Running is a great hobby; more often I tend to believe it is some sort of second job for me: the dedication, the attention, the fatigue you put into this sport can be extreme. And the enthusiasm, the benefit, the results and the friendships that come along with it are unbelievable.
After running the New York Marathon my training has been quite slow. For a few weeks I believed that I naturally needed some rest since the last time I took a little break was after the LUT when I regrouped and focused more on training harder. Getting ready for a marathon and giving almost everything you had on the course can leave you somehow accomplished and a bit lazy.
That’s how I felt for a few weeks in November. A few days off from the park would not be a problem, I thought. Even the Pete McArdle race in Van Cortlandt Park was a success, pushing a 57min 15k on rolling hills, windy and cold weather. A little bit of pain here and there when I tried to to some workouts with the Warren Street guys consolidated the idea that some rest was needed. Also work (the real job) was calling for some more attention due to the important traffic switch that would have closed Stage 2 of the project. Some night work and weird schedules slowed me down a little bit, and that was ok, cause I felt I needed a short break before pushing hard again.
Mid december I took a few days off from the job and combined with the 2 week shut down that was scheduled, I wanted this to be the period of my come back. Unfortunately after a few short runs with Pascal in CP and Tom in Bear Mountain, my achilles started to give up and after 6-7 miles or about 45-60 minutes of running I always began slowing down in pain, incapacitated to sustain the effort without feeling sharp needles and very tight legs around the ankle area.
More rest and no runnig was the logical solution, since strengthening with some Power House workouts did not help at all.
At that point I attended a few sessions of Bikram Yoga in the Bronx. After experiencing it a few times in the past I became a little more regular towards the end of december and showed up 3 times in 4 or 5 days. Day 1 was a massacre since I had a nice ice cream just before going into the studio…the following times it was a more pleasurable experience. Great for feeling better physically when running is not an option.
With the new year I started to feel I was quite behind preparing for the season goals. Many are the objectives of 2014, and short term there are some challenging events ahead:
1. Febapple Frozen 50k (would love to run the 50M, but I had so much fun doing the 50k a year ago thatI am up for a repeat, hopefully in similar weather and terrain conditions)
2. NYC Half in March
3. Boston Marathon in April
And now that I have a solid 2013 season behind my back, I can compare how training/physical conditions are going with the new season.
And the frst week of January was not great, since a couple of runs with Paul in the Rockies and in CP made me realize how far back I was compared to a year ago.
The main problem is that I could not push during the workouts, so a steady 7-8 mile run was the only possible activity I was granted by my body.
Joe Kleinerman was the first test of the season, and I had spent the week trying to accumulate some milage, with poor results: Monday the weather was extremely cold when I got home and my lazyness prevailed throwing me in bed under warm sheets. Tuesday I felt very very guilty and I went to CP ready for some good miles, but not a lot of time, knowing Michelle would have met me by 6:30-6:45. Paul preferred to do a steady run, given the cold conditions, and it was a very good workout (as usual with him). Wednesday I kicked another 7.5 miles in Norwalk while dropping the check for utilities and deposit the check from the insurance company (best way to combine errands and running), while Thursday I was finally able to get a good 3-4 mile tempo, not very fast, but consistent and strong, followed by 3 laps of the reservoir with Paul. After leaving Paul I tried to do a couple of sprints, but the low level of energy and the fact I have not done any speedwork in several months, left me a bit disappointed. Friday, as usual, I rested from running and I tried to relieve the legs a little using the electric massager I bought last summer.
And finally Saturday and the Jow K came up. Got up around 5:30am, and while getting coffee and nutella ready Paul messaged us saying he was not going to join for the race. Disappointing, cause he is in very good shape and his appointment with victory and a nice 90+% AG is overdue.
So this left me and Pascal as the lonely representatives of Warren Street for today.
Michelle drove me to the Park and left me by the 102 transverse while looking for a parking spot. After vising the portable potties and while dropping my bag with a sweather for the after race, I heard a voice saying “Here is a strong runner”. I smiles and thought it was somebody making fun of me. When I raised my head I saw it was Marco Beghin, another italian fellow runner that recently moved with his partner Felix from NYC to Vancouver. We exchanged a few thoughts and then the warm up began.
While doing the strides I realized speed was impossible to find in my legs, so I was hoping for a consistent race, trying to at least push a little the hills so I could get a god workout out of the morning. The lower part of the legs was feeling like a piece of concrete and that’s something I need to address if I want to get more quality miles in the future.
Pascal popped out from nowhere, a little late for my schedule, but I noticed even last year he gets ready in a very short time. I guess you can call it experience. I felt a little sad cause this time last year other friends joined the race, or were around spectating: Fabio, Peter, Sebastien, Charlie, etc. This year we were a little more “lonely”…will change this soon!! Fabio is back, and Seb will catch up with us soon. Charlie and Aaron will join us as well. Back to normal in the near future
We lined up at the very front, since our bibs were in the low numbers and I saw Emiliano Garcia warming up. He looked very good and I know he had been secretely running in the Rockies as well (not so secretly, but you know…he runs a lot). The usual suspects came together at the start: a few WSX Ethiopians, Emiliano, GNY Mike Cassidy and a few known faces like Bobby Asher from VCTC.
I also saw Kaher, Bassel’s twin brother. Those two are so great! I wish I could run with my brother as well, sometimes.
The gun went off and we were all running like maniacs. All but me and Pascal. We took the conservative approach and ran smart the first half mile. So slow that we tripped each other at the very start, on the timing mat. Pascal was actually ahead of me the in the descent to wards 110th street, when I saw him almost falling due to an ice plaque that NYRR personnell did not manage to remove from the road. Pascal backed off from the gas pedal a bit after that, and probably he is now regretting it…but that’s another story.
I stayed quiet, trying to wait for my legs to loosen up a little, and kept a comfortable stride with small and quick steps. When we reached the first and biggest hill of the day I tried to switch gears and surprisingly I felt a little better. I passed quite a few people from my initial 50th position (or even 60th) but consciously I slowed down since this was just the beginning and some rolling hils were ahead.
The race went on pretty uneventful for me. Happy to see Michelle at mile 1 and a quarter, screaming my name, and happy to hear her screaming Pascal’s name just a few seconds later. That means he did the hill pretty well as well.
As I said the race was a bit boring, progressively faster for me, picking up other runners that started too fast, or did not have enough strenght in the uphill sections. I noticed I passed Piana-Agostinetti, another italian dude from Rome and running for UA, passed a few younger folks that outsprinted me at the start, and passed at the very bottom of the Park the Brazilian runner that blew up in the 60k. Irecognized the face, because after seeing him there I did some google stalking to find out more about his running background. Obviously he is still learning how to pace himself. Cathill came up quickly and I made sure I got to the base with some energy to spend. The hill went well and picked up a few more spots and made some ground from the two runners in front of me. Beyond them, only a foggy view with nobody else for at least 1 minute: I really could not see anybody ahead.
The goal was to reach them and I worked a little extra hard to make it happen, but the lack of speed was evident and I was able to pass only one guy. The second, the CPTC runner, finished just ahead of me.
I hate having a runner from another team finishing ahead of me; in this case, had I known that he was in my age group and he would have finished third in the award chart, while I would have placed 4th, maybe, only maybe, I could have picked up those couple of seconds. Especially since this is a guy I have always left behind in the past, in most of the races. And that the last quarter of a mile was just 5:26 a mile. Not a great sprint at all. But it’s ok.
I feel pretty accomplished by how my body treated me today.
35:59, only 26 secs behind a PR/PB in not ideal conditions (weather) and pretty bad training record; a blazing 1:33 faster than the same race last year. A good way to start the 2014 season. Unexpected and sweeter than the best prevision.
A side note, congratulations to Pascal for his 2nd place master only 8 secs behind first place….next time don’t slip and fall so you can win. Congratulations to Emiliano Garcia, for finishing 3rd overall, and a great thank you to Warren Street AC, who completed the race in second place as a team
And a ggreat thank you to my body who brought me around the park for 35 minutes well under 6:00 min/mile once more, after a long time…