Club race time. So up and into Manhattan, parking right by the 125th Street subway station (2/3). Quick trip to the start. Number. T-shirt (medium; no larges). Not much of a warm-up. Just enough to get cobwebs out of the legs.

People complain about the corrals, but in the blue it is civilized. No matter when you get there, you can find your space. I elected to be farily far back. This, I hoped, would lessen the likelihood of going out too hard. The first mile is largely uphill, albeit slightly, and you can be in mucho trouble if you fight too much in the early going.

Portugal Day. It is Father’s Day, and this race has always been the Father’s Day Race. But from what I saw and heard, Portugal put a big effort into lots of stuff, so NYRR was happy to cede the date to it. A perk: Nice technical shirts (as opposed to the standard cotton you’d get at the Father’s Day Race).

Saw Jonathan S with the injured Julie while I was warming up but not again. He would finish a bit ahead of me. Then in the corral saw lots of folks. As I’ve noted, there’s always a camaraderie in the corrals for club races, and people I didn’t know introduced themselves, having seen my photo on my blog or elsewhere. That’s fun.

Portuguese national anthem followed by the “Star-Spangled Banner” — nice renditions of both — and we were off. The course: the Start is north of Tavern, up the westside, 102nd Street Transverse, and around to the Tavern finish.

Succeeded in not going out to hard. Wanted to maintain a nice rhythm. Last year, when it was also hot, I blew up in this race, so I was conservative. Through 1 at 6:20ish. Water drunk. It was hard. But not bad. Two in 12:40. Three in about 19:00. Consistent. The key, though, was that at least by the 2 mile mark I was passing lots of folks, and being passed by only a couple.

Mile 4 has the nice downhill on Cat Hill (I waved) and at the bottom you have under 1.5. I started feeling strong. Not fast. Strong. The form was relaxed and it was the way it used to be. Cruise around the Lower Loop. If you pay attention, you can pick up the marks on the road: 800 to go, 400 to go, 200 to go. For the final stretch I was following the guy in the green UA singlet as we picked off a fair number of people.

So it was a strong finish. Time: 31:16 (6:16 pace), so those last 2 miles averaged 6:08 (or so). 185th, 10th 50-54, 80.6 age-grade. I was our third man (after Jim Stemm and Jonathan) and we were third in the 50+ competition, although only 4 seconds out of second (damn).

For the Mini, NYRR tried to get clubs to come out on the course, offering shirts and marathon entries. I thought a bit gimmicky, but several people who ran the Mini said it was very nice during the race. Because today was the men’s club equivalent (i.e., it was not a club race for women), there was a great turn-out on the course of clubs, with special kudos to Front Runners New York. These clubs cheered for everyone, and it enhanced the club experience. I fear I don’t remember what club it was, but as we hit the lower loop there were women standing on each of the vertical posts for the wooden railing on the inside lane. That was very cool.

After the race, I had a brief chat with Rich Temerian (who won the age-group), repeating his comment that maybe I should concentrate on a steady dose of tempo runs and not sweat the longer stuff. Tempting. But that won’t cut it for the marathon. Which is a whole other topic.

What I Think

 

The obvious comparison is Tuesday’s 3.5 mile tempo run, done at a 6:13 pace. That was on a track. Importantly, though, for the first time in many a race I felt the type of strength of a tempo run. Solid, rhythmic strides. Going hard and getting close to the red-line but not getting over it. I’ve done little in the way of speedwork as well. So this was a good race.

After all, what is racing if it’s not hitting the point where you’re hurting but in a good way, the throbbing legs saying they don’t know how much longer they can keep this up, the head counting down and hoping that they’ll last only for another two miles, another one mile, another 400 meters. Isn’t the feeling, no matter what the pace, of having experienced and survived that test what racing is all about and what brings us back again and again. Runners are strange creatures indeed.

Julie shot the following. I’m the fat guy finishing at about 7:50:

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