Last year I turned 50 so I decided to change things up a little bit with my running and racing. It seems like I have spent my masters running career so far trying to fit in as much racing as I can in between injuries and family life with four kids. After coming off an achilles injury in 2015, I joined the San Diego Track club masters women's team and went with them to San Francisco last December to race at the cross country club nationals. I had raced at cross country nationals years ago as an open runner, but this was my first time at club nationals. Wow, what an experience. I had never seen so many fast over 40 runners in one spot!!! I am so glad I had a team to run with up there. We had a blast. I was coming off a little hip injury and so I didn't expect much in terms of my performance, but I had so much fun racing. I placed 11th in my age group and 49th master. I'm pretty sure I haven't faced that tough of competition since when I went to the Olympic Trials. (and most likely these were all the same women I had raced against back then!) Next up was the Masters 8k road championships. I couldn't pass this race up because it was in Brea, and because I wanted to do it last year but got hurt. Road racing is more my thing, especially hills so this race was really fun. I had no idea how I was doing during the race because it was a mass start. Everyone has numbers on their backs indicating their age so all I really knew was that nobody had passed me. I looked up my results on the computer after the race and was shocked to find out I had won my age division. I was very surprised because I knew who was there and was pretty sure that even placing at all in my age would be very hard. The next race I went to the following weekend I decided to step out of my comfort zone. It was kind of a bucket list kind of a race. I decided to race at the Indoor track and field nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I signed up for the 3000m. It was kind of crazy because I had never even seen an indoor track before....I never ran track in high school or college. I had also never run a 3000 before. And lastly, I had never run in altitude. So, needles to say I did not have high expectations for anything spectacular performance-wise. I was there for the experience and it was unbelievable. I met so many great people...again several women I had raced at the trials with 20 years ago. Everyone was inspiring, especially the older runners. I made a lot of rookie mistakes in my race...went out way too hard, didn't come early enough to adjust to altitude, etc. but all in all I was very satisfied. I was in 2nd place for the half the race but faded to 5th by the end. Oh well....it was a great experience that makes me even more excited about my biggest goal of the year. I am planning to go to Australia next October to race at the World Track and Field Championships in Perth. I want to run the 8k cross country race, the 5000m on the track, and possibly the 10,000m on the track. I figure you only live once, right? I am so glad I have returned to the Track Club again (I raced with them years ago on the Open Women's Team). It's like I have come back home again!!
- Laura Stuart