This morning saw the Club Championship Five-Miler. It’s perhaps the most competitive local five-miler you’ll find anywhere, but that is no longer relevant to me since I’m a good ways to the rear. With only 810 men in the race, I barely made the top 25%.

In the mid-80s, there was no year-long race series. The Club Champs was it, and Warren Street did quite well in it. Now it’s an important race, offering double-points for each team. Plus several clubs that don’t deign to race in other club races show up, such as NYAC and the Manhattan Track Club on the men’s side. [Edited to correct: As Tim Sullivan of the NYAC points out, NYAC’s men’s team has been doing quite well in the prior races. In fact after a LetsRun dust-up on the race, I took a look and saw that even the NYAC guys whose addresses are well outside the NYC area have been running in the prior club races. I knew, of course, about the women’s team, and can only plead my ignorance of the men on the ground that they are well on their ways home by the time I’ve been finishing. I must also correct something Tim says about Warren Street. Although it appears to have won the Masters race, that is because of the incorrect inclusion of a runner who now runs for UA. WSSAC was second in the race.]

Normally the weather is brutal, and in the past few years I’ve done poorly in this race. Today’s weather was quite good, however, although I did poorly.

Course: The start is quite narrow on the 102nd Street Transverse. It goes counterclockwise and finishes on the Transverse.

Race Report: I was surprised to get a 1000 number; I’ve always gotten blue numbers since the corral-system was started. But when I saw faster guys in the 1000s I realized that the blue numbers were fairly few.

This is a nasty little start. It’s narrow and one has to take a quick left-hander to get on the Park Drive pretty quickly. I did not feel comfortable and was struggling. I knew I was our 7th Master — for this race five score, plus 10 for the team — so I didn’t feel much pressure, but you can’t let that influence you. While my left Achilles tendon was hurting a bit by mile one, I decided to keep going.

That mile split was about 6:02; slow but hard. Next mile was about the same, although it was chiefly downhill. So Two in about 12:05. Then as we passed Tavern on the Green, I began to feel much better and stronger. From that point on I don’t think anyone passed me and I started to go by group after group, especially up Cat Hill (and I waved). By then, with 1.5 to go, I felt very strong and light and just started to crank. I wasn’t going super fast, but it felt good.

Left turn onto Transverse, see the finish, get through strongly. The clock said 29:59 as I looked up, but the official time was 29:55. I was shocked to get under 30 given how slowly the race had begun. I was 190th place, 7th age-group, with an age-grade of 82.8. I was Warren Street’s 9th Master and 10th overall (so I scored for the big club; had I DNFed, it would have cost the club 2.5 minutes).

Review: This is a tough one. I felt sluggish early. It was not as though I went out hard and died. I was trying to stay relaxed and simply did not have the speed to do that at a decent pace. But when I finally got to that point, it was very, very good. Not super-fast. But light and easy. Strangely similar to how I feel in the last stages of a good half-marathon. So this was a good effort in the overall scheme.

Post-Race: After a warm-down with a bunch of the Warren Street crew, I showered at Stephane’s place and then he and his daughter Adele with Paul Thompson and his wife Sham cabbed over to another member’s place on the East Side for a BBQ. Burgers and the like. It’s an annual thing (many clubs have post-race picnics and the like), but I’ve never gone. It was good fun, and I got to meet a bunch of members whose names I recognized, but whom I had yet to meet.

Time flew and I only got home — I had driven to the train and taken it in — at about 4:30. Now, an hour later, as I write this, I am pretty tired.