I made my masters track and field debut as a 34 year old in the spring of 2021. I had been wanting to start competing for several years and kept making excuses saying I was just too busy to train and it was hard to figure out how to even get started. While both of those things were mostly true, it still took getting stuck at home for months during the pandemic to make me truly realize that I was just never going to do it if I didn’t just take the leap and join a team. So, I joined the Atlanta Track Club Masters team and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences!
Since it was too much for one social media post, I wanted to recap my first masters track season in a blog post! From March to July, I competed in 5 masters track meets and finished up my season in Ames, Iowa at the Masters Outdoor Track and Field National Championship. My primary event in the beginning was the 800m run, but I started adding in the 400m and the 200m later on in the season and I found a new love for sprinting!
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It was hard to find meets to participate in 2021 due to the pandemic, but each one that I found put the health and safety of the athletes first and I felt very confident participating in each one. I’m so grateful for everything all of these race organizers did to put together events for us this year!
My 2021 Track Meet Calendar
KTCCCA Masters Indoor Classic – Louisville, KY
This was a great way to start out the season! Louisville has a brand new indoor track facility and we were among the first athletes to get to use it. It opened up a few weeks before this meet.
I was really nervous because I had no idea what to expect, especially in the middle of a pandemic. But it was so well organized and felt very safe, making it an incredible experience for a first timer!
I only competed in the 800m run and I was the only female running – the other two women that registered scratched the event and ran the 400m instead. So I got to run with the men!
Most indoor tracks are actually only 200 meters in circumference, so I had to run 4 laps instead of the 2 laps that are ran on an outdoor 400m track, which surprisingly I loved. I finished with a time of 3:28.96 and that gave me a benchmark to improve upon throughout the season. Not a bad time for my first track meet since high school!
Atlanta Track Club Spring Meet – Alpharetta, GA
This meet was interesting because it was my first outdoor meet and it was scheduled later in the evening on a Saturday. I loved that it was a nighttime meet, but it rained and stormed SO much and I almost didn’t get to run! There were several lightning delays and we got to get the 800m done in-between thankfully, but it started pouring rain in the middle of my race. It was awesome and awful all at the same time!
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my PR for the season. My 3:21 finish time was not at all what I had hoped to run, but I was happy to get a masters personal best! I think as the season went on and I started adding in the 400m and the 200m, my focus shifted to getting better at sprinting and I wasn’t working as hard to get that 800m time down in my track practices.
Tennessee Master’s Championships – Brentwood, TN
This meet was right in my own backyard! Sort of… We live about 30 minutes away in a neighboring suburb of Nashville.
It was pretty hot this day and I had signed up for the 800m and the 400m because of how well I was running my first lap of the 800m, I started to wonder if maybe I would do better running the quarter mile.
However, I didn’t have it in me to run the 800m right after the 400m in that heat and humidity. The meet was moving quickly and I would have only had about 10 minutes rest in between. I had been friendly with some of the other athletes and one of them talked me into running the 200m with them instead! Since it was a pretty low pressure meet, I figured it was the best time to try another new race!
I absolutely LOVED running the 200m! I wasn’t super fast at it and I’m still not really, but I sure do have fun with it! And I think that’s what matters the most. I do want to improve and get faster, but I never want to stop having fun.
USATF Mega-Regionals Meet – Landover, MD
This was my favorite trip we took for a meet this year! The USATF Mega-Regionals Meet was all of the Northeast and Southeast associations and clubs combined into one big meet.
I ran my fastest 400m of the season here on a VERY hot day!
The meet was in Maryland, but we stayed just across the state line in Washington, D.C. We took some time to explore and do some sightseeing a little bit the day before my race.
I had this awesome plan to make a reel reenacting the opening scene from Captain America: Winter Soldier where Steve Rogers runs circles around Sam Wilson at the National Mall, but I forgot my workout clothes (which included a Captain America t-shirt LOL) in the car! So I ran a lap around the reflecting pool in my jean shorts. Not the most comfortable mile I’ve ever ran, but it was still a fun location for a pre-race day jog!
USATF Masters Outdoor National Championships – Ames, IA
The last meet of the season and the most important! Shout out to my husband for supporting and believing in me. We traveled BY CAR to both Washington, D.C. and Iowa together this season. Since we live in the Nashville area, we are about 10 hours from each destination. When we did the math it was a lot cheaper for us to drive than fly. We probably would have spent the same amount of time in an airport and flying after connections and layovers anyway. I’m very much a “let’s just drive if it’s close enough” person.
This meet was really tough. It was my first multi-day meet and I had a different race 3 days in a row. I had the 400m, 800m, and 200m in that order. I bombed in the 400m because I was just not feeling well and it was brutally hot and humid. A volunteer had to come dump ice on me right before we lined up to start. I felt absolutely terrible from start to finish. But, I earned a gold medal just by participating because I was the only one in my age group in the competition!
The 800m was a little better though I still didn’t feel like I did well. I wanted to PR and I was several seconds off. Again, it was pretty hot. The 200m however, was my best race! I ran my fastest time and earned a medal.
Overall, my first experience at Nationals was hot and humid, super tough, and a lot of fun! I earned a medal in every event and became a USATF Masters National Champion in my very first season. How did I do it? I just showed up and ran. Yes, there was hard work involved because I wanted to be the best runner I could be. However, there’s a lack of thirty-somethings involved in masters track and field (technically sub-masters) and I’m here to encourage you to join me in competitions!
For years I thought that I didn’t belong on the track because I thought I wasn’t fast enough or that I was getting too old. I could not have been more wrong. Little did I know this entire new world was available to me and it’s available to you too! This sport welcomes runners of all ages (30+) and exists to provide opportunities for adults at the non-elite or post-elite levels to compete for the rest of our lives if we choose to. There are men and women in their nineties that still compete in track and field! Bet you didn’t know that! It’s truly inspiring and a joy to be a part of. So if this interests you, what are you waiting for? I want to see you at the next USATF Outdoor Nationals!
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