Two weekends ago, I competed at the National Masters Heptathlon Championships in Kenosha, WI. It was my first Indoor Heptathlon ever and I was excited because the Indoor Hep replaces the javelin throw, which is impossible to do indoors, with the pole vault. I have never pole vaulted and I was very excited and scared out of my mind to try this.
The women that I competed with were amazing and one competitor helped me learn how to pole vault. I was able to come in at a really low height and basically get a lot of practice as the heights increased little by little. I ultimately cleared 6 feet and some change before I decided to bow out before getting to a height that I would miss. Here are a few of my thoughts about this awesome event.
1. WHY DID THEY NOT HAVE THIS EVENT WHEN I WAS IN HS?????
2. There is no room for fear when pole vaulting
3. Pole vaulters are without a doubt the kindest and most supportive people in track and field
4. When you get a bend in the pole, you feel like you just won the lottery
5. It will make you more sore than ANY other event. Holy arm pain!
Anyways, after pole vaulting for the first time, all I want to do is get back out there and pole vault again.
My husband always says that things like “those are your people” when he sees strong, female athletes who are unabashedly competitive, risk-takers, and proud (and vocal) of their accomplishments. Well, this weekend at the Masters Indoor Heptathlon Championships in Kenosha, WI, I was surrounded by “my people.”
Rebecca Connolly (W45) is “my people.” She selflessly taught me how to pole vault and then PR’ed in the event on her way to breaking her own American Age group record. She was tough, inspiring, and graceful in every event in which she competed.
Rita Hanscom (W60) is “my people.” She is perhaps the most focused female track athlete I have ever seen. She is fast. And strong. And she looks like she is 40. There are many 40 years olds I know that probably wish they could run like Rita, but most can’t.
Christel Donley (W80) is “my people.” At this meet, every spectator and competitor was awed for two days by her athletic ability, her generosity, and her ultimate breaking of the W80 WORLD Record in the Indoor Heptathlon. She is funny and sweet and I hope that I have 10% of the chutzpah that she has when I am 60. She is a complete inspiration.
And so now I will be vocal of my accomplishments as I know “my people” are doing after the meet. I PR’d in 4 of the 7 events and I broke the American Record in the W40 Indoor Pentathlon. Needless to say, I am proud of myself.
Who are YOUR people?
So, I have been gearing up for this National Indoor Heptathlon for 5 months. And now, it’s in 2 days and I feel totally unprepared for it. How the hell did this happen?
Well, for one, I ran 5 events in the Southeast Regional Masters Championships and kind of injured my calf. I say kind of, because I am still in denial that it is an actual injury. But, it hurt. A lot. And made me scratch the Long Jump and the 200 in that meet. So, this has changed the way I have trained the last month. I have not sprinted. Nor hurdled. Nor high or long jumped. This could be a problem this weekend.
But, maybe I WON’T be hurt this weekend because I basically have coddled my calf for the last month. This is what masters runners deal with all the time – not overdoing their training as to not get an injury that is not that easy to recover from. My “injury” was more of an annoyance. But it scared the shit out of me and I didn’t want to do something stupid. So I did nothing.
And now in two days I need to do 7 events over 2 days. I need to sprint, and jump high and long, and hurdle, and pole vault, and throw an 8.5 lb. shot, and run a damn 800 at the end of the whole thing. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe it is good that I have abandoned all expectations of my performances. In fact, I am already thinking of “Plan B’s” – such as high jumping off my OTHER leg (I did it in high school – how hard can it be).
However, with all my self-doubt and sadness about not being able to perform what I think I could do if I was where I wanted to be in my training at this point, I have to remember that it is still so cool that I am doing it, regardless of my place, heights, times, and distances. How many other soon to be 44 year olds are doing this? Whatever happens, I at least will have done it. And that makes me smile.