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This is a strange race. It is the most community-oriented one (with its fall counterpart) I’ve been in. (Fall 2011, Spring 2010.)

Essentially it seems that every kid in the village shows up so that all of these little tykes spread across the front of the start. The starter says “10 seconds”, the horn goes, and off we go as well. The kids sprint for about 30 yards and fade and we start to weave through them. It was a hot one (Bobby won it about a minute slower than last year) and I knew almost immediately that this was not a race to push (as if I could). But so many kids.

The course itself I know well, running parts of it all the time. Some nastier-than-you’d-like early hills and then one steepish downhill. A quick swing into Tuckahoe, at the bottom of the hill where I grew up, and then a stretch to the finish on the track. And then a long flow of all these kids finishing, each receiving (unlike us adults) a medal.

I struggled. Blame it on the heat/humidity and my complete lack of speedwork. I did a 1600 tempo last Friday and that’s pretty much it. So I was happy that it wasn’t a 5K.

They start ’em running young in Bronxville. The top woman was on the track team as were a number of other finishers, and a local celebrity took first in 40-49 (although I think she was beaten by her daughter who’s on the team). I was beaten by someone in the 11-12 age group, who opened up on me in the final 1/2 mile.

It was the 2010 Bronxville 2.5. Peter, my orthopedist, was en route to the hospital. He stopped by at the start to chat with folks. “She isn’t here”, he assured me. The “she” was Mary Cain. So I didn’t wander into the nearest saloon and fall into the bottom of a bottle of whiskey.

She had just run something like a sub-10 3000. She was in eighth grade.

Peter, whose daughter just finished her sophomore year, had mentioned Cain a year before. People realized she was a phenom. The big problem was that she preferred swimming.

She saw the light, although the swimming background will surely help her. After a so-so cross-country season (timewise) as a freshman, and a solid indoor, Cain shot into the stratosphere this Spring. She had a 2:06 800 and a 56 400. In her one and only 3000 she broke Nicole Blood’s state freshman record with a 9:28. She then set the state high-school record in the 1500 with a 4:23.

This got people’s attention. On June 11, the day Lukas Verzbikas was breaking 4 for the mile in a race at Icahn, Cain again set the New York State in the 1500, in the State Championship meet. She beat the US’s top distance senior Aisling Cuffe (who had won the 3000 the night before and would set the national 2-mile record 9:54 this past Saturday) with a 4:17. (The video’s below.) I sent LetsRun an email suggesting that this was the best track race run in New York that day.

Friday night brought the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, from Greesboro, NC. Available on-line, and Bronxville was in the Girls’ 4 X 800. It had the nation’s third fastest time going in. I’d never seen Cain run, so I was looking forward to it. Watch (Cain gets the baton at 6:46):

8:49. The fourth fastest in US history. One sophomore, three freshman. Cain, the anchor, has such a beautiful stride.

On Saturday, in the much-anticipated but delayed-by-rain National one-mile championship, Cain controlled the pace throughout. A slow pace, and it looked like she was setting herself up for a quick finish; her last 400 in that 4:17 was 64. But she faded on the back-straight. She recovered a bit towards the end, running the second fastest split from the 1500 to the mile. But she was a well-beaten 5th. Not bad for a freshman. She went out too fast in that 4 X 800, on adrenaline. (Plus they were delayed by weather in getting out of New York, arriving 3 hours late, just 1.5 hours before the race.)

I then watched that 1500 record. I can’t embed it. Here it is. Wire-to-wire. [Edited, 6/4/14, to note: that video is no longer available.]

We talk about her during some of our Bronxville Running Company runs. I don’t know her folks, but I’ve run with the parents of several Bronxville runners, and there is a real culture of running and inter-class supportiveness that is the hallmark of the girls’ track team. So I take a vicarious interest, and am blown away by this. It’s been the subject of several LetsRun threads, along the lines of is-she-the-real-deal or is-she-a-flash-in-the-pan. Who knows how it’ll play out. But it’ll be fun to see.

Why 2.5 miles? For many years, there was a 5 miler and a 2.5 miler, the former being a two-lapper, the latter a one. At some point they gave up on the five so now it’s just the 2.5. I ran the five once, in 1999. It didn’t go well, as I recall, and I was fourth. Third was pushing one of those running baby carriages.

The 2.5 isn’t bad though. The start is a bit over a mile from home, so I jogged/walked into town. Picking up my number, I saw my orthopedist PR, whose wife is the race-director. “Peter,” I said, “other runners see doctors and get faster. I see you and am going more slowly. What kind of a doctor are you?” To which he replied, “I’m no miracle worker.” Ouch. He had two sons in the race. (His daughter is one of the top girls at the high school, but they had a state-qualifying meet today.) Telling them that I was the one to beat, I let them know that if I did beat them it was because their dad fixed my elbow.

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The Save Our Schools Project

Westchester is an affluent county, but it historically is chopped up into cities, towns, villages, and the occasional hamlet. And these communities reflect widely-varying economic, social, and racial classes. (And widely-varying house prices.) When one takes a MetroNorth train, each stop has its own identity but like the NYC Subways each passenger is part of the wider community.

I live in Mount Vernon. It is a small, largely black city that borders the Bronx to the south.

Up the road is Bronxville. Very white, very affluent.

Last year, the proposed school budget failed. Twice. This meant that Mount Vernon’s schools sports had to be eliminated. They weren’t because of outside donations, not only from Bronxville, as chronicled below, but from many other places. (The film focuses on the basketball team, but Mt. Vernon has other sports, and its track team was a major rival when I was at Iona Prep.) I did not know of the interrelationship between the two communities.

Because I plan on racing tomorrow, today was an easy run, so I figured I’d take my camera along. This was my standard six-mile run, in which I hit the Bronx River path at about 2, after going through Bronxville:

The Start: Outside My House

The Start: Outside My House

So it’s from here down the block and to the left. Then I hit Pondfield Road.
Pondfield and Locust

Pondfield and Locust


Into the center of Bronxville:
Bronxville

Bronxville


Then under the train tracks:
Metro-North

Metro-North

And to Lawrence Hospital. At my last stay, my room was the window fourth from the left, second floor down.
Lawrence Hospital

Lawrence Hospital


Then to the beginning of the path:
The Path

The Path


And the path, between the Parkway and the River.
More of the Path, in Yonkers

More of the Path, in Yonkers


Turn-around. The path keeps going for quite a while. JT lives near and starts many runs here.
Scarsdale Road

Scarsdale Road

The way back is pretty much the same, except from the opposite side. Here’s one last shot of the River, on the side opposite of the one taken going out.
The Bronx River

The Bronx River

And here’s an accidental shot of me:

Me

Me

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