After a fairly long time away from the blog (and an incredible long time spent on the LUT 2015 post…see here:LUT) I want to write down a few thoughts and memories of the past summer
A few years from now I can take a look at these few paragraphs and smile at how the recent past shaped me into the person I will be in the future.
The month of July started with high hopes to participate in a classic race up in the Catskills: the Escarpment Trail Run. After securing one of the very few last available spots in the entry list, I figured it was a good idea to check if my body end legs were recovered from the adventures in the Dolomites. The race shares part of the course with the Manitou’s Revenge Ultra except that the pace of the event is very different mainly because of the all out effort that is required to compete with some of the best trail fans that generally come to the event.
Hoping that a few days of recovery and a couple of decent workouts during the week got me back in training and racing mode, I drove up to Maplecrest and planned on running some intervals on the course, extended the run to the North-South Lake and hoped catch a ride back to the car.
The run was fine, despite the little altercation I got with a tourist that stopped me while coming down from North Point (how you pretend to stop someone’s hike or run because your desegregated group of 2 dozens kids hiking in flip flops through the Escarpment trail has to make it through a tricky spot, still blows my mind), and with 3 hours and 38 minutes spent on the course I drove home hopeful that I could tackle more trails during the next few weeks. That’s until I discovered my feet were ripped apart from wearing new shoes I just bought a few weeks prior.
With the Achilles giving me some troubles and the feet bleeding, I decided to take a step back and focus on training and treating my feet a little better, so I gave up the idea of running the Escarpment and decided to focus more on helping Warren Street targeting the NYRR Team Championship at the beginning of August.
I did not change anything in the summer training plans starting from the middle of July: everything was going to be geared towards two fall marathons, and my hopes were to use other “minor” local races as good check points to assess fitness, speed and endurance.
The first milestone was Team Champs. WS had put up some decent performances in this race in recent years; however, due to a series of reasons, we were not going to have our A game when towing the start line.
We could count on Sam – who had been running incredibly well – but we were not going to have Paul, Rob and Travis joining us. I was able to talk to Seb and even if he was superbusy with work, family and totally not into any type of training mode, he generously signed up to help the cause. Fabio was able to join us as well, fitting in some training in his busy work schedule.
We racked together the necessary 10 runners to be able to score – and that was huge given the circumstances – and despite the odds, we ended up fifth overall securing some precious points for the overall standings.
What I remember of the race was the incredible work that Seb did, giving me proof of perseverance and commitment when he ran past me at the south end of the park around mile 3. His breathing was intense, he was laboring, but he was not going to easy up his effort and his speed.
WS did ok, but as often happens, we could have done much much better, possibly taking that podium position as we are capable of.
August continued with heavy training loads focused on steady state runs of 45 minutes, and long 3-4 hr runs sometimes back to back. Fresh into a new age group I entered the Percy Sutton 5k with…not so fresh legs…I still managed to bring home a PR, ending an head to head last mile against UA representative Javier and 9 seconds behind Paul. Having Paul in sight during a race is always a great feeling but the 13 seconds from the Retro 4M and these 9 secs in a 5k were reverting the trend of slowly catching up and getting closer to him. Still a 3rd place AG was something to treasure after getting beat up for months in the 30-34 category.
Fortunately this changed during last race in August, the France Run 8k.
I signed up to this race only to support Sebastien who was one of the masterminds and supporters behind the event. Little I knew that one of the two best races of my 2015 was awaiting for me in Central Park that cool Saturday morning.
After exchanging positions the whole race with Paul and youngster Nicholas Synan who kept passing me in the downhill only to be edged in the uphill sections, I tried my luck with a long “sprint” about 300mt from the finish line. While Paul slightly lost contact with me, Nicholas could count on the springy legs of a kid fresh out of college, almost, and with 100 meters to go he passed me like a Ferrari does with a FIAT, when properly driven by a capable driver. I enjoyed the race, it was one of the highlight of the year, not because I edged Paul, but because I ran with him the whole race. Edging someone is generally a great feeling; in this case, I felt thrilled for having spent 26 minutes with him. Something I was never capable of in the past. I don’t know how many times I can still repeat that kind of performance and stay close to Paul in the future, but I will forever value the experience. (and the second place AG)
The month of September was my tune up period for Chicago, while giving it a try at something unprecedented: the 5th Ave Mile.
After the usual heavy week of training (I recall a 25 mile ride and 3x3miles on Monday, a 3×12 min on Thursday and a 3×3 miles on Saturday) Sunday morning I showed up feeling quite fit for a marathon, not for a mile.
I liked the fact that I was competing against people of my age group only, it was a different set up from the usual “open” race. Also it was quite interesting to notice the different crowd that showed up: many unknown faces with team jerseys were present, but I did not recognize them. I had to believe these were the fast specialists of the track and indoor environment. Probably those runners that I generally envy during the winter months when I stick to the outdoor while they comfortably open their strides in warm indoor track facilities.
Of course there were several dislikes about the race, especially when you have to put in an effort just to line up at the start, trying to pass people that probably won’t even be able to finish the whole distance.
I do not want to sound “elitarian”, but losing a second or two just overtaking people that are not there to compete is a challenging factor and a heavy handicap to overcome in a race that is generally only 4 to 5 minutes long.
Not having run the mile, or even a single all out effort 1 mile long before, I did not know what my target could be, but I was hoping to finish under 5 minutes.
While warming up I remember noticing fellow runner Stefan Lingmerth – whom I share some miles with during the 2013 NYC Marathon – warming up in front of the museum. We exchange a few words knowing he just came back from the Lyon, France where he made it to the finals World Masters Athletics (WMAC) Championships 800 mt.
Knowing he could run 800 in under 2 minutes put him as a top 3 guaranteed. Who else was there to place in the podium?
When the gun went off and we all sprinted ahead I followed Stefan tucked in behind his frame, and letting him go after 250 meters when he started to increase the speed chasing Ethiopian runner Million Wolde.
At that point I knew I could not compete with them and decided to run my own race with those who were around me trying to make it to the podium. I trailed behind another NBR runner Stephen Tranter for the middle part of the race and I realized we were getting closer to Million. With just about more than 1/4 of a mile to go we almost closed the gap and at that point I realized that I was running more composed than the other two competitors in front of me (Stefan instead was just a yellow dot way ahead), so I tried my own luck and surged for the first time. All of a sudden I passed Stephen, caught Million and almost with a smile I was headed to the finish line.
Problem was that the smile lasted only a few mere seconds when I realized that Edvard Major was coming up strongly drafting behind me.
From 2nd to 4th in just a few meters, since Million did not want to give up his position, now I felt kind of silly for thinking that I could aim at the podium.
While Stefen kept pushing ahead strongly, I did my part and slowly separated from Million. Now I was sure I was going to pass the finish line in third position, but still I did not know if NYRR was considering chip or gun time, so I tried to squeeze every drop of energy I had in me.
4:42 was the final time, which might not sound great for serious runners that focus on short distances; however, I would consider it a solid achievement for a slow (getting) old(er) endurance wannabe runner like me that just showed up at the race after running his arse off for an entire week. Funny fact that the top 3 of the AG were all European, and only one American made it into the Top 6.
Feeling confident after the mile I entered the Bronx 10M as a tune up race before Chicago two weeks after the mile. I was searching for answers to confirm the fitness for a marathon was there, but something was off that day. Number one the right foot was in bad shape and bothered me since the warm up, and then I got all confused because I thought I missed the start of the race, while instead those people running on the course towards me during my warm up were competing in the Bronx 5k, not the 10M.
The race for me revealed an unusual pattern. While I generally end stronger than the way I start, this time the opposite happened. I ran with Paul for about two miles, and then backed off the effort, cause the pace he was keeping was going to be suicidal for me. Especially in not so great conditions. In fact, while Paul had a spectacular performance, I suffered for the remaining 7 miles finishing in just under 55 minutes and once again top 3 AG.
It was painful to see one by one 4 other runners going by and leaving me in the dust. Especially because they all edged me in the final 2-3 miles.
I still clearly remember Hector Rivera and Alejandro Ariza passing me, as well as Greg Cass.
The race dragged my spirit down a little, after a great month in August and the beginning of September. However, that is what I needed to stay focused on concentrate on the final two weeks pre Chicago.
Next….BOA 2015 CHICAGO Marathon. stay tuned!!