KINGS PARK 15K – 3 for 3

If you want a good early spring challenge, add to that a good company of runners, a great hilly course on closed roads, and a post race spread to boot, do the Kings Park 15K. Nestled right off the main 25A road in Long Island, (and a quick mile from Gina’s sister’s house), we did this race last year in a pouring rain and 30 degree weather – and it was still fun! So this year, we welcomed some warmer sunny skies and even with a good wind, still was splendid compared to last year. The weather certainly brought out the crowd as over 600 runners came out to challenge the course. I was using this race as TEST 3 in my program to finish off four consecutive weeks of big training, but with the intention of bettering last year’s time and running at a much faster pace than the 25K a few weeks ago. I was also using it to prepare the next four weeks, as I have decided to do the Charlotte Racefest Half Marathon in April – a good hilly course again, but also a chance to see the crews down south while looking into some opportunities and also get away for a weekend with Gina (www.charlotteracefest.com).

Things have been going very well with the handling of the training which now include quicker, harder workouts, and sampling recovery methods to be able to do such loads on consecutive weeks. Gina has been able to master some serious soda breads in time for St Patrick’s day and to nosh on daily. Props to the folks at Keurig who sent us a replacement for our busted one (and many many K-cups!!).  The SodaStream gets fizzed several times a week and I’ve carbonated just about everything in the fridge.  The Odwalla bars and gear have also come in and I am stacked, loaded with bars to not only give out, but to keep handy at work, in the X, and in the bag for a healthy snack post workout during the day. And there’s the added benefit of having both her sister’s Chris and Susan adding their own baked goods to the “diet”. Granted daylight savings time initially threw me into a small funk for the morning workouts as sunrise is back closer to 7am for now, but the added daylight in the evening has allowed Gina and I to get in some nice walks when she returns home from work. Now as 5am rolls around, lights on!

So we made a quick stop at Chris’ house before the race to see how she was doing and to get hyped a bit. She had her gall bladder removed just that Monday and was recovering well. She wasn’t able to come cheer, but was hosting us for brunch afterwards and I told her I’d try to bring something home for her. We parked off Sesame Street (no joke) and walked to the school. It is great that the Discovery school allows the organizers to use the gym as many runners get to relax, stretch, and of course, shoot the breeze with fellow runners. We got to see a few guys from Quantum, announcer extrodinare Terry, and some Sunrise Tri members. I am always impressed with the representation of area running clubs who come out and race together, sporting their teams branded gear. Soon it was off to the starting line and get down to some running business.

Everything felt good and after a few kisses to G, made my way to the front, off to the left. A downhill start always gets people to go out fast so I just surveyed the area and took 3 deep breaths. Rs800 locked and loaded.  And off we go! The first mile went quick in way under sub 6, but that was cool with me. The group separated fast and a small pack formed where I just hung around. With hills coming up, I ran smart and warmed up  nicely by mile three. Then this crew of five runners – with 2 females to boot – came in and hung around with me and the two I was with. I give credit to Terrance (I knew his name since he was popular with the sparce crowd) because he knew how to run the tangents and held pace throughout this whole development. Young and talented, I figured I just hang with his pace since he faltered a bit on the hills where I charged up, but gave him ground when it rolled down and flat. But this group must have stirred him a bit since they were pushing and doing that this early - I knew it wouldn’t keep up. So I eased and gave a small 5-10 second cushion on everyone and just watched from the back. The paced stayed in the 5:45 range and I guessed at the 6 mile mark, or at least by 7, I’d see how it held before dropping my own hammer on myself. The lead 3 runners were so out in front it wasn’t funny, so I just stayed in rhythm, at 150-160bpm, and lasered my focus on inside, how I was feeling, fine tuning. So we then hit mile 7 and it’s this long flat stretch of which we had a solid wind to our back. It turned around and back for the final 2 miles, so I knew the wind was gonna hit us for that whole finish. The pack started to break before that as two fell back to me. Once they all made the turn, I was only 5 seconds behind, and  said “F* THIS” and dropped the head, thought of Chris, and hammered. You ever hear the beginning to Metallica’s “Hey Mom Look It’s Me” song. That’s what I’m talkin about.  I just motored and the next mile hit 5:22 of which now I was long passed the pack. Didn’t think twice. Now it was pedal to the floor. It is a hilly end, but you know, when you think about even though my training may have made my legs and body fatigued, can’t be nothing like what Chris went through this week. So I said “DON’T LET UP.” Repeated that the whole last mile in 5:21 and into the finish at 53:43! Exhilerated, I felt my heart in my throat at this point from that last surge as I gave G a quick kiss/hug and went for a cool down pronto. It took about 10 minutes, but was worth it as I eased up nicely, recovered, and felt great while I thanked a few volunteers on my way back, soaking in the warm sunny weather. I was again pleased with the test results and am on par, full steam ahead.

I met up with Gina as we cheered on fellow runners and walked around. We made our way back inside the gym to stretch and change, along with rackin up some goodies thanks to the spread they laid out. Not that we ate any of it yet (always bring a bag) since we had brunch awaiting us, but it was about an hour before the awards so we caught up with some of our friends as they finished and it was a pleasure just to observe the post-race running community sharing stories and having fun. Check out any GLIRC events and run one – you’ll do more once you experience this stuff! Granted after a while the gym did start to stink, so we were happy to eventually take the walk back to the car when everything was over. I won my age group and placed 6th overall, winning a nice trophy which I gave to Chris along with the sweatshirt provided to all runners. We had a great time at her place just chillin and enjoying some family company on such a beautiful day. We eventually got home in time to do some chores, stay alert with a Monster, and get to Mass. All in a day’s “work” no? We finished it off our way - with a bottle of sangria and some pizza!

Now, it’s time for Spring and a good plan for the final 2 events before tri season – Charlotte Racefest and LI Half Marathons. Both races will be my final fine tuning with my running but I have already begun bringing in more of a triathlon feel to my training, slowly and in pieces. On the side, I will begin my thrid draft of the book shortly after my man Brad Mintz’s review. Recent NCAA, NFL, and issues at work have added some material to include, which I look forward to tackle in the revision. Gina and I look forward to seeking out some other scenarios which we get to discuss on weekends, and for now, we both have been able to use the Lenten season to take a very subjective view of our surroundings and look forward to this change in seasons.

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