There are two Tuckahoes in the State of New York. There’s one in the Town of Southampton. This is not the one that held its annual “Challenge” today.

No, that was Tuckahoe in Westchester County. It was also where I grew up — I was known as “Tuckahoe Joe” in high school — and holds one of my favorite local races each year. This was I think the fourth time I’ve done it.

The concept is simple: run a mile at 9 and a five mile at 9:30. In addition to awards in the individual races, there are combined.

I was concerned. My left hip has been bothering me off-and-on for a while, as has my left thigh (not specific enough to be the hamstring). And it bugged me as I warmed up. I figured I’d give it a shot. In the event it would not be a problem.

Because there are two races, I decided to wear two singlets. I happened upon my old Iona Prep singlet from my senior year there. It’s red, white, and blue — the school colors are maroon and gold — with my name on the back. There were probably only 15 of them made; just seniors in the Class of 1974 had them. So I took out this 35+ year old “throwback” and headed to the start.

Given my name on the back, someone approached me and asked if I was the guy who posted on LetsRun. Of course I am, never having posted anything (there or elsewhere) without my name (or “RunWestchester”). I chatted with him briefly, describing the course. A couple of other guys said hello; they are NYAC guys who I had met long ago who were just running through on their long run, having run yesterday’s NYRR club race (a four-miler I decided to skip in favor of this race).

Horn goes and loads of folks take off. I view the one-miler as a good warm-up. But it felt pretty hard. Out 1/2 a mile and back. I tried to run smoothly and cruised it, in an unimpressive time slightly under 6. They guy ahead: Vibram Five Fingers.

After the race I came upon Frank Colella, with whom I chatted after the Irvington 5K, happened by. I knew he ran the Norwalk (CT) HM yesterday, but he runs lots of races, so I wasn’t surprised that he was running today. He wasn’t; he just came down to watch the race. He also took pictures, including the ones here..

After a brief discussion of further goings on at the Rockies — he would later direct me to an article in the local paper on it — I ran to change singlets. Pretty quickly the five-miler was on. After the first turn, I was in third. The guy from LetsRun — he insists that he only posts there infrequently and is not an “a-hole” about it — was gone. He is Declan Foley, and he would run the race alone. (He finished a place ahead of me at the Rockies 10K.) Due to some inadequate policing early, he almost missed a turn, but I shouted “LEFT” and he was OK. But I was pissed, and probably got over-excited about it, which didn’t help my race. The Eastchester Police would provide a lead car from about 2.5, so he was fine from then, although well out of sight. (The race briefly leaves Tuckahoe and goes through Eastchester.)

Dermot Foley opening his lead, Tuckahoe Challenge

Dermot Foley opening his lead, Tuckahoe Challenge

I came through the first mile in about 5:58 and felt horrible. Just nothing. I had moved into second and was pushing it. I stopped when I got to mile 2. No one passed so I started up again. A sharp, but short, hill and another quick stop. About 5 seconds. Just feeling horrible. Keep it going, without particular regard for the time. Stop a third and final time at 3.5, then push.

I passed the homes of two of my Iona classmates, Jimmy Lawler (who died in an accident in Alaska when he was in the army) and Mick Materra, who I haven’t seen in a very long time.

Down a short hill, hit four miles, and just push it home. Measuring myself to landmarks. “There’s Crestwood, just over half to go.” Stuff like that. I am hurting but feeling fairly smooth. I finish in about 30:40. Very disappointing time.

So the assessment: Unlike my last race, I can’t plead that I have done no speedwork. But I shouldn’t feel as dead as I did running 6 minute miles. Now I think in addition to the speedwork, I need to get more miles in. As a result of my aching left leg, off-and-on, I’ve not gotten anything longer than 8 miles in over a month. That has to change.

It could, of course, be that I’m getting slower, that I’ve hit one of those drops that aging provides. But I won’t know that unless I’m satisfied that I’ve given it my all.

Still, it was fun. Second place overall. Two minutes back.