What an amazing feeling it was to finally get back to in-person competition again as the majority of my 2020 outdoor season and 2021 indoor season was cancelled due to the pandemic. It was a crazy year leading up to this championship that started out with an American Record in the W50 indoor 4 x 800m relay in Boston, MA and then a few weeks later, an individual 400m American record and then POOF...everything was shut down!!
Months prior to the USA championships, I was busy organizing a new relay team. My goal was to put together a W55 4 x 800m relay team to capture the outdoor world and American Record. My original team consisted of 3 athletes that I coach, but as it turned out, things happened and 2 dropped out, so I recruited two more people. Our team wore matching rabbit black bunny hop tank tops to go with my rabbitELITE race kit. We added some white arm sleeves to our uniform to help one of the team members who hasprosopagnosia (face blindness) to help her recognize the right person to pass the baton to! The day before the Championships, was the day I found out that the second person had pulled out of the meet, so I asked a member of my record-breaking W50 indoor team member to join us. The final team included Roxanne Springer, a physics professor at Duke University in NC; Tina Klein, a coach from GA and Judy Stobbe, a coach from NY and myself. We not only won our heat with a time of 11:48.08, we became world and American Record holders that day!
The W55 4 x 800m relay wasn’t the only world record for me during Nationals as the next day, I was asked to join 3 very fast women to run on a W55 4 x 400m relay to go after another world and American Record. Our team consisted of Roxanne Brockner of NY, who won the 100m, 200m, and 400m earlier in the meet; 3-time Olympian, Michelle Rohl of PA, who had just lowered her own 800m and 1500m ARs; Lisa Valle of NM, bronze medalist in the 800m and 1500m and myself. The time to beat was 4:27.33 (GBR) and we smashed it with a 4:23.52! Two world and American Records in one meet….I was beyond excited and on cloud nine!
In my individual events, I won gold in the 300m hurdles, pole vault and high jump, silver in the javelin and 200m and bronze in the 400m. I was particularly excited about the high jump, pole vault and 300m hurdles. You see, I started out my track & field career as a heptathlete in college until I came down with mono my senior year and ended up focusing on my best event - the high jump. The 40 + years of high jumping took its toll on my body as I tore my hip labrum 6 years ago and hadn’t jumped since. Thanks to an awesome strength training program by my coach, Joel Smith, I was not only able to jump again, but I took an attempt at the American record and won the event in a jump-off. The pole vault was an event that I have only competed in one time since the 1996 Olympic Trials. My form was horrid but I came away with the win! In the 300m hurdles, I was a bit nervous because although I ran the 400m hurdles in college, I had never run the 300m hurdles, didn’t practice the hurdles therefore I had no idea how I would do. To my surprise, my strides between the hurdles were near perfect...no stutter-steps, didn’t hit any barriers and ran a world leading time of 52.05. I was so grateful to be able to see my track friends after a long break from in-person competition and come home injury-free. Next up...USATF Masters Combined Events National Championship August 11th and 12th.