Hartshorne Diary: Peter Taylor regains his focus after car scareHartshorne announcer Peter Taylor’s journey from Virginia to Upstate New York was eventful â€” a metaphor for masters track. Worried about his car, then relieved it wasn’t a disaster. “I am just below Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, on Route 15 North, and I notice that my temperature gauge is on â€śhot.â€ť Itâ€™s all the way up. This is the worst possible news. Is my engine on fire? I canâ€™t believe my misfortune. Decide to hang on for 5 miles or so. I just canâ€™t bring the needle down no matter what I do. Curses.” But like most of us, he makes it to the track. Good for him, and everyone he announced.
My Sixth Trip to the Hartshorne Mile
Friday, January 20
Itâ€™s 4:38 a.m., and here we go again. For the sixth consecutive year, I will be driving up to the Hartshorne Mile in Ithaca, New York, and what a pleasure it will be. I will be the announcer, the only announcer, and I hope I can do well.
4:50 a.m.: Iâ€™ve thought a lot about tomorrowâ€™s races, and I have focused in particular on W40+ elite. World 800 and 1500 champ Sonja Friend-Uhl is coming up from Brentwood, Tennessee, and world steeplechase champ Lisa Ryan is traveling from Sioux City, Iowa. All-everything Alisa Harvey, who lives in Manassas, Virginia, will be there as well, as will Bernadine Pritchett of London, England.
Sonja Friend-Uhl showed a great deal of optimism by telling a newspaper reporter that she was looking to break the American W40 record of 4:47.26 (also the world record). If we were running outdoors in appropriate weather, she might be able to do it, but the race will go around 16 turns on a flat track, and thus I canâ€™t see a 4:47. The meet record for 40+ is 4:51.32, but I donâ€™t think that will be approached. Look for Sonja to run about 4:56.70. I expect Alisa Harvey to be second in about 5:05.50, which will be interesting because the American record for W45 is 5:04.02, another one of Alisaâ€™s marks.
M40+ has a smallish field, and I look for Charlie Kern of Illinois to win with complete authority. Last year, with Nick Berra in the hunt, Charlie ran 4:20.50, but this year, without Nick, I look for 4:23.10 or so. Charlie is an impeccable stylist and fun to watch.
The W50+ race will be very interesting, but it seems impossible that anyone other than Lorraine Jasper of Pennsylvania will be in front at the end. Terri Cassel of Oklahoma should be second, with defending champion, and local favorite Suzanne Myette third.
The M50+ race will be tricky, as two of the runners, Mike Egle of Illinois and David Cannon of Washington, will run in the M40+ race. They will score against the M50+ runners, however. Conor Oâ€™Driscoll should cross the line first when the M50+ runners do their thing, with Tom Cawley an extremely close second. But again, they will score against Mike Egle and David Cannon as well as the others in their race. I hope it works out.
5:05 a.m.: I am pretty exhausted from my truncated sleep, but I donâ€™t have to run tomorrow, just announce.
After working out at my fitness club in Fairfax (27 minutes on elliptical, 11 minutes on stationary bike, 13:05 on recumbent bike, then a few pull-downs), I shower, then head for Ithaca. Stop in Bethesda, Maryland, for a haircut (yes, even I need one), and tell Sunny, the haircutter, that I hope to be in Ithaca in 6 hours. Sunny is from Pusan, South Korea, and she has no idea where Ithaca is. Not to worry; I take off at 11:23 a.m. from the parking lot and head north.
2:15 p.m. (approximate) Whatâ€™s this? I am just below Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, on Route 15 North and I notice that my temperature gauge is on â€śhot.â€ť Itâ€™s all the way up. This is the worst possible news. Is my engine on fire? I canâ€™t believe my misfortune. Decide to hang on for 5 miles or so. I just canâ€™t bring the needle down no matter what I do. Curses.
I enter the parking lot of a repair shop and notice they are very busyâ€”at least a 2-hour wait, they say. After learning that I live in Virginia, the man who writes the service tickets takes pity on me and says he will look at (but not fix) my engine. He opines that the temperature gauge, not the engine, is at fault. Advises me to blast the heat whenever the gauge gets high and, wonder of wonders, it comes back to normal after a few minutes.
I do this perhaps 15 times between Selinsgrove and Ithaca. Of course, I am toying with the gauge, not the engine. Or so I believe (I know nothing about cars).
6:06 p.m.: Pull into the hotel parking lot in Ithaca. Again, my engine is not hot, not smoking, there seems to be nothing abnormal about it, but the needle for the temperature gauge will go all the way to the top unless I blast heat. Strange.
I have a nice time at the restaurant in Ithaca, and I get somewhat overconfident.
Saturday, January 21
After waking up at 4:05 or so, I lie around until about 5:27, then get up. I realize I have gotten lazy, too confident about the meet. I am not well-prepared. I do some studying and determine that two runners in particular have a shot at a record. Alisa Harvey could break her own American W45 mark of 5:04.02, and David Cannon could break Nolan Shaheedâ€™s 4:42.89 for M55 (world and American). I do some studying.
The meet goes pretty well. Sonja Friend-Uhl does not run 4:56.70, as I had predicted. Instead, she runs 4:49.82, breaking the meet record but not Alisa Harveyâ€™s W40 world standard of 4:47.26. Wow, is she good. Powerful, great form, yes. I just didnâ€™t think she would be ready to run a fast time in January on a flat track with 16 turns. Feels great to be wrong.
Nolan Shaheed starts well, seems to fall back a bit, then resumes his strong pace. Eventually his intention reveals itself; he is going for his world mark of 4:57.06. But instead of just dropping under it he obliterates the record, running an unconscious 4:50.96. Put him up there with Bob Lida (27.03 200 at age 75 a couple of weeks ago); this is a quantum leap. You go, Nolan.
Alisa Harvey runs 5:05.95 (I had predicted 5:05.50). At the banquet at the Ithaca Country Club that evening, I say that if I had to do it over again I would have paid more attention to Alisa, as she had a shot at her 5:04.02 mark. I had been concentrating on Sonja Friend-Uhlâ€™s attempt at a world record and, after all, Sonja was out in front.
Saturday afternoon and evening, January 21
After the races are over, Tom Hartshorne takes me back to his house. From there we go to the banquet. I do some interviews for National Masters News; one woman I approach in the food line gets so upset with me (I was not going to interview her, just talk about her race and her training) that she walks out of the line without saying a word. Not good; I want to apologize to her, but that would make things worse.
In the evening the DJ starts spinning, and for the second year in a row Lorraine Jasper asks me to dance. I do a fair job at first, but after about 30 minutes my shirt is soaked and my form turns to poor. Lorraine distinguishes herself on the floor, however, as do fellow competitors Julie Hankin of Pennsylvania, Annie Bunting of Canada and Kathy Haubrich of Minnesota. Others also dance well, but these are runners who, more or less, dance with me, at least at times. Julie Hankin even has a maneuver in which she puts her hands on the floor and does one or two push-ups as part of the dance. Nice.
Sunday, January 22
About 9:02 a.m.: One of the women who ran yesterday sees me in the lobby of the hotel (I had told her I would be leaving at 9:20). She suggests I get a coffee, and I say I donâ€™t drink coffee.
What about tea?
â€śI donâ€™t drink tea.â€ť
She then gives me an out (because it looks like I am avoiding her), saying I must be set to hit the road. Actually, itâ€™s very strange. In truth, I am a bit cowed by herâ€”am I worthy? I wonâ€™t reveal her name; I just feel that she has so much going for her in so many different ways that having a one-on-one breakfast with her will put me to shame, reveal me as a very uninteresting fellow. Odd. Eventually I settle for orange juice and we have our breakfast. By the end I hope she understands that I really enjoy her company.
I say my goodbye and hit the road. Six hours and 25 minutes later I reach Fairfax Racquet Club, having blasted the heat perhaps 35 times to get the temperature gauge back to normal. I do the elliptical for 28:10, then the recumbent bike for 23:05. Weigh out and find I have lost 3.75 pounds since Friday.
Overall, I grade out at 88 for announcing (although Tom Hartshorne gives me a higher mark). Hope to do this meet again next year.
P.S.: On rereading what I wrote on Friday, I can note the following: (1) The sound system is much improved over previous years. (2) Neither Lisa Ryan of Iowa nor Terri Cassel of Oklahoma made the race (problems with snow). (3) Lorraine Jasper indeed won 50+, and very easily. (4) Charlie Kern was late and ended up running with the collegians.