2012-08-17 / People


Milestone won’t slow down South Portland runner
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Sue McCarthy Sue McCarthy Sue McCarthy has an important birthday coming up next July. While some 49- year-olds may dread their 50th as another yard marker on the path toward old age, for McCarthy, the birthday will have some advantages.

That’s because McCarthy, a South Portland resident, will compete in a different age class next year at all the USA Track & Field Masters events. Masters events are open to any runners older than 40, but within that group, age classes are further split up.

Instead of racing against competitors as many as five years younger than she is in the age 45 to 49 division as she did this year, she will run in the senior division, with competitors age 50 to 54.

That’s not to say McCarthy hasn’t been holding her own against younger competitors. Her track club, Mass Velocity, made up of Masters runners from around New England, won the 4x100-meter relay at the national Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Lisle, Ill. Aug. 2-5.

McCarthy brought home some individual accolades as well from the Midwest. She finished second in her age group in the 100, second in the 200, and fourth in the 400.

The following weekend, McCarthy traveled to Saint John, New Brunswick, to represent the United States in a race open to international competitors from Canada, the U.S. and Central America. There, she finished second in the 200, losing by .01 to 46-year-old Angela Joseph-Darceuil of Trinidad and Tobago. Her 4x100 relay team finished second as well.

The travel and training is a huge time commitment for McCarthy, a single mother of a 13-year-old daughter, Logan, and a psychotherapist at a community mental health center in Portland. In the summer, McCarthy trains for two hours every day after she gets out of work at 5 p.m. During winter, she is on the track every day at 5 a.m. before she has to be at work at 8.

But the commitment is worth it, McCarthy said, because of the camaraderie of her teammates, the health benefits and the competitive spirit of the events.

“Everybody needs a goal in life. Everybody needs something to aspire to and make your life worth living, and this is what I do,” she said.

McCarthy’s interest in running began when she was an elementary school student growing up in Long Island, N.Y. She ran the 100, 200 and 400 through high school and in college, where she was a four-time Division III All-American at SUNY Stony Brook.

After college, McCarthy said she “lost track” of the running community until later in life. When she was 45, she had the opportunity to run with a corporate track team, MaineHealth, and through that she became involved with Mass Velocity.

“The Mass Velocity track club is the most awesome bunch of people that walk the face of the earth, and my corporate team is right there with them,” McCarthy said.

But at 49, injuries hit more often than they did when McCarthy was in her 20s. Last spring, she suffered an ankle injury, and after attempting to rehab the ankle, doctors discovered she had a bone chip. McCarthy had surgery in October 2011.

She competed in the indoor New England Championships in January and won both the 60 and 200 races, but McCarthy thinks she tried to rush her recovery. She strained both her quads and was forced to miss the indoor national tournament in March.

“Being older, your injuries happen a little more often and it takes a little bit longer to recover,” McCarthy said.

But this summer she has stayed relatively healthy. After competing in events on back-to-back weekends, McCarthy looks forward to having some time to enjoy the Maine summer, “rest, go camping and have some fun.”

After that, it’s back to the track. The national Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships take place in Landover, Md. in March 2013, followed by the outdoor nationals in Olathe, Kan. next July.

Just because Sue McCarthy is turning 50 doesn’t mean she can slow down.

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