With little time to write about running these days, I must try to be concise to highlight a few thoughts about this race.
I’ve had the chance to talk to Paul and his brother Stephen then very next day and we were delighted to have experienced the Team Champs once more.
It is a race in a sort of puritan running spirit: it is a race for runners, for people that have the passion for running, and share a great deal of their time training with teammates.
It is not intended to be a fashion show with the latest and greatest gears such as watches, hydration belts, and compression bands, it is not a place to show off bright colorful and weird costumes, or where faces are smiling and displaying pleasure (at least not until a very few moments after the finish line).
Fancy Tshirts are replaced almost completely with team singlets, compressions shorts and tight shorts are generally MIA, while the short shorts are generally ruling the scene. Also, all the fancy shoes with support inserts, pronation aids, extra cushion foam layers, or five fingers shape are not going to be part of the event, because the vast majority of the runners will show up with their racing flats, or their regular trainers.
This is a form of running that probably connects more with the original spirit of the sport that boomed a few decades ago. Regardless of speed, this is a no frills event for runners that are giving their best effort and contribute to make their team shine. Hence, there is going to be a lot of sweat involved.
The level of competition is extremely high and the best of the best in NYC comes out to this event.
This year Warren Street suffered the “loss” of a great mate, Charlie, who moved from NYC just a few weeks prior to the race. Charlie certainly contributed very well in previous editions of the race, and could have brought us in a better spot had he been here. Charlie, you are and will be missed, not just for the results, but for the company and the spirit you brought during our long runs and the workouts. Also a strong runner like Emilio was not listed with us, because he finally joined his newly founded team. Rob unfortunately could not be at his best, Pascal was still trying to figure out what bit him on the plane going to France and attempting to climb Mt Blanc, and Fabio was still trying to get some workouts while working a crazy schedule.
A couple of good notes were 1) that Paul was back from a situation that a year before was totally different, and also 2) Sam was going to run and he was in great shape.
The race was short and quick; rain welcomed us when we were warming up and during the woman race that this year was scheduled before the men’s event. The few drops that came down were enough to soak us and keep an incredibly high level of humidity for the race.
I warmed up with Sebastian and Pascal, and even Paul was doing some strides along East Drive north of Engineer’s Gate; this way warming up meant also checking out the final phases of the women race and cheering for the WS team lead by Michelle this year.
We lined up near the start and knowing how aggressive the start of the race is, I decided to stay back quite a few rows and rather deal with people in front of me than going out too fast.
This seems to be a constant in my races: I am always afraid of going out too fast. Maybe one day I should really try to run with no mental barriers and see what happens.
I saw Paul, Seb, Aaron, Ryan Rob and Sam taking off quickly and I kept my effort fairly moderate for the first mile. Regardless of the weather conditions, I felt that mile one was fairly easy and it got me over a couple of the west side rolling hills. clock said 5:28, and I still had a few team mates around.
Mile 2 split was 10:50 and the gap between me and other runners in front kept shrinking. While crossing the Marathon finish I sneaked behind Aaron and Ryan was just around the same zone. I followed them on West drive till south end of the park, and here I had my doubts about passing Aaron: he was running strong and fast.
With the risk of burning myself out a bit too soon I increased a little the effort right at the bottom of the park and thought I could have maintained that to the finish. For the first mile or so it worked and then I had to deal with Cathill.
It is funny how a little bump on the road that generally I would not even consider worth mentioning in longer races, here it gets a lot of attention. Cathill is Cathill; it is not a difficult hill, it is not a climb, it is just a bump. The question is: “how fast can you run this 1/4 mile?”
The faster the better usually, therefore it always becomes a difficult spot for races in Central Park. I remember having my share of fatigue making my way to the top, but once over it, the legs were still moving with a good turnaround.
I picked up a few spots in the last 2.5 miles of the race and got closer to a small group of 5 just after the flat straight of EG. I did not save energy for the final sprint like the year before, when I did get a bit faster at the end; rather I kept an increasing sustained effort for the last half mile.
I was able to close the gap with the little group I was chasing, passed one runner and worked hard to overtake another NBR ahead of me.
Sham caught me on the final left turn trailing behind him just moments before completing the task:
I am not sure what happens with NYRR results lately, but I started behind this guy (I clearly saw him at the start, I know the guy cause he often wears a Ninja-Naruto headband in races and he was at least two seconds ahead of me under the start line), finished just in front of him, and ended up with a slower time. I cannot make this work in my head.
Also the time shown in the official results doesn’t make sense with my watch time, and I have heard of several other runners getting a “gun” time rather than the chip time. Mistery!!
Regardless, happy with my performance and my final time (about 1 minute and 10 secs better than the previous Champs), and about 30 secs behind teamate Sebastien (still tired from Mt Blanc).
Warren Street had a pretty good run, we finished 4th overall, with great runs by Paul (26:16 at 48), Sam, Rob, Aaron (just behind me) and Ryan.
Too bad Emilio did not run for us bacuse with his time we could have got third with a very big chance to take third overall for the entire year.
Instead now we are pretty much set in 4th place and it will be very difficult to change that given the fast races we are approaching (Autism Speak 4M and 5th Ave Mile) where Central Park has an edge on us given their track background.