Three Words I Never Thought I’d Say – “Back To Des Moines”

The Main Event

The Main Event

Or is that four words?…

If I were Jack Bauer from “24”, my absence would be described as “going dark” or “off the grid”.  If I were Rocky Balboa you would have just assumed I went back to Siberia to train in isolation.  If I were Gilligan you would concluded that I took the boat out one more time “for old times sake…”

In the last month I have had some ups and downs, but sit here today feeling as good as I have felt in a long time.  Tomorrow is probably the biggest outdoor event of the year for me since I do not plan on attending the Masters Outdoor National meet later on this summer.  I am about to catch a flight (I actually have a ticket this time – stress free!) back to Des Moines to run at the US Outdoor Championships.  Like Eugene in 2011, and Albuquerque in 2012, this will be another invitational event for masters at the US Championships.  They alternate which event will be contested every year, indoors and outdoors, so luckily as a middle distance runner it usually doesn’t take very long for your number to be called again.  The 1500m at Heyward Field in 2011 was maybe my most memorable race I have ever run as a master – the overall experience of running with our nations best athletes was awesome, and the race matched that energy level right up to the infamous “tangle”.  Hopefully this year can match that one, and produce another memorable event..

I had a good week of training in late May while laying over in Allentown, then proceeded to get sick again and lose 4-5 days of training.  That being said, I got a little dose of “vitamin C” (confidence) when one week later I ran in the Henderson Distance Festival in West Chester PA – 2:00.24 in the 800m, mostly against high school kids who had just finished their outdoor season.  The weather, pace, and atmosphere was perfect, and I ran a very smooth and even race.  I was happy with the results, for even though I knew that the conditions at Drake were “challenging” I was still disappointed with the time – running close to 2-flat makes me believe that if the stars line up I can still get under that benchmark time.

After Henderson I laid out how I wanted to approach the three weeks leading up to tomorrow, and for once I was able to execute my plan.  Bear in mind that “Nick’s #1 Rule in Plan-Making” is “include very few specifics” – that makes executing the plan much, much easier than one chock-full of hard-scheduled items and events.  The plan was one week easy, 10 days hard, one week easy.  I got in a couple of track workouts during the hard week, and a bunch of pool work throughout – in the HydroWorx for both long slow mileage as well as post-workout recovery.  I even put the spikes on for an interval or two to get the feel for race pace, and despite running alone (as usual) I was able to cruise some work at 60 sec pace so hopefully the legs and lungs will not be too shocked when called to action tomorrow.

I’ve been lifting and stretching to complement the running for almost 4 months now, so hopefully it will provide me with that little bit of extra strength that will be surely be needed down the home stretch.  The margins have shrunk the past couple years in most of the contested races I’ve been running – tenths of seconds have made the difference on more than one occasion, so hopefully the new program will provide me with that little bit of an edge that could make the difference between gold and silver, bronze or other, or sub-2 versus 2:00+….

1:10pm Central Time (that’s 2:10pm on the east coast for my mathematically challenged Enola posse) on Saturday is the scheduled start time.  For those of you who have nothing better to do (or are currently serving time and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon), or just are links for the webcast of the meet.  Hopefully they won’t use our 2 minutes on the track to do a human interest story on a veteran hot dog vender, but no guarantees.  The field is very tight (Scott Weeks at 1:57 then 6 guys including yours truly are within 1 second of each other right around 2:00.5) so it should be a very competitive race.  I’ve got high hopes so we’ll see what happens  – I’ve regrown the high school afro to channel the good old days, so time will tell if I can turn back the clock (figuratively and literally) on the big blue oval at Drake.  As usual, updates to follow “immediately” following the race – I know my blogging definition of “immediately” has morphed from days to weeks to now months, but I promise this time it won’t take longer than it would for Jack Bauer to knock out Ivan Drago on a deserted island then swim back and save humanity from a biological weapon whose timer will get stopped at 1:59.99…

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, Marathon Training, Masters Running, Masters Track, Running, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Three Words I Never Thought I’d Say – “Back To Des Moines”

  1. Terrific race for the win, Nick. Sorry you will not be in Olathe, although I am not scheduled to be there either. Landen Summay’s 2:00.65 at an age of at least 47 was sensational, as was your winning time.

  2. Nick, I see that you were 44 at Landover. Your 1:56.27 today at Drake, then, is even better than I thought. Amazing. Congratulations.

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