This was my first Team Champs, after joining Warren Street in December 2012.
I’ve run a lot with about a dozen of the mates that usually show up for the workouts every week and I have enjoyed every moment I shared with them. Not only they are friendly and very supportive while working out, but they also help a lot when novice runners (as my case) have questions or doubts about the discipline.
I’m really proud to be part of such a successful bunch of guys and even if 5 miles is not really my specialty, I felt pretty happy about participating at this race.
The team is now ranked 6th in the NYRR standings, a bit under the real value of its members, but since Paul and Sebastian have been half duty (Paul has not even run one scored event this year), we have missed a lot their contribution.
Unfortunately there were a few obstacles for a successful race.
1. Paul is still recovering from his accident and getting into perfect shape; also he scheduled a trip to England, so he was not even be around
2. Fabio was not going to be around either, since he was to be back in Italy
Personally I was not at my best due to the preparation I have been doing to get ready to UROC, after the little unseccess at the Lavaredo. At least I was healthy and decently fit. With many miles in the legs in the previous 4 weeks, despite of the heat wave that hit the Norht East, I was ready to make my honest contribution to the team.
Michelle came with me, despite Masi not feeling great. So we hit the road Saturday morning and parked in the UES. Walked to the meeting point in Central Park, and saw immediately Seb warming up. While I was getting changed I saw Ryan getting there. Then Pascal, Mike and others showed up.
The atmosphere was pretty relaxing, cloudy sky and some humidity was calling for showers later that day.
Near the start line I spotted Larry, Aaron and Charlie and a photographer took a quick photo of the team, or at least half a dozen of us.
I was hoping we could keep at least our position in the standings.
At the start I lined up with Larry in the red corral, maybe too far back from what I would have liked and with about 300 people in front of me.
My plan was to keep a visual with Charlie and Aaron for the first couple of miles, knowing they were faster than me, losing some ground, but having the visual would have stimulated and helped during the last couple of miles. The plan was unrealistic, since they started well ahead of me so I could not establish any visual contact whatsoever.
At least I had Larry on my side, so I could gauge the effort a little bit. Mile 1 was a bit slow, around 5:47, and I felt pretty good at that point; I kept Larry a few feet ahead of me, and looked around to find other runners with similar pace to continue the effort together from the third mile on. Got also pumped to hear Michelle screaming my name at that point. Good excitement. Pascal also popped out by my side. Good to have a shoulder by your side.
The second mile was a little disturbing, with a CPTC runner continuosly bumping his elbow on my right arm. He hit me once and I pulled over to the left to give him more room: it does happen to mistakenly hit somebody, and that is fine. But when it happens again, then you get a bit mad, since at this point we had passed already about 50 runners and the “snake” was getting thinner: there is definetly enough room for everybody.
After the second hit I let him move to the left, and told him: “WTF man”. He steered left, I went right and that’s the lst time I had him around.
I checked in front of me and Larry was about 30ft ahead. We were approaching the little incline after the 72st cut off, and I like that little stretch leading to the marathon finish (backwords). I pushed a bit the effort and close mile 2 at 5:37, passing Larry while he grabbed a cup of water to rinse himself quickly.
Mile 3 was full of doubts for me: I was afraid of pushing too much too early and with Cathill still ahead, I thought it was a good idea to hold back a bit. 5:46 was the average pace, and still I had to maneuver around quite a few fellows who were now losing some momentum in their effort.
Mile 4 started just before Cathill and for the first time I attacked the hill a bit scared. I did not feel great during the ascent, yet I passed a few dozen runners. My speed was nothing trascendent, but I guess it was enough. I honestly was a bit disturbed by the lack of strength in this section.
I have done a few hard workouts recently to improve the uphill strenght, mostly in steep rocky hills, and I was expecting a bit more from myself, especially looking forward to NYC and UROC. I closed the mile with a 5:50 and I felt I had something left in the tank to spend it in the last 800mt.
I cruised through the long flat stretch of EG and then heard my name again. Michelle jumped over on the east side to scream again, and she is not quiet. Her voice is pretty recognizable even in the middle of such a big crowd. I felt the moment was right and I started kicking it up a bit more. I passed another 2-3 runners and realized I was going to hit under 29 minutes, so it was a decent effort. While approaching the last 800 I still felt with energy in me and I sprinted even more. My Garmin says that after mile 4.5 I run the next quarted mile at 5:13 and then last 400mt between 5:01 and 4:49. This was a great feeling.
I saw a runner in a white singlet about 20 meters ahead of me, with only 150 meters to go. That was my goal. I thought it could have made the difference for the team to gain a spot on the overall results, so I gave it my best shot. While catching up I passed 2 more runners that were completely out of gas at that point. At the last left turn I was only 10ft behind, so the effort was almost accomplished, but I was running out of ground in front of me.
I pushed again harder and did not stop until I reached the second electronic mat after the finish line.
Mission accomplished and 5:42 overall pace for a great 28:28 that at this point seems to be almost unreal for me.
At the finish line Seb, Charlie, Aaron and Ryan were waiting for the rest of us, and it was very refreshing to be welcomed by such a great crowd.
The team finished well. We placed 6th overall and extended our lead on the 7th team.
Given the conditions we entered the race, I feel we did pretty well. The field was much deeperthan just a year before when a 5:45 pace would have guaranteed a spot in the first 50. This year my 5:42 gave me 96th place, and I’m proud of it!!
Great job by WS, especially Seb, Charlie, Aaron, Ryan, Larry and Pascal