Lance Elliott corrects his WMA entry, tells his own track record

Lance Elliott has gotten a speedy education in masters pathways, especially about what marks to enter for major meets. After I tweaked him for entering a 1:55 seed time for the M40 800 at Sacramento worlds, he graciously responded to my questions. And Wednesday he told me:  “If I knew the registration was going to be public information, I wouldn’t even have entered any times.  I only ran the 800 once and 1500 once last summer.  Prior to that, I would have to go back 15 years!  I didn’t think it would make sense to enter my personal bests, and I thought it would be misleading to enter my times from last summer since I was only starting to get into shape and they aren’t representative of where I should be next summer.”

Lance continued in his email Wednesday:

Unless I missed it, I don’t recall there being any specific requirements or window of time which which was to be entered. I went with what I thought was most representative based on my current and past performances, and to be honest, didn’t put much thought into it other than that. It appears I accidentally stepped on a land mine.

And here’s a mashup of his answers to my questions:

I ran track and cross country for Iowa State University from 1989-94.  I almost went to your alma mater, Kansas, on scholarship, but decided to stay closer to home.  I had a very solid career at ISU, but not spectacular.  I was blessed to have a great coach, Bill Bergan, and teammates from around the world, which I still keep in touch with today.  We had one of the top teams (both track and cross country) in the nation and it was a great experience.  

I placed at almost every Big 8 meet I ran (typically mile/1500), and was on the winning 4×800 relay one year.  I never qualified for nationals, missing by less than .3 second one year.  My best 1500 was 3:45.  I ran a number of races between 3:45 and 3:47, but never had the breakthrough race of 3:42 which I was in shape to run.  My best indoor mile was 4:04.  

Ironically, I did that off of training on the Nordic Track and one workout a week on the track, due to a knee injury, which restricted my training and plagued me during my whole career.  I didn’t run the open 800 much, but did run a sub 1:50 split in a 4×800.  My main goal was to break the 4:00 mile, but I came up short.

 I grew up in Iowa near Montezuma, between Des Moines and Iowa City.  I played all the typical sports until my sophomore year in high school, when I began to focus on running.  I had my breakthrough race at the Drake Relays 1600 that year placing second or third (too long ago to remember) in 4:19.  I came back to win the the Drake Relays 1600 my junior and senior years as well as the 3200 my senior year. In 1989, I broke the class 2A 1600 State Meet record with a time of 4:16.99, which still stands today.  I also won the 800 meters at the state meet in 1:55 my senior year.  

I received a number of different awards both in high school and college.  I would have to dig through my boxes in storage to remember what they were.  

I live in Edina, Minnesota, which is an old suburb next to Minneapolis.  I am a professional civil engineer.   

I have a wonderful family of five children ages 5-12, and most lucky to have my wife, Sara, who holds it all together.  It is only for her, which allows me to pursue my goals on the track.  We were foolish enough to get a puppy last fall, but the kids love it, which makes it worth the extra work.  I manage to squeeze in training runs when I can, but family comes first, work second and running a distant third.  Our household is extremely busy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

You saw my times from last summer.  I ran an 800 in 2:08 and a 1500 in 4:21.  I have mainly focused on training.  I just ran a mile this past Saturday in 4:36 or 4:37 (I haven’t seen the official times yet) at the Northwest Indoor at the University of Minnesota.  It was an open meet with a special masters mile event.  I ran it as a training run and didn’t taper for a good time.  I also have not done any track workouts yet.

I am still trying to figure out my 2011 racing calendar.  It is like trying to find a needle in the haystack with all of the bits of info on the web.  I will be running a few open indoor meets at the University of MN and Iowa State.  I hope to make it to Albuquerque for the indoor nationals.  

I would like to enter a couple of the premier indoor meets such as Reebok Boston, etc.  but the meet info isn’t up on their websites yet.  I won’t be in race shape yet, but should be competitive.  Please let me know if there are any races you recommend.  As for outdoors, my focus is Drake Relays.  That is my homecoming meet.  

I was planning to run both the  masters 800 and mile to have a shot of being a double winner like I did in the 1600/3200 back in high school, but I recently found out that they are not going to have the mile this year.  This was a very big bummer for me, but I guess I will now just focus on the 800 at Drake.  I look forward to coming back and competing again in front of a lot of familiar faces.

I don’t know if it is public yet, but Mark Cleary mentioned that there is going to be a special masters 1500 during the national championships in Eugene in June.  If so, that will be my next focus.  And then the world masters champs in July.  I don’t know yet if I will be up to going to Ohio (for USATF masters nationals).  I am playing wait and see for that.  Otherwise, I would be interested in running any special masters races that fit in my schedule.

My training has been going well.  I started up last March and have slowly progressed since. The best thing is that the knee pain I experienced throughout my career at Iowa State, and forced me to retire in 95, has not reared its ugly head.  Every other old injury has reminded me it is still there, though, but I have been able to train through most of it.

I have been able to train more consistently and at higher miles than back at my prime, just at a bit slower pace.   Not to get too technical, but it has taken longer to reach the aerobic fitness and lactate threshold levels than I was hoping for at this time.  It will be interesting to see how my body responds to the upcoming interval track sessions.  I am just beginning my training cycle to be ready for Drake Relays at the end of April.

There probably isn’t anything too super interesting about myself.  Other than running, I don’t have any eccentric hobbies or abilities.  I am just a hardworking individual who strives to make the best of what I can.  A family of seven is not very common these days, and we are not catholic.  It was just after four boys we were still dumb enough to go for a little girl, of which we finally achieved.  The verdict is still out whether any of them inherited my running abilities.  My wife and I have a successful engineering and construction business and our focus is on our family, church, friends and community.   We volunteer regularly and strive to lead by example.

Didn’t mean to write a book, but you asked.  There are literally hundreds or thousands of guys with similar backgrounds and past achievements as mine.  For some reason I have an internal desire to see what I can achieve as a master runner.  Possibly to take care of some unfinished business.  Or maybe because of memories from when I was in high school, watching Ken Popejoy win the masters 800 at Drake Relays.  

Then and there, I knew I wanted to do that when I turned 40.  I am dedicating my achievements to my high school track coach, Dennis Wilson, who passed away unexpectedly two years ago.  I always imagined he would be there when I returned to run at Drake Relays to reminisce the good old days.  He is greatly missed.

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January 13, 2011

10 Responses

  1. Terry O - January 13, 2011

    Lance, you seem like a great guy who will be a wonderful addition to master’s track! Welcome and good luck.

  2. Terry Parks - January 13, 2011

    Good luck Lance. Your training seems to be going well and I think that you should be able to go sub 2 as long as you get your 400 time in a reasonable range.

  3. Terry Ballou - January 13, 2011

    I agree with the above comments. Your response was candid, eloquent, and motivating. Best of luck to you–go after that 1:55! On a side note, interesting that all the Terrys are responding!!!

  4. Gary - January 13, 2011

    that just shows how background on a story can really change one’s opinion. We went from “who is this guy?” to now rooting for you because you are legit! Good luck!

  5. Lesley Richardson - January 14, 2011

    Good Luck Lance and I look forward to getting a lot of pictures of you in action.

  6. Matt B. - January 14, 2011

    Lance there is also a special 800 race at Mt. Sac in April. Not sure I’ll be making the trip this year as my wife is due with twins just prior to that. (Our first pregnancy) 3 might be nice someday, but since we are starting a family late Age 42-44, we will take our blessings as they come. I grew up in a family of 5 children; it was a lot of fun.

    Thanks for clarifying your entry and your background info. We all have entered slightly fudged times to find a lane in a local or college/open meet. Premier Masters meets are a different story as we attempt to size up our competition and plan our race strategies.
    Best of luck in your training. The only advice I have for you is to give yourself a bit more recovery after your hard interval sessions.

  7. Mike Godbout - January 15, 2011

    Don’t know Lance personally, but remember him running @ ISU, he was legit. Never heard a bad thing about him. Best of luck.

  8. frank condon - January 17, 2011

    Lance –best of luck and sucess–get ready for a lot of fun with masters Track and Field–I look forward to meeting you in person–will have to be at the Worlds–will be missing the entire indoor season due to a upcomming surgery.

  9. Joe Navas - February 1, 2011

    Great stuff here, Lance.
    I recently turned 40 myself (after looking forward to all the fun things to do with it for the preceding year.) I’ll be running the mile at the New Balance Games and look forward to meeting you.
    All the best.

  10. Ian Robinson - February 13, 2011

    Lance just ran a 2.02 800m. Not far away from 1.55 anyway. Lance could have run 1.47-1.48 in college except he was injured all the time. With a little luck, that 1.55 mark could even happen this summer.
    Go Lance !

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