Flew into New York last night around 5 p.m. was met by a volunteer from the local running club, Pamela who drove me to my host-family’s home. Enjoyed a very pretty 75 minute NY rush-hour commute to Ebbe and Eva Reker’s quaint home they affectionately call their tree house set on a spacious, tranquil, tree-covered property in Northport, NY, a small village on the northern coast of Long Island. The Rekers, originally from Scandanavia (Ebbe from Denmark, Eva from Poland) had moved to NY 40+ years ago in their early-20′s, met, married, and settled in Northport to raise their two children. And there they are still today, very involved in the local community, Ebbe the Vice Commador of the Northport Yacht Club.
Upon arrival I dropped my bags in their guest room and we headed to dinner at the Yacht Club where a number of other host families and athletes were meeting up. Dinner was very nice; Ebbe forgot to tell me about their “no jeans” dress code so I crept in behind him and sat down quickly. I enjoyed interesting conversation and delicious food while meeting a number of very friendly people (including a local Colorado runner, Wendy Thomas who lives 35 minutes away from me and also has a four and six year old). After dinner the Rekers took me back home and I prepared my race day bag and went to bed.
Woke up at 6:30 a.m., got dressed, and joined Ebbe and Eva upstairs for a fresh, authentic NY Bagel (cinnamon raisin). Ebbe drove me to the start and got situated with the elite athlete group in the school gym. Went to warm up with four CO girls who are all sponsored by Boulder Running company. I was the bright pink shirt jogging within the bright blue gals as the Sesame Street tune “One of these things is not like the others” played in the background.
The race started at 8:30 a.m. and went out FAST. Atalelech Asfaw, originally from Ethiopia, now a U.S. Citizen training in Albuquerque took it out in what must have been a 5:05 first mile. Stephanie and Magdalena were around 5:11 and I was 5:15. Granted, it was mostly downhill that first mile but I was unwilling to go any faster than that so early in a 10K race. I had the annoying realization very early in the race that I had not fastened my ankle timing chip properly (tight enough) because it had slipped down low on my ankle and the hard plastic chip part was grinding into the top of my left ankle bone as I sped up down the hill. I awkwardly tried to hi-step and slap the chip around to the back of my ankle but almost tripped myself in the process and not wanting to fully stop and fix it, I resolved to suck it up and just deal with it.
The second mile brought with it the biggest, longest incline of the race, James Street Hill which pretty much lasted almost the whole second mile; my split was 5:55. I was still within 7-8 seconds of the leaders (Magda and Stephanie were steadily reeling Atalelech back in). As a side note, the reason I chose not to go out WITH the leaders like I did in New Haven is because Magdalena had mentioned that she was going after the 32:32 course record and I, being a realist, didn’t have any hope of hitting that kind of time on this hilly of a course at this point in my running career, so I just tried to imagine a thick rope tied around her waist to mine so I could at least stay in contact to some extent. The bad news was that my decision to not stay with Magda (and Stephanie and Atalelech who were running right with Magda) left me out in no man’s land to pace myself and push the hills alone.
Mile 3 flattened out and I started to get into a rythym. I moved up and passed Atalelech while maintaining the 7-8 second gap Magda and Stephanie had on me. Split was 5:30.
Mile 4 brought some welcomed downhill but actually not that welcome because the grade was so steep that I found myself having a hard time increasing my cadence and lifting my knees quickly enough to really use the hill to my benefit and it actually felt like I had to put on the breaks in order to not fall on my face. Not to mention, my ankle was taking a pummeling from the timing chip. Split was 5:21 while I lost a few seconds on Magda and Stephanie.
Mile 5 was a long slow gradual uphill alone into a mild headwind with the sun coming out of hiding and the humidity commanding my attention. The low-point of my race mentally as the leaders seemed to feel more distant. 5:54
Mile 6 had just one more short little uphill and then a nice gradual downhill to the finish. I just hung on and enjoyed watching the race unfold in front of me as Magda threw in a surge and overtook Stephanie in the final mile. My split was 5:35
Sprinted the final .2 in 65 seconds (5:25 pace) and immediatly after finishing, had a heavy canvas American flag thrown over my shoulders with people demanding to take pictures of the top three finishers. How patriotic! But really I was just sweating like cow (pun intended) and the last thing I wanted was a thick canvas coat on my shoulders. After a few pictures, we took our flags (coats) off and headed into a bar on Main Street where they had put our bags. I ate some strawberries, grapes, and lots of water, texted Coach and Aaron, and headed back out for a long cool-down in an attempt to top off my mileage to 20 for the day (my last 20-miler before Baltimore). Wendy Thomas (mother of two from CO) was kind enough to join me for 7 miles as we jogged back through the course to partake of the water stops and run those stupenous hills again. As we got back to the finish line (for the second time) people cheered us in (again) and we gave lots of thumbs up and went to get our bags and head over to the park where the awards ceremony was scheduled to begin 3 minutes earlier. Has there EVER been an on-time awards ceremony in the history of road races?? Don’t think so. I asked Wendy to watch my bag for me while I jogged some more and the awards ceremony announcers stalled some more. Staying within ear’s reach of the announcer, I only got up to 18 miles total before they started the awards. I was hoping for a couple more but after standing around and sitting for a few minutes during the awards my right achilles tendon and left ankle bone refused to run any more. My left ankle was sporting a nice purple/blue puff-ball look after being defeated by the timing chip and my temperamental right achilles was pleading for some love (ice) after the 18 miles of punishment it had just endured. So I called it a day and walked back to the car with Ebbe (not without him treating me to some authentic pastry from the Danish Bakery of course).
In review, I have to be happy with my race. It was a TOUGH course on a hot, humid, and somewhat windy day. I finished 39 seconds behind Magda and 27 seconds behind Stephanie. After the race Magdalena was saying how much she really respects that course record (she fell 87 seconds short of breaking it). Those steep hills really took it out of my legs and I just tried to manage the best I could. I think there is a reason they don’t post their elevation profile online. Considering the circumstances I am pleased with the fact that my time was a minute+ faster than my previous PR set at Bolder Boulder earlier this year. And I came home a few pennies richer. :)
The post-race party was fun and I met some more really cool runners. I also enjoyed the hour long drive back to LaGuardia Airport with Andrew Carlson from Flagstaff as well as Matt Levassiur and Stephanie Bylander (with their adorable 1yo daughter) from Alamosa, CO. I had a really funny conversation with Andrew Carlson as we were getting into the car to leave for the airport. He put his bag in the car and said “Sorry about my BEG, its taken some abuse.” (His bag had a nice rip on the side). As soon as I heard him pronounce BAG as BEG I thought to myself, “Hmmm, this guy is from either North or South Dakota…..I bet he knows Jessie Kindschi.” Jessie is a former BYU teammate of mine with the cutest little North Dakota accent ever. So I introduced myself to Andrew and sure enough, the next words out of his mouth were, “Hey, didn’t you run for BYU? Do you know Jessie Kindschi Dorais?” I laughed so hard!! That is exactly what I was about to ask him!! Come to find out Andrew had actually dated Jessie for a period of time in college before she transferred to BYU and he really had a lot of good to say about her and her husband Andy (who now live in SLC while Jessie finishes up medical school). Anyway, just another funny “small world” experience.