Belluno-Feltre 30k

Combining vacation time with running has become almost a must in the last couple of years. Travelling back home to spend some quiet time in Valdobbiadene and see the whole family for a few days gave Michelle and I the chance to enter a local road race in Belluno.
The original idea was to run together with Serena and Michelle the 3×10.2k relay. Sort of a fun run; no competitive mode: just an easy effort so that Serena could appreciate the aspect of running in a competition, without feeling the pressure of the results.
Serena is a good runner and spend a few days a week running, but unfortunately does not find a lot of support in Valdobbiadene, where finding a friend or a team to run with can be very difficult. She did a race last summer, but I do not believe she really enjoyed the experience, so this was a good chance to change that.
Then my brother Dario started to put some pressure on me, pushing me to run the full race so I could gage my level with the running scene in the Veneto region, since the race would serve as Regional Championship for the 30k distance. The plan was for me to complete the first leg, hand off the baton to either Serena or Michelle and continue towards the finish line for the full 30k.
However, this proved to be a very challenging task to implement with the race organizers, who initially told me this was no problem.
First and foremost, to run the 30k I needed a medical certificate mandatory in Italy for this type of competitions (meanwhile all over the U.S. you just sign up and run; go figure…). After spending an entire afternoon getting tested (urine tests, spirometry, EKG, height, weight, and so on) I was told my heart needs further tests because it is apparently a bit bigger than usual. Medical clearance was denied till further investigation. Great! More money and time spent getting the echocardio color doppler test two days later, to figure out if my heart actually works fine or not. The results were good and everything seemed to be in order. After clearing the test, I signed up with my brand new medical certificate already in my hands for the race following the directions published on line and confirmed by the race organizers via email.
Second, we had to work out the details of running the full distance as well as the relay when we showed up at packet pick up the day before the race. We got the bibs and the goodies for the relay and then I went to talk to the organizers to discuss the details of the 30k. It became a mess since the two races were taking off 20 minutes apart: initially they gave me the option of running the 30k starting with the relay teams, so 20 minutes behind everyone else running the 30k, and having my final time not even adjusted (seriously…do you think I will run my heart out there to just see my time increased by 20 minutes??). I tried to push to start with the 30k, and just give the baton to Serena in second leg. This was not an option because I would have been clearly the first passing through the 10k mark and I could have messed up the live results for the relay teams. We explained that our relay team was not trying to be competitive, but there was no negotiation allowed.
Finally manually adjusting the entry in the system it was decided that I was not going to run the relay, Serena would have taken the first leg and Michelle the second and third ones. My brother was then entered as the anchor, just to show a three person team, and I was moved to the 30k Championship.

altimetria

I did some stalking on line to figure out what was the level of the competition, using my 1:51 in Central Park from last September as a reference point even if a 30k is something around 18.7 miles vs the 18 miles I ran that day.
Of course the top 5-6 runners were out of the question, since some of them recently smoked me in the NYC Half (Simone Gobbo 1:07:30 and Francesco Duca 1:07:41) and a few very talented local runners were even better than these two. However, I was hopeful for a top 30 finish overall and possibly even a top 15, given the incredible results that I have got these first few months of 2014, even without proper training.
Sunday morning Dario drove us all to Belluno with plenty of time to spare for a good warm up and some chatting, while my parents were heading to Feltre, by the finish line where we had to end our effort.

At the start line

At the start line

The plan involved Dario dropping me and Serena in Belluno, then drive to Trichiana, drop Michelle, pick up Serena and join Rodi and Claudia at the finish line.
The race started in a very weird way: probably to introduce an historical atmosphere to the event we all lined up near Piazza dei Martiri, but when the gun went off, we were only supposed to run 1k along the downhill to the actual start point of the race. So this became a 31k race more than 30k.
Not that I can complain because actually the 1k was useful to clear most of the runners that lined up in front of me and were headed for a pace much slower than what I was planning to go for; however, one k of extra effort meant a lot for me later on during the race, and I could have used some of that energy in other portions of the course.
Anyway, the gun went off and immediately a group of 15-20 runners took off. I tried to maintain a reasonable pace, but found myself hitting 5:40 after the first quarter of a mile. I immediately eased off the effort, letting the lead group slowly pull away and found myself running pretty much alone around the 5:45, sometimes a bit faster when the terrain was slightly downhill.

Early on I did not feel so bad :)

Early on I did not feel so bad 🙂

When I counted the number of heads and shirts in front of me it was just 10-12 total, and found myself unsuccessfully chasing for a couple of miles the guy in front of me to work together, I convinced myself it was better to save energy for later during the race, since I was aware that from the 25th to the 29th kilometer the course was uphill. At least, that’s what the map said. My recon on the course (very poor to say the least) included no more than 1,200 meters of uphill effort. And then flat surface again.
I passed Trichiana, the 10.2k mark in 37:53, around 6:05 per mile and heard the guy behind me getting much closer, pushed by the laud cheering of the crowd. I did not mind it, and actually waited for him to pass me so I could have a partner in this effort. But for some reason the guy did not want to cooperate and just kept running away from me, about 50-60 ft in front. I hit a little low point here and got a gel to get a bit of energy in me, and started to get worried that the gas tank could get empty quickly in the later phases of the race. I planned to rest the next 10.2k, but actually ended up crossing the Lentiai 20.4k mark in 1:14:35 for an average of 6:00 now. The half marathon mark was 1:17:58 for 5:57, so while I was thinking I wanted to slow down and rest a bit, the clock actually told me I was actually picking up the pace quite a bit. Weird.
When we switch from the left side of the Piave river to the right side, through the little dam of Busche, things started to change.

The little dam in Busche, just before the hill

The little dam in Busche, just before the hill

The uphill began immediately, and I had myself prepared for about 4-5 minutes of intense effort. The problem was the effort started to be well beyond the 4-5 minutes and instead of continuing on the road I had studied, we made a left turn into another hill that was just endless. The lead woman picked me up here looking solid. A couple of other runners passed me, and that pissed me off a bit. I felt a little demoralized; losing 5-6 positions just when the finish line is so close is really depressing. Hitting 2 miles consecutive at 7:08 made me feel like a weekend warrior, totally unprepared for the challenge.

Beginning of the climb, relentless (slow) forward progress (thanks Byron Powell for the inspiration on this)

Beginning of the climb, relentless (slow) forward progress (thanks Byron Powell for the inspiration on this)

Through the hill

Through the hill

Once I reached the last kilometer of the race inside the old town of Feltre, I still had in sight the last guy that passed me with the Atletica Biotekna singlet. I knew I could not reach him anymore, but the goal now was to get as close as I could, making sure nobody else was coming back from behind.

Top of the hill: dead man walking

Top of the hill: dead man walking

The pace jumped from the 6:20 to the 5:20, then 5:15 and the last 30 seconds were sub 5, while feeling dizzy and not very fresh mentally. I crossed the finish line and had to spend a few minutes to regroup and connect mentally. One of the runners that passed me in the last few miles asked me with a bit of a joking tone if I had known the course. “Of course not” I answered. I was happy anyway.
I wanted to stop along that final hill, thinking I was done for the day, but the thought of my brother waiting for me at the finish line, proud of what I was doing, regardless of the final time got out of me almost everything I had that day and I continued the run.
The final result was a 1:55:23, good enough for 17th overall (passed by 6 runners total) and good enough for an age group award that could not be collected because I am not listed in the Italian lists apparently.

One clear thing came out of this day: I am not ready to run Boston. And I will not run it to avoid compromising the entire year. Time to recover now; time to improve the hip situation and restart from zero.

On the other hand, big thumbs up for Serena and Michelle that completed the relay with an outstanding performance; it was supposed to be a fun run and it still was a fun run, but with a great time as well. 2:31:01 final time with these splits: 57:27, 45:02 and 48:24. Good enough for a 27th place in the coed, but a top 10 female, had they used the right creteria to score the team…

Michelle at war

Michelle at war

Serena at war

Serena at war

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…

NYRR Autism Speak 4 Miler

This 4 miler comes right in the middle of UROC and NYC marathon training.
I’ve had some good workouts lately, especially running uphill on the Great Hill in CP, that made me think this could have been a good race to try and see what pace I could sustain. At the same time, I was not highly concern with hte result: did not have any fear of blowing up half way through, did not have concerns about not scoring for the team, since we were represented fairly well, with only Paul really missing.
I asked Paul during the week what he though about trying a pace that is highly different from anything I’ve done before.
His suggestion was to follow Charlie, since he is very good at maintaining constant splits.
The course started on the east side of the park, just before the 72nd st cutoff heading north counter clockwise.
I reached the park fairly early and could do a pretty decent warm up, and got even lucky to get a sip of Seb’s special lucky water.
Mile 1 included also Cathill and it was a fantastic surprise to see myself right next to/behind Charlie without being in serious danger of exploding. Fabio was just around us, running smart as usual, especially now that his training is a bit slower due to working loads.
Sebastian was already ahead of us with Rob just behind him and Ryan about 20-30 yards in front of us. The clock said 5:29. Really nice!
Mile 2 did not preset particular difficulties navigating along Engineer Gate’s flats and the little bumps towards 102nd cutoff.
I felt pretty good her eand the legs had a good turnover. I was feeling I could have pulled out of the little pack we formed with other runners, but Paul’s words about Charlie’s pace came up very strong inside me.
At this point it was better to use his experience and go with him, until we hit the hills of the west side.
Along the cutoff Fabio Charlie and I passed Ryan, who had probably suffered from some injuries lately and is missing out his favourite part of the season: the fall short races.
Mile 2 went by in 5:20, and I did not even feel the pain of the effort.
The hills on the west side were sweet. I found myself keeping a very good short and fast stride going up, passing multiple people who…passed me back on the next section downhill. I need to seriously find a good way to run well the downhill without being passed so often.
I think on the first hill I passed about a dozen people, carrying with me Charlie and Fabio.
On the downhill about 4-5 runners went by and created a little gap on me.
More rolling hills were coming, so I was not afreaid of a few yards of disadvantage. Fabio got a few seconds behind at this point, while Charlie held tight, catching up downhill.
Mile 3 was over in about 5:33, slower than the previous one, but much more hilly.
Now we were approaching the last stretch, and I felt I could use some residual energy in the flat portion around the Strawberry Fields. I knew I had to keep myself in control in the previous downhill: a couple of guys went by way too fast, and the finish line was still 3/4 of a mile away.
Noticing Charlie was a bit out of gas, I tried to encourage him to follow me; afterall, he did the work for 2 miles, now it was time to pay him back of his fantastic pacing.
After that I remember very little, except the continous sprinting I did for the last 600 meters changing from 5:25 to 5:15 for 200 meters, then about 5:00 for another 200 meters and eventually 4:45 for the final home stretch.
It was great to even sprint agains one of the dudes from CP.
Mile 4 was a 5:16

Yeah, I'm behind

Yeah, I’m behind


Still Behind, but I'll catch you

Still Behind, but I’ll catch you


Damn, you don't give up

Damn, you don’t give up


Me neither. And by the way...you started way in front of me. So I win this time

Me neither. And by the way…you started way in front of me. So I win this time


Too bad for him he started ahead of me the race, so his net time was going to be higher at the end.
21:39 was the final time, for a 5:25 min/mile pace.
Happy and feeling great I went for a cool down with Seb and Pascal (who also ran a stellar time of 22:50 and 5th overall in age group).

A happy face

Speed is there.

Time to build more endurance for Colorado