by Paul Thompson
At 8am, just hours before Portugal played the Netherlands in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament (and proceeded to qualify for the quarter finals with a 2-1 victory) 4,500 New Yorkers lined up in Central Park for the Portugal Day 5 mile race.
My pre-race preparation was not ideal. I’d arrived home at 10pm the previous evening after a 10 hour journey from Las Vegas – including 2.5 hours in Philadelphia Airport wondering whether my Dash 8 would ever take off. I’d spent the week, attending meetings and a conference, at the Aria Las Vegas. Somehow I hadn’t spent a dime at the tables. Daytime temperatures of over 100F had forced me into early morning runs of 6 miles at along the service roads parallel to The Strip. Anyway less of the excuses.
I went out quite fast – just as I often do – but the large lead pack quickly opened a big gap on me. I covered the undulating first mile, heading north from the start at Tavern on the Green, in 5:07. I found myself running alongside masters’ rival Matt Chaston of Urban Athletics – but behind lead masters’ runner Jimmy Lynch, a year my senior.
I passed the 2 mile mark in 10:15. Tiring legs and a steady ascent, heading south along the East Drive, slowed me down in the third mile. I hit the 3 mile point in 15:38, some 15-20 seconds behind Jimmy but ahead of Matt. With a mile to go, and 20:49 on the clock, I was running steady though had mentally settled for second masters behind Jimmy. In the final mile I closed the gap but it was too little, too late. I crossed the line in 26:09, 7 seconds adrift of Jimmy.
For Warren Street it was a successful day – 6th Open Mens Team, 2nd Masters Mens Team, and two teammates notching PRs, Sebastien B in 25:40 and Danny Tateo in 28:43.
For this race Sham was also keeping an eye out for several mates from her office as well as the Portuguese mission. Unfortunately she missed all of them except for Nick, a hard to miss Kiwi at 6 feet 4 and draped in the Portuguese flag, Eran who blew her a kiss and Pedro, who works at the mission and called out her name while cresting the hill at mile 4!
Post race we spent 40 minutes lining up for Portuguese coffee, an espresso we consumed in 4 seconds, then 20 minutes listening to Portuguese music while waiting for the raffle results only to find we were not going to Lisbon for a romantic weekend (and the Lisbon half-marathon!). At least not this year.
We then headed to a brunch party to recharge with coffee, champagne, bagels and salmon, plus pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). And to talk Portuguese history and prospects for the upcoming football game.