by Paul Thompson
Today’s race, the second NYRR club points race of 2014, was preceded by a stirring bagpipe rendition of the Flower of Scotland, Scotland’s national anthem. A nice way to help pump the adrenalin in the final few minutes before the starter’s horn. Then it was over to Alex Salmond, who leads the campaign to take Scotland out of the 308 year old Union, to get us away. More of Alex and my views on Scottish independence at the end!
The 8am start presented Sham and I with Hobson’s choice. Option one: catch the 6:35am train from Peekskill, arriving at 7:40am at Grand Central Terminal. That would give me barely 20 minutes to run the 1.5 miles or so through Midtown to the start area – and then have to weave my way oh so politely (‘excuse me’, ‘sorry’ and all that lark) from the back of the packed corral to get a good starting position near the front. Sham wasn’t sure she would even get to the start on time. Option two: catch the 5:35am!
We chose option one. Except that in the starting corral my adopted New York version of politeness kicked in – more ‘I have every right to push my way through’ than ‘I am terribly sorry…’. Sham and I have been here almost 10 years so we are getting quite good at this version.
After Alex klanged his klaxon I quickly settled into a small group, team mate Sebastien B included, that had been immediately gapped by the lead group of around a dozen runners. The lead group were logging sub-5 minute miles so the gap grew quickly.
Like the Washington Heights 5K I found myself running alongside Sebastien. I passed the first mile in 5:10, two miles in 10:21 and three in 15:34 (my Garmin log is here). Turns out my first 5K was too fast. But I was too slow to realize that. The damage was done. As we ascended the first of the two northern hills, just after two miles, Seb started to ease away.
For the latter 5K I was isolated and slowing. I had no one in close range to shoot at. I covered the fourth mile, with its two hills and a net gain in elevation, in 5:33. That was outside the 5:20 average I needed to get home under 33:00. With no runners in close proximity this was now my only goal. To stay focused I resorted to my old habit of counting the gap in seconds between the next runner up the road and each time they passed a marker – like a pedestrian crossing.
The fifth mile in 5:15, slightly down hill, gave me hope. But tired legs trumped that. I passed the 6 mile mark in 32 minutes dead, leaving me with 59 seconds to run 0.21 miles gently uphill to the finish by Tavern on the Green, the finish of the New York City Marathon. I covered it in 65 seconds, breasting the tape in 33:05.
As Warren Street team mates gathered in the finish area to conduct the post mortem and race analysis I felt pleased to be both top masters and first AG on 91.32% – but less pleased to ‘break’ 33 minutes. As we get older ‘break’ assumes a different connotation, more PW than PR. Still I ought not complain (but of course I am) as this race came off the back of a poor training spell thanks to a stomach bug.
The men’s team did great with 4th place – the scoring team were Sebastien (32:49), Ryan Korby (close to a PR in 34:49), Charlie Baily (35:08), Fabio Casadio (36:16) and me. And the masters team of Peter Heimgartner (37:00), John Nelson (39:39) and me came second.
So now that matter of Scottish independence. I am pro-Union. I am British first and foremost. Now though I’m a fan of single malts for me being British means I’m a blend – of Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish. I can not carve out that Scottish part of me. So Alex while I love your passionate patriotism, I don’t like your suggestion that those of us born south of Hadrian’s Wall are not, at least in some small part, Scottish. And proud of it – especially this part of me!