relying on to get me through. So I decided to trot back to the car,.

But I had trouble trotting. I had no energy and was huffing and puffing just walking. I began seriously thinking of scratching from the event. The return back from the car was just as awful. In the end, I decided to do the 400m since I had signed up for it and worst case I would have to walk and that would be that. Well, it was a terrible outing. I was in heat one of two, in lane 2. Ugh! I thought. Two makes it seem so much farther. As usual, Mary Smith darted off (with a not quite 100% hamstring) followed by the rest of the others, including Mary Radcliffe, Mary Robinson, and Marina Worsley, except me. I plodded my way through it, not doing any thing other than a slow jog. I was hoping to just make the curve before the straightaway. Sometimes previously, during practice at Duke I could get to the 300m mark. I got to it but was really feeling the effort, despite my slow speed. Nonetheless, I still had to walk at about 320m or so. I resumed trotting before the end but I was wiped and gasping without control at the finish. I had to lean on the water cart just to catch my breath (as if I had run full out at 20mph!) This was my Personal Worst, at 2:20.91, finishing next to last in my heat and overall of the twelve entrants, tenth. Neither the BANG nor the beet juice nor gel had helped. I obviously did not make the Final.

When I returned to the area behind the check-in table to change back to my shoes, I began coughing. Non stop. I was actually coughing before I got there. It was so bad that Sherry Hott, Official extraordinaire, offered me some water.
"Opie" and Sherry

 Water only helped partially, but eventually it stopped. Wow. Beat the times I would cough from the track dust kicked up by Jeanne Daprano at previous SouthEast Masters Outdoor Regionals (these Raleigh based meets ceased to exist in 2017). Barbara Hensley later said she had started coughing as well, but got it under control.

Barbara Hensley
Thinking of Sherry and Landan Lamas(?) aka Opie  - they kept a controlled chaos from getting out of hand.  Landan  made sure the competitors were checked in and then queued up.  Sherry is all around problem solver (as well as water bearer to an old crone)
Sunday night we went to Barbara Hensley's son Mike's home via I25 to the Placitas exit and then 8 more miles in the outer hills of Albuquerque. We had met Mike at a prior indoor Meet in Albuquerque when he had just moved there. Since then, he married Sherrie and moved to the hills. It was a beautiful drive.

 The rural road to Mike's house. 
Adobe dwelling. Lots o larger homes along the route, but scattered.

 As we got farther out, we saw little traffic. Somewhere before the turn into Michael's home, we encountered a brown horse, loose, munching on the grass bordering the other side of the road. Just beyond, we saw a few more horses and some people standing near them. Michael and Sherrie told us these are wild horses. (When we returned later when it was almost dark, there was the same horse eating away. Scary, since not easily seen. But I guess these animals have become smart enough to be careful.) 


Mary Robinson, in one of her slower moments
 We, Mary Robinson and Mary Hartzler had a good time, enjoying the food and company. Mike made much of it as he enjoys culinary creation. Sherrie tends to manage the herb growing and keeping the surrounding brush from encroaching. She,as it turned out was from Roberson County in NC.

Monday June 17

Today was the 50m Final for those who had qualified and the 100m Prelim. I settled into the stands to watch the 50m finals. First up were the older women in the 50m. Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins was here, running with three 95-99 year olds. She is about 102 (?) now. She ran it in 21.05 seconds. I was anxious to watch Becky Bowman and the other 60s speed down the lanes. 
Becky, Linda, Amanda

 It was a close race between Becky and Linda Wilson. Both broke the existing Meet record, with Linda coming in at 7.41 and Becky at 7.63. Amanda Scotti just missed third by 7/100th of a second with a time of 7.81. In my age group, the final came down to Hannah Buford (9.23), Georgia Kightlinger (9.510) and Mary Robinson (9.510). That is a tie in anyone's eyes. NSGA awarded second to both Georgia and Mary (I hope they gave them both Silver medals.) 

The 75s 50m

Kathy Bergen

 At the time, I noted that Mary ran really hard in that race. Then later, she ran hard in the 100 prerim, as well. In the men's 90-94 AG 50m Final, Curt Davison won with a time of 10.10. What a fellow!

Mary Smith was there to watch the events, her 400m Final not being until the next day, Tuesday. I finally decided I needed to warm up for the 100 prelim and so found my spot in the sun on the grassy slope. I lacked energy to do the full warm-up before the short sprints so only did two. Then I did the 70% up to 100% short sprints, with, I admit, lots of time between them. My start was a bit better than previous times and I ran as hard as I could. I was in Lane 6 in heat one of three, coming in third in that heat. Later I discovered I had actually qualified for the Final, barely.

While the track portion was going on, Ann Carter was doing one of her favorite events, the Triple Jump. She came in second with a jump of 4.33m. (14 feet, 2.47 inches.) Sometime during the Meet, Ann Carter and Jane Simpson also competed in the Long Jump (Jane 4th and Ann 5th.) Ann also got second in the High Jump. Can you tell she likes jumping?

Angela and Ann Carter

Here is as good a place as any to list some notable performances. Barbara Knight Warren, the tall lady with the crazy feet who goes to every Meet possible, doing every event possible, once again gobbled up the events. In AG 70-74, this is what she did (listing only the Finals results): High Jump 6th place (1m), long jump 5th place (2.74m), pole vault 2nd place (1.2m), triple jump 3rd place (5.82m), shot put 3rd place (7.05m), javelin 11th place (12.15m), hammer 4th place (16.78m), and discus 7th place (17.64m). She also ran some prelims but did not make the Finals.

Also in the 70-74 AG (shocker) is Mary Hartzler who took first in all of her throwing events: shot (8.47m), javelin (20.36m), hammer (31.04m), and discus (24.13m). Mary has also begun doing track events and was in the finals for the 400m coming in 4th (1.31), 200m 7th with time of 39 seconds, and 100m 7th with time of 18 seconds.

Moving up into the 70-74 AG, Brenda Matthews tore up the track. 50m in 8.18 (she broke the Meet record in the Prelim with 8.24), and the 100m in 15.81. She also achieved first in the triple jump with a jump of 6.59m.

Christel Donley, at the top of the 80-84 AG, had the misfortune(?) of having Kathy Bergen move up (in NSGA terms) to her AG! (taking her out of mine :) ).Christel got 3rd in the 50m with 10.54 to Kathy's first place 8.37, second in the high jump (.97m) to Kathy's 1.17, fifth in shot (6.84) and first in triple jump (5.21m)

The aforementioned Kathy Bergen not only got 1st in 50m but also in the 100m (15.98), 200m (35.71) and in the high jump (1.17m) Later, she ran in the 70-74 AG 4x100 relay with O'Rue, Brenda Matthews, and Betty Schaefer. They set a new Meet record, running 1:08.38.

That evening, we went to the original Cocina Azul, on Mountain Rd. 

 A neat little building with interesting artificial plants outside, in the midst of a small neighborhood. I ordered sopapilla pizza which came with two sopapillas covered with refried beans, chile con queso, and chicken. And iced tea! I ate half of my meal. It was excellent but I had been off my feed during this trip. Everything served seemed to be meant for giants.

Tuesday June 18

On our way to the track, every day we pass the McDonald's on Lomas where we had gotten the Southwest salad. (to the track - right onto Lomas, left onto Broadway then left onto Avenida Cesar Chavez, with a right into track parking lot. A straightforward shot) I think it was this day, later in the morning when we saw the place surrounded by cop cars. Uh huh!

Today, I had the 100m final (that I had barely made.) During my warm-up I consumed half to three quarters of a can of BANG, and one small bottle of Red Ace beet juice (this one was way too salty.) Again, the two short jogs I attempted were hard, even though I was jogging slightly downhill. I tended to walk back and also took long breaks, talking to Mary Smith who would later be running the 400m Final.

Mary Smith
 When I ran the 100m later, I came in 7th at 20.39 to Hannah Ashworth's 20.89. Hannah Buford won it in 18.06. The first five had quite a race! Following Hannah, in this order were Georgia Kightlinger (18.17), Carol Hicks (18.40), Marina Worsley (18.50) and Mary Robinson (18.52)

I watched the subsequent 400m Finals, specifically in my AG. Mary Smith won in her usual style in 1:31, Mary Radcliffe second in 1:39.85 and Mary Robinson in 1:40.26. Barbara Hensley was eighth in 1:53.96. Now, Mary Smith could relax! In a subsequent 400m final, a fifty year old from Florida fell right at the start, apparently after pulling a hamstring then falling on her shoulder., injuring her rotator cuff I heard. She seemed to be in quite a bit of agony.

Mary Smith with her medal

Angela and I went to watch  my softball team playing elsewhere in ABQ. (I have not played this year, though I did sign up.)  They were playing in a fantastic complex.  Artificial turf however, which I was told by others made the ball move quite differently than on regular grass.  the team had gotten screwed in their flights to ABQ, having to spend the night kn Kansas City airport because of plane problems and cancellations.  They had planned to get to ABQ a few days early to acclimate and practice.  Did not happen. They had almost no rest when they took to the field.  It was good to see them.  They ended up with the Bronze.


That evening Angela and I returned to Cocina Azul with Becky Bowman. I ordered Frank Sr's Green Chile soup with chicken. It was a huge bowl! No way was I able to finish it. I had eaten maybe a third when my gut said enough! And I had to go outside and walk off the bloated feeling, though the soup was quite tasty! Too bad. Had to leave the rest of it. As I recall, though, Becky had a terrible time getting a refill on her drink. The waitress (whose eyelashes were noticeably long and false) eventually took the request, but then was not bringing the refill! It took more than three times of trying before she got  her refill. After dinner we took a quick trip to Old Towne where Angela and Becky found some treasures to bring back home. Most of the shops were closed as it was past prime shopping time. All of the vendors usually lining the sidewalks had gone home. 

Wednesday June 19th

Today was discus day. Angela and I and others in a mixed AG. I think it was AG 90 down through the 75-79, There was one official initially and a scribe trying to manage the group. Eventually Mary Trotto volunteered to mark the spot where the discus had landed while the busy official took the surveyor's gizmo into the circle to get the distance reading. So he was running back and forth after each competitor threw and then calling off the reading.

However, the volunteer lady doing the scribing somehow got a bit confused so the official would then run over to her to make sure the mark was recorded accurately. The guy was wearing himself out and it was exhausting to watch. It also made everything take longer. Eventually a young lady arrived and took over the recording of the mark. That sped things up.

I did not know many of the ladies other than Mary Robinson (who came in 6th with throw of 13.92m (45' 8.03”), Ann Carter - 11th with throw of 12.04m (39' 6.02”), Angela Staab - 13th with a 10.78m (35' 4.41”) throw, and Jane Simpson - 15th with throw of 10.23m (33' 6.76”). The first place thrower was Georgia Schoner who threw 17.27m (56' 7.92”). I threw 12.07m (39' 6.02”) for tenth.

There was a long wait between discus and the 200m prelim, so I watched some of the other track events. Most notable was the 800m run by 86 year old Piedmont Pacer Dot Sowerby.

Dot closing in

 She ran in fourth place for most of the time until the last lap. She began inching up on the third place runner and was closing in on her by the last turn. As they went down the final 100m, Dot picked it up and passed the third place lady before the end, finishing in 6:17.15, getting the bronze! This was not the only event Dot did. She also ran the dreaded 400m, winning it in 2:29.64 (I am eight years younger than Dot, yet I ran only 20 secs faster.)

Angela also ran the 800m, her favorite event (though the 1500m is contending for that position.) Angela runs at a steady pace and I can usually pick her out of a crowd based on form. As she approached the turn before the final 100m, Jane Simpson and another were creeping up on her. She had walked the prior turns because she is still healing from a tendon issue. But at that final turn she did not walk but trotted on through it. Nonetheless, at the end, Jane passed her, coming in 5th at 5:31.76 to Angela's 5:34.47.

Between events, Angela had gotten into a block building challenge with another lady. What fun, as each took a turn adding a block to the tower, hoping that it would not collapse, for if it did, that person lost.  This was so entertaining for those of us who were watching.

Angela beginning a happy dance

I wish I could find the video of the celebration!

I ate yogurt before the 200m prelim. My warm-up was another abbreviated one. Those slow jogs were too much for me. I seemed to have it better in the short sprints (to the mark about 35 steps away.) In the prelim I came out eight out of fourteen so I qualified for the final in 46.86.

We stopped at McDonald's on our return trip. Angela noted the somewhat out of it fellow sitting on the side curb. She said he was high. A druggie enjoying his moment. We picked up some vittles and left.

For dinner, I had a Starbucks coffee and sweet and cheese. I was not taking a chance on eating too much.

We decided to go to the NSGA Athlete Celebration.


 I have to say I was not too enthusiastic.  However, while waiting in the very HOT auditorium (no air circulation and a horde of people), I did get to chat with some folks I know from both softball and track.  So we have to wait for all the states to parade in then walk back up the stairs.  I can say that that I had a great deal of trouble with that walk up the endless stairs!  I was probably alone in this but it did occur to me that though athletes these are mostly senior citizens (not the 50 year olds of course. We did not stay after that. I had heard the featured speaker before and although inspiring, I felt like crud. 

Thursday June 20th

Last day of the Meet. I had the 200 Final and a relay which Angela's friend Joyce Ingram wanted to do. Angela managed to sign up Barbara Hensley as our fourth.  There were women coming up trying to solicit anyone who looked about their age for their relay team. My warm up for the 200 was short, once again. It was hard catching breath on those short jogs before doing the short sprint routine. I was assigned lane 1 - I guess that is the lane given to the slowest qualifier. As I could have predicted, I was last, finishing in eighth. About 1/8 to 1/4 of the way down the track, my quads began tightening. I was slow across the line and gasping. Georgia Kightlinger was first in 38.98, Marina Worsley second in 41.04, Carol Hicks third in 41.26, and Mary Robinson fourth in 42.1-0. Barbara Hensley, converting from race walker to sprinter and aiming high, was seventh in 45.45 and I came in last in 46.12.

Our relay team of Angela Staab, Barbara Hensley, Joyce Ingram and I practiced the baton passing on the back side of the stands where it was shaded. I am notoriously bad at receiving and passing, so we needed this practice. Hensley took charge. It was Barbara to Angela to Joyce to me. I was to keep my hand low so the baton could be slapped into it.

Prior to our relay I finished the BANG and a bottle of beet juice. We ran with the 70 and 75 relay teams, which included the 70 team with Kathy Bergen and Mary Robinson's 75 team with Carol Hicks, Marina Worsley and the speed demon Hannah Buford. The Robinson team was hoping to make a record. Buford was next to me as we were both anchors. As I watched, I saw a hiccup or something on the pass from Barbara to Angela (later found out that Barbara wanted to be sure it was a good baton pass so slowed up.) Joyce's pass to me (she SO wanted to run a relay) was perfect. There is a photo sent of me at the Finish. The look on my face is ghastly but what caught my attention was that it appeared I was walking! My knee is barely raised. I am told that yes, I slowed up before the finish. In my grainy, beady memory cells., I vaguely recall running out of energy but thought I was still running, so to speak, at the finish. Surprisingly, we came in second to Mary's team but ahead of the team with some Bahamians. Mary's team, did get the record (including USATF Outdoor 4x100 AG record by running 1:18.12. Zounds!) We ran 1:32.35 and the third place team ran 1:57.59.
That night we ate at Standard Diner. I had Country Fried Ahi Tuna, which I did not finish.

Friday June 20

Friday I was at the airport for a 1:15 flight departure for Denver with change there to flight for RDU. I did not leave at that time. We were boarded then told of a delay to Denver due to weather. They decided to deplane us and we were to have an hour delay due to the conditions in Denver that closed their airport. Then, we re-boarded and were getting ready to taxi when - wait - another weather delay. Seems there were storms and hail in Denver (Mary Smith in Colorado Springs said nothing there at that time.) We were deplaned again and around 6 p.m., the flight was canceled. Southwest rebooked me for early the next morning. Good thing Angela was staying until that next morning. I was going to Uber back to the hotel but Mary Trotto said she was in the area so she picked me up and the three of us first partook of the happy hour goodies at the hotel then went off to Standard Diner for dinner. It is always a fun time with Mary. She was planning to go to Ames USATF Masters Outdoor, then Toronto NCCWMA and then finally back to Hawaii.

Angela and Mary at Standard

I had gotten through the Games. I had at least been able to enjoy meeting the track folk and catching up.

My relay medal and pre-printed badge, er, ah, is that a frown, Angela? 


Louise G said...

Testing as me to see if comkent being vapirized

Anonymous said...

Test 2. What happens if review?

Anonymous said...

Louise, this is a tour de force. You are one of the great travel writers of the 21st century; I now have enough reading material to last me through the 2024 presidential election.

I will make additional comments after I read more sections.

Peter L. Taylor
Masters announcer