Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Amen To Brother John

Here's John Zombro's race recap of the 4th Annual Montana Men's Master's Mile. Enjoy. I did. See the results in my post immediately below this titled "And They're Off" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wow! Exhilaration and exuberation! As I was jogging a brief cooldown with Kirk last night after the race the statement that seemed to sum it up, certainly for me, and ostensibly for most everyone else was "Living in the Moment". We were bantering the excited talk that only comes from the heightening of the senses we all felt last night. There was talk of future races, training ideas, and recognition of what a fabulous opportunity we had just experienced. As we came back to the Fieldhouse, we both decided that, at least for the evening, we would live in the moment and just enjoy it. Of course, we also concurred that I have been living in this moment for at least 6 weeks and it was going to last a few more days anyway. My friends and family are all saints because I'm sure if they hear "master's mile" one more time they actually will vomit.

Since I don't have to get ready for the parade (Master's Mile Weekend - that will be next year), I thought I'd write down my reflections while they are still fresh. I'll attach an official results list to this document as well, and upgrade the ever-growing race stats.

First for a few words of appreciation and I'll do my best not to leave anyone out.

To the runners who always make this race a stop on their annual circuit. Thanks for supporting and participating in the event. I know how much work it actually takes to train for this thing and some of you came a long way. This is a real brotherhood and the positive group energy is nearly unbelievable.

To Tom Olivo, who provided the fabulous Garmin GPS/HRM grand prize, hosted the party, and shared his passion for excellence with us, thank you! Tom is a true friend who embodies the spirit of our event.

To Mike Cok and Travis Kinzler, who provided generous monetary support which enabled us to have an awards ceremony that also depicted excellence. These guys really see the big picture and have taught me a lot.

To Danette Boka and Paul Segersten, who provided massage therapy services and managed our home base of operations in the fieldhouse, we really appreciate you taking your Friday evening and hanging out with (even touching) a bunch of sweaty old runners. Despite my running experiences and quasi-professional work, I've personally never had a setup that good and I think quite a few of the participants took advantage of their skills as well.

To Chris Guy, Matt Edwards, Pat O'Conor, Chas Day, and Rick Engel, who were our production crew, you did an awesome job. We have accurate records, awesome video footage/interviews, and enough data to assemble a terrific product.

To Tom Eitel and the rest of the coaching staff/officials at Bobcat Track and Field, who make this entire thing possible, we literally couldn't do it without you. You're busy enough with your jobs of coaching All-Americans and running these meets, but you find enough time and space to support a community event that promotes master's athletics.

To all the spouses, significant others (you know I don't like the word "partner"), family, friends, and yes-by-golly FANS who both tolerate and enable us, THANKS!

Now for the race. We viewed the video last night and it was both entertaining and informative. The play-by-play on tape will be fun to watch later. We forgot to take up a collection for sending the future DVD out to everyone but I'll get organized on that over the next few weeks. I thought I'd say a few words about each racer.

Peter Dan ran uncontested in a solo time trial effort that was inspiring. This created a challenge for the cameramen because he was so far ahead of the field that they had to pan in/out to keep up with him. Such a fluid stride.

Ray produced a quality effort for 2nd place with a strong finish. Even though he isn't totally healthy or fully trained, we all like to see Ray run well. He's a real performer and I think he ran in borrowed shoes. We might try to get Diamond Jim trackside for the 09 MMMM (long story). Ray continues to underestimate his abilities and it comes from his genuine humility.

Steve ran consistent with his pattern over the last year, which is to say excellent. Not only did he move to 4th on the all-time MMMM list (one race allowed per runner), he set a 6-second MMMM PR and also won the "He Who Runs With the Most Brains Award" for a nearly perfect even split performance.

Pat produced a showing of power that is typical for him. Doing much of the pace work for the chase pack, he held strong for a sub-5:00 performance. Pat is a leader in the Helena running scene and is instrumental in how these guys always rally and show up big at MMMM.

Kirk, as our senior fellow at 49, came out of semi-retirement to run a track mile for the first time in about 30 years. We have had some spirited discussions over the past few years and I always felt that we needed his talent in the race and this would be such a kick for him. Well, all that was true and when I witnessed his kick (I'll check on the video, but I think he ran the fastest last lap of the field) as he roared by on the backstretch I thought "Yea, I just had to get this guy in the race!". Kudos, Kirk.

Well, now we get to me. Much of my elation over the evening was due to my own run. Having had a number of injuries/setbacks over the past few years, I had been experimenting with low-volume, creative training methods, and they seem to have worked. I was able to run a few seconds faster than my realistic prediction and it felt reasonable (running all-out never feels like sitting on the beach with one of those little umbrella drinks---actually it would be a Corona for me). My race plan was to have flames shoot out my backside with 3 laps to go (special thanks to Susan Denson-Guy for lighting the match). It was more like smoke and it sputtered a little on the last lap, but I'll take it.

Mark produced a strong run, leading the chase pack for the first few laps. He had the guts to go out and attack a goal time. He slowed a little in the 2nd half, but we've all been there. One of these days he's going to put it all together and we all know what he is capable of.

Tim ran a race, perhaps THE race, of excellence last night. He modified his training from last year and posted a 13-second PR, fighting all the way to the line and nearly catching Mark by .13 seconds. He won the Grand Prize and defined what it is all about. He also did this in training shoes. I'd like to train this guy and I'd bet (you know how I like doing that) we can take more time off next year. If he'll just quit hanging with this trail-ultra crowd.

Randall showed that he is a dominant force in several sports, and that competitive cycling and running can indeed be complementary. His friendly and humorous nature belies the tough competitor that he is. We're all just lucky it wasn't the Master's 600m!

David, who is USATF state champion in the 200 meters, showed he can run the mile as well. With blazing finish speed, he struck terror in all those around him. After a few years of doing marathons and trail ultras, David is now tearing up the track and should post some impressive performances over the next few months. David also designed those way-cool MMMM T-shirts!

Andy, a former collegiate rower, showed the crowd what power really looks like. You wouldn't think that a guy with guns that big could run so fast, but he does. When he's not racing Harleys on the circuit around the country, Andy is working out at 5:30 a.m. (I've known this to be true but I don't think that hour of the day is meant for movement - except during hunting season - so I've never actually seen him).

Jeff, a Montana running legend, put in the work and got here. I know he wished the track was uphill on an 18% grade (if that was the case we'd all be seeing his back - actually I'd just bag it and watch) but he ran with his heart and finished with a smile like the true sportsman he is.

Craig is probably bracing for some harsh words, but they will not be coming. He worked hard for this event and was in good shape. Unfortunately, he suffered an orthopedic injury and a respiratory infection in the weeks prior to the run. Instead of scratching, he chose to run with determination and deserves to be saluted. Also, he placed himself forever in our memories with his awesome and stylistic chugging of the aged watermelon wine cooler at the party. Viva Craig!

Dan also chose to line up and give it a go. I know Dan was ill but he gets my respect for trying it out. We've all been there and you never know if you can break through and run when you are sick. The wise move was to save it and you made the right decision. Your presence was appreciated.

Chris, who may have revealed yet another of his many talents behind the camera, would have given Steve and Ray a run for it if he was healthy. He unfortunately tweaked an injury but will be back with a vengeance. That just means my placing in every race goes higher by 1.

Scott, the 3 time champion, was just being a gentleman and letting the race have a different look at the front. Seriously, he is coming back from injury and almost made it, but unfortunately picked up a bug during race week. We all know he'll be back.

In summary, an entirely magnificent evening was had and I could see my own schoolboy-like glee being reflected in many faces. We had a great discussion about aspects of master's training, shared some of Peter Dan's Black Lung Porter (excellent), and talked of future plans. In fact, PDS has been commissioned by Tom to produce another ale for our summer mile race. I'll let you guys rest a while, then start the buildup for that event. Also, don't forget I'm serious about the 8/27 Montana Master's Trail 50k Championships in Bozeman.

May you all continue in your journey for peace, joy, and ultimate fitness.

John Zombro

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