Yesterday was the 2016 Nutmeg Games in New Britain, CT. It was my first running in any event in the Nutmeg Games. The games are put on by the same people who put on the CT Master’s Games (30+) I competed at in May http://www.on-your-marc.com/2016-ct-masters-games-recap-wrap/ . They do a phenomenal job putting the events together.
I went into this run with a lot of trepidation. I have been nursing some nagging little leg issues which I mentioned in a previous blog update. It got bad enough at one point that I went to a doctor and got an all clear on an x-ray on my ankle. That put my mind at ease but the issues was still there and really needed rest. I went in hopeful but realistic about how I would run. On the other hand my oldest daughter was going to be competing as well, so I was really excited for her.
As always the night before a race or competition when I need rest the most I just never seem to be able to fall asleep, Friday night was no different. When my alarm went off at 4:45am I felt like I had just fallen asleep. Thankfully I am a morning person and wake us fast. I quickly set about getting our stuff together even though I went over it about 5 times the night before. Then as is my usual pre-race ritual I go to Dunkin Donuts and get a bagel with light cream cheese and coffee. America runs on Dunkin, and so does this guy.
By now everyone is awake and ready to head out. We arrived at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium at 7:20am. It is only just over an hour drive. Check in for the Nutmeg Games was already underway. There is no same day sign up or change or events, so it is really an easy process. You get your bib and shirt within minutes. The line is really quick and the staff is friendly as always. The shirts have a cool CT state seal on them, but I wish at this point they were not cotton. Maybe I am just spoiled by tech shirts. Jordan and I got our stuff and went back to the car to find my wife and youngest daughter who came to support us.
We set up our umbrella to ward off the sun which was already strong. Then we headed to the long jump which was to be Jordan’s first event. They had multiple flights of long jumpers so her flight took forever to get going. We were already in the sun for almost two hours before her first jump. We met an amazing mother and daughter who were also competing in the long jump. The mother watched Jordan practicing and spent about fifteen minutes working with her. The people you meet at these track and field events are great and always willing to help. My youngest daughter while too young to compete still kept practicing her long jumps to the point of being totally exhausted. If you have not already you should watch the video of her on my Twitter or Instagram account. It is pretty darn funny and one of the best moments of the weekend. Jordan had never really done any track and field, and many of the kids were on a track team or club or came with coaches. Jordan did her four jumps, getting further each time and finally on her final jump nailed her longest jump of the event. It would be good enough for 5th place. Considering her lack of true training I was so proud of her.
Finally completing Jordan’s long jump we were able to escape the heat and retreated to shade under the stadium. At this point I realized the track events were way behind. I also realized how tired I was supporting Jordan during the long jump and how dehydrated I was already and I had not even done any event yet. I am glad I decided against doubling in the 800 meter and the 2 mile.
Here is my only gripe of the whole event. According to the schedule we should have been done by about 1:30. Jordan did her second event the high jump which was to be her last event. Then we had to wait around for her to do the 100 meter and 200 meter dash. She did not run her final event the 200 meter until around 3:45. I did not start my one and only event the 2 mile until after 4pm.
As I mentioned in my Friday post I was staying positive and hoping for the best. Between the heat, and being on my feet I had nothing left and I had not even started running.
I struck up a conversation with one of the other competitors. I remarked how small our heat was. I guess the heat and the fact that the event ran so late we went from about 23 runners in the 2 mile (of all ages), to about maybe 10 or 11. It was a war of attrition against the heat and the long day. The other runner told me he was shooting for about a 6:30 pace for each mile, and suggested I pace off of him. He was in the 60-64 age group but is easily one of the best runners there, I have seen him the last two years at the Master’s Games and I know he has a ton of experience if not a ton of ability as well.
The race began and I did a great job of drafting off of my new running partner. I stayed with him and on pace until the final turn of the first mile. My left ankle which was my inside ankle really started to hurt especially on the turns. I glanced at my watch. It was 5:51 as I came around with 200 meters left on my fourth lap of the first mile. I was starting to fall off my pace but still hit the first mile at just over 6:30. I knew I was off the runner who I was pacing off of but I was still ok for where I wanted to finish.
Over the next three laps I was steadily losing ground off the pace I was shooting for, and when I hit the final 100 meters I did surprisingly have a decent kick left which I needed to avoid a bad race result. I ended up finishing about 10 seconds off the pace I wanted. The disappointment I felt was wiped away immediately by what would be the highlight of the competition for me. It had to be my daughter returning the favor and meeting me at the finish line to congratulate me and meet with a nice cold towel to cooldown.
My final time was almost 30 seconds slower than my 3000 meter time from May. All things considered with the heat, standing around on my legs all day, my ankle injury etc I am ok with where I finished. No excuses, as I said in my Friday blog post. My time was my time, and I will certainly be looking to improve next year.
All in all it was a great experience. We will definitely be back. From registration to bib pickup, to concessions, comradery among competitors, the Nutmeg Games like the CT Master’s Games is a great event and will be on my schedule next year.
A P.S. here. I have to give a huge thank you to my wife who came out to support my daughter and me. She truly does support us both and is always there for us.