by Paul Thompson
My first race since Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon in October 2012 was the Fifth Avenue Mile. Not my preferred choice – I don’t normally do the mile – but it was a NYRR team scored race and I had to start back somewhere.
My extended layoff – due to sciatica followed by a head on collision with the Manhattan Bridge bike path – had left me out of practice as far as race fitness and pre-race build-up are concerned (the whole night before and morning of routine).
This was a rare attempt at the mile. I thought I’d left the distance behind when I exited my teens in the early-80s. But two years ago NYRR made it a team scored race so I did it – in 4:39, age 45. And here I was again standing at the start line just south of the Metropolitan Musuem (the Met) in the M40-49 race.
As the clock counted down to the start I was joined by Warren Street team mates Pascal Lauffer, Rodrigo Flipo and Danny Tateo. The first thing that dawned on me was the fact that with 4 of us one I could DNF, or just bail out altogether before the gun, and we’d still have a three man scoring team. Seemed the same comforting thought went through their minds too.
My recollection of my 2011 run out was running out of gas soon after the slight rise just before half way. Irrational exuberance at the start was the cuplrit. So this time I held back and let a big group open up a 10 metre lead. Soon after cresting the hill at 800 that group then opened up and I was 30 metres off the leaders, some M40-44 ‘youngsters’ including John Henwood.
Fortunately this time I found I still had legs with 100 to go and managed to pass tw0 runners. I breasted the tape in 4:45 – 8th overall and 3rd M45-49. (NYRR first had me finishing 9:15 which would have been my slowest mile in any race.)
As I came to a stand still I felt a surge of relief. It was over. My first race in almost a year – my longest break from racing since I started competitive running back in my late teens. Now I could hang out and watch the pros blaze down the same street. With Nick Willis and Ben Lagat in the men’s pro field and Jenny Simpson headlining the women’s pro race it promised to be worth staying on for.