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Race Report: UAE Healthy Kidney 10K, New York, April 9, 2017

by Paul Thompson (photos by Shamala Thompson)

Today was a test. To see whether my hamstring tendinitis was in check and whether I’d maintained my fitness despite abstinence from long runs and workouts the past four weeks. I think I passed with flying colors. The acid test will of course be how the legs feel when I wake up tomorrow. But from where I’m comfortably sitting it’s looking hopeful.

The London Marathon is two weeks today. When coach Lee Troop talked me into it back in early January I set my mind on a 2:30 ‘stretch’ goal. By late February I was on track. As indeed were my arch rivals Graham Green, Rob Downs and others. But then I felt a small pain in the butt, both literal and metaphorical. I self diagnosed hamstring tendinitis. I could feel it before the Washington Heights 5K and even more afterwards.

Since then I’ve been traveling a lot for work, city hopping across Europe. I’ve got the miles in but on Troop’s sound advice steered clear of 2 hour plus runs and workouts. Strengthening and stretching got squeezed out by a heavy work load and work socializing in the evenings. And I failed to find suitable physios and the like while away to help me rehabilitate. On arrival back in New York I sought out emergency treatment from Russell Stram (acupuncture) and John Henwood (deep tissue massage). The body responded well.

And so here I was. On the start line of the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K. I last raced this some years back. In 2007, I ran 31:35, my fastest ever 10K as a masters runner. But I lost interest in the race when it fell off the team points schedule. It’s now back on the roster. As well as a test for me, it was crucial for Urban Athletics to follow up its great performance at the Washington Heights 5K  and put in a good showing.

At the starting line

Conditions were near perfect. Temperatures around 55 F, bright sun and slight wind. The only thing standing in the way of fast times was Central Park’s roller coaster course which included the counter clockwise traverse of the northern hills. I quickly got into my running but not as quick as Jason Lakritz UA’s fastest runner. My legs felt rested, the hamstring barely noticeable. I passed one mile in 5:10 with team mates Javier Rodriguez, Carlo Agostinetto, and Jamie Brisbois in close company. John Henwood was just behind.

UA runners led by Jason Lakritz get off to a strong start

Javier was somewhat nervous as he was 10 seconds up on his target pace of 5:20, good for a PR around 33. I was just intent on chasing the first American lady. Natosha Rogers has pedigree and I suspected would hold a good even pace throughout. And she did. I broadly tracked her. During the race one (male) runner after another pulled alongside and one by one she got away from them. The same fate would befall Javier and I.

Javier and I passed 2 miles in 10:20. We then descended to Harlem Meer before negotiating the imposing 600 meter climb of the northern hill, the hardest climb in either direction of Central Park. Javier and Natosha started to edge away from me. I passed 3 miles in 16:05 and 5K in 16:19, 17 seconds faster than Washington Heights 5K.

Javier ahead of Paul in the 5th mile

By now it was clear that the hamstring would not scupper my race, that my legs and lungs were ready for some serious punishment. The fourth mile was possibly the hardest with a significant net gain and undulating roadway throughout. I failed to see the 4 miler marker but extrapolating from my Garmin 235 it was around 21:30. Into the fifth mile I realized there was gas in the tank and plenty of runners just ahead to chase. So I chased.

Time to get serious

By the 8K / 5 mile mark, passed in 26:18 / 26:28, I was back on terms with Javier and Natosha. We had momentum and edged past Phillip Falk of Central Park Track Club, Ned Booth of North Brooklyn Runners and Maclean O’donnell (16:04 in the Washington Heights 5K) of Dashing Whippets Track Club.

I now started to put the hammer down. When I do, few can match my momentum in the final mile. Natosha was one of those few. We gapped Javier then traded strides before she out kicked me in the finishing straight. One of the most tenacious runners I’ve raced. She did not yield an inch and then took a few yards.

My finishing time of 32:44 was good for 30th overall and 1st masters. It was my fastest 10K since April 2011. The age grade of 92.57% AG was one of my best ever after 2015’s Bronx 10 Mile and Grete’s Great Gallop 13.1 and 2007’s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile. Here’s my Garmin stats.

Natosha’s time was 32:46, slower than me due either to my starting a few meters behind or else NYRR messing up the results (again). Natosha was runner up in the 2012 US Olympic Trials for 10000m but did not get to London as she failed to get the A qualifying time. In 2013, she flirted with retirement. Imagine at half my age!

Javier logged 32:48, smashing his PR. Beating Henwood secured 1st M40-44 and 2nd masters overall. Jason Lakritz was first UA runner in 31:53 (19th overall, 5th M25-29). Other individual top 10 UA placings were: James Brisbois 33:41, 7th M20-24; Carlo Agostinetto 33:47, 5th M35-39; Matt Chaston 34:24, 1st M45-49; Stefano Piana-Agostinetto 36:27, 7th M45-49; Peter Heimgartner 37:29, 10th M45-49; Jonathan Schindel 37:28, 2nd M50-54; Fiona Bayly 37:57, 1st women’s masters and 1st W45-49; Adam Kuklinski 38:39, 5th M50-54; Ellen Basile 40:16, 2nd W40-44; Jennifer Harvey 43:06, 4th W45-49; Kieran Sikso 44:57, 5th W40-44; and Kaori Takai 47:57, 9th W45-49.

Jason in the finishing straight

Like Washington Heights this was a big day for UA team placings. UA were 3rd open team (Jason, me, Javier, James and Carlo) behind West Side and NYAC if you ‘discount’ the NIKE elite team. UA were also 4th open women’s team (Fiona, Ellen, Jennifer, Kieran and Kaori), 1st men’s masters (me, Javier and Matt Chaston), 1st women’s masters (Fiona, Ellen and Jennifer), and 1st men’s M50 (me, Jonathan and Adam).

Fiona Bayly storming to 1st place masters

In the overall standings both the men’s and women’s were close run affairs. In the men’s race, Sam Chelanga of the United States won in a sprint finish over Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya, with both men timed in 28:21.  The women’s race saw Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia beat Magdalene Masai of Kenya, 31:37 to 31:44. Natosha Rogers of the United States was seventh in 32:46. The course records of 27:35 and 30:44 survived.

Leaders in the 5th mile with the 1st and 2nd place runners at front

So it seems I passed the test.  London is calling  The M50 field is loaded – top 3 Brits in 2017 half marathon rankings Graham Green (1:13:20), Rob Downs (1:14:02) and Nigel Rackham (1:14:14: I was watching this in Reading nursing hamstring) against Martin Fiz, former World Marathon Champion and 2:31 in tough Boston race in 2016. A Spanish Galleon verses some British frigates.

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Race Report: 2016 Race to Deliver 4M, Central Park, New York, November 20, 2016

by Paul Thompson (with pictures by Shamala Kandiah Thompson)

While my sojourn to Perth, Australia to run the World Masters Athletics Championships was purely a personal indulgence this one was solely for the team – Urban AthleticsRace to Deliver promised to be one of NYRR’s lower key races coming as it does soon after the New York City Marathon, not being a club points race, and the absence of prize money. We decided if we turned out in force and populated the front end we’d get a lot of kudos and name recognition. And that we did.

Weather conditions dramatically worsened on the eve of the race. Peekskill encountered gale force winds and torrential rain overnight and as temperatures raced down to below freezing the rain turned to snow on higher ground. While the rain stopped it was no surprise to find it windy, cold and overcast on the start line. The weather seemed to reflect the rather gloomy mood of most New Yorkers as the election results have sunk in. And that mood was reflected in Peter Ciaccia’s words just before the start. He was in a mournful mood and suggested the New York running community needs to hang tough these next four years. And that’s exactly what it will do.

New York’s running community is a microcosm of all that  is best about New Yorkers – open minded, diverse, respectful of others. On the start line I realized we – just like the vast majority of Americans – were all immigrants in some shape or form, some whose families settled here in previous centuries through to some like me who had more recently got off the plane. The diversity – of gender, of ethnicity, of age, etc. – was clearly visible. And it’s this diversity that makes the New York running community so interesting.

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UA’s  Jason Lakritz, me, Stefano Piana-Agostinetti, Harriott Kelly and Fiona Bayly in front.

With the front end lacking depth there wasn’t the usual scrum in the corral. There was elbow room and none of the compression that characterizes typical NYRR races. I quickly got settled into a four man lead group comprising team mates Jason Lakritz – returning to form and hoping to run 5:15 mpm pace for the first three miles and then open it up in the final mile – and Javier Rodriguez and Alejandro Ariza of Henwood Hounds.

Jason, Javier and I after 400 meters just before the Boathouse.

The opening mile takes in Cat Hill and ends just after the Metropolitan Museum. As we passed the clock at the mile mark showing 5:20 Jason decided to accelerate. Alejandro made chase while Javier and I resigned to spectate from a steadily increasing distance. Jason slammed in a 5:03 second mile and half way through it Ariza slipped off his tail. That was my cue to make chase.

Jason in the finishing straight having just passed the Daniel Webster statue.

The course was the so-called Central Park inner loop, run counter clockwise. Javier and I, with me doing the pushing in pursuit of a fading Alejandro, reached the two mile mark on the 102nd Transverse, in around 10:35 according to my Garmin (the NYRR clock was not working).

Just after the two mile mark we caught and overtook Alejandro, clearly suffering from going with Jason’s second mile surge. The third mile, heading south down the West Side Drive, is arguably the toughest in the park as it takes in three hills and include significant net gain in altitude. I continued to push hard, albeit in surges rather than consistently. Javier and I were side by side as we passed the the three mile mark in 16:02. It was literally all down hill to the finish from here. Javier, in view of my doing most of the work, conceded a few meters in the finishing straight to let me take second.

Javier and I in the finishing straight.

I ran the last 200 meters hard, almost all out, and passed under the finish line clock as it showed 21:17-18. Disappointingly the final official result was 21:22 though that was good enough for winning the masters and getting an age grade of 89.61%. In any case NYRR is legendary for its :59 finish line clocks translating to :01 in the official online results.

Jason won comfortably in 20:55. With me in second and Javier in third UA took a clean sweep 1-2-3 in the men’s race. And for good measure Harriott Kelly won the women’s race in 22:56 and Fiona Bayly, 4th woman overall, the women’s masters in 24:23.

Harriott digging deep in the finishing straight.

That’s not all. UA runners were all over the leader board, many taking a Top 3 age group placing. The Javier was 1st M40-44 in 21:22, Carlo Agostinetto 1st M35-39 in 22: 25 (less than 24 hours after winning the NYRR NYC 60K in 3:57 minutes), Stefano Piana-Agostinetti 1st M45-49 in 22:46, Jonathan Schindel 2nd M50-54 in 24:10, Stephane Bois 3rd M50-54 in 24:18, Jim Olsen 1st M75-79 in 32:16, Michelle Goggin 3rd W35-39 in 27:30, Ellen Basile 2nd W40-44 in 25:42, Jennifer Harvey 2nd W45-49 in 25:59, Dominique Saint-Louis 1st W50-54 in 26:47,and  Ivy Bell 1st W60-64. It would have been quicker for me to list what we did not win.

Jason, Javier and I picking up our awards.

Immediately after finishing Jason, Javier, Harriott and I were rounded up and reminded repeatedly to be at the Naumburg bandshell to collect our awards at 9:30am sharp. Ans so we did, shaking and shivering as the windchill took the feel like temperature under 0 celcius.

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UA on parade. Photo credit: Sam LaFata

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Race Report: NYRR Retro 4-Miler, Central Park, New York, June 5, 2016

by Paul Thompson

It dawned on me today, as I lined up and observed the retro paraphernalia – the sweat bands, psychedelic colors, the mini shorts etc. – that I actually experienced much of the retro era. For many it was something they’d read about like  a history lesson. For me, and other masters runners, it was something we’d lived through. And for a moment it made me feel sentimental and old!

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This race fell on Sham and my anniversary. At 6 am, in pouring rain, she was driving us (or was it me?) to New York. It’s amazing sometimes what our partners, consciously, do for us.

After Sham had set me down at Marcus Garvey Park I ran the 3 miles or so south down to the start on the East Drive at 68th Street. As I reached the Boathouse I saw Urban Athletics team mates headed north for a warm-up. I was already warmed up – the  weather was as humid as a sauna though not so hot – but jumped in. This would be my first time running for Urban Athletics (UA) – in the US at least as I’d premiered in the Greater Manchester Marathon. This was also my first race since Manchester in early April. I’d finished that marathon with a chronic calf strain: question was would it re-emerge?

On the start line I was some way back from my usual position near the front. As

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Retro lead car at the start line

well as hearing a rendition of the National Anthem we also heard a tribute to The Greatest. Muhammad Ali passed away yesterday. As I get older I’m finding that not only have I lived through eras like retro, I’ve also lived during the lifetimes of iconic figures who have had a profound positive impact on our lives. Bowie now Ali.They show us what’s possible.

Right back to the race. Within seconds of the starting gun I found myself passing the Boathouse dodging traffic thanks to starting deep in the A corral. Club mate Javier Rodriguez ‘s rationale for starting deep was that it would moderate the early pace and help ensure we run 5:15 miles and finish  in 21:00. But I found myself panicked into trying to make up for lost time and get into my finishing position! The net result was a 5:07 opening mile, a mile that takes in Cat Hill. Too fast. I’d pay for that later.

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Heading up Cat Hill

In the second mile fellow masters runners Javier, who had never beaten me at distances over  a mile, and John Henwood, who  I don’t recall  I’d  ever beat, joined me. We’d end  up duking it out for the rest of the race: another masters runner, Peter Brady, was also in hot pursuit. We traded strides, sparring running style. We passed the two mile mark in 10:19 making it a 5:12 second mile.

Bobby Asher, who looked like Freddie Mercury but was  hoping for Mark Spitz, breezed passed us during the third mile as we navigated the hills on the West Drive heading south. Fellow UA club mate Jason Lakritz, nursing an injury, caught us. Approaching mile 3 we had Greg Cass in our sights and he’d stay there. During the third mile I found myself starting to pay for the fast opening. We passed mile 3 in 15:47: the 3rd mile had taken 5:28, the slowest of the race due in large part to the hills and fast opening.

The final mile drops down to the 72nd Street Transverse. Javier started to open it up and stole a small gap on me. John had dropped off. As we took the sharp left hand turn into the finishing straight I was 5 meters shy of Javier but I appeared to be catching him. I didn’t despite a 5:14 final mile. Bobby, Javier, myself and Jason finished in that order, and with daylight between us, but shared the same time of 21:01 in the official results.

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Jason, Javier and Paul heading to the finish line

I  had hoped to get under 21:00 not least since I’d tapered and had been doing some faster workouts with UA. But hey I can’t, or shouldn’t, complain. I got 31st overall (though I  was 30th over the line but that’s chip to chip timing for you), second masters, first M50 and best age grade with 91.08%. This suggested I had recovered from my spring marathon ordeal though my AG scores indicated I was better at longer races. UA got 4th in men’s open: The NYRR race report reveals WSX winning with its 5th scorer running 19 flat. With Aaron Mendelsohn closing in 21:24, and like Javier getting a PR, we comfortably won the men’s masters.  My Garmin race stats are here.

After driving home and getting a quick shower, Sham and I  were holed up at the Taco Dive Bar having a celebratory brunch. Sham had a potent cocktail with her breakfast burrito while I had water paired with a stack of pancakes inches deep. A few hours later I was at JFK. There I had a  frustrating 4 hour wait on the runway waiting for my plane to Las Vegas to depart due to foul weather. I’m now getting accustomed to a few days in 110F.  This morning I got out at 6 to beat the heat. I ran an easy 6. It was 85F.

Work-Life-Run Balance

by Paul Thompson

Today I ran 20 miles. It started out easy but easy became steady and steady became quite fast. Such is the way with many of my long ‘easy’ runs in Central Park with team mates and mates from rival team Urban Athletics. There’s nothing planned or intentional about the steady increase in pace: it seems the more we chat the faster it gets. And those that know me well know that I can chat as well, if not better, than I can run.

That 20 helped me notch up 70 miles for the week, the second week of my 12 week program through to my April marathon. Coach Lee Troop, whom I introduced in my recent post, promises the real work starts tomorrow. But it took some work to get through last week, not least as I had a challenge balancing work and running.

So what did that last week look like? Well it started on the evening of Friday, January 22nd. New Yorkers will recall that was the night the snow started to fall. At 10pm I was on board a Etihad Airways operated SriLankan Airlines flight using a Jet Airways plane – that’s what airlines call code sharing. As it taxied on the runway at JFKw was starting to fall. This was the Great Escape. As New York hunkered down for what turned out to be an epic snow storm I was flying to Sri Lanka for a work assignment.

My 22 hour gate to gate journey coupled with moving the clocks forward 10.5 hours meant I spent the whole of Saturday in the air or an airport (in Abu Dhabi I changed planes). My Sri Lankan Airlines flight touched down in Colombo at 5am Sunday, January 24th. by 6am I was checking in at the Cinnamon Lakeside.

At check-in I was advised my room would not be ready until 8am. If I wanted immediate occupancy I would have to pay for one additional night. This proved a crucial decision point. I opted to wait but inquired whether they had a place I could change. Fifteen minutes later I was in shorts and t-shirt heading out into a city yet to see day break.

I had a good sense of where to run. I’d been to Colombo on two previous occasions, had Googled the city’s running options and had studied a city map. I headed to Galle Face Green on the waterfront. I logged ten miles and saw the day break over the city. I also got to run past the hotel Sham and I stayed at when brother got married in Sri Lanka,  back in late December 2001 – the Galle Face Hotel. My run took in the fort area. When I was last in Colombo in 2010, soon after the civil war had ended, the fort was a militarized zone.

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Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

When I got back to the hotel I was hot and sweaty but content. I was also quite a sight, at least for non runners. As tourists, largely from China, milled around I realized nipple rash had left its tell tale signs on my white tee shirt. Soon after 8am I was all scrubbed up, wearing shorts, and having breakfast at the poolside. There’s nothing like a long relaxing breakfast especially one you figure you’d earned. Run and breakfast done, barely 5 hours after touch down. And it was not yet Sunday in New York, almost half a day in arrears.

Throughout my four night stay I repeated the routine with jet lag the driver. Typically I was slowing down around 5pm, asleep by 8pm, awake at 4am, running at 5am and breakfasting at 7am. Each day I covered 8-10 miles. I covered pretty much the same  ground each day except one day when I ventured to Viharamahadevi Park (Sri Lanka really challenges your spelling ability). Often times I was joined at breakfast by a crow, sometimes a flock. And on two mornings I was also an ‘extra’ in wedding photo shoots.

 

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Crows join me for breakfast, the one behind a ten foot high tree

My flight home was at 4am Thursday. I’d run 8 miles Wednesday morning and toured the city in the afternoon. The highlight of the tour, which more than made up for the fact 75% of the time was spent stuck in traffic, was Gangaramaya Temple.

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Buddha at Gangaramaya Temple

In the early evening it was time for a family reunion. I met with a cousin of my wife, Keyan, who lives in Colombo but whose home village, like Sham’s grandparents, is Siruppiddy near Jaffna, a city in the north of the island. Keyan shared the coordinates of Sham’s paternal grandparent’s family home. One day we hope to go there for a full family reunion.

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Family reunion with Sham’s cousin Keyan

At midnight I ventured to the airport. On the return trip I flew Qatar Airways changing planes at their Doha hub, Hamad International. This airport is truly amazing, in stark contrast to the shabby New York airports. By 4pm Thursday, 27 hours after departing the hotel, I was unlocking my front door in Peekskill. Rather than settle down and sleep I decided on a short run. This would ensure I was still awake when Sham got home from work.

Back in New York I rounded out the week with 9 miles on Friday morning and that 20 miles on Saturday. As I finish writing this I am tired but satisfied with my 70 mile week despite 40 plus hours of flying. And despite the humidity I’m also glad I got to run in 30s C weather rather than ploughing through snow in 30s F here in New York. It helped ease the work-life-run balance.

Race Report: NYRR Ted Corbitt 15K, New York, December 12, 2015

by Paul Thompson

In the penultimate race of 2015, and of my 40s, I fell just shy of my goal of 50 minutes. Spring had come to New York and many of us were able to make hay. The race also marked the end of the NYRR season-long club points championship and Warren Street managed to end on a high with 3rd in the open men’s race and 2nd in the men’s masters. That was enough in the final reckoning of the 2015 season overall, to finish 4th in the open men’s competition and 3rd in the men’s masters (assuming my math holds water). We’ll take that.

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Runners heading towards the starting area

While I may have had a lofty target of 50 minutes I had little idea how fit I was. In my two previous races – Bronx 10 and Grete’s Half Marathon in back to back weeks in early fall – I’d hit a real high with highest ever age grade (AG) performances (us masters runners rarely get in the mix at the sharp end so AG is a nice consolation). But in the 4 week period ending November 23rd I’d logged 120 hours of flying. And I’m not a pilot.

The business travel took me to Seoul, Geneva, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (twice!). While I enjoy traveling, and seeing new places like Seoul which was a pleasant surprise for running (see here for a sample run in Strava), my running routine that hangs around long runs and repetition workouts got bent out of shape. But somehow I got in 70 mile weeks. In a future article I’ll share how with the help of expert time management!

Lining up in the front corral it was clear that West Side Runners (WSX) and New York Athletic Club (NYAC) would be duking this one out for the top team (see the NYRR race report here). Barely 400 meters into the race I found myself in the mid teens with 5 or so runners from each of these teams ahead of me. I passed the first mile in around 5:20, the second in 10:40, and then settled into 5:25-30 miles.

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With the Warren Street men at the start

For most of the race I found myself isolated. From 2 through 5 miles I traded strides and places with someone new to the local running scene who I was unfamiliar. Passing  the 5 mile mark in 27:02, I got a gap on this guy and found myself running alone until John Davies of NYAC breezed passed in the 7th mile. John quickly opened up a gap on me. It was a timely kick up the backside as one often needs three quarters into a race when one is prone to losing concentration.

In the closing stages I could see a sub-50, equivalent to my Bronx 10 performance albeit that was on a flatter course (this one took in the middle 4 mile loop and the bottom 5 mile loop, missing the northern hills but still taking in Cat Hill twice) was off the charts so I reconciled on running 50:30. Which I did with 5 seconds in hand.

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Heading to the five mile mark

My 50:25 was good 10th overall, 1st place masters and top AG of 92.04 (once NYRR have corrected for 9th place  Michele Giangaspro, a 47 year old 23 minute 5K runner who posted 3 PRs back to back). I got to hang out in the finishers area to see team mates finish – Carlo Agostinetto (2nd M35-39 and a PR in 51:25), Sebastien Baret (3rd M35-39 in 52:03), Danny Tateo (1st M50 in 55:37), Alex Lorton (final scorer in 5 man open team with 55:48), Antonio Nebres (2nd man in 3 man masters team with 56:59) and Fabio Casadio (57:21).

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Sebatian B. looking good at five miles.

So with December 28 closing in fast I now have one race left as a M40-49 runner – next Saturday’s 2015 USATF New York 10 km Championships in Central Park, a place that is my second home. I will soon reach my goal of 50 – years rather than minutes.

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Race Report: 2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Fred’s Team Presents Grete’s Great Gallop (13.1M), New York, October 3, 2015

by Paul Thompson

Today I ran in bib number 666 and came 13th. I’m not superstitious but was a bit wary of running in this bib number, so much so that I’d tried taking scissors to it and running as 66 until I realized I’d have to cut through the strip that records the chip time. After running my fastest half marathon for three years – in fact this very same race in 2012 – I figured the bib number and finish place were not so unlucky (and my Chinese friends advised 666 was indeed lucky). I did however destroy the bib as soon as I crossed the line.

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Jack Weitz, Grete’s husband, held the finish tape for the first men and women

I was nervous ahead of today’s race. More than normal. Having scorched to 53:36 in the Bronx 10 Mile last week I was worried the legs and heart would not be game for my longest race since 2013 barely 7 days after running on the Grand Concourse. Sham and I drove in and parked at Marcus Garvey Park. I then ran the 4 miles to the start just south the Tavern on the Green. Conditions were mixed – ideal temperatures in the low 50s (F) but cloudy and windy.

I’ve run this race many times. It’s often a club points race but more importantly it’s way for me to pay tribute to Grete Waitz by running a race in her honor. Since I can remember this race has been run clockwise – for two and a bit laps of the park – but this year’s route (Download Course Map (PDF)) was counter- / anti-clockwise and the final few meters took in the gentle ascent up the 72nd Street Transverse.

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Running with NYAC and WSX runners in the early stages

As last week soon after the start I settled in behind a group comprising a posse of New York Athletic Club (NYAC) (Gian-Paul Gaccia, Jmaes Kelly and Thomas Young) and West Side Runners (WSX) (Roberto Puente and Alejandro Ariza). We were clipping along at 5:20-22 mpm pace through to around 4 miles – reached in 21:26 – but then the NYAC members stepped it up and Roberto, Alejandro and I drifted off the back. I then found myself running alone. And until the last half mile it would stay that way. Fortunately I was able to maintain 5:26-30 mpm pace, sufficient to meet my target finish time of sub-1:12.

Running isolated at around mile 6.

Running isolated at around the 6 mile mark. Sid Howard is bellowing support and telling everyone I’m 49!

This half marathon – like all big races of two laps or more in the park – suffers from congestion as faster runners on their second lap overtake slower competitors. From around mile 8, reached in 43:20, I started lapping runners in large numbers. Some inadvertently run wide so the lapping runners like myself end up running outside the cones. It’s hard to know how this can be averted. Perhaps the answer is two lanes demarcated using cone and tape.

Out on the course I got great support from friends – all runners and those that support us are my friend. A special mention must go to Sid and Asteria Howard. Few couples, if any, give so much to running and runners young and old.

With barely half a mile left to run I comforted myself that a sub-1:12 was in the bag. Then Matthew Lacey, Central Park Track Club (CPTC), breezed past. As we approached the finish we then had to navigate the lapped runners to get an inside line in order to make the left turn onto the 72nd Street Transverse for the final 150m finishing straight. The slight rise up to the line sucked out what little I had left. I crossed the line in 1:11:35, good for 13th overall, 1st masters and 1st age-graded (92.74%, my second highest ever). A sub-1:15 also qualified me for championship entry to the London Marathon. Here are some more race photos.

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Crossing the finish line was a relief

In the men’s race, the West Side Runners, led by Ayele Megersa Feisa, solidified their club points lead by taking today’s top-five spots. The New York Athletic Club strengthened their women’s first-place ranking with a photo finish by Jeanna Composti and Megan Hogan with Composti taking the win. The Warren Street turnout was disappointing, not surprising perhaps given we pulled out all the stops at the Bronx 10 Mile.

West Side Runners made up the first three men

West Side Runners made up the first three men

This race attracted almost 4,400 runners, many doing their last race before the New York City Marathon. But there were no Norwegian festival with its Nordic goodies to replenish spent energy. Overall it felt a shadow of the race that many of us came to love, the race that honors the world’s greatest ever female distance runner. The Bronx 10 Mile partly stole the show. I do hope NYRR find a way to return this race to its former glory. We owe it to Grete.

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Grete at the start of the 2009 race – she would stand on the podium to wave the runners off and then be there at the end to see them come in.

Race Report: NYRR Retro 4-Miler, Central Park, New York, June 7, 2015

by Paul Thompson

In my last post I rounded off by saying how important it was to be the hard to please type. And so it was today. As I warmed up – running the 4 miles from Marcus Garvey Park in Central Harlem after Sham had driven us in –  I fixed my goal finish time of sub-21:00 in my mind. So you’d think that my 20:55 finish time would have made me happy as Larry. But it didn’t.

Race conditions were ideal. A gentle breeze, bright sunshine and temperatures hovering around 60F. My warm-up, a repeat of what I did for the Scotland Run 10K, suggested my legs were well rested after a tough few weeks in mid-May. The only cloud fogging my mind was my ongoing IT band ‘issue’ which for the last few months appeared to have triggered some ankle swelling. The fat ankle had prompted me to visit Dr Stu on Friday and he’d worked his usual magic.

Many runners were decked out in club colors from yesteryear in keeping with the retro race theme. Some Warren Street team mates did the same but also in honor of our recently departed all time best runner Pat Petersen. Runners respected a moment’s silence in his memory. Pat died at just 55. He was a former U.S. marathon record holder and top 5 at three New York City marathons. I never had the privilege of meeting Pat but somehow feel like I did. He set a very high bar as a husband, father and runner.

Thinking of Pat – how he so completely dedicated himself to running, how he achieved so much, and yet how he was in all other ways just a regular kinda guy, husband and father with no airs and graces – it seems he lived my favorite Tibetan proverb “better to live for one day as a tiger than to live for a thousand years as a sheep”. To honor Pat the only way a runner can meant I had to hurt today.

I started out much slower than the last time I did the last time I raced this 4 mile course. I buried myself deep in the pack and passed the mile mark in 5:12. Matt Chaston, perhaps the New York area’s fastest runner over 5K to 5 miles for M45-49 , was almost 10 seconds ahead of me. I hoped I could reel him in during the hills in the third mile. Matt, born in Wales but New York resident for many years, comes from great running stock. His brother Justin, also Stateside living in Colorado Springs, ran for Great Britain in 3 consecutive Olympics.

I tracked a group dominated by Central Park Track Club (CPTC) runners. They passed 2 miles in 10:20 and had been closing on Matt. I was working hard, too hard. That proved to be my downfall. As we turned left off the 102nd Transverse onto the East Side Drive and started the gentle climb towards the third mile mark I started to drop off the group. At mile three the clock read 15:45. In the final mile the course gently descends. This saved me from unravelling further.

As I straightened up after taking the final turn – a 270 degree left hander – I saw the clock reading 20 something and sub-21:00. I dug deep and the body responded. I crossed the line in 20:55. Matt was 9 seconds ahead of me. He’d only previously beaten me once before – in the Central Park Conservancy Run for Central Park in July 2011 run on the same 4 mile course.

So I finished in 20:55 for 26th overall and 2nd M45-49. There was some consolation in gaining the top age grade of 91.40%. Warren Street’s masters team finished second to CPTC. Danny Tateo was 1st M50-54 in 22:28, 40 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. Our masters team are still just ahead of CPTC in the year to date rankings but 2015 promises to be battle that will go to the wire. Sam Lynch, 7th overall in 19:23,  led us to 4th place open team.