EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a weekly series written by Wood County schoolteacher Marlene Welch as she prepares to participate in the News and Sentinel Half marathon on Aug. 21.
By MARLENE WELCH
This week it was all about technique.
Being injured, speed has not been my focus. Instead, I've been following the advice of family, friends, and Dr. Heather McCarter: concentrate on technique.
Racewalking takes practice.
I've been focusing on rolling my feet and keeping my knees straight when my body passes over them.
I haven't mastered these things, which became very apparent at the West Virginia Senior Sports Classic at Laidley Field in Charleston on June 26. Hubby George talked me into entering the two walking events offered there - the 5K and the 1500m. I was more than a bit nervous.
Since I was the only one in my age group, I just needed to finish the race without being disqualified in order to participate in the 2011 National Senior Games in Houston. Simple, right? For some, yes. For me - well - it was a struggle.
The gun went off and everyone in all age groups started around the track. In no time, I was bringing up the rear, my usual spot. I was taking things slowly, for my leg/hip pain was still there. When I finally got in my first lap, the head judge - an older man with a straw hat and a rather gruff countenance - called out to me, "Go on, but you're bending your knees!"
Oh, great. It was hard for me to know what my knees were doing while I was just trying to make it around that track 12 times!
The three other judges said nothing to me. It was only when I was approaching Mr. Straw Hat that I got more nervous and teary-eyed. Is he going to say anything to me? Is he going to disqualify me? Time after time, he raised his clipboard to block his vision of the rest of my body to focus on my knees and feet as I approached. Time after time, he wrote something on his clipboard as I passed him but he said nothing more.
The rest of the pack lapped me several times. Finally, I was the only one plodding along, holding up the 100 yard dash. I think everyone was very glad when I crossed the finish line for the last time. I had only one red flag beside my name - not the three that were needed to disqualify me. I did it!
Qualifying for the 5K automatically qualified me for the 1500m next summer at nationals. Since my leg and hip were hurting quite a bit, I skipped the 1500m and hit the road with my dad, Buria Kincaid, to Myrtle Beach for a few days. I put in about 14 slow, technique-focused miles there, early in the morning with a water bottle in hand.
My injury is getting better but I'm not pain-free. Maybe next week. Meanwhile, I'm still working on technique.
NOTE: Also qualifying for the 2011 National Senior Games were: Donna Graham, John Romeo, Carol Seely, Mike Seely, Debbie Spears, and George Welch.