Friends & Fellow Sprinters:
I envy my friend Jim Armstrong. He's on a senior softball team, one that won gold at this past summer's National Senior Games. What I envy is that it actually takes enough time to play a game to make trips to far-off places seem viable. I'm not sure the guys on the team warm-up before the start of the game. I'm not sure they actually get their pulse up anytime during the course of nine innings. To be fair to the old guys, I'm of the same same opinion of any MLB ballplayer as well. But Jim and his fellow teammates spend more time in their uniforms in one game than any of us do in our spikes during an entire track season.
I have to hand it to the guys (you know who you are) who travel around the country and around the world, at your own expense, to compete in events that last no longer than 60 seconds. I'm seeking submissions from anyone who'd like to try to offer their rationale for such behavior. For me, even "local" track meets mean 90 minutes or more of travel each way for a combined total of about 45 seconds of competition. It was tougher before Mass Velocity. Now I get to hang with a great bunch of guys and talk track even when I'm not running on it. In this newsletter's Feature Article, Warren Graff shares his Masters track experiences and some great photos with us. I think it helps put a great deal into perspective and on behalf of everyone in Mass Velocity, I sincerely thank Warren for putting a substantial amount of time and thought into this wonderful contribution.
- Larry Libow
Results: Mens 4x400 Meter Relay Masters
1 Synergy Track Club 3:40.68 - seed time: 3:41.60
2 Central Park Track Club 3:42.23 - seed time: 3:38.40
3 Southwest Sprinters 3:44.08 - seed time: 3:31.00
4 2nd Wind Track Club 3:47.26 - seed time: 3:42.70
5 Shore Athletic Club 3:51.30 - seed time: 3:46.70
6 The Running Company 3:57.66 - seed time: 3:51.40
Mass Velocity Seed Time was 4:02.78 but we also submitted 3:49.31 as a realistic time based on our relay team members. They used our slower, "official" time and we were the 8th seed and not invited. Wait until next year!
At the Greater Boston Track Club Invitational we met a few new and some
"old" Master sprinters. Within days of the meet we had some new members. So join me in welcoming
Bob Pomeroy from Medford, MA - M40
Mike Travers from Watertown, MA - M45
Bob Brown from Woburn, MA - M50
Vincent Kotowski from Barre, MA - M50?
The Masters Track & Field
Although none of us would describe it exactly the same way, hopefully I will cover what the majority of us have experienced with this endeavor, and thanks to Larry for providing the vehicle in which to share my thoughts with you. I also apologize if some of the following appears to be common knowledge to those of us with a few years sprinting already behind us, but bear with me anyway.
At some point in time we all stumbled upon the phenomenon known as Masters Track & Field. For most it was by accident, since it is not a well-advertised activity like the various distance events and marathons. For me it was seeing Stan Whitley in the Faces in the Crowd section of Sports Illustrated in the fall of '94, indicating that he swept the sprints in the National Masters Outdoor Championships. It was like a light suddenly shown down from above - competitive sprinting at our age?! I contacted SI the same day, who referred me to National Masters News. The following year I went as a spectator to the World Masters Track & Field Championships in Buffalo; I was not ready to compete, however. There I saw the USA and other Masters Track & Field stars in person that I had been reading about in National Masters News. It was a thrilling experience to see athletes in my age group (M50 at the time) running times like that; the level of competition was incredible. I drove away from that meet with a new mission - I was going to get myself in shape!
National Masters News referred me to the Boston Running Club and to a guy named Roger Pierce. I finally met Roger, Tom Cunningham, John Oleski, and Pershing Reid at the Harvard indoor track in November of '95. At this and many workouts to follow, I soon realized that proper conditioning does not come quickly or easily. I spent many workouts crumpled on a mat or over a barrel in what I came to call the 'near death experience' while waiting to recover from usually one too many 200's. For those of you somewhat familiar with it, the symptoms include seeing stars and not being able to lift one's head off the mat for usually 15 -20 minutes. It was one of those hard lessons learned to not try to do too much too soon. I didn't realize it at the time, but it takes most of us up to two years to reach our peak in fitness and performance after starting out.
Success at Last
the beginning, I ran in almost every meet that I could enter and was brimming with enthusiasm. What struck me the
most was how much more enjoyable sprinting was over the tedious jogging and road racing I had pursued several years
prior. We went to summer Senior Games meets in all the surrounding states, usually ruining the day for the home
state favorites. I began to see my 100, 200, and 400 times improve dramatically and the pounds were melting off.
We also became a force at the Penn Relays, where our training finally paid off in '98. As then members of the Boston
Running Club, we won the M50-59, 4x100 and 4x400 relays against formidable competition. The following year Roger
Pierce and I went to the National Senior Games in Orlando and again achieved major success (Roger won the 200 and
400, 2nd in the 100, and I got third in the 400). This was the largest Senior Games ever, with 12,000 participants
and excellent competition in each age group.
I still consider these two of my most memorable achievements. I also still enjoy the photos and videos of us back then when we still had dark hair and look ok in speed suits.
1998 Penn Relays
First Place, M50-59 4x400 Relay
Warren Graff, Ralph Souppa, Bic Stevens, Roger Pierce
Time 3:46.09 A New American Club Team record
1999 National Senior Games, Disneyworld, Orlando
Finding Your Niche
Another experience shared by many of us is finding your strongest event, which sometimes is not what you initially thought it would be. For me it was not until five years had passed that I tried the intermediate hurdles; I had not run them since high school. Although I failed to make the final heat of the 400M hurdles by one position at the WMA meet in Brisbane in 2001, I was rewarded in 2002 by winning this event at the U.S. National Masters Championships in Orono. My point is that sometimes it pays to discover and concentrate on your strongest event rather than run less than stellar times in two or three events.
2001 World Masters Track & Field Championships, Brisbane
M55 400M Hurdles
Training and Injury
These two subjects have to be mentioned together. Most of us have our own ideas about what their personal training regimen should be, and have different injury tolerance levels. The key for me has been to try and use a training plan that works, and not to over-train. Working out to the point of breaking down usually leads to injury. Racing or jumping into strenuous workouts without proper warm-up and stretching will also lead to injury; running on pavement or asphalt often brings on plantar fasciitis or outright soreness. And although there is not entire agreement on mixing sports, I cannot perform other sports along with track, like volleyball, and basketball, etc.; these just leave me feeling crippled for days since they require use of the muscles in a very different way. The folks I share workouts with have also found that alternating workouts is helpful; include an easier workout in between the harder ones, and allow sufficient time between workouts. Working out every day is probably too often; every 3rd day works best for me. If you are still tired and sore on your scheduled workout day, wait a day until you feel refreshed. Finally, you will find that you will run harder and longer with training partners than without, and will enjoy workouts a lot more.
Circa Aug. 2000 when we trekked up to Sherbrooke for the Canadian National Masters Championship. Left to right: Richard Sealey, Tom Cunningham, Warren Graff (having a bad hair day), Roger Pierce, John Oleski, and Bill Wright
Dealing with Decline
The Masters Track & Field 'life cycle' eventually hits a point where you cannot do what do you did last year. Some (like Tucker Taft and Charlie Kelly) are still improving their times. Those that have, like myself, look to find ways to not slow down as fast as our competitors. Roger Pierce is a shining example; here's someone who in the last three World Masters Championships is still running under 56 seconds in the 400M (2001, 2003, 2005). Carroll Blake is also maintaining incredibly well as demonstrated in the Jan. 22nd GBTC meet.
Friends for Life / Fit for Life
I am compelled to say that our group (Masters Track & Field athletes) here and around the world are a great bunch of people, and many are true friends. After all, next to our families and work mates, we spend an amazing amount of time running around in circles together. And even though this is considered mostly an individual sport, we have shared even as older folks the joy and camaraderie of close finishes and relay racing no matter who wins.
Circa July 2000, probably the Eastern Masters Championships in Springfield, 200M finalists.
Left to right: Carroll Blake, Tom Cunningham, Ralph Souppa, Bob Davis (Albany), Warren Graff, Richard Sealey (Hanover, NH), and Steve Bates (Conn.)
We have also come to realize that this is not just a sport, but a lifestyle. It needs to be a lifestyle for us to be truly successful in the sport. How many times have we heard others say 'gosh, you don't look 40, 50, or 60'? I know for me I look forward to my next workout or meet more than most other things, and gives me that special something to focus on. I imagine it's the same for the rest of you as well, and we are fortunate to have this experience and special ability, so run fast and be strong!
[Warren can be reached at WGraff@vicr.com]
Membership Has Its Benefits
Here's a reason to join the Mass Velocity Track Club - your own team bumper sticker. Larry has been handing them out at track meets this Indoor season. If you haven't received yours yet, just ask. Note how it matches the Mass. License plate colors? The first is free and if you'd like more than one, each additional is $2.00.
So far the following people have expressed interest in competing at the
Penn Relays for Mass Velocity. If I have not heard from you or have incorrect information, please contact me (Larry@MassVelocity.org) directly.
Carroll Blake - M55 - 4x400, 4x100?
Tucker Taft - M50 - 4x100 & 4x400
Charlie Kelley - M55? - 4x400
Lee Hess - M55 - 4x100 & 4x400
Tim Michitson - M40 - 4x100, 4x400?
David Westover - M55 - 4x100
Greg McBride - M50? 4x100 & 4x400
Tom Gillen - M50 - 4x100 & 4x400
Tom Goulet - M45 - 4x100
I have the the submitted seed times and will use them, if necessary, when forming relays. Entry information and deadlines have not yet been posted but I encourage anyone who is interested to contact me as soon as possible. The Penn Relays are April 27-29, 2006.
I look forward to seeing all the Mass Velocity TC men and women in their new uniforms at these upcoming meets:
BU St. Valentine Invitational
The BU Track and Tennis Center (TTC)
100 Ashford St. Boston
Online entries are OPEN until 2/6/06 11:59
Indoor Track & Field Championships
Harvard University, Boston MA
Pre-Meet Entry Deadline is 2/17
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