2017’s Minor Races

My running has always been centered around racing. While I ran a few races in 2016, they were few and far between. Early 2017 has shown a marked increase in race frequency, and they have been a blast so far.

2/25: NYRR Al Gordon Brooklyn 4 Mile 26:55 – Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

I’m lucky to live where I live. I’m a bit more than a mile away from the Flatbush Ave entrance to Prospect Park. Center Drive, very close to this entrance, was the starting point for the Al Gordon 4 Mile. We had great weather for February: 53° F, virtually no wind, and some mist. There were a total of 5,262 running, and I came in 306 overall.

4 Miles is a strange race distance, and I had not run it before. I was pretty satisfied with my result, particularly in my first race of the season. One major mistake I made was in how I worked  the big hill in the northeast corner of the park. I probably lost between 5 to 10 seconds, that I could have cut off the time. Splits (via Strava) were 6:59, 6:34, 6:28, 6:47. The middle two miles were both had major declines in elevation, while the first and fourth miles included some inclines.

Crown Heights Running Club (CHRC) had a great showing at the race. We had 22 finishers, and a great cheering section. Best part of the weekend: after the race I headed up to Providence for a big Friars victory over Marquette.


3/5: NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K 20:30 – New York, NY

Crown Heights to Washington Heights is FAAAAAAR. It’s especially far for a 9:00am start. the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K was the first Club Points race of the year. CHRC had 14 racing this morning, and it was a much different morning than the Al Gordon 4 Mile a week before. The temperature for the race as 14° F, but we were fortunate to be mostly free of wind. 4,445 runners braved the cold, and were official finishers. Of this group, I placed 465 overall. From an Age-Graded perspective, this was the best I have done in an NYRR race. My AG percentage was 63.54%.

In addition to not being fully fit, I’m not a good 5K runner. My greatest difficulty with the distance is understanding how hard to push, and how to hang through the discomfort of fast (for me) paces. I attribute this difficulty to the fact that I never ran track growing up. This makes it difficult to understand the difference between pain because I’m running hard, and pain because I’ve pushed too far. In addition to being a poor 5K runner, I don’t run them very often. This is something I plan to change with this Summers PPTC Summer Speed Series set of 7 5Ks in Prospect Park.

I really enjoyed the course, and the amenities of the race. We were lucky, especially considering the temperatures, to have the opportunity to warm-up, change, use real bathrooms, and pass time in the heated, and historic Armory. A cool aside: The Armory also hosts the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

The race overlooked the George Washington Bridge, and the Hudson for the majority of the course. We headed almost directly north into Fort Tryon Park, and used The Cloisters as a turnaround point before heading back towards The Armory. Splits were 6:42, 6:34, 6:29 (and a 5:46 pace for the final .1).

After the race we enjoyed breakfast at Malecon. I made a mistake ordering the Chimichurri, but the cafe con leche was delightful. Great way to end a weekend which started with a big Friars win over St. John’s at MSG.

4/9: Clamdigger 5 Mile Road Race 34:06 (1st AG, 4th OA) – Westerly, RI

The best part about racing in Rhode Island, is the opportunity race along the water on sleepy roads by the beach. The race along Atlantic Avenue in Westerly felt a lot like running back in Wickford (my hometown). The Clamdigger 5 Mile was a great race. There was a fairly small field, and the start time was 11:00am, which is nice for one as loathe to wake up early as I am.

We were in Rhode Island for Meg’s bridal shower, so pre-race was a lot more of packing up, and cleaning up from the shower. We were a bit later arriving than I would have hoped, and I wasn’t able to get in any real warmup. Traveling to races, and getting to them on time is the source of the biggest arguments and disagreements between me and Meg.

Similar to the Al Gordon 4 Mile, I had never run a 5 mile race before. I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach it, so I tried to channel my 10K strategy. We were lucky to have a temperature in the low 50s, but the wind for the race was fierce. This added a bit more difficulty because the last mile and a half were directly into a 20 mph headwind. I finished 4th overall, and 1st in my age group. I made a pretty major mistake, though. When I surged past a runner to take 4th position, I was positive I was in third place. I changed my strategy at that point to ensure I finished in a podium position. There were two runners about 20 seconds ahead of me. Had I known I was in 4th, I would have made a play at trying to catch them. I’m not sure I could have caught them, but I wished I had made the attempt. I was fairly happy with the result, though.

Splits:  6:46, 6:52, 6:53, 6:42, 6:47

4/29: Red Hook Crit 5K 21:05 (21:22 official/gun time) – Brooklyn, NY

The Red Hook Crit 5K was one of the worst races I’ve run in a while. I misplayed just about everything leading up to it: too much volume in the couple days before, rode my bike over, and started my warmup way too close to race time. I haven’t run a 5K that slow in a LONG time. The 5K was part of the Red Hook Criterium bike race. It was an absolute blast. The course was a 1.25K loop that we ran 4 times. With a course so closed, the men’s and women’s events were held separately. The bike race was even more wild. The bikes racing had no brakes and no gears . . . there were some serious crashes.

It’s a race I’d absolutely do again. I might even make it a goal race. The most difficult aspect of the race was once I started getting lapped. I’m not sure I’ve ever run in a race with a field this fast. The top 4 runners all came in under 15:00. In retrospect, it was pretty cool to be on the same course, but looking at my pacing, I can tell where I got lapped for the first time. There was a pretty marked slowdown at that point.

I had a blast at the event. The run had a great crowd, and it was a lot of fun watching the bike race. It’s definitely a race to keep on the calendar for next year.

Splits: 6:21, 6:41, 7:05 (6:21 pace for final .1).



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