Running into the record books

Folsom’s Palmer posts world record time in 60-meter dash for females 50-plus
By: Matt Long, Telegraph Sports Editor
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Liz Palmer’s promising collegiate athletic career was derailed by an injury, but she’s more than making up for it now on the Masters Track and Field circuit. Palmer, 50, set a world record for women 50-to-54 years old on March 5 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the U.S. Masters Indoor National Track and Field Championships, running the 60-meter dash in 7.86 seconds, shattering the previous record of 8.05 seconds set in 1997. “I was pretty pumped,” Palmer said of her reaction to setting the record. Because the display clock wasn’t working, Palmer didn’t find out her official time and the fact that she set a world record until about 15 minutes after the race. “I knew it felt fast; I felt like I was flying,” Palmer recalled. “I tried to remain calm when I found out my time, but I couldn’t help it and I was screaming and jumping up and down. Those types of things don’t happen every day. It was quite a thrill.” Palmer, an accomplished hurdler at Arapahoe High School in Colorado when she placed third in 110-yard hurdles at the high school state championships in 1978, went on to attend the University of Northern Colorado, but a ruptured Achilles tendon kept her collegiate track career from taking flight. In 2005 when she learned of the Masters track and field program for athletes 30 and older, she gave it a thought. “I told my husband, ‘You know, I used to be a very good hurdler,’” Palmer said. “He asked me, ‘Do you think you could still do it’ and I said I really wanted to. It was quite a journey to get back into shape; it was very painful. The first six months were very strenuous and my body was constantly aching. I had to hide how bad it hurt so my husband wouldn’t make me stop. I’m very single-minded, though, and when I want something bad enough, I go after it.” Palmer has competed in Masters track and field meets ever since and also has an American record in the 80-meter hurdles in the women’s 50 to 54 age group, which she set last year with a time of 12.44. She didn’t even have any thoughts of setting the world record in the sprints until a week before she accomplished the feat. “I was competing at a meet in Fresno and I was the only woman so they put me in the race with five other men,” Palmer said. “I beat all but one of them and I ran an extraordinary fast time of 7.62 in the 55 meters. I thought, all I have to do is run five more meters and I thought I could do it under eight seconds.” Palmer’s coach, Elmer Haynes, has worked with her the last four years and is not surprised at Palmer’s success. “Every coach has athletes that come along and make you think you know what you’re doing,” Haynes said. “Liz is like that. Ever since the World Championships were awarded to Sacramento three years ago, we sat down and laid out a plan to prepare for them and now we’re executing the plan. The key thing is her work ethic. The record, even though it wasn’t a goal of hers, is the result of her willingness to work. She’s on top of the world and it took her a long time to get there. A lot of people aren’t willing to put forth the effort that she has to do it.” Palmer works out five times a week, lifting weights twice a week and working out on the track three times a week. While she acknowledged that she’s been blessed with sprinter’s genes, she also credited her supportive family, her teammates and friends with the Golden West Athletics Club and Haynes for helping her achieve the world record. Palmer’s friend, teammate, training partner and fellow Folsom resident Amanda Scotti was thrilled to learn of Palmer’s world record. “I have to say that Liz deserves it,” Scotti said. “I train with her and I’ve seen her improve and nobody works harder. I think it’s fantastic.” Palmer now has her eye on the 2011 World Masters Championships to be held at Sac State in July, where she hopes to break the American record in the 100-meter dash of 12.5. Last year she posted a time of 12.7. “If conditions are good and the adrenaline is pumping, I can get it,” Palmer said.