Today was the Father’s Day 5-Miler in Central Park. A club race. Not a great deal to report, though. I knew I wouldn’t be fast and I was right. But I did not expect to be as slow as I was. Or as uncomfortable.

It’s a clockwise loop finishing at Tavern; you head up and take the 102nd Street transverse and then half-a-lap home. It was warm. It was humid. I picked JS up on the way down — JT was up doing something in Vermont — and I screwed up timing-wise; we had enough time if we simply hopped on the subway, but I thought we could jog/walk down. By when I realized we had to take the subway, things got a bit tight.

In the event, we had plenty of time to get our numbers, stash our baggage, and get into the corral. I was not particularly anxious about the race since it’s early days in my training. But after the 5K at VCP last week I had done a Repeat workout on Tuesday and a Tempo run on Thursday. The latter was only 15 minutes — 4000 meters — but it was a straightforward 6:08 pace.

So it was unnerving to see the 6:10 at mile 1 and feel not so great, even though the first mile is largely uphill.  12:20 or so at 2. Well heated. I figured that once I turned south on the Park Drive, I could cruise. This is what happens in 10Ks. But I had nothing. Pure struggle and in no way relaxed. Just short of 3, after fighting it over and over, I pulled off to the left. Walk a bit then start up again. The people I was with had not gained much; it was a brief stop.

Stop again. Then a third time, at a water stop before 4. Once more at 4. And then a real struggle over the final mile. Never comfortable. Struggle every step of the way. Finish in 32:02, a PW, 11th AG, and for the first time in a road race under 80 age-graded. 78.

(As I headed in, I thought of that picture from the Mini. I must say that if a kid ran out on the course, I would never have seen her. My focus was extremely narrow: a few yards ahead and down.)

JS did extremely well, getting second in the 50-54. Our masters did well, winning. But we were well behind in the 50-59. Many guys I know were over 30, who normally would not have been. So I think the heat was a major factor, making JS’s race all the more remarkable.

One must battle the danger of a slow race, even one you know will be slow going it, becoming a depressing event. With the heat — it was in the 80s and humid — I knew I would suffer. As I knew I would from the lack of speedwork. But I am discouraged by the absence of any smoothness. That, I know, will come back.

Sometimes a bad race is just a bad race.

NYRR had a finish-line camera. You can see everyone finish. There is quite a bit of carnage for a 5-miler.

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