It Just Sounds So Much Better

Let me get this straight - morning checklist: brush teeth, wash face, apply makeup, give your hair a vacuum assisted “tune up” with the revoltionary Flowbee system

The price of the Ginsu Knives or the Flowbee is not $19.99 by accident – it just sounds so much lower than $20.00.  Does that extra penny really make that much difference?  Is the Flowbee really a revolutionary home haircutting system?  (Well, maybe that depends on your definition of “revolutionary”…).  The answer is ‘no’ – that .05% difference is insignificant, but yet huge.  The same is true in track and field, and for once I beat the clock.

The longest four-one hundredths of a second in track has to be the difference between a time ending in .98 and one ending in .02 – the fraction of a second difference may be insignificant with respects to how well you ran, but it seems to make a world of difference in how you (I) feel about the performance.  Having run 1:56.06, 1:59.00, and 2:00.04 recently, I was due for a break, and for the first time in a while I got it.  1:57.96 last night at Swarthmore on a calm drizzly evening – pretty happy with the race not only because of the time, but because I left with the feeling there is definitely a little gas left in the tank – some upside potential.  Will give the story of the day (seems all my days lately have stories) later this afternoon hopefully.


As I said on Friday, Saturday was a full day to say the least.  At the softball field complex at 0730 for a girls weekend tournament.  To make the day even busier, my daughter was asked to also play on the older girls team as they were short a player or two.  Cue the steady drizzle….  Games at 0800 and 1100 with the U11 team, and 0930 and 1230 with the U12 team – I don’t think even Ernie Banks ever said “Let’s play four!”  The games were good though and my daughter played hard, so the 6+ hours almost flew by, rain and all.  Final out made at 2:05pm, had to make a quick stop at the house on the way to Philadelphia because my shoes, socks, and pants were soaked from sitting all morning.  A quick change and I was off to phase II of the day – daddy time…

The women’s 800m was scheduled to go off at 5:30pm, followed by the men’s 800.  When I got underway and entered Swarthmore’s address into the GPS it said 4:02pm arrival time – about 90 mins prior to the start, about as close as I like to cut it when I not only need to warm up, but also shake out the car cramps.  Despite having directions in hand that clearly stated the GoogleMaps route to the track, I blindly followed the GPS and exited the freeway about 20 miles earlier than I had planned.  Big mistake.  About 37 red lights and one 3-lanes-to-1 construction area I arrived at the track – 4:33pm.  Was not happy.  I don’t know why I even waste any electricity powering that worthless thing up, because time after time it takes me routes that only an idiot would do on purpose.  Michael Scott may have met his match…

Once there without much time to spare I entered/paid, jogged, did some drills, then heard last call for the 800m.  Was seeded 8 of 8 in heat 7 of 8 – roughly the 56th seed out of 69 entries.  They ran a very efficient meet, with the heats going off one after the next.  They were starting 8/heat, one turn stagger in lanes.  I drew the outside lane, which was fine with me – I was in total control of my destiny regarding getting crushed in the avalanche of runners at “the merge”.    After getting off with the gun, I hit the cones at the 100m mark about the same time as the other 7 runners.  I chose to avoid the mad rush to the inside lane, instead taking a nice long tangential route to the 200m mark.  Ended up staying in lane 2 for the turn, not necessarily by choice but I just didn’t want to mix it up on the rail.  I was very comfortable through 300m, time for the first decision of the race.

As much as I wanted to stay smooth for as long as possible, I felt that the guy in front of me was starting to fall behind my pace at the 350m mark.  I decided to pass him, all the way out to lane 3 then back to lane 2 for the next turn.  Through the 400m in about 58 high – right where I wanted to be.  Spent the turn again in lane 2, got to the middle of the backstretch when everyone started to scatter – some going for it, some going down in flames.  I didn’t want to push all my chips to the center of the table quite this far out, but didn’t want to be left behind so I started a gradual increase to finishing speed.  Was finally able to take a turn in lane one, tried to bring it home with some gusto but started to struggle the last 50-60m.  Did my best to hold my form, don’t know the last 200m split but it sure didn’t feel fast.  Saw 1:57 at the finish, I’ve been burned by the finishing clock too many times to trust what I saw.  It took almost an hour to see the posted results, 1:57.96.  Not too bad…

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:  Some of each, but all in all I am pretty happy with the race.  I said before leaving that my goal was sub-1:58, and sub-1:58 I was.  I definitely have loftier expectations for the remainder of the season, but given the preparation for this meet I think this time is pretty good.  I’m pretty sure that Nick Symmonds doesn’t watch 4 softball games (grabbing a sub sandwich from Jo-Jo’s Pizza between #2 and #3) before running an important race, nor do I think that Bernard Legat drives 2 hours to a race, arriving roughly 75 minutes before gun time.  Being able to run this kind of race with this sort of mental and physical preparation (or lack thereof) makes me think that when push comes to shove and I am in the right state of mind I might just be able to drop this time a little bit and run with anyone.  Time will tell, but for now I have my 4th fastest 800 time since turning 40 and more importantly a momentum building result to take forward into the summer….

That being said, 60 minutes in the HydroWorx pool this afternoon.  Nice and easy, back to work tomorrow so I wanted to take advantage of the water while I still could.  Legs felt pretty good all day today, expect I might feel a little sore tomorrow.  If I can and feel ok, might try some long pool intervals tomorrow – know I will have plenty of time to bag some miles the rest of the week on the trails of ancient Bethlehem – Bethlehem PA that is…


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!
This entry was posted in Aquatic Fitness, Competitive Races, Hydrotherapy, HydroWorx Exercise Pool, Interval Training, Running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to It Just Sounds So Much Better

  1. kevinfforde says:

    Glad one of us had a good experience at Swarthmore the other nite!!!

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