2015 – Summer/Fall Part 3

TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON

With Chicago’s performance in the bank I felt fairly accomplished for the season, but rather than just sitting on the couch a NYCM entry in the pockets was enough motivation to shortly rest and prepare for a decent performance after two weeks.
The goal was helping Warren Street secure a few club points in one of the events that generally we fall short on, due to lack of participation.

This year we had Sebastien and Alex lining up, plus Aaron and Fabio pacing the faster groups that NYRR organizes. This would have guaranteed us at least a 4th or 5th team finish, enough to make the Ted Corbitt 15k in December worth the trip.
I knew Seb was getting back to his running glory, since he ran two fast 1:13 half marathons leading up to the race, despite his always limited training/sleeping regiment, while Pascal told me that Alex was coming to the race really fit and trained.
My goal was to avoid blowing up like I generally did the previous years when I PRed despite slowing down considerably in the second part.

The week before the marathon brought some unexpected bad surprises after a great 8mile workout 9 days prior to the event: first a pulled hamstring that got back in working conditions only 2 days before the race after extensive treatments and application of tape, then the fact that I had to work multiple shifts day and night up to Friday before the race, and possibly also Saturday day. When could I possibly rest?

The forecast this time was not as ugly as 2014, when headwind had been our companion from start to end.

My strategy was to try and run evenly, with no particular goals, but at least avoid a death march on 5th Ave.

As usual I get angry during the race start up procedures, when dozens, actually, hundreds of people from corrals behind us try to pass us on the way to the start. The result is always the same: a mess in the first 45 seconds. I’ve always started the race in the local competitive area, reserved for those local runners who supposedly have a certain qualifying time, hence the perk of lining up at the very front. Instead, after making the left turn out of the gates, people of any ability and from every country engage in a “pre-race” race to start in front of each other and appear on TV.

This year I did not get penalized too much, since after the start I revived my elbowing skills from my early football days. Maybe 10 seconds lost at best? I’m sure some not so kind words were addressed to me in those first 300 meters.

Back to the race: I was hoping to pop out at the 5k mark together with teammate Seb and hopefully run together since he started from a different corral.

When I turned into 4th Ave in Brooklyn I did not see Seb so I believed I was probably just a little ahead of him. I continued with a conservative pace looking behind me when I could to see if I could spot him. Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Greenpoint went by relatively quickly. Here I had the chance to pick up some fluids from a private aid station set up by my helpful Michelle who had a bottle of lucky water for me.

In the process I picked up some Italians runners who started way too fast. It is pretty entertaining to observe the difference in attire between European runners and American runners: despite the standardization of the top athletes uniforms the mass is still diversified. I noticed Europeans, especially Italians, the French, and some Eastern European runners, are big into compression: socks, shorts, Tshirts, tight singlet on top of compression shirts, BANDANAs (or buffs as they are now called), possibly aerodynamic gloves and brand new shine shoes. Americans – on the other hand – don’t care too much, but they generally prefer to mix and match some pretty ugly color combinations carefully picked from a base array of neon-yellow and bright fluorescent orange or pink/fuchsia.

While crossing the Pulaski Bridge I realized I was even going a bit faster than the splits I had in Chicago; I figured that was a positive, since I would have lost precious time on the Queensboro Bridge. Clearly I knew I was not going to best my 2:35 from the Wind City, but I could have easily got a sub 2:40 that all considered was not going to be a bad deal after a marathon and a 50k just three and two weeks prior.

I was really concern about keeping myself prepared to master 1st ave, and avoid the inconvenience of a 9 min/mile with bathroom stop and intestine troubles like the previous year, so I took things a bit easy on the Queensboro and tried not to get too engaged emotionally by the crowd on 1st ave. I tried to spot the MPF crew that was along 1st ave, but did not make it to see them. Just before reaching the Warren Street cheering station I recognized the first familiar face of the pack: flying by went Hector Rivera, moving well and fast. He would go along to close in 2:36, with an impressive second half.

Everything went well till mile 19, when I had a glimpse of another runner ahead of me moving with a style that was familiar.

It was Sebastien, crossing the Willis Ave Br into the Bronx. Shortly after, on 135th St I caught up with him and I saw he was struggling a little. At that point I was still feeling good and was running strong. He encouraged me to go ahead and not spend time with him.

I felt bad for not sticking around, but we had to give it our best to get some points for the team, so I slowly pulled away from him. However, not too long after that, I sensed that I was getting depleted quickly. I tried to drink some of the water I had with me after the Madison Ave Br, but I could not make it to eat some of the bolts. That is usually a bad sign. I noticed my body was getting tenser and tenser. More than holding the water bottle in my hand I was strangling it.

5th ave for me started to become another slow march towards Central Park. I tried to dose the energy and run as solid as I could without slowing down or accelerating too much.

Despite the unfavorable course profile of the last 4 miles of the race (with quite some climbing late in the race for a marathon) my pace did not get affected dramatically and I made it to loose just a couple of minutes.

I got passed by a few runners, and I passed others and pretty much maintained the same position till Engineer Gate. From here on I envisioned to be able to run more efficiently and steadily than 5th Ave, and I tried to save some energies to at least look good for a nice picture along the final stretch of the finish line.

Everything went ok till I merged on Central Park South. Right turn, slightly uphill stretch that I have run over and over and over even with city traffic, and here I see a small group of runners ahead of me. The desire to catch them was too big and so I did try to increase the effort. I heard someone calling my name, but I could not see clearly who it was. I got close to the group and once caught the tail end my right leg decided to give up.

I ran the whole race after three sessions of treatment with Dr Stu who applied a tape on my right hamstring to reduce a little the tension generated by a small tear on the muscle 8 days before the race during a short recovery run in Norwalk.

All of a sudden I was stuck in the middle of the road limping. I stopped. I felt something got pulled. I waited about 10 seconds and realized I was actually having a cramp. I was about to start swearing left and right to unleash my disappointment, but I remained calm. I walked it off for a few feet, while Michelle popped out of the crowd on the left side of CPS.

I kept walking, then jogging and running again. I tried to catch up those 6-8 runners that had passed me while getting my leg back in working order, but the best I could do was maintain that position.

I finished crossing the line basically walking “on eggs” the last 3-4 feet with cramps ready to come out again…see a video of the finish line here at minute 19:55. Peter Ciaccia came over and shook hands and basically closed the deal for another NYC Marathon that left me fairly happy in terms of performance: squeezed out my PR on the course despite my cramps and slow final 5 miles; but fairly disappointed in terms of placing, since till half a mile to go I was comfortably navigating  on the high 80th position, and finished 90th male, and 102nd overall. Such a disappointment to give up a top 100 finish in a major race like this.

Well… then there is a reason to sign up for 2016

N.B.: After receiving hints from fellow teammates I decided to leave the photo gallery from marathon photo out of the equation this time and avoid problems of image rights bla bla bla

 

NYRR 60k

Two weeks after NYCM and with a lot going on at work with an important deadline to meet before Thanksgiving that put training a little bit on the side, the NYRR 60k represented the perfect scenario to revamp the fitness I gained before Chicago and get ready for the North Face Championship in San Francisco.

I signed up almost last minute when the race was near capacity; I asked around a few runners and inquired if they were participating. I gathered that Stephen England (former 3rd finisher) and Adolfo Munguia (former winner) were both participating. Not that I dislike a little bit of competition, but this time I was not looking forward to set my mind into competition mode. I wanted to experience a few relaxing laps of the Park with friends, maybe a little bit of chatting, and then see if we had it to put up an honest “fight” towards the end.

Well…that’s always wishful thinking, till you toe the line and, as usual for this even, there is the novice runner who decide to gun the first part of the race.

This year the course was slightly different from previous editions and we tackled the 5mile loop of CP starting from Engineer Gate and then switch for the mentally grueling 8 laps of the 4 mile loop counter clockwise.

Despite my preference for the counter clock direction, the idea of doing Cathill 9 times is not so appealing.

So, back to the race, we all started packed with a conservative pace and we exchanged a few words, while one of the usual warriors, white long sleeve t-shirt, blond long hair, gloves and fancy colorful socks, decided to have his 45 minutes of glory 10 minutes into the race and took off with an improbable pace. I learned at this point that Adolfo was not in good shape and was coming back from an injury. I was particularly intrigued by another young guy that was talking to Stephen and was moving his legs quite well (Eric).

After the end of the first lap we formed a small group of 5-6 runners chasing the lonely guy in the breakaway.

Early stages of the race: the chasing group up Cathill looking for #278

Early stages of the race: the chasing group up Cathill looking for #278

While we talked a little, I tried to focus on eating something and drinking regularly at least in this initial phase; soon the pace became more sustained and by the end of the second lap we made some ground and quickly closed the gap: once we had the sprinter in our sight, we relaxed a little, but at that point the pace became very unstable: one minute we were going at 7 min/mile and 200 yards after we were pushing low 6 min/mile. I did not need that type of stress: I can take a constant beating but I did not want to try out an erratic pace for another 3 hours or more, so towards the end of the third lap I started pushing a little the pace, and went constant around 6min/mile or under trying to create a gap. The only other runner that stayed with me was Eric, who not only followed me, but at times was pushing the pace and making me go harder than I wanted.

3rd or 4th lap, still in good company

3rd or 4th lap, still in good company

At one point on the west side of the park he asked me if I thought we were going too fast. “Of course” I told him. I knew we could not keep that up forever, but he also confessed he never ran more than 20 miles, and he did that the weekend before.

“Oh boy” – I thought – “He is going to suffer later on”. If you have not experienced running for more than 20 miles, and you are in the initial phases of a 37 mile run at this pace, only one thing is guaranteed: you will suffer and you will want to quit.

At this point I wondered if I was stepping on the gas pedal too much, but I really wanted to remain alone and run at my pace; I was expecting Adolfo to catch up at one point or another, so I tried to save some energy to keep up with him.

In little to no time I crossed EG again and I saw that Adolfo was instead, unfortunately, sidelined and getting some help from his friends. I found out that his injury came out again and he did not want to make it worse than what it was.

A little messed up by Adolfo’s injury, I kept running; I gave a glance to the watch and saw that the pace was around 6:30. I tried t do some math and see if I was still in time to close it under 4 hours, but it seemed a little hard at that point.

With a couple of laps to go I was joined by teammate Alex who gave me a needed refreshing change of mood. He was biking in the park and followed me for a few minutes talking to me, distracting me and…then he got schooled by the marshal that was following me at the front of the race.

The marshal was threatening to disqualify me since Alex tried to exchange a few words…ridiculous. She told him to disappear and not come close anymore. Now I want to understand why on earth you are trying to threaten people like that.

First, Alex was not offering any help, he was only cheering me. He was not providing support with food, water, nor was he pacing me, so….why are you so nasty? And is there a rule that allows male runners not to be paced while female runners can be paced along the course (heard the same bike marshal saying hi to some of the female runners she knew and asking how they were doing and they answered “great, such and such are pacing me, it’s great”)

Anyway…the result was that Alex stepped on the side and got separated. I finished my dreadful last lap a bit tired and while I took it easy up Cathill, I tried to sprint towards the finish line to finish in under 4:04.

Last turn into 72nd transverse. Visually tired at the idea of doing Cathill once more

Last turn into 72nd transverse. Visually tired at the idea of doing Cathill once more

Mission accomplished with 4:03:59, a slight improvement from the year before, despite the easy pace and the race course changes.

2015 RACE TO DELIVER

This is going to be one of the most enjoyable, yet disappointing races I’ve run. I’ve signed up to this race in an attempt to run more events with NYRR under the new age group (35-39) than what I did as a 30-34 (which is an incredibly competitive group).
I had little expectations, knowing that in 2014 the whole NYAC Team showed up to sweep the top 5 spots, but knowing Sebastien was coming, I wanted to at least try and run with him for as much as I could.
The morning of the race I remember warming up and doing a few strides, but I quickly realized that there was no PR for me ready to happen, and there was not a lot of joy along the course waiting for me. As Sebastien and I lined up near the front at the start we realized that actually only one NYAC guy showed up, and he did not look as harmful as others of his teammates.
Jokingly I told Seb he was going to win the race.

We started and the chasing game began.

While Seb pulled away and was quickly followed by Sebastian (the NYAC guy), I struggled to remain in their proximity the whole time. They alternated taking the lead of the race from each other, and I was hoping that the hills of the west side could help me pick up some of the deficit I had on them.
However, Just before the transverse on 102nd, we were all pretty much regrouped. But not for long: my Sebastien opened up a gap quickly. While I really could not do anything that try to hold my pace, I was hoping he could gain enough to get the win. At one point he was well ahead of me and the NYAC guy, and I got excited dreaming of Sebastien winning the race.

Along the west side hills Sebastian (NYAC) did not run particularly fast, but once the rolling terrain was over, he ran a really fast last mile and a half and despite Seb’s effort, he caught up and left both of us behind. I was the silent witness of their battle, with little to say or add to their rivalry, since I was already gassed out.

As we approached the left turn on 72nd street Seb looked back to check if I was going to be a threat, but a glimpse at my face probably gave him enough comfort.
Seb finished 9 seconds ahead of me, only 5 behind the winner, but we did an incredible run. I was a bit disappointed for not hitting a decent time on the clock, but obviously satisfied for a podium.

After the race we got treated with VIP measures, enjoyed some food at the finish line tend and then proceeded to the award ceremony where we were pictured in an image that I could only dream of three years before when joining him, Paul, Charlie, Fabio, Aaron and Pascal with Warren Street. Often we can find pride, joy and enthusiasm in sharing these moments with people that you look up to, not just obtaining a nice result or a good performance.

Second Place: Sebastien Baret and me with a big smile from one ear to the other

Second Place: Sebastien Baret and me with a big smile from one ear to the other

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2015 – Summer/Fall time Part 2

OCTOBER

BOA CHICAGO MARATHON
After learning the hard way from the 2014 NYC Marathon that putting all your eggs in one basket can be risky and somewhat disappointing – especially when external factors like weather, etc. impact the event – for 2015 I planned on having a major marathon combo at my disposal to make sure I could attempt my best effort at least at one of two.
Last spring, in fact, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon an the NYC Marathon again.
The build up to Chicago was described already here, and the final 10 days leading up to the race were particularly sweet.

First I hit a great couple of workouts, a solid 8 mile tempo run in Norwalk followed by a strong endurance run the next day, and then – as usual – I tried to sabotage myself volunteering at the Cat’s Tail Trail Marathon a week before the race. I would have loved to run the Cat’s tail, first because RD Charlie got me involved when he was planning the race and he surely arranges for ultra tough courses and well rewarding finish line parties, second because it is in the Catskills, third because Mountain Peak Fitness and Red Newt were heavily supporting the event (one of the races of the RNT calendar) and I could catch up with some teammates, and lastly because I had the chance to camp with Michelle for one night after the race thanks to Elizabeth’s support providing us with the equipment to do so.

The volunteering part was not too demanding, even if done in not so perfect conditions: hiking to Slide Mt and Cornell Mt from the aid station under a persistent constant rain required me and Michelle approx. 5 1/2 hrs for a total of 13-14 miles. Next day after a good breakfast at Phoenicia Diner Michelle and I spent a little bit of time in Woodstock to get the final workout in pre Chicago: an intense 3x2miles repetition with a good amount of uphill running put me in a good place mentally for the marathon.

Fast forward a few days, and here we are: Michelle and I landed in Chicago, resting in the hotel room, hitting the local Native Food join downtown basically for every meal and trying to inspect small sections of the course near the start line.

The day before the race I had the opportunity to meet Antony Scott, another runner from the City who made the trip to attempt a PR on the fast course of the wind city. We did an easy run together with just a few strides at the end to move the legs and stimulate the appetite. Antony told me his troubled months prior to the race, the limited amount of miles he could get in due to injuries, and the surprising performances that sometimes happened with his limited training regiment. We also took a picture together, and I still remember now how I was feeling so sleepy that morning. When they say a picture is worth 1,000 words…well…no comment…

Wake up Carlo

Wake up Carlo

After lunch and a relaxing afternoon spent in the hotel bedroom sleeping and resting, in the evening Michelle and I walked across the street and hit Vapiano for some pasta. The place was crowded, but we still managed to order and eat in a reasonable amount of time.
Back in the hotel I began feeling a little nervous, as it should be the night before an event you prepare for a long time.
I managed to waste some time massaging the Achilles, then I looked at past results, how other runners in the previous years managed to cover the course and the splits they had at the 5k intermediate checkpoints.
I tried to workout a chart with my predicted splits considering I would have run conservatively the first 15-20 miles, and I would have used some extra energy especially in the last bump of the course at mile 26. (Sebastien, who set his PR in Chicago, warned me about a little uphill with just 1/4 mile to go, so I checked it out the days before the race and realized that despite the innocent easy incline, the tricky bridge on Roosevelt Rd can make you loose quite a few seconds if unprepared for it).
Then, while Michelle was shopping for some bread, water and breakfast items, I prepared my Bolts for the race, as usual neatly packed in small bags that I could easily insert inside the arm-warmers or a little fuel belt.
On TV Gran Torino was broadcasted and that movie kept us in front of the screen for a while, just in time to feel tired and ready to snooze.

The morning of the race we got up really early and walked towards Millennium Park way early, anticipating the usual big chaos you can expect for a huge event like this. Clearly I was biased by the NYCM experiences since Chicago offered me the most pleasant pre race experience I could have possibly imagined.
I was there early, checked my drop bag for the finish line in no time, walked towards the corral and did some strides before entering it, assuming I would have spent the next 90 minutes standing in a crowded pool of people pushing, elbowing, peeing around, well…you get it…again…NYCM style.

None of that: I found a porta potty that was ready to be used without issues, I took care of business, found Antony warming up, entered the corral and found it surprisingly empty, with a small grass area runners used to lay down and stretch before the start. I wish NYRR could learn some of this from BoA Chicago M.

The pros and elites were announced and ran to the area in front of us from the right side; this time I got the chance to even see these semi-gods just a few feet away. When the race was about to take off, we were no more that 3-4 feet apart. Incredible.

The race started fast and due to some GPS issues under the tunnel and around city blocks for the first few miles, I could not check well the pace on my watch. Also the pack was still full of “jumpers” (those usual suspects/hero wannabes that take off at 5 min/mile and end up the race with a 9 min/mile or more last mile) and navigating through the twisty turns of the course was not an easy feat, especially when you try to cut the tangents and negotiate a few inches of space with raised elbows around you.

At this point I realized the work I did the night before checking the 5k splits was going to pay off. Ideally I planned on hitting 18:30 at each checkpoint to keep the math simple to remember, but ideally I would have preferred to go faster.

beginning

Early miles in the pack

The first 10k went by quickly, trading spots with other runners, and keeping myself as covered as I could trailing behind others. I stayed focused on my mission and despite feeling the pace was not taking a toll on me, I did not increase the effort but rather paid attention to eating and drinking regularly. Just after the 6 mile mark I felt some pain in the belly and began to feel nervous that once again a big event was going to be compromise by stomach or intestine problems.
I relaxed a little bit and ran an 18:36 3rd 5k (from 10k to 15k) with some headwind hitting the little group we formed. A couple of runners lead our group and were laboring heavily to break through sudden gusts. It was helpful to find someone else working for you.

Just after mile mark 8, I realized my gps watch was off from the official markers and began trusting the 18:30 avg splits even more, instead of relying on the avg pace displayed on the watch. The second surprise came when fellow runner Mac Schneider showed up unexpectedly.

Mac ran with me the first 18 miles of the 2014 NYC marathon and finished that race in an incredible 2:36 despite the constant headwinds we faced. He dropped me on 1st ave when I stopped for my bathroom break, but I realized from the half point I could not keep up with him, cause he was moving too well.

Seeing Mac again brought up some bad memories and I started feeling that bad luck was going to hit me again. So instead of taking the initiative for the group, I exchanged a few words with him and then remained covered among the others, helping out with pacing duties only for short periods.

with Mac 4

When Mac comes by, you don’t want to miss his train

with Mac 5

Holding onto Mac’s lead

Mac was not particularly worried about the pace either at this point so he joined forces with the little group of 6-7 that formed along the way back down into downtown Chicago.

The good thing is that for a mile or two I got distracted from my little stomach problem and suddenly it disappeared.

While crossing the bridge to downtown at around mile 12 the group started disintegrating: maybe the support of the crowd made us increase the pace (not according to the 5k split at this point), maybe some runners just fell apart, but as we crossed the bridge Mac and I basically found ourselves a little more alone than 5 minutes earlier.

with Mac 1

Heading south back into the city and looking around for Michelle waiting for me at 20k

with Mac 2

with Mac 3

Mac is looking around, I am wondering where everyone else went

We both looked at each other when we crossed the half way point and a runner went by at incredible speed leaving us speechless. I remember he was wearing a pink singlet, and after wishing him good luck, Mac and I kept plugging along at our pace.

The half marathon time was 1:18:04. A little too slow that what I felt comfortable with, since I usually tend to gain some seconds in the first half and eventually lose them in the second part. With a sub 2:36 goal, now I was all set to race, and I had a partner in crime with me: Mac.

At this point Mac took the lead and pushed hard for the next 10k. We hit some 5:59 and 5:57 splits and despite the pace was basically the same than before, I was producing more effort. I tried to help Mac a few times leading him, but he was more brilliant than me at this point.

I kept focusing on the final 10k, the fact that I needed to make sure I had enough energy to run them well, maybe alone. In the meanwhile we were picking up runners slowing down left and right.

group fell apart - with Mac

with Mac’s lead we picked and dropped another duo

Just after mile 20 on Halsted Street I started to feel a bit crappy. The discomfort was coming out, and generally this is the moment the distance takes you down. I was planning on increasing the effort only after mile 21, even if in pain, but now I was a little skeptical.

Two runners – I remember one of them being particularly tall – came by just before mile 21 and gapped us by 15-20 meters in just a minute. I could not understand if it was me falling off the pace or them just having a great day. A quick glimpse to the watch and I saw we were at 6 min/mile even. that was not great, since I wanted to pick up that little deficit from the first half, and instead I was falling behind a little more.

Mac pushed and began closing the gap; I lost a few meters and thoughts of another bad outcome clouded instantly my head; my reaction was a small surge, that desire and willingness to suffer a bit more to hang onto someone figure floating in front of you.
It wasn’t painful to switch gears, it was actually rewarding and satisfying. I felt stronger and then, just as we turned right before the 35k mark, I found myself running alone. I picked a different trajectory than the rest of the group, stayed closer to the inside, ran alone for a quarter of a mile and found myself in my familiar conditions.

I’ve spent months and months running 20, 30, 45 and even 60 minutes repetitions solo. I have embraced the solitude and quietness of those long moments spent listening to my lungs breathing and my mind thinking, isolating myself from the world; this was my ideal scenario. With just about 7-8k to finish I found my ideal running set up.

Is it my time, yet?

Is it my time, yet?

I knew I was a bit behind, not sure how much, but all I could do was running as fast as I could towards that last hill that Sebastien warned me about.
“Was I ready to do it all alone?” I remember thinking while checking the time and distance at the 35k mark.

Approaching 35k

Approaching 35k

The final part: solo from here on

The final part: solo from here on

going alone 4

just after 35k, my mind was made up

 

going alone 3

And still alone, after mile 22. more relaxed and ready

After mile 23 I headed north on Michigan Ave shooting straight to mile 26. No turns, no obstacles just a flat road. The headwind now became tail wind. The split from 35 to 40k became faster with a 5:56 average and now my head was too clouded to do the math and figure out if I was ahead or behind the 2:36 projection.
I kept doing what I was doing, suffering internally, but picking up runners around me.

Final 5k effort

Final 5k effort

going alone 5

It wasn’t that easy, I promise

going alone 6

going alone 7

going alone 8

Lonely Effort 2

Lonely Effort

Funny thing with about 1.5k to go I saw the runner with the pink shirt that blasted through the half marathon mark. He was now barely jogging; this gave me some selfish satisfaction and pushed me even further to go faster. As I approached the right turn for the final hill I saw Michelle encouraging me with all her voice just behind the fence.
I laid out everything I could in that uphill, I sprinted towards the finish line, ready to dive, because I did not know how many more times I have the chance to break 2:36.

Sprinting to the Finish Line

Sprinting to the Finish Line

Crossing the Line...and it's over

Crossing the Line…and it’s over

Caught off guard

Caught off guard

Cooling Down

Cooling Down

Happy after finishing

Happy after finishing

Finish Line Satisfied 2

Satisfied face

Satisfied face

 

WATERGAP 50k

With a week of recovery post Chicago, and not really felling too springy with my legs I took on the challenge or running my third Red Newt Race with MPF-RNR Team: the Watergap 50k.

I was not super happy of getting into a race so quickly, but for once the course was not that challenging with just a hill at the beginning and a couple of little inclines at the end. It was also a good chance to catch up with Elizabeth and Ian Golden who have relentlessly worked hard for the team all year long.

The goal was to finish on the podium possibly running under 4hrs. The first few miles – like the rest of the day – were very enjoyable. I got to spend some time with Silas and Justin chatting and enjoying finally being able to run fairly smoothly after a week of tired legs.

As the miles went by the effort increased and Silas and I hit several miles on the 6:30 opening a gap on Justin who happened to have started just a little too fast than his ideal pace.

While I had no intention to race Silas, we pushed each other to keep the race honest till the finish line, when we just went on to complete the race as teammates.

Jason Friedman completed a masterpiece race, starting with a easy effort and coming back strong for the second part of the race. I had the chance to talk to him at the end, and his energy level was still high. A clear sign that he had margin to even do better.

Overall this was a very enjoyable day spent in the company of many people like Elizabeth, Jason, Silas, Ian, etc. that I would love to share more adventures, races, and parties with.

Read more about the race from Jason and Silas reports and enjoy a few photos of the race below. Big Thank You to Mountain Peak Fitness and Joe Azze for covering extensively the course

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ready to go Start Line

Next one is November…another busy month of running non stop

 

2015 – Summer Time

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.

JULY

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.

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.

Final strides before the bent

Final strides before the bent

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)

Still celebrating...obviously Javier did not race, but was sweating just looking at us :)

Still celebrating…obviously Javier did not race, but was sweating just looking at us 🙂

Smiley faces post race with Paul and Javier

Smiley faces post race with Paul and Javier

SEPTEMBER
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.

Last effort before the finish

Last effort before the finish

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.

Ok...still looking fresh here

Ok…still looking fresh here

Huff....did not expect this suffering today

Huff….did not expect this suffering today

 

and grinding

Grinding

 

Grinding

Grinding

 

and Griding

and Griding

 

Bronx 4

 

Bronx 3

 

Worried face

Worried face

 

Finally it's over

Finally it’s over

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!!

2014 Team Champs

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.

Paul and I hanging out before the start. The smiles are just to cover up the tension

Paul and I hanging out before the start. The smiles are just to cover up the tension

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:

IMG_0405

IMG_0404

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.

Warren Street after the effort

Warren Street after the effort

NYC Half Marathon 2014

Surpises can happen. And they are alway welcomed!

NYC Half was a dream race for me since 2013. It was a magic moment already in 2012 when I volunteered by the tunnel entrance at mile 11 or so, but spectating at mile 1 and by the final stretch the 2013 event gave me an electric feeling of overwhelming joy.

Just after a few of the elites pounded the final stretch of asphalt, my friend Brendan popped out from the barriers running towards an incredible 1:17:52 for a 120th place overall and second of his age group.
He ran a sub 1:18 at 45 years of age, and he proved me that improvements can be made, despite of age, and injuries. I ran the last 100 meters behind the course barriers and fence along with him so I could scream at him after the finish line. The incredible part was that he ran that time including the first 10k in Central Park, which is not the easiest going at all.

Brendan told me he got a little push from the wind along the Westside Hwy, still it was a great endeavour for me and the NYC half started to appear as a nice race to tackle in 2014, despite the highest entry fees of any other race of that distance probably in the world. As soon as it opened up for registration I put down my name in the entry list, feeling confident the winter training would have brough me to a great time, close to 1:17.

For several reasons – explained in other posts – training has been just average at best; race results instead have been surpisingly positive this year. The little problems in my left hip became quite critical two weeks before the race during the saturday WS long run, when a sharp pain hit me on the butt after 12-13 miles. This really kicked my confidence down, knowing that fitness was at an unknown level and that the body was not even staying together too well.

I attempted some speed work a couple of times, with terrible results and even deadlier aftermaths. What worked out was the fact that fellow runner and teammate Gary let me try his portable laser to heal the hip. And it worked: I felt better, even if only for a couple of days.
Discouraged and a bit disappointed I went to the expo to pick up my bib and see if I could see any famous runner near the stands, but I ended up running away from the overcrowded place, full of loud and a bit rude people.
I also made plans with Sebastien who was going to participate as an official “pacer” for the 1:19 group. I knew my goal was to better my 1:18:00 from Rudgers ’13, but in these conditions, I felt it was going to be a miracle to hang in there with Seb for 13 miles, and maybe finish just a couple of seconds ahead, to guarantee a sub 1:19 and the qualifying time for NYC Marathon in 2015.

Michelle had the great idea of running her first half after the injury on Saturday before the race, so I spent the morning with her in Long Island spectating and also running a little bit along with other runners. The hip felt pretty heavy after 5-6 miles, so I stopped the run and waited by the finish line for Michelle to complete her race finishing 4th woman.
Michelle

We drove into the city where Gary let me use the laser one final time before the race and then we went home relaxing.

The morning of the race Michelle drove me to the Park early and then she took off to cheer people by the finish line. We met Seb by the Apple store and then headed to the bag drop off area. The chilly (frrrreezing) atmosphere was a friendly ally for me, since I am a lover of colder conditions. I hit the portable potty as soon as I entered the park and then warmed up with Seb for 10 minutes. short and sweet, it was probably the most effective warm up I have ever done. No waste of time. by 7:30 we were all lined up in the corral already.

I was standing by Sebastien, laughing at all the surprised people that were asking him if he was really pacing the 1:19. People were so impressed of his talent that they could not believe it. Running for an hour and 20 minutes, with a pole and a flag and covering 13 miles…pretty impressive…
Brendan was there with me by the start and we made some small talk. He predicted a good race for me, but I told him the result was a mistery. In my mind I wanted to do well.
I started to change my mind as far as following Sebastien and I wanted to just stay a little ahead of him, so that in case of a problem he could have picked me up and distracted me from the pain. A pace of just around 6:00 would have made the trick.

The race started by the Boathouse and had us face Cathill right away. Good test to kill some of those runners that lined up in the wrong spot of the corral. I could not set into a steady pace until EG because of the amount of people passing me, then dropping back, or just dropping back. A total chaos. But a nice chaos.

Mile 1 was cleared in 5:55, not too far from pace, but I was questioning if I started too quickly. While thinking about it I ran down towards 110th st and got off the park towards the runabout where I saw the pros coming back charging the course.

Near me was Bobby Asher from the VCTC and a couple of other unknown guys who were pretty impressed by the pros. I told them that with some more training we would be there next year. Ahahah…yeah, right…we laughed for a sec, then we re-focused on what we were doing.
I felt I was not in the right place since Bobby is usually too far ahead of me, and mile 2 was in 5:43.
We re-entered Central Park and attacked the hilly sections on the north and west side. I picked up some of the elite women (including a feloow ultrarunner, Kate Pallardy) starting here and continued to feel nervous about my pace. Could I just collapse after this stupid start? Was I doing a mistake?

110 hill A

110 hill B

Well, I figured it was not a big deal to gain 10 secs now and run a couple of 6+ towards the end. So I kept going clearing mile 3 in 5:43 again. First 5k in 18:10. The legs were fresh, I was not pushing them hard, but the turnaround was pretty quick: smaller steps to protect the hip and fast. All of a sudden my mate Bobby abandoned me, probably for a little physical problem, so I remained alone. The west side run counterclockwise is familiar territory, so I stayed alone for a bit, trying to catch up with other folks in font of me.

Paul Thompson could not have missed the race, and of course snapped a picture of me:

Photo Taken by Paul Thompson

Photo Taken by Paul Thompson

I felt silly at this point, cause I envisioned Paul making fun of me for poor pacing, but I figured it was not a big deal, if I stepped off the gas pedal a little. Mile 4 was in 5:50 and 5:48, including the hills. I recognized in front of me one of the runners that got me at the Gridiron, so I used the good pacing of #518 to get closer to him and pass him by the 72nd street transverse.
Here he is in the back of the pack with the red shirt:
5 mile

I think I recognized Aaron from Warren Street around the south west part of the park, but my vision was a little blurry at this point.

When we approached the exit of the park to head to Times Square I could not believe the clock at the 10k mark: 36 and change. Second 5k in 18:03. I tried again to remain quiet, but the presence of a runner in front of me continued being the excuse to pick up others.

CP 2

CP 3

CP 4

CP 5

#518 was coming along well with me, and he proved to be a good buddy in this section towards Times Square, since he was leading our small pack shielding us from the random headwind we were getting.
We aimed at Vongvorachoti, aka Jane, one of the local elite from CPTC patiently paced by a male CPTC runner. Little by little we picked her up along 7th ave, and passed. 7th ave is really a pothole festival. I never drive there (thankfully) but the reality is that even running on it was not comfortable.
The crowd was fenomenal and you need to stay focused on your effort to avoid the risk of going too fast. My pictures here do not look so great, and maybe some sign of tiredness was coming out.
6th ave C

6th ave E

6th ave F

6th ave I

The 90 degree turn into 42nd street going west was an experience: it made me change gears, moving them, lifting them fluidly and naturally, and I started to feel confident that the rest of the race was going to be under control: from now on it was constantly under 5:40. Except for three quarters of a mile along 42nd street: a vigorous headwind pushed us back to a 5:49 pace for the mile. A different story from the little help Brendan got the year before…Another right turn going north on the Westside Hwy and a full 180 degree turn two blocks after (not a great way to keep a fast pace), and I was now on a straight path towards the finish line.

42nd Turn 1

42nd Turn 2

Struggling a little bit with tired legs I made it to improve the third 5k at 17:43.

I could not figure out too well if I was too inconsistent with my pace or if other runners were totally messed up: we kept exchanging positions, passing each other, then repassing. Very weird, and energy consuming.

west side hwy

west side hwy2

The sooner I finish the sooner I rest. Hurry up

The sooner I finish the sooner I rest. Hurry up

The only runner that pretty much sticked with me the whole time was this misterious #518, and the two of us worked well together, even if he worked more than me as a rabbit. He faded towards the end just before the entrance of the tunnel.
As we approached that spot I remembered the hard work I was doing two years prior as a volunteer and the unbelievable happiness I received from those runners that acknowledge our support when they were running by.
I saw a few supporters cheering us and I waved at a little kid with his father to make him happy. It gave me a smile and distracted me from the math exercise I was doing in my head trying to predict the finish time.
I was all over the places with my math skills right now: at one point I thought I was around 1:17, then maybe 1:13, then I thought I was just under 1:19 (yet no sign of Seb near me)…now I entered the tunnel and the only thing I knew was that I had no idea how much more ground I had to cover. I lost some ground from other 3 runners, maybe 40-50ft.
The little incline to come out of the tunnel made me complain a little bit, and I could not wait to hit the finish line now. I was hearing the crowd, yet no sight of it. A little sign indicating 400mt to go gave me some encouragement and I was now close to 90secs or to the end.
After a quick turn to the left I checked my watch and I was just around 1:15. With less than 200 meters to go, I knew I was going to hit something I had only dreamt of before. Energy returned quickly, as I heard and saw Michelle screaming my name from the crowd.
I was feeling I made myself and her proud of my achievement.

After the finish I was waiting for Seb to complete his pacing duty (not too far behind me) and in the meantime I was approached by another runner with whom I ran a portion of the NYC Marathon months before and we small talked for a minute. Then Brendan came in, improving his time from the previous attempt, and we complimented each other.

Stephen England popped out at the finish line a few minutes later, after I saw him along the course in Times Square. He probably paced someone for a little portion of the course (at least little and short for his standard).

Then Seb finished and I shared with him, his wife, Adrien and Michelle the rest of the morning getting some well deserved breakfast.

Running south 1

42nd st

Boh

A bit tired

Drag force

Hard Rock 1

Hard Rock 2

Times Sq 2

Times Sq 3

Times Sq 7

Times Sq 8

Times Sq 9

Gridiron 4M – when running gives me intense emotions

After a few weeks of slow training and low milage due to the move from 55 North Water to the new apartment, last week of January has been very intense in terms of training.
My body has not been accepting very well just above average efforts since Christmas; with the close proximity of some of my short term races, I opted to go heavy for a week, and see what I was willing to take.
Monday after the final clean up with Maria at the Jefferson apartment,I went for a recovery run, even though I had nothing to recover from the weekend. So it was more like a general aerobic run, to test the system and see if I was biomechanically working.
Tuesday was a hard test. I ran a few miles alone in CP and joined WS for the speedworkout. Lately we have been missing each other due to work schedules and business trips, so when 3 of the usual suspects showed up, I got really happy, and worried: anytime Seb, Paul and Charlie are around, I know (and we all know) that someone is getting his arse whipped. And whose arse are we talking about? Mine.
We did our 3 x 6min workout and even if the feelings were not exceptionally great (lack of core strength, too much belly bouncing, and lack of form during the effort) the pace was interesting, and I could hang just a few yards behind Charlie, while Paul and Sebastien were lost somewhere in the dark in front of us.
Wednesday brought a medium run in Norwalk that was meant to be easy, but became a bit challenging because I was feeling so good while running that I pushed the pace from 7:50 or so to a few low 6 min/mile.
Thursday was complete destruction when I started early, ran about 20 miles and could not do even the tempo with Paul cause I was too shot to do any better than 6:45 with him. However, Thursday was a chatarchic moment when Paul was describing me how he perceives the training that we do as individuals.
He compared me with Seb and said that we are similar in the fact that we often “like” to punish our body.
This remained stuck in my mind. I need to mentally and internally elaborate more on this sadistic thought.
Friday was a day off, Saturday was a quite long run at 6:45 for about 15 miles with the same 3 suspects again, plus Bikram Yoga in the afternoon, and then Sunday came with the Gridiron 4 miler.
I was very worried about my conditions and I was hoping to hit something close to 23 min and change. While driving to the race, my focus shifted more to Michelle than my own goals.
It was her first race after the injury and even if she just started “jogging” a couple of weeks earlier, she was already down to test her fitness, without pushing of course.
I felt excited and happy all day for this. It was great to see her back, share with me the preparation, the course, talk about how she experienced the run after a long journey through injury. After 36 hours I still feel very pumped for this.
On my end the race was good overall. The speedsters forgot to show up in CP today so the field was not deep. I crossed the finish line in 22:00, 6th overall according to my calcs, but 9th in the final standing since a couple of guys started way behind me and made it to pass me by a fraction of a second.
Lesson learned: next time I won’t wait to outsprint people at the end, I’ll just take them way ahead.
With about 1.25 mile to go I was side by side with 4th, and passed him engaging the target for 3rd. Then I felt one leg getting a little tighter, so I figured today was not the right moement to become a hero, and backed down the effort slightly. 4th took off and brought with him the latino guy that finished behind me at the Pete McArdle. Now I had a CPTC, a Front Runner and the lead woman just behind me. I waited for them and then kicked in an ok sprint with about 350 metes to go.
This is an epic course, cause I like the little gradual ascent by the 72nd transverse near the finish line: it makes it a little harder to sprint if you do not have strength and power.
Mission accomplished: Michelle is back, Carlo is taking the training and still have some good fun race day.

It was particularly nice to share the post race celebrations with Michelle and Brendan, who we met at the finish line. A mile and a half separated us from the car and we enjoyed our company while walking back to the truck. It took us quite sometime, but it reminded me of how nice it is to experience these races with someone else, not just by myself

Joe Kleinerman 10k – 01/11/2014

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.

Pascal clearly tripping me and pushing me towards the barricades trying to get an advantage

Pascal clearly tripping me and pushing me towards the barricades trying to get an advantage

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…