We spoke to Ron Potocnik a few months ago about getting in shape for the summer and working out the winter calories. Well, summer has breezed by, and Ron just updated us with some cool things he accomplished this summer – maybe you can start prepping for next summer too and break some world records in athletics!
F: Can you describe your experience competing for the United States at the World Masters Championship in Finland?
R: Wow, where do I begin? This easily ranks as one of my top life experiences. That’s inside and outside of the world of athletics and competition. This is a global competition so it’s you against the world, literally.
I had this on the calendar for several months so I had some time to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally. I knew this was going to be a demanding track meet.
One of the biggest obstacles I had was with sleep. It was bright outside until almost midnight. 10:00pm would come around and it felt like it was 7:00pm! The time change didn’t help the first few nights either. Nerves were also a big factor. I was about as nervous as I’ve been for something but I actually think it worked to my favor. I felt focused and couched together with some adrenaline, I was definitely ready. I know it probably drove my wife crazy as I was never much for conversation but, she was always out there supporting me!
My first event was the 100m – I finished 5th in the world. On paper, I wasn’t supposed to make it to the finals so finishing 5th and upsetting a lot of favored sprinters was pretty cool. I also ran a PR (personal record) too. It’s hard to describe but I felt like I heard the gun before it went off. It’s a pretty cool feeling when you’re that focused and “in the zone”.
My next event was the 400m and I finished 9th in the world. The 400m was an event I wanted to place a little higher. But I ran a PR for the year and you have to tip your hat to the next eight. It was the first time ever the top 8 went under 51.0. I ran a 51.10.
The relays were next and that’s were the fun began. It’s probably the most exciting part of any track meet. It’s our team against yours, you take your best four guys and we’ll take our best four and let’s play it out and see what happens. We had a solid team for the both races, the 4×100 and 4×400. We had three guys in the finals for the 100m which was a first in American Masters History for my age group. So we already had a great foundation there. Our fourth guy won Gold in the 110m Hurdles so we had a nice team assembled. We took home a silver medal. There is one important note about a 4×100 relay. TEAM USA in Beijing last summer had a problem with their exchanges and this year too in Berlin. They didn’t qualify because of missed and poor baton exchanges. Even though we just missed Gold, taking home a Silver was pretty cool. That was my first medal in an international competition. Then we took a Gold Medal in the 4×400 Relay. We had a great team lined up. We took the Gold, Canada Silver and Italy Bronze. Our team just missed a World Record by 3 seconds and an American Record by 1.5 seconds. THAT RECORD IS OURS NEXT YEAR!
F: How much preparation did you go through for this competition?
R: My times were getting better all year and in some big meets before Finland I was hitting some personal records. My cardio was great which was required of me because my warm-ups would last over an hour so I needed to be in great cardiovascular shape. My lifts were strong too so I feel I did all the right things especially with the resources I had. I’m quite proud that 80% of my training, I did on my own. A lot of these guys have coaches to help them with block starts, training, massage, etc!
F: Like the Olympics, this event seems to have a lot of camaraderie and competition. Can you give some highlights of the camaraderie and competition you saw at this event?
R: This is a great question. Words definitely fall short of the mark when I describe the athletes and the people I met both internationally and from the USA. The racing and accomplishments were great but the best part is the friendship I made from my time in Finland. One thing I didn’t expect was to have this emotional attachment to the stadium, event, and people. I had a hard time leaving which is really not like me. There were world records broken but one in particular caught my attention. There was a 70 year old guy from Germany that ran a .59 400m. If you’ve never run a 400m it’s a hard thing to understand or relate to. It’s definitely a test of character and will. It’s definitely not a race for the faint of heart. Well, if you can imagine a 70 year old guy burning a lap around the track in under 60 seconds, that was a pretty inspiring thing to witness.
F: Will you be competing in this event in the future? What are your future track goals?
R: I will absolutely be competing in this event again. The next outdoor World Games come to Sacramento, CA in 2011. The next World Indoor games will be in Kamloops, Canada in March, 2010. As with every year too there are the USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships – Boston and Sacramento respectively. I have a few different goals for the next few years. I want to keep making a name for myself in the track and field community. I would also like to set an American Record in the 400m and set a World Record for the 4×400. I know we have a solid group of 400m sprinters. The 400m record has stood since 1989 and the 4×400 record since 1983 so that would be pretty cool to make history.