The Final Straw

So much to discuss, so little time…

First things first – 4:29.12 on Saturday up at Cornell, second place.  Went in thinking maybe I could run in the 4:25-4:26 range, circumstances (and a recurring uncooperative hamstring) left me just grinding out the laps.  It was a great trip with the family, a great event put on by Tom Hartshorne and company, and a fun race, but unfortunately it had a 2 step backwards, one step forward conclusion…

As I think I mentioned before, Scott Weeks had been a 13x rabbit for this event, and this year he finally turned 40.  He was the odds-on favorite, and let us know ahead of time that he was going to have the rabbit take him out under 2:10 through the half mile.  Lance Elliot must have failed to read the fine print on the Wheaties box (they don’t actually make you turn into Galen Rupp), and declared he was going to hang with Scott and see what happened.  (Cue ‘Hollywood’ and the Top Gun music – “Gutsiest move I ever saw, Mav”).  I either failed to put on my big-boy pants that morning, or left my kamikaze headband in the car, because I said “I’ll see you guys at the finish”….

Well, you can’t really blame the rabbit, because 2:06 is technically under 2:10.  I hit the half right where I wanted to be (2:13-2:14), and was probably at least 50m behind Scott and Lance, who went out like they stole something.  Right out of the turn, however, the left hammy started shooting off warning shots – not enough to knock me down, but enough to make me spend the next 10 seconds contemplating ‘step-off” or ‘continue’.  My stride wasn’t really affected, so I pressed on with the decision that if it got any worse I’d shut it down.  From that point on any chance of executing my “big finish” plan was out the door, and I was just trying to get to the finish line.  Lance’s effort, as noble as it may have once seemed, did not pan out, and I passed him with 200m to go.  Very cautiously though, because at that point Scott was uncatchable and the only thing keeping me from second was dropping out.  Last lap a 34.0, slowest of the race, didn’t really care.

Not what I had planned when I woke up (not even contending), but under the circumstances there was nothing I could do about it.  I think I was in better shape than my final time, and felt confident that on two good legs I could have run a bit faster.  As far as catching Scott I doubt it would have happened, but we’ll never know.  Even if I get under 4:25 he probably finds another gear, so I’ll have to wait for another day and get in better shape before pushing him to the tape.  I’ll also need to get healthy, which leads to talking point number two…

elite-logoI have given up on waiting out my injuries and then having them always lurking and/or recurring – today I sought professional assistance.  A local rehab facility (Cumberland Aquatic Center) spun off a performance wing (Elite Athletic Performance) just down the road from my house.  I had met the owner and followed the facility’s progress because they installed 4 HydroWorx units for the use of their members, the first local workout location to do so.  Anson Flake of HydroWorx had discussed this business model with me in the past, so when the time came to seek help it seemed natural to go to the place that was both a rehab center, performance center, and HydroWorx user.  I went through all the initial assessments yesterday, and today talked with both the owner/PT Jose Dominguez, and the therapist/strength trainer Rich Harris.  They are both ex-track athletes, and knew exactly where I was coming from and where I wanted to go.  I told them that I was tired of being painted more and more into the “distance runner” corner by the tightness of my legs, and wanted to reset the clock back to the good old days when I was primarily just an “athlete” who could run.  They said no problem.  I am willing to try something new, which will undoubtedly include both strength and flexibility exercises that I have been postponing for years.  Rehab and therapy seem to be the first order of business though, so for the time being I am putting the training on hold to get things right.  Hopefully this will be a tide-turning decision, and if what they said was true I may have some untapped potential hiding in my guitar-string legs.  Two more appointments this week, will see what kind of damage they uncover and how long they anticipate me on the bench.  I have thrown myself on the mercy of the therapist though – whatever he says goes.  Hopefully when he releases me back to the general population I am a new runner – or at least one who can touch his toes…

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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3 Responses to The Final Straw

  1. Delvin says:

    Despite the hardship you experienced on the track, you ran an incredibly even race in my estimation. I should take your lead and see a specialist as well to see what’s going on with my body. The again, I fear what he might find and likewise what he might say. It takes a brave man to put training on hold and an even stronger to come back swinging and landing punches of 4:20 in the mile and sub-2:00 in the 800. You’re clearly that person. Whatever you do, heal up for Nationals. It would be great to see you there full throttle.

  2. Delvin says:

    Despite the hardship you experienced on the track, you ran an incredibly even race in my estimation. I should take your lead and see a specialist as well to see what’s going on with my body. Then again, I fear what he might find and likewise what he might say. It takes a brave man to put training on hold and an even stronger one to come back swinging and landing punches of 4:20 in the mile and sub-2:00 in the 800. You’re clearly that person. Whatever you do, heal up for Nationals. It would be great to see you there full throttle.

    • Nick Berra says:

      Late reply Delvin, but so far so good. Happy with the results thus far, hope you aren’t going through what I was going through – insidious muscle problems that didn’t make things bad enough to “be hurt”, but apparently bad enough to be seriously hampering my efficiency. Work smarter, not harder, right? Hopefully when all this is done my joints will be moving freely and easily and that energy I was wasting on the tight legs can be used to help out the exploding lungs. Time will tell, still planning on Landover so I look forward to catching up with you there.

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