Monday, March 24, 2014

Track And Field Competition

Saturday was the day.  It was the track and field competition for the Corporate Challenge her e in Las Vegas.  I was signed up for several events and was determined to earn some points for our team as we tried to win an overall medal. I did what I could but not as well as I had hoped.

To get ready I actually went out with my Grandson's on Friday evening to throw the softball around and try to work on my form.  I knew that if I could get the ball up more, I could greatly increase my distance.  We headed out to a local park and found an open ball field.  I started at the pitcher's mound, throwing at the backstop.  The first few throws were line drives that hit the plate then went crashing into the backstop.  They were great if I was throwing out a runner sliding into home, but horrible for distance throwing.

I took my time on the next throw, not throwing as hard, but concentrated on getting the ball up.  Marked improvement.  A few more throws and I was hitting the back stop about 4 or 5 feet in the air.  Now, I only had 4 balls to work with so after every 4 throws the grandsons were playing ball retrievers and then taking their turns to throw.  At 6 and 8 years old they were getting pretty good.

I then decided to move out to second base, again throwing towards the plate.  The first throw from here I was back to a line drive because I was throwing too hard.  It barely made the plate.  The next couple of throws I eased off and got good altitude on the throws and eventually hit the backstop about 3 feet up.  At this point my shoulder was getting sore so I knew better than to keep throwing with the competition the next day.  I felt I was ready.

Saturday morning we were up early and out for a decent breakfast before the event.  I had the ham bacon, sausage and cheddar omelet.  It was good and I was ready to go.  We had the 2 youngest Grandsons with us again and headed to Rancho High School, the site of the competition.  I was amazed at how many people were there.

Now, I was never an athlete in high school so I never went to any of our athletic competitions. I had no idea what to expect.  It was impressive to me how they were able to handle so many athletes in so many events and keep it all straight.  There was an army of volunteers doing everything from check in to measuring and officiating on the various events.

There were 3 divisions of companies competing in each of 7 events - 4 running, the softball throw, the shot put and the long jump.  Fortunately for me the Division A softball throw was one of the first events and the shot put one of the second..  After checking in at the registration table, I met up with several of my team mates and we started reviewing where we were at and organizing ourselves for the competition.  I found out that the Captains had actually signed me up for 4 events just in case I could compete.  Besides the Softball Throw and Shot put I was listed for the Long Jump and the 100 yard dash.

There was no way I was doing either of those events, but it was nice to have the option.  I had actually toyed with the idea of trying the long jump but thought better of it once I saw them competing.

I had brought the softballs and did a few warm up throws with the grandsons to keep them occupied and to loosen up a bit. We then headed up to the grandstands to wait.

At 8:00 they called the teams to line up for the first events.  I didn't realize how many people would be competing in the Division A softball throw.  Fortunately some teammates got in line not too far back and were holding our place.  I sat with my wife and the grandsons for a bit watching some of the competitors. There were a few who really launched the ball.  It was very impressive.

After the first few throwers I got in line with my teams and it was a bunch of standing and waiting.  The line was moving quite slowly.  I felt my calves and back tightening up and knew i should go sit down for a bit.  I can't stand just standing and waiting.  I headed back to the stands to watch some more just as they were calling the first of the running events - the women's 1600 meter.  I thought it was interesting that we were doing the softball throw in the center of the track while they were running races on the track.  It made getting to and from the events a bit tricky if you weren't watching what was going on on the track.

After about 10 minutes I headed back to the line with my team, bringing one of the softballs with me.  I figured a few throws to warm up while waiting would help to pass the time and keep my back from getting too tight.  We threw about 20 balls back and forth and I got back in line.  I was fairly loose and ready.  10 minutes later our team started their throws.  We were doing pretty good it seemed, but we really had no idea where we were in relation to other throwers in our age group.

It was finally my turn and I got to the table, showed my id and got ready to throw.  I hoped i could get a decent loft on the ball and not throw it in the dirt.  I should have been focusing on what I should do and not what I shouldn't as I threw pretty much a line drive for my first throw.  I was kicking myself as I knew it wasn't very long.  I tried to regroup for the second throw.  I did get a bit more loft but it was still fairly short.  My official distance was 74' 9".  I did what I could do for the day. I would have liked more distance, but it is what it is.

As I walked off the field Nick and Dillon said 'Good job grandpa.  You did your best."  I was feeling distinctly better having heard that.  We decided to head towards the shot put which was away from the track over by the soccer field.  As we headed that way it seemed like we were heading the wrong way so we headed back towards the stands and had a seat for a couple of minutes to rest my back.  As we were sitting we heard another competitor inquire how to get to the shot put and confirmed we had been heading in the right direction.

We headed toward the shot put about 9:15 and were waiting as the C division athletes were finishing their throws.  They were doing pretty well.  There had been a lady following us over towards the shot put and come to find out she was a C division competitor.  I overheard her checking in at the event and she is 70 years old.  I was impressed that she was even attempting the shot put.  She did her 3 attempts and ended up with a 13' 9" as her best.  I complimented her on how well she did and she commented that in college she had done 22'.  I was still impressed that she was able to do what she did at her age.

They finished up any C athletes that were around and closed the C competition at 9:30.  They took a couple of minutes to get organized and then started the A division 20 minutes early.  Fortunately I was second in line when they started.

When it was my turn I got to the circle and got ready to compete.  Not having measured our distances last week, I had no idea how far it was going to go.  I tried to concentrate on form for the first attempt and it seemed to go pretty well, but I knew I hadn't gotten the proper elevation.  On my second attempt I did manage to get it higher, but my follow through wasn't there.  It did go further than the first, though.  I decided to put everything I had into my third attempt and it was the farthest of the 3 but I knew it could have been better.  I ended up with a distance of 23' 9" which I thought was pretty good.

I had a good cheering section and Michele and the boys were cheering me on with each throw and the volunteers said I had the best cheering section for the day.  Thanks Michele Dillon and Nicholas!

Of course being second up for the entire division I had no idea how anyone else in my age group had done.  I was tired.  We were hot as it was a nice sunny day.  The boys were complaining they were hot, my back was getting very tight and I needed to sit down and enjoy some A/C so we headed on out not knowing how I had done in my events nor how we were doing as a company.

As of this morning they haven't posted the results online.  When they do, I will update this post.

UPDATE:  Results have been posted and I placed 5th of 5 in both events.  I'm happy with that.  I earned points for our team and helped us to take 3rd 2nd place overall! (There was a missing score on the worksheet)  Yay team!