Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 US Indoor Nationals (Day 1) and more marathon training...

Know what I love?

Being on a training plan while traveling. It's pretty cool to do a long run in an unfamiliar city; nice dash of variety while churning out the miles.

This week brought US Indoor Nationals to Portland, and I was picked to work the meet as an umpire. This week is Nationals, and next week is Worlds. So off to the big city I go!

I landed in the city around 2pm, and our briefing wasn't until 7. Plenty of time to get my run in, except that my room wasn't yet ready. So I stashed my gear in a friend's room (he had already checked in), and got after my workout.

Today was 13 miles total, with 9 miles in Zone 2, somewhere near marathon effort. All of these runs have been 'mildly annoying' in terms of exertion, and I figured today would be no different. Especially since I blew out the carbon 2 days ago with some harsh treadmill half mile repeats, fast enough so that I nearly lost form and fell off the belt!

Only seven weeks until I qualify for Boston. It's been lots and lots of miles on the treadmill this winter (alongside Olympic Trials marathoner/beasts Renee Baillie and Max King).

The weather was pretty rainy on the trip in to the city, but upon starting my run, the clouds parted and the angels sang. Perfect for a workout....the plan was multiple loops between the Steel Bridge and the Hawthorne Bridge, about 2.5 miles per circuit, so I got into my zone and let 'er rip. Did my 9 miles in 7:32 pace and was very happy with that, since my goal race pace is 7:49. My last tempo run was 8 miles at around 7:43 pace: I've never executed such a progressive training plan with this consistency! Lots of recovery seems to help.

Of course, my legs were pretty sore that night and next morning. I did think to bring a six pound bag of Epsom salts...and my compression socks....and a resistance band...and lots of Clif Bars. Just sayin'...

That night, I get to see the venue. And it's so cool...

This indoor stadium was literally built on the Convention Center floor in 8 days: the track, the stands, all the support equipment, everything!

Weight throw

My post will be at the top of the homestretch, a busy place; the 400m runners have a two turn stagger and will be converging on the rail at my post. One of my jobs will be to place cones at the break line, and then quickly remove them before the field comes past again as they circle the 200m track. At top speed, the guys make a circuit in about 22 seconds, so I have to hustle. Here's my break line...

First event on the track: the women's 60m hurdles. The 60m events are in the middle of the track in their own lanes. Since an indoor track is pretty small to begin with, space is at a premium. With the long jump/triple jump pit behind me, there are maybe 6 feet between those events and the sprint lanes. The female triple jumpers and I are all sitting in a very long row, with them facing one way and me facing in the opposite direction. They might jump farther than me, but I win in body fat percentage.

Announcer: "The US women's hurdle events are a notoriously strong event."  People, the word 'notorious' has a negative connotation, like a criminal or a virus. "Notoriously strong" is an oxymoron unless you're talking alligator jaw strength.

After the 60m finish line, the sprinter run across the curved track and slam up against a thickly padded cushion. Last year, Ashton Eaton hit the pad a little high and did a disappearing act worthy of Houdini....

When I get heat sheets for a meet, the first thing I do is look for breaks, because eventually I'll need to find a bathroom. Typically, the schedule is packed one race after another. But you can find scraps of time here and there. Like today, there is no men's 60m hurdle prelim heat, because there were 8 or fewer entrants, so all racers are automatically advanced to the final. Voila, there's 30 minutes saved right there!

Women's 60m sprint. Former Oregon Duck (and current Puma-ite) Jenna Prandini has yet another lousy start. As she passes the halfway point, she turns on those ridiculous jets of hers and blows thru the rest of the turf. Girl has an amazing close.

In an effort to increase interest in track, the meet organizers came up with a neat way to introduce the competitors; each athlete enters solo down a runway to the track. Reminds me of American Gladiators or something.

Carlin Isles, in the men's 60m, is introduced as 'the fastest man in rugby.' Huh? Watch the videos... And Marquis Goodwin of the Buffalo Bills. We have some serious cross training going on here.

Ryan Bailey gets a false start DQ for his second consecutive national  championship. Guy has an itchy trigger finger.

While warming up for the long jump, world record holder Ashton Eaton walks to the side of the pole vault pit to get some instruction from his coach across the track. AE is a little too close to the pit: a vaulter knocks off the bar and sends it crashing down, opening a nice gash on the Olympic champion's forehead. He heads to Medical, then returns with a mummy wrap of gauze around his forehead.

Sam Kendricks clears 19'4" for the pole vault victory, coming pretty close to the world record. And also coming close to the 26' lights hanging from the convention center ceiling.

In the women's 3000m, Emily Infeld leads for the first half, and she looks like she's straining compared to buttery smooth Marielle Hall in second place. Then again, which of the two has a World Championship bronze medal? Infeld. So what the heck do I know? Later, after getting kicked from behind and stumbling badly, Infeld ends up on the Infield, while Shannon Rowbury lights the burners in the final 800m and runs away with another championship.

Before the men's 3k, I turn around and see Alberto Salazar glaring at me. Not my fault that his guy Rupp didn't qualify for Worlds: then again, Galen did just win the Olympic Trials marathon, but I guess a month's training isn't enough time to get track speed into the legs. But Bernard Lagat set yet another age group world record while running with the big boys, and breaks the previous record by a day or two. Amazing longevity.

After the last event, I see American mile record holder Alan Webb and his two adorable kids. It'll be awhile until someone takes down Webb's 9 year old standard of 3:46.91. A retired trackster and current triathlete, he looks very, very content.


one happy boy...
I love track!

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