GTPC Runners Pentathlon Recap

Well, not only did I survived the race onslaught yesterday at Germantown Academy, but I stumbled upon a late comeback and managed to sneak away the individual champion.  The sprints turned out to be manageable interruptions of my distance event recoveries, and I was able to make up for their predictably lower scores by running pretty well in the longer races.  I anticipated the field would be strong and I was not disappointed – the top 6 age-graded finishers all managed to score higher than anyone had ever scored since the event adopted this format in 2011.  After all the dust had settled though the best thing about the pentathlon was that it was not only a competitive event, but also a fun one.  It brought together almost 100 runners and many more ‘runner volunteers’, and was the perfect event to cap a summer track season.

Napoleon Dynamite and the smilin' rival Mark Williams.  Good to see all a bunch of the fellows one last time this summer...

Napoleon Dynamite and the smilin’ rival Mark Williams. Good to see a bunch of the fellows one last time this summer…

The biggest beef I have about this event is somebody on the race organizing committee is either an insomniac or an extreme early bird.  The 0800 start time is a killer for this out-of-towner.  Up at 0450, in the car at 0530, to the facility at 0715.  An abbreviated warmup was worth the extra 30 minutes sleep.  The first event was the 3000m, I planned to avoid holding back too much this year after last year’s relative success.  I thought 9:10-9:12 would be a good goal, roughly 4:54 mile pace.  I led the first 4 laps, came through the first mile in 4:50.  Eventually got passed as dread started to set in and the race became not fun.  Trudged to the finish in third in 9:17.04, what amounted to roughly a 5:03 second mile.  Resisted surging at the end as the leaders pulled away a little, knew there was more work to be done down the road.  After the age-grading kicked in I was fourth overall…

Only thing rarer than spotting a Chupacabra is catching me sprinting.  Here Mark Williams is showing me how its done in the 200m dash...

Only thing rarer than spotting a Chupacabra is catching me sprinting. Here Mark Williams is showing me how its done in the 200m dash…

The 200m was next.  “Just don’t get hurt, just don’t get hurt” was all that was going through my mind.  The plan was to start slow, ease into it, see how it feels, if all’s well maybe speed it up a little.  Turned out that 200m isn’t really long enough to allow all of that to happen – right about the time I got done seeing how it felt and deciding I could probably speed it up a little bit I hit the tape.  An uninspiring race, but hey, I didn’t get hurt.  My final time was 26.53, still in fourth place overall…

I had thought going in to the event that you got a 1 hour break between events – I must have been thinking of last year when I sat out the sprints.  Turns out that you actually only get 30 minutes break if you are running in the individual competition.  It was almost like a 1 hour break after running such a lazy 200m though, so when the 1500 rolled around a half an hour later I was ready to go.  I set an aggressive goal again (4:12), and once again got to the lead early.  Got through the 800m split right on pace (2:15), then could feel myself pulling away a little bit from the pack.  Almost held on to the pace for the last 700m, won the heat in a fairly strong 4:14.12.  Unfortunately, all the people ahead of me in the competition were distance/middle-distance guys (and gals, in the case of the defending champion and leader Lorraine Jasper), so despite running pretty well and making up a little ground, after three events I was still in fourth place.

1500m - things starting to go my way finally....

1500m – things starting to finally go my way….

100m.  Once again I was in damage control mode, only this time I at least had one sprint under my belt and the legs had gotten a little taste of fourth gear.  30 minutes later (on the dot) I once again removed the blocks from my lane, placed them on the infield, and assumed the same stance used from the marathon all the way down to the 100m.  I felt like if I got down into blocks (which would be a ridiculous proposition since I hadn’t used a set since 12th grade) I wasn’t sure I would ever get back up, let alone come out guns a blazin’.  I actually got rolling in this one, ended up trying to hang on to Mark Williams in the lane next to me.  As it turned out we duked it out all the way to the line.  He had smoked me in the 200m, so I was happy I was able to get after it a little more in this race.  As it turned out this was the turning point of the event for me – my score was way less “average” than the folks ahead of me, so I jumped from fourth to second, and made up a chunk of what I thought was the insurmountable lead that Lorraine Jasper had on the rest of the field.  High drama was unfolding in Fort Washington….

You know you are at a big event when All-Star announcer Peter Taylor is in the house.  Me, Peter, and the the lovely yet steely-eyed Lorraine Jasper.

You know you are at a big event when All-Star announcer Peter Taylor is in the house. Me, Peter, and the lovely yet steely-eyed Lorraine Jasper.

Lorraine was still ahead by almost 3 points, so I hoped to just go out there and try not to give anything back.  I thought it was possible that we could run in the low 2:00 range for the final event (800m), so I hoped to go through the quarter in 60-61 and see if I could hang on.  With the end in sight and in need of a miracle, I went into my dufflebag phone booth and busted out my secret weapon – the lucky headband.  Locked up since Des Moines, I donned the iconic old school ‘fro harness and took the line brimming with confidence.  I took the lead from the start, 29 through 200 and 59 at the bell.  Managed to get to 600 in 1:29, began to think how cool would it be to break 2:00 after running all these crazy events.  Tied up a little in the homestretch, the developing headwind did not help my cause much.  2:01.03, pretty good all things considered.  That time turned out to be a home run though, because after the computers did their thing and the dust settled the master score sheet had me ahead of Lorraine 430.76 – 428.12.  What do you know….

Daughter Kate appreciating the magnitude of the event once she saw the headband emerge...

Daughter Kate appreciating the magnitude of the event once she saw the headband emerge…

Event director Kyle Mecklenborg and the MOAT (Mother of All Trophies)

Event director Kyle Mecklenborg and the MOAT (Mother of All Trophies)

Got a little prize money, a trophy that makes the Stanley Cup look like a sippy cup, and a whole bunch of high fives from the hoards of Greater Philly team members there.  A great finish to a great day (I feel like I have said that a bunch of times already).  Thanks to the club and Kyle Mecklenborg for putting on the event, and congrats to all the great runners who put in a hard days work.  I don’t know if I feel like I dodged a bullet by surviving my first sprints in many years, or whether this will lure me into maybe re-investigating the 400m.  After suffering through that 3k this morning I know if I have to choose going up or down in distance the decision will be an easy one…

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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 Competitive Races, Greater Philadelphia's Distance Medley at Milrose Games, Masters Running, Masters Track, Running, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to GTPC Runners Pentathlon Recap

  1. I think GPTC has a new 4×200 member. LOL! 😉 Well done!

  2. Nick, my first comment “didn’t take,” and thus I will try to repeat it here. Again, a very impressive 2:01.03 800 to win it all. Agree with you about the early start; I stayed about 3000 meters from the track and asked for a wakeup call of 5:15 AM at my hotel. Yikes. But others may be served better by an early start, and sometimes it is hot in the middle of August.

    Who’s that old guy between you and the young Lorraine Jasper? Oh, now I know; I see him in the mirror every day.

  3. Nick Berra says:

    Your earlier comment got attached to the previous blog entry, so I did get it. I agree with you – I want to see Lorraine’s birth certificate!

  4. Wish I saw this before last night. Congrats, way to kill it!!!

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