Good Visit From The Arch Frenemy

Well, a couple of days without writing has turned into ten before I knew it, sometimes I honestly don’t know where the time goes anymore.  After racing in Landover the weekend before Easter, I have finally started to return to the groove I thought I was in back in January before my legs and then my immune system took a vacation on me.  I am enjoying the sense of ‘normalcy’ for the time being, hoping to gradually work up to one of ‘line-toeing confidence’ as spring turns to summer.  That being said, I would be more than willing to join the movement to punish Punxsutawney Phil right now for his teasingly inaccurate prediction of an early spring.  The days are finally reaching March-like temperatures here on the east coast, which would be a good thing if it wasn’t the first week of April.  I can’t even remember what it’s like to run in shorts….

Masters Indoor Nationals

The indoor national mile in Landover was a little disappointing.  I knew I hadn’t put in the work I would have hoped to do going into this meet, but at the same time I thought I had a couple of things going for me.  I was rested, had my weight down for the first time in a while, had a solid six-weeks of lifting under my belt, and most importantly I had my good-luck driver delivering me to the event.  I hoped that these things would be enough to offset the small fact that I really didn’t have the quality workouts or base mileage necessary to be in top form.  Probably not the type planning that most people would recommend going into a big event….

The field for the mile included Kevin Castille, a 40-year old distance guy in a class by himself (14:00 5k – are you kidding me?!?) who had won the 3000m the night before, and Lance Elliott, a regular on the circuit with times almost identical to mine, and a host of others.  For a flat track the Prince George County Sports Complex isn’t bad, but you get spoiled running at facilities like Penn State or the Armory.  The “flat track” effect wouldn’t be as pronounced in the mile as it would have been had I run the 800, but it definitely makes it harder to really nail a good time.  Still, as erratic as I have been in the past couple years you never know…

At the gun Kevin Castille took the pace out pretty fast as expected, and Lance followed him loosely.  Like at the Hartshorne Mile, I had planned to run a pretty even race, going through the 800 and 1200 meter marks at splits that would allow me to get down into the mid-4:20’s if I was feeling great, but at the same time wouldn’t set me up for the big flop if I didn’t have it.  Kevin apparently decided not to embarrass us too badly through the first few laps, and Lance was able to stick to him.  I was comfortable alone in third about 10-15 meters behind, until Lance decided that Kevin’s pace was a little to rich for his liking and slowly slid back to me.  I was right where I wanted to be pace-wise, around 2:13 through 800+ (with the “mile” extra) and 3:21 at 1200.  By then I was right on Lance’s shoulder and feeling pretty good.  I had no idea how he felt, but I was finding myself having to often slide out half of a lane to avoid running up on him, having to focus on holding myself back.  I was liking my chances for a “big finish”, even if it only was for second place.  On the last lap I tried to be patient, but couldn’t wait any longer going into the final turn.  With 75 meters to go I moved outside him, and he answered equally.  I think I actually passed him around the 40m mark, and we raced side-by-side to the finish.  I somehow went from anxious to unleash my big kick to wondering how they had managed to apply 2′ of quicksand to lane 3 in the short amount of time since I had been around the track the previous lap.  The feeling of being unable to pick up your legs is so terrible I sometimes wonder why I continue to do this – he must have been feeling roughly the same because even though I felt like I was walking we were shoulder to shoulder to the line.  After mustering a probably pathetic-looking lean at the tape (or at least where the tape would have been had Kevin Castille been kind enough to replace it after his cooldown lap), I had to check the scoreboard to see how the FAT camera saw the finish.  I couldn’t tell who beat who, probably partly due to the fact that I was experiencing exhaustion induced tunnel-vision and couldn’t see anything in my periphery.  FAT said Lance “won”, I needed oxygen so bad I didn’t even care…..

4:28.06 to 4:28.13, third overall.  Time was better than the Hartshorne Mile where I felt like I was in better shape going in, but I was also compensating for a pesky hamstring for the second half of the race in that one.  Probably not too far off what could have been expected, 4:28.05 would have been a lot easier to swallow though…

Lance Elliott getting his HydroWorx indoctrination

Lance Elliott getting his HydroWorx indoctrination

So, following the old adage, “Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer”, I invited Lance up to stay with us in Enola for three days after the meet.  His family was coming out to spend their spring break in Washington D.C., but weren’t arriving until Wednesday so he had a couple of days to kill.  It was good having a partner in crime during my days off, especially when it came time to lace up the running shoes.  We got in a nice long and easy trail run out at Stoney Creek one day, and some more miles along the Susquehanna River in downtown Harrisburg another.  I couldn’t have him up without showing him the HydroWorx treadmill, so we spent one day running intervals underwater.  I always have a distinct “advantage” when I bring a guest to the pool due to my familiarity with running in the water, but I didn’t completely fill him in on this so he would think “man, he is in way better shape than I am”.  Just kidding – once he got ‘adapted’ he was nailing the 60 second reps right alongside me, and we got in a good workout in the warm water while Phil the groundhog continued to grossly overestimate the dawn of warm spring weather.

After Lance and his family hit the road I managed to get out to the high school track for some intervals (9×400) on Saturday, with the last set of 3 being “split” 400’s with a little dose of speed at the end (speed being a relative term at this age).  I felt pretty good with the light shoes on, hopefully these sessions will become more regular instead of the “once every blue moon” plan I’ve been on for the past 18 months.  Some decent mileage on Sunday, an interval session on the EAP HydroWorx treadmill on Monday (2x10mins, 4x1min), and an hour on the elliptical and an 8-miler during a 2-day Houston layover this week.  47 “Berra” miles last week, hopefully something north of 30 this week.  I might run a 5k again this weekend, hopefully with a little more effort (and higher temperatures) than the race a couple of weeks ago.  Drake Relays 800m in 3 weeks is the next “main event”, one of 3 races I hope to run on the track this outdoor season.  Hopefully I can even the score against Mr Elliott in Des Moines – just because I let him behind “the curtain” doesn’t mean I have shown him all my tricks…

Pay no attention to the fat balding guy in the pool....

Pay no attention to the fat balding guy in the pool….

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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, Track Sprints, Training for Runs, Uncategorized, Underwater Treadmill, Water Running and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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