How many of you played in pain at Sacramento nationals?

Al Oerter, the famed masters thrower, famously said of another meet: “These are the Olympics. You die for them.” A brief story in an Oregon paper reminds me of the sacrifices we make as well: “Former Western Oregon athlete Alison Wood of Aumsville captured first place in the women’s high jump in the 35-39 age division of the USATF Masters Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Wood, 36, leaped 5 feet, 5 inches to win the event despite a hip injury that required surgery in the days after the competition.” Unsure of the surgery, but I’m certain she wasn’t alone competing against the will of the gods. How did y’all fare after nationals? Don’t be shy. Tell your stories.

Alison Wood and her mother at Sacramento nationals.

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August 6, 2010

45 Responses

  1. Jerry Smartt - August 6, 2010

    No complaints, I’m just making a list: slipped disc in lower back, left hip socket prob, sprained right ankle, and both shoulders are shot. The good news? I’m still vertical and breathing. Whatever confronts us is “no hill for a climber.” Smartty

  2. Jeremy Willis - August 6, 2010

    My name is Jeremy Willis (M38 Raleigh, NC) and I was slated to compete only in the M35 shot and discus originally in SAC. This summer has been my first step back into track and field since my decathlon days at NCSU. My last meet was way back in 1995 (2nd place finish at ACC’s).

    My only problem was that I came back to fast and within only a month had developed a severe case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot, contracted a sports hernia (looking into surgery now), and had just begun to develop tendonitis in my right knee (jump knee) due to the favoritism of a healthy limb.

    Well, to make a long story short, I was a 6-8/6-10 high jumper way back when so I decided that I’d enter the HJ too just before the late entry deadline….just for drama. Hadn’t practiced or really even cleared a bar in 15 years, but I showed up, cleared 1.74 and took a Silver in SAC. Sure, it was a very modest height. But given the time away from the sport and my condition, it’s one of the most gut-checking athletic performances of my life. And hobbled the whole way through it. But boy am I paying for it now though! Here it is two weeks later and I just passed a black belt test in Kenpo-jitsu as well. I’m now exploring 2 different surgical options instead of one!

    But hey, we do what we do because we all love it so much….and I’m fighting the aging process as hard as I can! I’m going to rest up, have whatever surgeries are needed, and then heal up for Indoors in March.



  3. Nolan Shaheed - August 6, 2010

    Severe pain in left ankle.

  4. Marty Wright - August 6, 2010

    Playing in pain is one of my favorite topics. I’m always curious if Masters athletes feel better when they go to bed or get up in the morning. Sometimes in the morning I feel like Nick Nolte from the opening scene of North Dallas Forty.

    I also wonder if my body would feel better if I quit playing, but NO I don’t want to find out! It seems like anytime workouts are going well I can count on an injury.

  5. Chipinsd - August 6, 2010

    I had 6 events slated for Nationals. Coming into the meet I had competed in the NW & SW Regionals. At the SW Regionals I obtained a deep cramp in my hammy. In Sacramento I competed in the 100M Hurdles (55) with a 4th finish. The next morning I competed in the LJ ending with a 6th (tearing ligaments). So I sucked it up for the 100M finals where I reinjured the hammy with a mild second degree tear. So a 4th, 6th & 8th place finish missing the 200M and relays with torn ligaments and a messup hamstring. Rehab on the way. Love this sport!!

  6. Bill Brusher - August 6, 2010

    I wasn’t in any pain, but…

    My plans for this year’s Nationals were derailed in February, when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I had surgery in March, and finished my my 4th month of chemotherapy right before Nationals. But, I decided that I still wanted to take part, even with greatly lowered expectations.

    As the chemo drugs continue to kill off my red blood cells, my hemoglobin count is approaching the threshold at which they do EPO (yes, it has legitimate medical uses) or transfusions. I’m not there yet, so I’m pretty anemic. The good news is that I am still able to run 50 miles-per-week. The bad news is that I am at least a minute-per-mile slower than normal. I debated on what to do about Nationals, but finally decided that I could get through 2 laps, and, since it would be impossible to get lapped in the 800, I could do so without getting in the way of any faster runners. I was telling my friends beforehand that I would probably run around 3 minutes and finish dead last in my heat. At least I set realistic expectations: I ran 3:01 and finished last in my heat.

    Running is really helping me get through this. I turn 60 next year, and intend to be cancer-free and in great shape.

  7. Jerry Smartt - August 6, 2010

    Hmmm, I have carefully examined and digested entries 2 through 5 and I want to make a final comment. Compared to you cats, I’M IN TERRIFIC SHAPE. Smartty

  8. Gary - August 6, 2010

    Well, I didn’t make it because of an injury. You guys would all be wise to not compete injured. Small injuries can lead to serious ones and then you are out for maybe “ever”….so hope you guys enjoyed competing on broken legs and such and I hope it wasn’t your last race! Take care everyone…be healthy and smart!

  9. christel donley - August 6, 2010



  10. buzooti - August 6, 2010

    I strained my left achilles in April running 150M intervals on an incline. I saw a sports physician, RICEd, and then went to PT for several weeks RICE-ing the whole time. I was given the go ahead to begin light training in the middle of June, though I still had some tenderness. I skipped several meets and opened my season with the slowest M40 200M ever at the Western States Masters Invite on July 9. I was pretty disappointed. To top it off, my achilles was very sore the day after so I scratched the 100M. I did little but RICE until Nationals.

    Like a dumbass, I came to Sac at about 60%, but I intended to participate in 100 & 200M to gain experience at the championship level. BAD IDEA. My goal was to run the 100M prelim and qualify for the final, scratch that and call it a season. Yes, this would be my second time in spikes and second race of the season on a tender achilles…AND I’m thinking about making the finals. Another BAD IDEA.

    In the prelim 100M, I was very pleased with my reaction to the gun but little else. I pretty much stood up and strided down the track, no acceleration to speak of. It felt smooth and relatively easy. I squeaked into the final that I planned to scratch.

    I didn’t, I ran (WORST IDEA) and ruptured the achilles. There was absolutley no pain, but I cried on the infield, because I was so frustated.

    I had surgery on 7/30. I am looking forward to a long, frustrating and painful rehab. I’ll be back by 2012 as I don’t intend to let you guys have all the fun.

  11. buzooti - August 6, 2010


    You are so right!

    I, of course, knew this, but I had a lapse of stupid.

  12. Byrke Beller - August 6, 2010

    Left knee arthritis. Last years’ arthroscopy only helped a little. Regular use of NSAIDs.

  13. Horace Grant - August 6, 2010

    I did not get to come to the Outdoor Nationals this year. I was involved in a freak incident earlier in the summer. I was attacked by a bird while on a training run. I took off in a sprint to avoid the continuous pecking on my head. This resulted in a torn calve muscle. Although I can laugh about it now, I did have a painful six week recovery experience. I have resumed my training again. The rest for me was much needed anyway, helping to heal some other aches and pains.

  14. Kareem Lanier - August 6, 2010

    Compete w/ulcerative colitis and winner of the 35-39 5k and 10k. Was diagonse w/this disease last after competing in Wisconsin. I battle w/fatigue,diet,gas and pills everyday. W/the grace of God and my loving family members @ TNT Int’l Racing Club. I got through it. Almost did not compete b/c my specialist told me my white blood cell count was almost too low. Obviously,I got the ok. Everyone have a bless day and pray I see you in New Mexico 2011.

  15. tony plaster - August 6, 2010

    Horace, I wondered where you were, and my guess is that your gona absolutly kill it when you come back. ( you cannot beat that for a story by the way ) Health and Strength to you.

  16. JStone - August 6, 2010

    Congrats to all who SURVIVED Sacto and get well soon!

    Unfortunately, as we all know, injury manangement is a large part of masters athletics, but it beats the alternative!

    Also, for those of you thinking about permanently hanging up your flats, spikes, and throwing shoes, just remember that you’ll probably rust out faster than you wear out!

  17. Roger Parnell - August 6, 2010

    I strained my calf and achilles in early June. I tried to make a gradual comeback, but just could not get past 95% without the achilles grabbing. Although I had signed up for four events at Nationals, I resisted the temptation to compete. I suspected that there was a good chance that I might push too hard and do some serious damage. After reading all of your posts, my decision was reinforced and I am now on my way to recovery. It is a very hard thing to do….to watch and not participate…..and I have not always made the right decision. It is a lesson that I seem destined to learn over and over…..even after all these years. God speed in your recoveries and I hope to see you all on the track next year.

  18. peter taylor - August 6, 2010

    I was there all 4 days from before 7 AM to well into the afternoon/early evening and didn’t hurt myself at all. I did, however, pay a price when I stepped out of my tent into the bright sun. Some observations and then a question:

    1. Alison Wood (pictured in the post). Wow, can you jump. What an addition you turned out to be, going 1.65 meters (5′ 5″) at your rather modest height (you appear to stand about 5′ 4 1/2″ at the very most). Hope you heal very quickly.

    2. Christel Donley, you are a real trouper and much admired by all. Best to you in your recovery.

    3. Buzooti, you’re 43 years old, correct? I saw you pull up after your Achilles rupture — I could feel your emotional pain. Hope to see you in 2012 at the nationals in Lisle, Illinois.

    4. Horace Grant, there is nothing funny about having a bird peck you on the head and then continue with the attack. Hope to see you in early March 2011 at Albuquerque (indoors).

    5. Now for my questions to those who were there at Sacramento. With the heat and the injuries I thought the medical team was (a) very competent and (b) a bit thin. Am I right? With 4 times as many athletes expected for the worlds (albeit with more than 1 stadium used) I think that a major step up is needed.

    I can even see a combination of a mini emergency unit with 3 beds and ample medical equipment coupled with roving observers — 2 for the throws, 1 for the jumps, and 2 for the track events. These observers would respond very quickly to apparent heat illness or injury and would radio to the emergency unit. Good idea, or is it not needed?

    Also, from all I have heard the lack of shade had a huge impact on the meet; maybe some attention can be paid to this issue in the next 11 months.

  19. Fidel - August 6, 2010

    I actually didn’t feel too bad compared to earlier in the year. I did have some minor patellar tendinitis, minor groin irritation, slight calf strain, and hammy tendinitis. But with a good warmup, I was okay to sprint all out. But, the one thing that was frustrating was that my 2nd toe on my left foot was hurting big time. Not sure how it happened but it may have been my newer training shoes. My last track meet of the year was yesterday so see you next year!

  20. Bryan Pierce - August 6, 2010

    Back around January/February, Darnell Gatling was rear-ended by a drunk driver while returning a family member to college. By the time Penn came up on the schedule, his injuries were still existent to the point where he considered scrapping the ’10 season. That makes his 56.88IH (which age grades to an open sub 46) even more Beamonesque!

  21. Liz Palmer - August 6, 2010

    My achilles was very inflamed. It felt good for one day and then it throbbed and burned for the rest of the meet. It’s still not the best but getting better!

  22. Ruthlyn Greenfield-Webster, RN - August 6, 2010

    Four weeks before Nationals I pulled/strained my left hamstring (same leg that I’m still trying to rebuild post knee meniscus repair in 2008). Saw a Chiropractor for 3 ART, laser, and electric stim treatments prior to Nationals. Showed a bit of athletic maturity (I’m still learning…LOL) by scratching out of my 100m dash race which was scheduled the day before the Triple Jump. I thought it would be best to do that so that I could save WHATEVER I had in that leg for my main event (the Triple Jump) and to prevent worsening the injury, which would have probably then took me out of the Triple. So I had the Chiro there kinesio tape my knee and hamstring, slapped on my thigh sleeve, and just went for it. First jump was p-a-i-n-f-u-l (especially since I hadn’t ran or jumped for 4 weeks while resting the injury) and I hobbled out of the pit!! But then the good ole reliable endorphins kicked in and with minimal discomfort, I just gutted out the other 5 jumps. Wasn’t “happy” with my best jump (since I was jumping so much better prior to my injury) but it was decent and I was immensely satisfied that I survived the competition without further injury and won my Silver medal! Now I’m continuing my Chiro treatments and looking forward to entering my new age group (40-44) next year HEALTHY and STRONG and ready to fight…ummm, I mean…compete! Oh, how I LOVE this game! 🙂

  23. Gary - August 6, 2010

    Hey Boozoti, good luck with the recovery…Take it slow and lots of swimming.

  24. Mellow Johnny - August 6, 2010

    Isn’t “playing in pain” a requirement to participate in masters track?

    I’m more interested in who WASN’T hurt out there as that list is much shorter.

    Left hammie and left hip flexor were bothering me all summer and in Sacto for sure.

  25. Karla Del Grande - August 6, 2010

    These posts made me laugh and cry, then feel grateful to be running, inspired to work smarter to avoid injury, and vowing to learn from the mistakes of others! What we do for the love of our sport!
    I had emergency surgery to remove a cyst and ovary in late May. Which was harder? The surgery (in and out in 1 day after incredible pain that morphine didn’t work on — they couldn’t give me much because my heart rate and blood pressure are both very low) or the recovery — no training for 3 weeks! No sprinting, no yoga, no water running — it was tough! Some thought harder on my husband. Lost a lot of fitness, but hey, I was able to get running and competing again, and that’s what it’s all about.
    I also had incredibly sore quads after training on the practice track before the meet. Used the grass to warm up after that. Had great competitive races with Loretta Woodward in W55 and did get the wins. Didn’t get the times I wanted, but — FAILURE means that I Found Another Important Lesson Upon Reviewing Experience — not a bad thing at all.

  26. Matthew Spiller - August 6, 2010

    My mild shin splints got much worse in April after I started some light plyometrics. So, I did very minimal running and no jumping from then until Sacramento.

    Javelin training produced some shoulder tendonitis and I developed this weird tailbone pain after a decathlon in April also. So, heavy weight lifting was affected and throwing.

    So, going into the Pentathlon Thursday at Sac, I had limited training for ALL FIVE events. The long jump hurt my shin like never before and I got a mild cramp in my right hamstring during the 200. (I also NM in the DT)

    I didn’t feel that the cramp affected my run as I didn’t slow down or limp and I PR’d! So, I decided I’d be okay to run (faster) the 100m the next day. Well, the cramp came back bigger around 60m and I hobbled across the finish line with my slowest time EVER. I scratched the 400m and HH for later that day. (Was guaranteed a medal in HH with only three entrants 🙂

    Discus the third day I was just flat. I was in such poor shape that the first two days of comp left me drained. I threw shorter than the first time I ever picked up a discus. 🙁

    I’m forcing myself now to NOT run to let my shin heal. Even the minimal running I was doing prolonged my injury. I hope and plan to be healthy for Worlds next year.

  27. Mike Sullivan - August 6, 2010

    “I Would Rather Feel Pain Than Nothing At All So Hurl Me Against The Wall” Warren Zevon -How about the Pain of Defeat- Repeat LA Threshold runs today….training continues day 13 …… the fun never stops……Sully

  28. Jeff Davison - August 6, 2010

    As Ken Stone mentioned in a earlier post . . we had ten athletes that had signed-up for the Shuttle Hurdle Relay get injuries during other events on Saturday and Sunday. The injuries came from relays, triple jump, high jump, and sprints.

    I had knee surgery in January – and I was thankful
    that I was able to compete during the meet.


  29. Jerry Smartt - August 7, 2010

    Peter addresses the issue of there needing to be more first aid folks at Worlds next summer. At Lahti, there were Safety Observers all over the place. They watched us closely in the long races and asked us if we were okay. Smartty

  30. Bubba Sparks - August 7, 2010

    After jumping 13′ 1″ (3.99) on January 2, I was followed by a little yet constant series of small “dings” that I promptly turned into injuries. I spent the entire year in rehab/training because I couldn’t vault. Let’s say my base training for next year started right after Boston when I strained my back. I intentionally stayed out of Sacramento to protect myself from myself as I know I would push too hard to get ready.

    Wild story Horace. BTW Horace, I’ve been a huge fan of yours since junior high school and remember you racing for Cullen. In 9th grade I was 11th in the city of Houston at the city meet and “thought” I too was a half miler. I can honestly say that your commanding success drove me more towards the pole vault. So congrats and thank you for being so dominant as to make me give up on an event I knew I could never excel at. You’re in a class by yourself as an athlete and person. Bubba (The Woodlands, TX)

  31. Robert Baker - August 7, 2010

    Had pain in varying degrees in right groin for about 3 months. Injured it further at last pole vault practice a week before nationals. Long jump and javelin in Pentathlon stirred it up considerably, so much I couldn’t run in the next event, the 200m. A subsequent MRI revealed a torn groin muscle and stress fracture of the pelvic bone. Many weeks of rest were recommended. This time I think I’ll listen. This should also allow a swollen knee to return to normal size. More reinforcement for what Gary said.

  32. wayne bennett - August 7, 2010

    I had arthoscopic surgery on my right knee in June for removal of some cartilage and small tear in meniscus. Expect to be running as well as ever by this fall. Actually ran in spikes this past week, slow but felt good. Horace’s story is great. He certainly is one of the greatest athletes ever.

  33. Kettrell Berry - August 7, 2010

    I have been dealing with a gluteus maximus injury this past year. End of June I was at the point of sprinting without compensating. I decided to run the 400m on July 21 to support the Movin Shoes Summer Series Track Meet in San Diego. As I rounded the final curve it grabbed. Another Nationals missed. :0(

  34. Mike Sullivan - August 7, 2010

    Mr. Berry,

    Sorry to hear about your injury….was hoping to see you in October at meet held in Santa Barbara…..Sully

  35. Rita Hanscom - August 7, 2010

    Hey friends, haven’t you heard: “When you start masters track, a wandering pain enters your body.”

    I had a hamstring injury in March, followed by a 2 month calf injury. How did July get here so soon?
    I’m impressed and humbled by the stories here. All of you masters athletes are inspiring and amazing. I’m proud to be among you.

    Evidently Usain Bolt calls this his weak year. That’s what I’m calling it then.

  36. Kathy Bergen - August 7, 2010

    Let me add my minor injuries to the list. Tore a hamstring at Mt. Sac Relays in Apr. No workouts until last week of May. Returned to my fist love-tennis-the day after CA State Games on June 5 and pulled a quad. No workouts till July 6.

    I had a great meet in Sac all due to a genius PT who has kept me on the track for 10+ years. This time I really followed his instructions.

  37. Kathy Bergen - August 7, 2010

    P.S. Congratulations to us all.

  38. Amanda Scotti - August 7, 2010

    Adding to the list, I competed with torn meniscus in my left knee… heading to surgery to repair it for next season. It compromised training quite a bit, but I am just counting my blessings that things turned out OK. A big part of this game is just being able to make it to the meet, right?

  39. Bubba Sparks - August 7, 2010

    I’m with Rita; very proud to be among you all. Love you guys and gals!! Bubba

  40. Kettrell Berry - August 7, 2010

    Thanks Mike I would love to compete in Santa Barbara in Oct but Worlds are in Sac and I must be ready.

  41. Pete Magill - August 8, 2010

    Only injury was to my pride … and that was post-race. 😉

  42. Steve Chantry - August 9, 2010

    I woke up Saturday morning with a bad allergic reaction to something and had to scratch the finals of the 800m and the 1500m. Much thanks to Mark for getting me to the pharmacy and Cheryl for helping me get the medication that I needed.

  43. Ruthlyn Greenfield-Webster, RN - August 9, 2010

    It’s been quite the eye opener reading about everyone competing with injuries and other health problems in Sacramento.

    Just wanted to applaud you all for not letting those things keep you down. Tho some of us should probably have “stayed down” and not walked that fine line (as injuries were worsened and additional injuries were sustained), it’s been an inspiration for me, and I’m certain for others as well, to read your stories.

    I’m praying for everyone’s continued healing and hope to see you all back in Sacramento healthy and strong, and ready to do some damage…to the “track” & “field” that is!!!

  44. Tracey Berryman - August 10, 2010

    When I got to Nationals, I had a sore right ankle, which has been bothering me off and on since indoor Nationals, and the achilles of my left ankle was bothering me. On my fifth attempt in the long jump on Friday, I felt a “pop” in my left ankle. It didn’t hurt, but I had trouble controlling my foot. I couldn’t keep it from flopping towards the arch. I ended up winning the event.

    Although I was advised not to run the 100m dash on Saturday, I got my ankle taped up and went at it anyway. I knew after my practice start that I was not going to be able to sprint, but i tried anyway and got 6th.

    On Sunday, I got taped up once again and got second in the triple jump.

    A week after my return home, I went to see an orthopedist who informed me that I had sprained a ligament. I was then instructed to rest for three weeks. No running or jumping. I can swim and bike though. Oh, he also wanted me to wear an air cast. (My mother always told me that I have a hard head. Some things don’t change.) I haven’t done much running or jumping.(I worked out Sunday, lightly.)

    My plans for P.R. have been scrapped! I’ll opt for the Potomac Valley Games instead, if I’m better.

  45. Ken Stone - August 20, 2010

    Another story on Alison Wood:

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