Coach David Callum wrote the following tale of Johann Jack and Joe Grand running the 100 meter and 1500 meter races at the Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State University on March 31. Be sure to check out the full results for both men and women.
Thursday evening March 29th, Boston is brisk, likely upper 30s low 40s, Johann and I step up into the MBTA green line 6pm on our way to Logan’s B Terminal, US Airways. With our E-tickets in the computer, we provide our IDs and receive our boarding passes. We make our way thru the metal detectors and down to the food court for a quick bite to eat at Sbarro’s, a pre-travel catch-up conversation over pasta, marinara, a meatball and garlic bread.
At 7:45pm, we make our way to the gate for the 8:19pm flight to Raleigh-Durham Airport. Upon arrival at the gate, our flight number is not on the signage, worried, we quickly make our way to the check-in counter to find that our flight is of course delayed. The gate is full of people, sitting, standing, sleeping, squatting. We find our spot on the floor and wait. To both our surprise, the very small toy-looking plane outside the window would be ours. No room for overhead baggage, 3 seats across, we were concerned, but the flight was fine.
An hour later than scheduled, we land in misty and warm North Carolina close to 11pm, 50s with light drizzle, we collect our bags which, were checked plane-side, and make our way to the car rental shuttles. The weather Gods must have been aware of our arrival, the mist had subsided, the warm air was refreshing and smiles dawned our faces as we compared this fortune to that of the Boston community. The Budget shuttle driver kindly jokes that his van has broken down and we would have to take a $50 cab ride, I pretend to call Budget on my cell phone, he gives in…we weren’t very amused but it was late. He thought he was a comedian.
We pick up our cute Kia Sportage, a rather interesting 4 wheel drive vehicle that rides very smoothly until you take a turn. One of those SUVs that isn’t, and feels particularly top heavy on every turn, we felt like doing a tuck at each highway exit, expecting to roll.
Arriving without a hitch at the luxurious Embassy Suites, we check in, survey the incredible indoor courtyard, examine the amenities, walk around the room, number 330, and drop our bags. We were on a mission to find some food, fast, as opposed to fast food. We drive a short distance down the street, pick up some turkey sandwiches, and cruise on back to the hotel hoping the turkey would quickly put us to sleep. Success, not even HBO could keep us awake, about 1:00am.
Friday, 8:30am, up and about, down stairs for a cooked to order complimentary breakfast, we ate well. I was actually concerned with the amount of food Johann consumed pre-race considering our often habitual routine of not having a meal the morning before a meet, but we did have 4 hours before his race would go off at 1pm. The meal proved to be an excellent source of energy and seemed not to hinder Johann’s performance at all.
Approximately 10:50am Friday, we head out to the track, merely 25 minutes away, we reach campus and were subsequently given misguided directions on where to park. Finding a campus policeman at 11:38am, we resolve our parking dilemma and end up parking with a permit directly across from the track. The air is incredibly refreshing, the sun is blazing at 71 degrees and clear skies. The weather defied all reports of 100% Thunderstorms for Friday, the weather Gods were pleased with GBTC’s visit to NC.
We survey the beautiful track and the people adorning it, we make our way down the cement stadium stands to the soft red surface (definitely a distance runners track as I was warned) where we meet up with several BU athletes. Johann immediately begins his warmup process, Coach Cal schmoozes a bit before making his way to the check in table. Both athletes have been accurately entered into the meet, Johann Jack in the 100 meter prelims Friday and Joe Grand in the unseeded 1500 meters Saturday.
Johann has nearly completed his warmup, finishing up some strides, he settles down, stretches out on the track and concentrates on his breathing, relaxation and visualization. The clerk, a very tall gentleman wise in age, calls out the 100m heats. Johann ranked 15th going into the meet is assigned an excellent lane, lane 5, in the second heat. The starter is smooth, he does not hold too long nor fire too fast. First heat goes off, pretty fast, 10.38 for the heat winner, a known nemesis Patrick Jarrett of Jamaica and the locally known club Sprint Capital, and several 10.5s. Next Johann is up, Coach Cal holding his blocks snaps off a couple of quick pics of Johann warming up out of the blocks. The starter calls them to their marks, and he’s off, first out of the blocks, he looks strong, his hips are slightly low causing some squatness and his shoulders look a little tight as he runs thru the line, heat winner, Jack in 10.67. An excellent time that pleased Coach Cal as well as Johann. He would go on to be unbeaten by anyone in the remaining 10 heats. The finals take the fast 9 regardless of finish, Johann is 6th, moving up considerably from his pre-meet ranking. Saturday bods well for Jack to return for a win, it was obvious, Johann was ready for them, in shape, there was no one he couldn’t beat.
Friday’s weather allowed for some lovely track and field observing, jumpers, vaulters, throwers, and hurdlers. Coach Cal takes the opportunity to snap off a couple more pics of Johann with NC State signage and the club name.
We call it a day, heading back to the hotel for some R and R, a shower and some dinner. The drive back to the hotel would prove not so easy, traveling about 2 hours out of the way, we had a lovely scenic drive around North Carolina, but our stomachs quickly turned us around. We found our way back to the hotel, and later met with Joe Grand for dinner at a local Italian hot spot. Downing some delicious salad and pasta, we make our way back to a mall across from the hotel. We make some quick stops and make our back to the hotel for the night. We wander into the hotel computer room for some online updates, send a message to Coach Tom, and check out the weather report for Saturday. Coach Cal precedes to prepare for a workout, getting an hour of lifting, and a quick dip in the pool. Johann relaxes over some AOL conversations.
Friday night, we call it a night early, 11:30pm we are tucked into bed.
Saturday morning, 8am, we rise for quick shower and our usual complimentary cooked to order breakfast. This time, no french toast, I was disappointed, no tip for them. It turns out to be the cranky weekend crew, he didn’t make french toast on Sunday either. We finish up with breakfast and soon after make our way back to the track, for another beautiful day in the upper 60s low 70s and partly cloudy. Again Johann begins his warmup routine almost immediately.
Joe Grand goes off first, heat number 6, which was really the 4th unseeded heat, Coach Cal grabs his splits. He was off fast, the lead group thru in sub 64! A sub 4:20 pace for the last unseeded heat of the 1500, this was quite a field of athletes. Joe was working hard to stay with the pack, thru 800m, Joe was thru in 2:15, but the pack had picked up the pace, likely running negative splits, the heat winner finishes in about 4:10, Joe not giving up, runs thru in a possible lifetime best 4:41.40.
Joe, after showering back at the hotel that evening, moved on to visit his office in D.C. and soon goes to San Fran. But he has already researched a training group out in California to run with during his week long visit and even has a race date set up for himself while he is out there. Upon returning, Joe, feeling good about his speed work, has his eye on the 800m until he is able to bring his time down closer to 2 minutes.
Johann followed up Joe’s run soon after, 12:15pm. Seeded 6th, Johann is assigned lane 3 on the 9 lane straightaway, excellent position considering where his competition was placed. Johann is ready and focused. He has made the mental corrections, relax the shoulders, raise the hips, quick off his feet, drive, think nothing…. It had appeared as though they were going to run the 100 in the opposite direction, the direction they have run the race in the past, but no, it was starting at the same line as the prelims on Friday. We make our way to the start, shuffling by some of the competition, they repeated tiringly accel after accel on the far stretch. We walk by confident and unshaken. Johann prepares himself for the start, waking his body up with explosive leaps into the air. His muscles responding. The clerk searches out the finalists, lines them up on the line, the starter calls them to mark, set, and LANE 5 false start. Peter Fredrick tries to roll one out. Johann as still as can be, appears unrattled. The one false start rule applies, Fredrick running for Maryland Elite seeded number 2 with his 10.51 prelim time is out. Back in the start, the gun goes off, in a 0.4 wind (2.0 being the legal limit), Johann is out first, the number seed in lane 6 is out slow, thru 40 meters Jack appears to have the lead with 2 others lined up beside him, the number seed, Patrick Jarrett, turns on the jets, muscles his legs thru full 90 degree knee drives quick off his toes, runs down first place in 10.34. Jack, missing his usual lean at the finish line, runs thru 10.54 for 4th place, missing out to a 2nd place 10.50 and 3rd place 10.52. Johann in 10.54 opens up his 2001 outdoor season with his best opening race ever. Johann is surely on his way to breaking the 10.3 barrier.
After some quiet celebration, and quick words of wisdom from his BU Coach, Johann and Coach Cal followed up the race with an easy cool down jog, and went on to enjoy the beautiful day. Changing into more comfortable attire, we proceeded to examining some of the relay, the elite 200 and cheering on some of our old BU teammates. During the last heat of Men’s 4×4 relays, the skies opened up and unleashed the rain that must have been bottled up all weekend, timing this storm perfectly, Coach Cal and Johann had entered their rental vehicle just seconds before the deluge. Later to find out the women’s 4×4 was cancelled due to rain. The weather Gods knew GBTC’s job was done for this weekend, and the rain came.
After our successful return to the hotel without getting lost, we saw Joe off, and Johann and Coach paid the mall another visit for dinner and observational amusement. Upon returning to the hotel, we filled our evening with happy Internet chats until well after a Hotel Wedding party had finished. Moments after our return to our room, the hotel fire alarm sounded and we all evacuated the building. Re-entering after 4am, we fell quickly to sleep. Sunday we packed ourselves up, paid the wonderful breakfast area one last visit, and checked out, of course requesting a one night refund for the rude fire alarm disruption (cause by a stove left on and igniting).
And a trip is not a trip with out a delayed departure and a missed connection. But we finally made our way back to Boston safely and successfully. I must say that Johann and Joe both represented Greater Boston Track Club excellently and made this trip well worth it. Thank you to all those that made it possible. And congratulations to Johann and Joe for opening the out door season with such success.