I erred, to begin with. This was a 2 X 2 relay and Steve was to be my partner and was heading to Van Cortlandt at about 5:30. Being panicked that he might not make it and with someone I knew who was also waiting for his partner, at 7 I signed up with him and when Steve showed up, literally, a minute later, he was justifiably pissed. Steve ended up getting with a slow partner, who he let run leg one, so he started after many teams had finished. I should have waited a bit longer, and I can’t apologize enough to him.

So it was me and Bill Johnson, who I know from lots of races.

The course: Van Cortlandt flats, cowpath, cemetery hill, big downhill, the flats.

I saw a bunch of other folks I know, including Julie & Jonathan and Laura & Bobby A. Bobby was putting on his NB Maximi, saying that they have the feel of spikes. Julie had just asked whether she should wear hers — she’d yet to run in them — and I told her what Bobby said. She’d run in them. I ran in spikes.

Bill let me lead-off. And at about 7:15 we were off. Jonathan was behind me, Laura ahead, as we circled the flats. I caught her just before the cowpath and tried to keep a smooth rhythm, and was passing a few people here and there until Cemetery. Climbed that pretty well, but the steep downhill, which was a bit rutted, was a different story and guys I was right behind at the top were way ahead at the bottom.

Oh well. Just had to run as hard as I could on the flats. VCTC now has a clock at the finish, the numbers a bright red, so you can see it from way away. The final stretch is like coming off the turn on a track; it’s slightly to the left and then straight-on. And you see that red dot so far in the distance. And you run hard and it doesn’t seem to get any closer. And then it does, as you see the runners for leg 2 starting. They head out in the opposite direction.

I’m actually not that far away when the first second legs begin. I finish. Bill begins. Steve is steaming, saying “I should be running now” and he’s right.

I chat with Jonathan S of VCTC who tried to get Amy as my partner, but she couldn’t do it because of an injury. Of course her not being there meant she couldn’t lord a muffin over me. I then sat with Jonathan S of WS, Julie’s partner, briefly and then headed out to see the finish. He said that I looked pretty good, which is quite a compliment since he knows whereof he speaks.

This is one reason I love these VCTC events. You finish and are tired and sweaty and feeling you’ve done a solid bit of running and there’s a small group of people, many of whom you know from prior races, and you hang waiting for the results and, perhaps, a muffin. (And it would be fun later chatting with Jonathan and Julie and reviewing where the hell we are in this mess called running and whether we really ever will do another marathon although Jonathan is now entered in Houston having gotten in via a lottery.)

Bobby A finishes rather quickly; he’s passed a number of folks on his leg. Bill comes in followed by Julie. Steve finally gets to start.

The age-groups are broad here; twenty-year increments. We’re in the 80-99 (we’re 97), but we’re third in the mens. Muffin Time! Alas, because there are three groups, men, women, coed, the awards go but two deep. I’m crushed. Julie and Jonathan get muffins and kindly offer a taste. I decline; I prefer my muffins the old-fashioned way, by earning them. Plus I can’t lord getting a muffin over Amy. Drat.

Julie’s now pumped. Happy in wearing those New Balances. Ready to come back for the next 5K (with, we hope, Ewen) for a taste of the backhills.