Not the Way You Want to Win

Just returned from a nightmare “free” ride home from Portland – sometimes you get exactly what you pay for.  Took the redeye to JFK, which I came to find out is essentially like booking travel to a black hole.  JFK may only be 200 miles from home, but I might as well have been disembarking on the moon. 6+ hours after landing in New York City I touched down in Harrisburg, completing a crazy race weekend.

Lance Elliot and I at the gates of track heaven

As I wrote yesterday, an iPhone post or a glimpse at the official results don’t really tell the story of what happened yesterday. It was unfortunate that Mark Gomes and I got tangled up – he would probably (rightfully) argue more unfortunate for him. He ran a great race and when I said after indoor nationals that he was a force to be reckoned with I obviously wasn’t kidding. I am most disappointed that I wasn’t able to race him better the last 100m – I know I only have so many chances to reach certain goals and am fairly sure that had the contact not happened and I didn’t have to badly break stride I would have been much stronger down the final stretch. Our pace was very quick through 800m (three sure things in life:  death, taxes, and Nick Berra will lead any race) – faster than I planned, and I planned to be set up to break 4 minutes. I backed off the third lap just a hair, putting us at the 1100m mark at around 2:59, but even then I felt very strong and didn’t think that a 61 second final lap was out of the question. As I alluded to yesterday, Mark passed me decisively with 200m to go, but I did not feel stressed and thought we were going to have another battle like we did in Albuquerque. It wasn’t meant to be as the official ruled that Mark’s move down to the rail as I was trying to get by constituted a foul, and he was ultimately disqualified for it.  He forged on after the contact but my momentum was destroyed. He ended up running 4:01.xx which isn’t reflected on the results, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I’m guessing that despite the “official” places he was pretty happy with his performance. Lance Elliot closed like crazy and damn near caught my fading butt at the line – a great race for him (and Mike Blackmore in 4th/3rd) as well.  Not much else to say, sure there are a million different “takes” on what happened (based on a .8 second video clip) but at this point it really doesn’t matter….

Official final results of the 2011 Masters Invitational 1500m

Despite the mixed feelings about how everything went down between the lane lines it was still a great weekend .  The atmosphere was everything everyone said it would be and more.  Next year will probably be even better with the meet also serving as the Olympic Trials – I might have to dust off the sprinting shoes in case they choose the 400m as the masters exhibition because if this year was crazy next year will be insane.  I’d throw my hamstring caution to the wind if it meant getting another chance to run at that meet – rumor was that next year’s race “will be shorter”.  An unexpected pleasant surprise for me was getting adopted by another central PA track family that was out for the meet.  Local star Mary Dell (Boiling Springs HS/Shippensburg University) qualified for and ran the women’s open steeplechase, and her family wisely made a vacation out of the experience.  They, along with their housemate and Cumberland Valley HS head track coach Bill Bixler were thoughtful enough to adopt “Lone Wolf McBerra”, and their hospitality was icing on the cake.  Big thanks to the entire Dell family, hope I can repay the kindness someday – having a support crew made a world of difference.

The Masters Field (L-R): Lance Elliot, Sean Messiter, Ray Knerr, Christian Cushing-Murray, Mike Blackmore, Mark Gomes, Nick Berra, Francis Burdett, Tom Cawley

I’ll probably “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” for another evening or so, then move on to worlds.  Trials begin in 11 days, so there is still time to get some work done between now and then.  Despite the lack of a signature race this season, I’ve now PR’ed in both the mile and 1500m, so hopefully I will bust a big one between now and the end of the year and add the 800m to that list.  Looking at a spin/pool double tomorrow, then hopefully back on the track on Wednesday for the first of 2 or 3 quality sessions in the next week or so.

If I can figure out what the heck “imbed” means maybe I can eventually throw the video up on the blog.  If not I should be able to get the link on here so the drama can continue.  Like the “Single Bullet” or the “Grassy Knoll” theories, I’m sure for every viewer there will be a different opinion – if anyone actually solves the great masters ‘whodunit’ feel free to fill in the rest of the concerned community.  I’m going to bed…..

Did one bullet hit both John F Kennedy and John Connally, or did Mark Gomes have one full stride on Nick Berra? You make the call....


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 Competitive Races, Masters Running, Masters Track, Outdoor World Championships, USATF Indoor Nationals and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Not the Way You Want to Win

  1. My wife and I just watched the video: really hard to tell exactly what happened and/or if Mark should have been DQ’d. But we’re not officials and mine is not to question. Both of you ran an excellent race, medals and places aside, which IMO is far more important.

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