by Alex Wolf-Root
TRACK! If there’s a more exciting word in the English language I haven’t heard it.
After 2 years of injury (long story, but includes sacral stress fracture and a will-never-heal labral tear), I’ve finally had the chance to have a track season. Two track seasons, in fact!
At a personal level, I went from no track season since 2013 to (thus far) 4 meets and 7 races around the oval. Somehow included in that was a small (0.83) second PR (personal record) in the 1,500m. So that’s cool. But the other season has been a lot more fun.
The more important season is that of Santa Rosa Junior College (Go BearCubs!). Somehow former Maria Carrillo HS (Go Pumas!) teammate and Chico State standout David Wellman talked me into being his assistant distance coach this season. And it has been a blast. Helping others work hard to achieve goals is an awesome experience. And exhausting. I do not understand how those high school coaches with scores of athletes do it year after year. But major props to them!
(If you want BearCubs results, check out directathletics.com/lists/track/258_1896.html. And to follow along everything local T&F, especially at the HS level, check out redwoodempirerunning.com, run by the amazing Jim Crowhurst.)
Anyways, you didn’t open this article to read about my track or even about SRJC Track & Field, though you should (Go BearCubs!). You opened it to learn about how you (yes you!) can enjoy the wonders of racing around the oval!
Coming up tomorrow, Saturday, April 22nd, at Montgomery High School is the Viking Invitational. The Viking Invite is a huge track and field invite, but what makes it extra-awesome is that at 8:30am (be there by 8!) there is an open/community 3,200m. That’s right, you can burn up 8 laps of the track before watching some awesome HS T&F action. (Pro tip: Santa Rosa HS senior and Heart & Sole Co-Runner of the Year Luca Mazzanti has his eyes set on breaking 4:10 that day. You do not want to miss it!)
While you don’t have time to physically prep for this weekend, you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for summer. The Empire Runners Club hosts five all-comer meets over summer, every other week on Tuesdays, starting June 13th. These are truly all-comers; there are little kid 100m dashes, 80+ year old athletes running round the oval, fiesty HS student-athletes showing their speed, and everything in between. Each meet runs in the following order:
*The Distance Event rotates throughout the summer, going from 3,000m to 2mile to 5,000m to 3,000m for the first four meets.
**The first four meets conclude with the 4x400m relay. Grab your friends and each run a lap around the oval! There’s no better way to finish a track meet! Well, except for the…
Distance Medley Relay! The final meet combines the Distance Event with the Relay, for the awesome, the amazing, Distance Medley Relay! The DMR is another 4-person relay on the track, but each runner runs a different distance. The first runs a 1,200m (3 laps), the second a 400m (one lap), the third an 800m (two laps) and the fourth a 1,600m (four laps). That is the best way to finish off a track meet!
Now one concern many have is that they aren’t “fast enough”, or some such silly worry. Again, these are all-comers; EVERYONE is welcome. Races will be divided by expected finish time, so you don’t have to worry about being a lap behind or anything like that. It’s a super supportive environment for all.
Want to start getting prepared now? You’re in luck! The Empire Runners host weekly track workouts led by Larry Meredith on Tuesday evenings. Specifics for each week can be found on the ERC Training Calendar.
If you’re getting excited (and really, who isn’t?!), then let’s talk a little bit about spikes. SPIKES! (That’s one of the top-5 words in the English language.) Spikes are your light-weight, responsive racing shoes. They aren’t for every-day runs, but for races and workouts. They are for going FAST! (Remember: Fast is relative!) They are something you have to work into, but they are so much fun. One of the greatest feelings in the world is doing a quick stride on a warm summer day after lacing up a pair of fresh spikes.
Not sure if spikes are right for you? That’s okay! Heart & Sole, Santa Rosa’s local, independent running store, has done the legwork to provide Saucony Vendetta spikes for anyone to use at each of the five ERC Summer Track Meets! More details to come.
Already aware of the above local T&F options? Check out the Pacific Association of USATF’s annual Track Meet. On Sunday, June 11th at College of San Mateo you’ll experience a professional-level track meet with some impressive competition. The PAUSATF also provides information on other open, competitive track meets throughout spring/summer for your veteran tracksters. And yes, they provide info for Master’s competition (40+ years old). Getting older does not mean getting away from the oval!
While nothing beats racing fast around the oval, watching athletes race fast around the oval is pretty dang awesome too. So put these events on your calendar:
Payton Jordan Invitational: Saturday, May 5th, Stanford University
USA Track & Field National Championships: Thursday, June 22nd through Sunday, June 25th, Sacramento State
TrackTown Summer Series: Thursday, June 29th, Stanford University
Alright, you’ve spent way too long staring at a screen while reading this article. Time to get up, lace up your shoes, and go burn up the track!