Today was the thirty-fifth Tuckahoe Challenge. Julie won the women’s mile. Kevin Shelton-Smith won the men’s mile and men’s 5-mile. Emmy Stocker won the women’s 5-miler. Frank Colella, fresh off the plane from Mexico, ran as did a flock of VCTC folks, led, in addition to Kevin, by coach Ken Rolston (who’s giving Julie advice on the Fifth Avenue Mile below).

Alas, it was not such a fine day for me. Indeed, it was a disaster. Not to put too fine a point on it. I’ve been pretty regularly getting twinges. I had one on Friday and don’t remember what it was. Thursday had been a quite fine 22 minute Tempo run, and I’ve been having a long series of very solid track work. Having the Sutton 5K cancelled left me particularly invested in what would happen in today’s race. Would there be an improvement over my recent efforts?

Yesterday was a day off. I did feel a tightness in the inside of my left, upper quad. It disappeared. It was absent while I warmed up. I was stiff doing some strides but nothing unusual in that. The idea is not to go too hard in the mile because a few seconds saved there can translate into many seconds lost in the five, which starts half-an-hour after the one.

Seeing many people I know, I was pretty relaxed. Moment of silence for 9/11. I wore my red, white, and blue Iona Prep singlet, which I planned to switch with my Warren Street one for the five. This is my hometown after all, and I got the Iona shirt when I lived there. It has my name on the back.

After a few steps, though, I knew I was in trouble. I was not going out particularly hard. Something gave in the upper thigh. Not super dramatic. But serious. I looked back and lumbered to the side. It hurt. So I limped back to the start to what the finish of the race. (It’s an out-and-back.) Kevin came in well ahead of everyone else. Then I saw Julie take the women’s title. She’s doing this as a test for the Fifth Avenue Mile.

After chatting, I waited for the start of the five. It heads south for a one-mile loop and then north for a four mile. It’s a nice course. Sun was out, but not particularly warm. Kevin came by the mile comfortably in second and would win by a very wide margin. This race sometimes has a few fast folks but is not too deep. I was second a few years back but way behind the winner. This time it was Emmy who took the women’s crown, with Frank C right on her heels.

Kevin is an interesting guy. He transformed his game from a few years back, upping it dramatically. I asked what he’s done differently. He said he is doing lots more speedwork rather than the general marathon training that he used to do. I recall that he was a mileage hog. Now he does speed and lots and lots of races. It seems to have worked for him, as he’s emerged as one of the top three or four local 50+ guys.

As for me, I don’t have much choice other than to take a few days off and see what happens. It’s not as though I’m having some chronic break-down. In late June I had a catastrophic break-down in my upper right leg. It was gone in a couple of days. (I had to look up that post to remember what leg it was.) I had to stop on Twin Lakes with a pain in my right foot in August and that disappeared. I had to stop on Twin Lakes with a pain in my left foot early this month and that disappeared. So I’m optimistic that this too will pass. (One thing is that I’ve had no issues during track work and I’ve been doing a lot of that. One wonders whether the increased intensity is the culprit. But it’s not the fast stuff, even the Repeats. Nor am I feeling particularly stiff and sore after runs.)