Summer Summary

Well, whatever momentum the blog had built up following the Des Moines 800m didn’t last very long.  I’ve had a pretty good summer since then – took a little vacation out west, ran a couple of races, worked when I’ve had to, sat out by the pool the rest of the time.  Just as in past years, however, the legs are starting to get the late summer aches and pains, so hopefully they will last a couple more days as I try to squeeze in a few more races before the leaves start to turn…..

A quick catch-up…  Following Des Moines I was obviously on cloud nine, scouring the internet for track meets to “keep it going”.  USATF Club Nationals were being held 5 days later on the nice track up at Icahn Stadium in New York City – lots of open-level talent would provide great competition.  I went back and forth before finally deciding that the 5-day turnaround just wasn’t enough.  Scott Weeks and Mark Williams (2nd and 3rd in Des Moines) both ended up going and achieved mixed results (Scott ended up getting tangled up, resulting in a poor time).  That was pretty much the last big track meet of the season besides the Masters Nationals, which I just wasn’t able to make.  I settled on the Keystone Games/State Games of America (here in Central PA) for another try at the 800m, even though they weren’t being run for another 6 weeks.

We travelled out to San Diego in early July for a family vacation.  I jumped in a 5k on the 4th on Coronado Island – flat course along the waterfront, with the start and finish on the grass of a local park.  Lots of younger kids (aka high schoolers), which resulted in the usual warp-speed start.  Through the first mile in a fairly easy 4:58, didn’t think that I was ready to PR by 30 seconds so I settled down (5:28/5:15) and finished second in a pretty comfortable 16:16.  Not bad all things considered, like the Memorial Day 5k I ran (16:21) I was happy with the effort level it took to run a decent time.  I spent the rest of the week on local canyon trails near our hotel, but may have overdone it a bit.  Got in a couple of longer runs later on in the week (8,12, 9), then topped it off with a hill workout on a steep portion of the trail.  8×30 seconds with shuffle down the hill rest, very challenging.  First hill workout I had done in a long time – if the consecutive long runs hadn’t triggered the aches and pains I brought home from CA the hills probably did….

After getting back home one of my patella tendons started flaring up.  The guys at Elite Athletic Performance worked on it a little bit for me, but let me know rest was the only thing that would allow it to heal.  Since then I have really scaled back my road running and have been hitting the HydroWorx pool for most of my mileage.  The Harrisburg Mile was the next date circled on the calendar – a big race for me because the field is always fast and it’s probably the biggest race here locally.  The masters competition isn’t anything to talk about, so I run with the elite open field.  This year the race fell right in the middle of the hottest week we’ve experienced here in years – the temperatures exceeded 98 degrees 4 days in a row, over 95 for the entire week.  Luckily our heat was run last (8pm), so I think the temperature was “only” 91 degrees.  I didn’t feel particularly good leading up to the race, but ran a disciplined and fairly even-split 4:24.9 and placed second.  The course is actually a little net uphill, so taking everything into consideration I can’t complain about the result.  I still want to break 4:20, but that would have to wait…

That was late July, and since then I’ve added some achilles tendonitis (2011 all over again) to the fold.  The worst achilles is the same leg as the knee pain, so I have that going for me.  Neither one is really keeping me from training, but it’s dull pain is always present.  60 minutes in the pool has been my go-to workout, but to break it up and add some quality I have been throwing in some HydroWorx interval sessions when I can.  Last Sunday was the State Games of America (finally), the first time I have raced on the track since Des Moines.  The Wednesday prior I hit the track for the first time in ages for a “see where you stand” workout with Jim Agate from the Inside Track.  We ran 1000-800-600 at threshold pace or so (3:15, 2:30, 1:48), with decent rest (4:00).  My goal was to take the edge off and get the blood pumping.  I then threw my spikes on and ran 600-400 set at (hopefully) race pace – 1:27.8/57.9 – with another 4:00 rest.  Was happy to know I could still run a couple of laps in the 2:00 range, so if nothing else I went home having passed the little “confidence builder”…

The State Games charged a flat fee for as many events as you wanted to run, so I added the 1500m to my 800m entry.  I never really thought I would run both of them, but as the meet drew near I started thinking that I could/would double.  Once that was decided I had to try to figure out which one I would try to hammer, and which one I would just try to run.  All along I had always figured that this would be the meet where I got after the 800m again, but as the time came to decide I started to think that maybe this would be “one more last chance” to try to catch lightning in a bottle and maybe crack the elusive 4:00 barrier in the 1500m.  I took it nice and easy leading up to the meet after the track workout, so I felt pretty good going into the race.  Unfortunately the crazy weather jinx continued, and when we got to the track it felt like Iowa all over again – a solid 15-20 mph wind right down the home stretch.  With the flags whipping in the wind, in typical Nick fashion I began to doubt my plan.  Attempting to PR is never easy, but with less than 100% commitment it is nearly impossible.  Sure enough, my 65 sec goal pace lasted for about 400m or so, finished with 65-67-70-51=4:14.  I obviously went into survival mode towards the end – I had a huge lead so I got the win and started to think about the 800.  Since I had another big race in 5 days it crossed my mind to bag the 800 and just go home and begin to prep for the Masters National 1 Mile Road Championships in Pittsburgh, but in the end I decided to finish what I started.  More than anything I just to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the pride-swallowing 1500m.  I toed the line about 80 minutes later, since it was another soft field so I was once again on my own.  I rode the wind on the back stretch, then fought through it to the start line.  Through the quarter in 58, 600 in 1:27-1:28.  That was exactly what I was hoping for, so when I hit the gusty headwind for the last 100m I backed it down a notch to save the gas for Friday.  2:00.17, not too bad for the second leg of a 1500/800 double, especially knowing that I cruised it in…

Easy week since then, got some ultrasound on the achilles on Monday to try to keep the inflammation down.  Easy miles in the pool all week, 45 on Sunday after the meet, 50-40-30-30mins since them with some drills thrown in to try to keep sharp.  We made the drive out to Pittsburgh this morning, and just caught a great Pirates game to kill the rest of the day.  We’ll be ready to roll tomorrow night in the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile, more on that before I head out…

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 5k running, Competitive Races, Cross Country Running, Harrisburg Mile, Hydrotherapy, HydroWorx Exercise Pool, Interval Training, Uncategorized, Underwater Treadmill and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Summer Summary

  1. Pingback: An Exciting Track and Field Weekend Coming Up | HydroWorx Blog

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