Age Before Beauty

Well, I finally beat Mr. Kern – Mr. Britt Kern, that is.  Guessing he is not a long lost relative of Charlie “Berra Spanker” Kern, but since Britt was in State College and Charlie was in Boston I had to worry about the ‘Kern’ in this race and not that one.  As for Britt, good race this afternoon.  Sorry if I was looking at you like you stole my lunch money a couple weeks ago or something, nothing personal.  You had to be there….

The race day wouldn’t be complete without the requisite frozen event – overnight sleet and freezing rain had us leaving the house on the back road going about 5mph sideways down the hill.  Luckily the bigger the road the more attention they got from the road crews, so we got there a little late but in one piece.  Only had about an hour to warm up, but wasn’t rushed and since the heats started a little late it all worked out okay.  Same as last time I was up here – fantastic facility (Ashenfelter Track, Penn State University) and atmosphere.  The PSU race director literally treats these club mile races as the first event of their invitational – FAT, real-time jumbo tron results, web site time postings, etc.  Thanks again to everyone that makes this happen – top notch!

Had 4 heats this time, my heat was primarily composed of guys listing their times as 4:50 or lower which was good because I hopefully that meant nobody would get lapped (always a good thing).  While warming up I ran into Mark Fuller, ex-Cumberland Valley track captain and current PSU trackster.  He said that a PSU redshirt miler was running with me, which brought some hope of having someone to run with.  When we all took the line it looked like Mark’s buddy had been cloned 9 times – there were 10 runners aged 18-22 (each 127 lbs soaking wet) and one age 41.99999.  I was the old one.

If I ever need to escape from these guys I know where I could go - a bar. Could I see some ID please?!?

They use a two-turn double waterfall start, so I got out clean and in first from the lower pack, two guys from the outside waterfall beat me to the front (unopposed) once they merged.  The first lap was on time, but is always quick due to the start jockeying.  I settled into 3rd and after a lap of that I could tell it wasn’t quite the pace I wanted.  #2 passed #1, and I went with him.  I followed him around (turned out this was the PSU redshirt) for about another two laps, then at around the 700m mark we both got passed by a new runner – I followed this hard charger and we left the old leader behind.  I latched on to the new leader for another 2+ laps, but heard his split guy calling out “33.x” a couple times – still a little slow.  The upside to all this ‘slowness’ was that I was feeling pretty good, even through 1200.  Passed him with 1.75 laps to go, started upping the pace, and had a great last lap all alone.  Finished in 4:24.07 – a little slower than I had hoped for, but felt 1000% better than I did at Cornell.  You could argue that 4:23.48 at flat track Cornell would be 4:22.0 on this track, so that would make it a 2 second difference versus today (significant), but I still felt like I had 2 extra seconds in me if the circumstances required.  This off of a casual prep week, long drive/quick warmup, and irregular pacing.  I am happy with the result – turned out it was a club record as well.  The coordinator awarded me my prize of a membership dues refund ($6.00 – bargain of the century) – a very nice gesture, but I told him to just put it towards my 2012 dues because I will definitely be coming back next year.

Splits thanks to an off-duty official sitting next to my wife – got the final time exactly right taking the hand-timed factor (.24) into consideration.  You’d think that he’d done this before (a couple thousand times, probably).  Thank you sir!

#1 32.0,  #2 33.71/65.71,  #3 33.06,  #4 33.48/66.54/2:12.25,  #5 33.27,  #6 33.11/66.38  #7 32.07,  #8 31.33/63.40/2:09.78/4:22.03 (1600m)

First half 2:12.25, back in 2:09.78.  1.80 for the mile additive, 4:23.83 (h), 4:24.07 FAT.  Very pleased with laps 7 and 8 – all on my own and never felt like I was losing control of my legs and arms.  Obviously would have preferred to turn some of those middle 66.+ quarters into into 65’s, but I can’t complain.  I would have much rather had a result like this than something a little faster where I struggled to finish.  This gives me much more confidence going forward, which is much more valuable than a tiny PR.

Penn State Ashenfelter Track Facility - BZ!

Legs feel a little sore from the racing, will probably take tomorrow off.  Maybe just a visit to the pool for a soak and massage, but don’t foresee a workout.  Fingers crossed for a big Steeler Super Bowl win tomorrow, will do my best to stick to the light beer and avoid killing the party platter.  Also waiting to see how the Boston results look – I’ve got a couple good friends running so I hope everyone does well, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not going to see where my time would have put me.  Just for grins of course…..

Amendment:  Results from the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston show what looks like a pretty good race.  Charlie Kern won in 4:19.73 and Lance Elliot (40, third at Hartshorne) ran a nice second place time of 4:23.72 – I’m guessing that is a pretty huge PR for his ‘second’ career.  Third place on was a little farther back.  Congrats to those guys, maybe next year we can all go to Penn State to ‘do battle’.

About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
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