I don’t typically write about myself on this blog, but this is a special occasion, so here it goes…
My American Record
Over the weekend of March 3, 2012, I broke the “recognized” M40 Heptathlon American Record. I’m super proud of my accomplishment, but at the same time I know there should be an asterisk by my name and mark.
Here’s a link to the USATF 40-44 American Records — unfortunately, I have no idea when it will be updated. When it is, my name will appear on the same list as such greats as Dwight Stone (HJ world record holder, 2 time Olympic metalist), Gail Deavers (3 time Olympic Gold metalist, 5 time world outdoor champion, 4 time indoor world champion: 100m, 100H, 4×100), Brian Oldfield (SP world record holder and Olympian), Johnny Gray (800M American Record Holder and Olympic Bronze metalist), Pat Manson (PV 19foot club, 3 time Pan American games champion), Ray Kimble (TJ — 57′ club). It’s completely surreal. But that’s Masters track for you; you get some true greats on the same list as some really goods.
The asterisk that should be there
When I started training last year, I scoured the current world and American records. It was enthralling to see how performances changed with age, amazed by some marks and surprised by others. For example, to run 10.26 at almost 42 years of age like Troy Douglas did…or score over 7500 (8500+ after age adjustments) in the decathlon like Kip Janvrin…or the 10.99 into a head wind that Merlene Ottey did in the 100m — these are over the top amazing. Then take the 400m where less than 50 men have broken 50.00 seconds in the M40 age group, and only ONE in the M45 age group. Is this because the 400 is a grueling and time consuming event to train for? Or the fact that it is so painful to run and at 45 years old it’s just not worth it? Or is it a statement of our declining physical capabilities? Oh to have an 18 year old body…in 2012 exactly 1,200 boys in high school broke 50.00.
Being a decathlete, my best chance of breaking a record is in the combined events. And of the combined events, the Indoor Heptathlon seemed especially doable. The USATF website listed the current record as Marek Wensel at 3858 in 2011, but that was an obvious typo. The Pentathlon record was the exact same 3858 (by Gregory Foster)…so obviously someone had copied wrong. I was able to find the 2011 Heptathlon results and saw that Wensel’s real score was 4369, which was obviously more realistic, but still very beatable. I assumed the record was a bit weak because the Masters indoor heptathlon is so rarely contested…as far as I know only once a year. Regardless, I set my sights on that number.
About two months before the competition, my times were looking good, so I happened to write the meet organizer and he told me that Wensel’s mark was the “recognized” American record, but in reality there have been two superior marks from earlier competitions. One by Gregory Foster (the American Pentathlon record holder) at 4783, and the #1 point total was by Ken Ellis in 1998 with a total of 5436. Oh #&$%!!! 5436 was awesome. In looking at his marks, I realized that on a perfect day I could match him on 6 of the 7 events, but there was no way I was going to be able to match his 15-7 PV. Not that I couldn’t go 15-7 someday, but for the reason that I hadn’t pole vaulted in 19 years and I only had weeks left. Moreover, I was fighting an abdominal pull which made it impossible for me to practice PV. At that point, I kissed my record attempt good-bye.
Anyway, the meet came and I had a good, solid all around meet. I bested Foster’s mark, which counts for something…since he is the Pentathlon record holder…but I was far shy of Ellis’ mark. And thus when people ask me how I did, I say “I broke the ‘recognized’ American record…but there is one unrecognized mark I didn’t beat.”