Monday, April 28, 2008

RACE REPORT: Alley Pond 5 Mile Challenge

Date: Sunday, April 27, 2008
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Alley Pond
Park, Bellerose, NY
Distance: 5 Miles
Temperature: 49 degrees, Rain.

One of the great things about running is that no matter how much you think you are prepared for all possible outcomes, there will always be a gotcha. Case in point? Today's race.

I was prepared for a lot of things to happen today. My fastest 5 mile run ever was
back on May 18th, 1985. That year, the JFK Runway Race had changed from a 10k to
a 5 miler. Not only was my 31:04 good enough for 1st place in my division
(15-19), it was also the 3rd fastest distance race I ever had.

That was then.

This is now.

My modern day, post 1986, old geezer, or whatever-else-you'd-like-to-call-it PR was last year's Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff race. One week before my 6th Marathon, and on a crisp wonderful autumn morning, I finished this race in 40:55 for a pace of 8:11.

Breaking this PR was imminent.
After a vote at home as to whether or not Ileana and my
kids would join me (Matt voted "no", lol) we went to the Parker Towers to pick
up John from our team. The Parkers Towers, incidentally is where Dominique
Jezequel lived. I could tell you a lot more about her, but we were 12 years old,
so my lips are sealed.

The rain started coming down. It was cold and raw. I sought shelter at the Alley Pond Clubhouse, where I finally met Debbie of Alley Pond (Hi Debbie!). She too is also into the "blogging scene" ( link: http:\\ ). It was then I realized that I left my camera at home (what.....a......dope!) . Debbie showed me where Noelia was, and that was very
cool. If you remember in one of my posts last year, Noelia stopped to help me find my glasses, which were knocked off by punks on bikes. It's so nice to see strangers coming to the aid of others. It was great to finally reunite with her after nearly a year. We introduced one another to our significant others, and talked about that day. She came to root her friend on, as she is recovering from surgery. Here's to a speedy recovery, Noelia! Hope to see you at Forest Park
real soon!

John and I finally found Jack and Bonnie. No sign of Tom or Pauline yet but that would change soon enough. Once again my Garmin did not get a satellite, but I was smart this time, and brought my Polar with me for backup. Armed with all the weapons, I waited patiently near the front of the race for the air horn to go off. John was alongside, and we wished each other luck.


Off we go.

The start of the race was right on Winchester Blvd. in Bellerose. And if you know anything about this road, you will know that Alley Pond Park is on our left, Creedmoor is on our
right, and dead ahead above us is the Grand Central Parkway. The first mile was wet. It was uphill. Again, nothing like you'd see in a mountainous region, but in Queens anything more than 40 feet up is quite a feat. I had taken off real fast. Too fast perhaps? Not sure. I am sure of this though. When one lines up in the front, you tend to go faster than you normally would, simply to keep up with those "elites". Of course, you are not going to survive this, and eventually will drop back. For me, this strategy had paid off in the early going as Miles 2 and most of Mile 3 was level a/o downhill.

We were at a main entry point in Alley Pond park that I was quite familiar with. When I was young, my mother did eveything she could to make sure I went to at least day camp
(whether I wanted to or not). Young People's Day Camp had a lot of doing's in Alley Pond, as we would play in the ball fields and out and around the area. It was amazing to run through this area, and it really helped me to get back my breath which I had left from the first 3/4 miles.

Interestingly, my 7:16.5 mile would be almost the slowest of any mile that I ran. I really had it in my mind today to crush the competition, whatever the cost. The positives of the temperatures were negated by the raw rain and wind. And yet, I was on a mission and focused. For example, it took me nearly a quarter mile to realize that I had just past a corral of goats. You heard right. Goats. There was some kind of petting zoo being setup, and much like Tom Brogan mentioned later on, it was pretty weird to hear goat sounds as I was running.

John, who ran this race a lot more intelligently than I did, stayed behind and paced himself well. But I could not find Tom. Where was Tom? I looked ahead and he was not around? Suddenly, and while on Motor Parkway, this tazmanian devil with a green shirt definitively passed me by. From his left side, it looked like Tom, but I never had another opportunity to catch up to him to see. I managed to stay around 50 yards or so behind. In fact I did my second mile in 7:12.4. But there was no let up with this runner. At the end of road, there was a turn and
he was long gone. Now I know why they call that stretch of race, the "Motor" Parkway, because Tom was booking (that's a Queens slang term for running your everloving-ass off).

And yet, I still managed to improve somehow. No, I did not see Tom anymore. I think by now, Tom was somewhere in Route 66 passing Forrest Gump (or whatever the heck that road was!).
However, I did my third mile in 7:06.3. Holy Shit on a shingle! When was this all going to come to an end?

Well, if you are a geek like me, and appreciate the Star Wars lore, you will know that siths come in pairs. In this case my two siths were in the form of a deadly uphill in Mile 4, and a complete unknown named Robert Rossen, who would be unknown no more.

When Bonnie (of FPRR) told us that Mile 4 was a little hilly, that was an understatement. Unlike, the ups and downs of Forest & Central Parks, this was all up! A long, endless uphill grade, that was just looking for vulnerable, ripe and weakened legs to be chewed up and spat
out. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Purdue timer on my chicken legs had just
popped. And my lungs were completely pooped.

Not even a 1/4 mile up the hill, and several people were passing me. At this point, I'm feeling like a casualty of war. Everyone's passing me by and all I could do is to see whether
or not they were in my age group..."Nope....Too Young.....Nope....She's a
girl.....Yep. She a girl too....I think?"

And then came Robert Rossen. The other sith. Or perhaps better still, the "Double-R" (as in subway) train. Robert passed me by like a train. And as I looked at his features, I suddenly realized, "Shit! I think this guy is my age!"

Now, I didn't know whether I had an opportunity to medal or not, but I knew that I was doing great, and well on my way to smashing my Midife-Old-Goat-Crisis PR from last October. I tried
valiantly to catch up on the uphill, but could only muster to close the gap to within about 20 yards.

Mile 4? 8:10.6 .... Blecchhh!

Then came Mile 5. I was spent. Thankfully, this mile started off downhill. I picked up the
speed. I passed Robert. I did this too economically though and he easily surpassed me again as we went along the straightaway. Then came another downhill. This one was long, and big. Essentially, it looked like the same roadway that was used in the first mile. The road was slick, and I was landing hard, but most caution was being chucked away. Oh, and yes, I deliberately
skipped my last water stop. In short, I was going for broke.

I motored.

I easily passed Robert. He was going going....and gone. Or so I thought. If my Garmie had been working, I bet that I was going at about a 5 min/mile clip at that point. I was surging. The kind of kick I am accustomed to do in the last two to three hundred yards of a race. I didn't want to look back. But it was too tempting. I had to see just how much ground I had gained on him.

So I turned.

And there he was.

He was only like 2 yards back.


I had put the hammer on him, but he refused to die.

Meanwhile, Tom Brogan, was well ahead and running somewhere in Fairbanks, Alaska, or perhaps by now, had crossed the Bering Straits on a canoe, and was running through the
Great Wall of China on the other end.

Back to Robert. Why didn't he fade back? I turned back and looked ahead. My energy tank was on 'E', and I still had almost a 1/2 mile to go.

Now it was his turn to burn.

He motored (on Motor Parkway) and blasted by me to my right. The "Green Line" was no longer dotted anymore. We were going so fast, that it seemed like a solid green line instead. It felt like he had taken the hammer away from me, and was nailing me now. What nerve! LOL. My exhuberance was at a point equal to my arches. Flat. It was a flat straightaway to the finish now. I had slowed down considerably, but he must have too because he did not gain much more ground. I could see people cheering the finishers. My kids and Ileana were probably there
as well as the ailing Bonnie. BTW - Tom was running in sapce. He's scheduled to land on the moon and reclaim the American flag any minute now.

The Famous "Green Line" along Motor Parkway in Alley Pond

I had one last ounce in the reserve tank. Here we go.....And so I went. I got closer. And closer. And closer. Robert would later tell me, that he heard footsteps getting louder and louder. I came within about 6 feet of him, but could not hold on. I felt the way Dennis Weaver did when his 1970 red Plymouth Valiant ran out of gas along an uphill stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in the movie, "Duel". Perhaps instead of a Valiant, I was driving a chevy instead, as in No-va. Translated from Spanish "no va" means "not going". Not only did Robert pull away, but two 13 year olds (a boy and a girl) passed me as well. Fo' shame.

The best though was yet to come. For after partaking in the various Girl Scout Cookies (mmmm....samoas!) and bagels, and orange slices, and bananas, they started posting the preliminary results on the board. I came in fourth. Some guy named "Chris Ezzo" came in 2nd place with a time of 36:50.6. Wow. I finished like 6 seconds behind that....Did I medal in 3rd place?

Survey Says...."X". As in NO.

Robert Rossan came 3rd right behind him.

So now I have to see if he was the one I had my dogfight with. I saw him
waiting patiently by the award table, and the feeling felt ominous.

"Are you Robert"?

"Yes I am."


Oh well. I had a great race. I shattered my previous record by nearly 3 1/2 minutes.
And even though I lost a medal in the final 300 yards, I now have even more fire to do better next year out .....And I am sure Robert will be there for a rematch. (Creedmore, watch out!)

For those with more interest in mathematics 101, here is the link to the race results:

All the pictures are stock photographs from other parts of the 'net. It was
nasty yesterday, not sunny. I'm sure Debbie will be doing her part to blog this
race as well. I also noticed that she got a PR yesterday too. Way to go, Deb!
Also, a nice job done for your club's handling of the race. Next up is our club
on the 18th. I'm thinking of being a turn marshall in the woods and hold up some
horrifying sign like, "Beware of Angry Bears". Something tells me however, that
wont sit very well with the rest of my team though. ....

Creedmoor Psychiatric Ward

I had hoped they would raffle a free indoor tour of the facility to include a weekend stay in the maximum security floor. No such luck....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where else but here can you get a picture of Creedmoor?