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The Tuckahoe Challenge. I’ve done it when it was a 1-miler followed by a 5-miler, although it was a 2 & 5 before that. The 5-miler is now a 5K. Because my back has hurt when I’ve tried to do track speedwork, I decided to skip the 1 mile and just do the 5K. As an old guy, it was just $10.

The course is similar to the old 5-miler, except when you get just past 2, you go around a cone and back. In other words, you skip the short but steep hills.

Beautiful day, sunny, and not hot. I was nervous about this. I “raced” the Bronxville 2.5 in May and a VCTC 5K shortly thereafter, but they were both let’s-see-how-it-feels events with little prep. Now I’ve been training for awhile, albeit with little speedwork, and have become more confident and stronger with seemingly effortless runs getting relatively quick. So this was a way to test where I am in all of this.

Where I am is 20:15 for 5K. That’s a 6:32 pace. (My TomTom clocks in at 3.08 miles.)

Without a sense of pace, I went out a little faster than I wanted to. At about the 1/2 mile, I decided to just relax and hold the pace. Through 1 in 6:28 on a flat stretch into a slight headwind (which I didn’t mind because I knew it’d be behind us on the way back). By 1 1/2, I was with the first woman and the first three men were well away. Then the search for the cone around which we would run. I see the guys heading south and then see the cone. I turn right before the first woman, but she’s ahead of me shortly thereafter and for the duration. This was good in that I had someone to watch. And using buildings as markers, i.e., once I get there I’m that much closer to the finish.

I see the flashing lights of the police car near the finish. I see the clock begins with “20”. She picks it up a bit, but I continue through.

Never in great distress. Not that I could go much faster. Just held my form and held the pace pretty well. No aches or pains, especially in the back. I would have been satisfied with anything sub-21 and hoped to be able to hold 6:30. The first was not a problem, and I was close to the second. So, all in all, a good result and positive sign.

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Having raced less than 2 weeks ago after an 18-month lay-off, I decided to brave Van Cortlandt, for one of the VCTC’s summer series of (mostly) 5Ks. Given that my long run is 5 miles and I’ve done nothing fast (except that 2.5-mile race, fast being a decidedly relative term) I was hoping to survive the three short but steep hills and take advantage of the mostly down-hill final half of the race (with the flat final 1/2 mile, on the flats).

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Van Cortlandt, post-Race, June 8

I decided against wearing a team singlet because I’m between clubs. Well, I did finish in about 23:30. I stopped twice just before and just after Black Top. I felt pretty solid after that though, although had no speed in my legs.

These things can deflate or inspire. I choose the latter. It’ll be a while before I feel I can really race. My goal is to get up to 80% on the Age-Graded scale. So pull out my Daniel’s and see about getting some of that speedwork in, getting my legs accustomed to the strain of a hard effort. In some ways it’s not as bad as I remember. In some ways it’s worse.

It may be more of a burden, truth be told, to write this blog than to read it. Particularly after being labeled a Bruce-Jenner hating misanthrope, showing up at a starting line creates a level of expectation. During the race, thoughts of DNFing must be put aside; how will you justify another failure.

During the race, thoughts of what I’m going to say about this or that stretch animate the race.

In a target race, say a marathon, you embark on a five-act journey hoping that you’re one of the ones left standing, if bloodied, at the end. Sometimes you’re not.

But there is to be no Scottish Play about the Scottish 10K. I did it last year in quite different weather conditions. Last year it was cold and rainy. This year it was hot and sunny. Hence, I like to think performances were a bit slower because of the heat.

The problem with a sunny start is that one stands in the corral with the sun beating down for a good 20 minutes waiting for the horn. And enthusiasm ebbs and flows during the wait. 10-minutes to go and doubts appear about the race generally and just being there, standing in a bunch of other runners. This was a club race, but it didn’t seem as deep as other club races. We were not at full strength — PT is away — but we had a number of younger folks, including a band from Rockefeller University who are among our Saturday morning group. Warming up, I pass JT (with a red number) but in my pre-race bubble I fail to stop (sorry).

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When you’re running a half-marathon, it is wonderful to have people you know suddenly appear and cheer. Today I came upon Robert twice and Stéphane once.

Home Stretch (NYRR photo)

Stéphane ran next to me on lap 2 of CP just past the 6 mile mark, camera in hand — he took photos (including the one below (the one to the left is from NYRR); he commented on my heel striking) and there’s a video on Facebook — telling me I looked like the running was too easy. Robert caught me on the West Side a bit past the 3 mile mark and then again on West Street as I headed to the finish. A “Warren Street” now and then, and my sister Pat and her husband Stuart were outside their apartment on 42nd Street.

I really appreciate it.

Ah, the race itself. The numbers: 1:21:34, 199 o/a, 2d AG, 84.25 age-graded. I’m pleased with the time, although work needs to be done, and very pleased to have gotten an age-group award.

As to the race report itself, I recorded something about 40 minutes after the finish. I begin by saying “little bit farther north” because I did a shorter thing alread, but here it is:

Splits: 6:12, 6:10, 6:11, 6:18, 6:13, 6:15 (stopped the watch too early), 6:31 (stopped too early for mile 6), 6:17, 6:09, 12:24 (missed 10 mile mark), 6:08, 6:03, 37.

[Edited to add: I’m watching the replay on Universal. Paul Thompson is getting decent face-time near Deena. But I just wish they wouldn’t say a male running near the lead woman is do it for “face-time.” Paul, e.g., caught Kastor at 8 and next we saw  him he was well in front. As someone who has run near the lead woman in a televised race, I can say that I never cared about the TV. Anyone running at that pace is going to be running his (I use the masculine because in this context I’m speaking of men) own race. Perhaps they’ll run near the lead woman to use her as a good pacer. But I don’t know about this “face-time” observation that Larry Rawson seems to make at every race.

[Also, notwithstanding what is said on the broadcast, you really can’t see the finish line until you’re pretty close. There are 800, 400, and 200 to go signs, but I only picked up the finish when I was nearly there.]

A couple of prerace videos, to give a sense of things.

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