Shelly Allen continued her summer chase of faster times

FLEMING ISLAND – Fleming Island masters running stalwart Shelly Allen continued her summer chase of faster times and higher rankings with a recent turbulent month of travel, track and best times for her summer racing schedule topped with a third best in the United States 800 meters on Friday at the Bolles track in a Jacksonville Track Club invitational.

Allen recently ran national races in Portland and Iowa with top times in the 1500 meters, 5K (3.1 miles), and 800 meters coming in the whirlwind month of jet-setting racing. Allen also squeezed in a road mile at the Big Chief Tire One Mile Championships in Jacksonville on June 29.

“My best races this year have been the World Master’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in Torun, Poland (5:22.10 1500, 5th) because of the quality track facility and the high quality competition; and also the mile that I ran recently at the Portland Track Festival due to the excellent weather,” said Allen, now 55, “That (weather) really makes if big difference.”

In Portland on June 9, Allen popped off a five minute, 43.08 second mile to garner her number one ranking in the USA and worldwide for the distan

ce for her 55-59 age group. Winner Nancy James-Klinger, 42 years old, who won in 5:07.29, took control of the race from the start with four quartermile splits under 80 seconds.

On June 29, Allen won the master’s race of the Big Chief Tire One Mile road race with a then-best 5:36.39 split for the two-lap road circuit.

On Thurs., July 11, Allen got a best time in the 5K in the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in Iowa.

Allen’s 2:38.11 for the 800 at a Bolles track meet on Fri., July 12 was third best in the USA and eighth best in the world.

“(These) are some rankings from but keep in mind these may change daily this time of year, since its the middle of track season,” said Allen. “I ran the 5000 meters on Thursday in Portland but flew home that night to run the 800 at Bolles and also to prepare for our big trip to Africa.”

Allen’s 5K race went well at 20:18 at the nationals in Iowa to get a second in the nation ranking and a personal best time for the event. Winner Makie Ohler, 57, won in 20:05.92. Allen stayed within a second of Ohler for most of the race, but Ohler surged near the 1K to go mark with a 1:35 quarter mile split to Allen’s 1:40 to take her lead to the finish. Allen surged on the final lap to close the gap with a 1:31.53 lap to Ohler’s 1:34.05 split.

Allen cited a few factors in her recent successes and faster times with husband David Allen, the new Fleming Island High girls cross country coach and an area track coach for area athletes, her main advisor, but recent readings bringing new insight to her approaches.

“My training schedule is written out a month at a time by David, working around my races, travel, and family events,” said Allen. “During race weeks I back down on training volume and intensity about five days before. He has me do lighter, easier workouts compared to the youth he coaches as we get close to race days.”

From her books, Allen gains insight from other master’s aged runners with a goal of staying injury free and maintaining good nutrition and recovery.

” I am getting faster recently probably due to a variety of factors: consistent, non-injured running for several years now, following heathy diet, and reading/studying how aging athletes can reach their potential,” said Allen, who ran cross country and track at Orange Park High School. “Two recent books that have inspired me were “Roar” by Dr. Stacy Sims which helped me learn more about taking care of myself in training and racing as a post-menopausal woman, and “Let your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor, an Olympian and winner of the Gate River Run 15K in Jacksonville, which helped me mentally.”

Allen has ventured overseas in recent years to compete in world championship meets in Spain and Poland with an idea to compare her home-based training with those abroad.

“After going to the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Malaga, Spain last summer (outdoor track) and in Torun, Poland (indoor track) last winter, where I saw women my own age accomplishing such amazing race results, it opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could achieve in my 50’s, 60’s and beyond,” said Allen. “I also have so many American women that I see as role models inspiring me, and creating a fun, friendly competition among us. Being part of Team USA together when we compete internationally really bonds us together.”

One New Balance Tampa running team teammate that keeps Allen on her toes is Susan Lynn Cooke, a top 60 year old runner from Tampa who snuck in a 5:38.3 mile last summer to set the 55-59 American record last year six months before turning 60.

“I get great support from my sponsor New Balance Tampa, and our team captain, Susan Lynn Cooke, who inspires me and keeps me motivated to keep up with her,” said Allen. “She is a top-ranked 60 year old.”

Allen plans future trips for competition with a national championship date at LSU for indoor track next winter and a tripto North Carolina for the outdoor nationals next summer. Other cities on her bucket list include Edmonton, Canada in 2021 and Sweden in 2022.

“I still find enjoyment and satisfaction in the daily process of training; I truly enjoy it,” said Allen. “I try not to compare myself to the athlete I was in college – I try to be the best I can be now at this age, and have gratitude for that.”