This weekend Gina and I did the Long Island MacArthur Airport 5K, a race we did last year to celebrate her 50th birthday. It was the first year the event was held and together with her sisters Susie and Chris and their sons, had a blast. It was so well organized that they were eager to participate in the event this year. It benefits the Veterans of the Military services and the community really gets behind the staff at the airport to put on a great race. There is always plenty of goodies and certainly worth the entry fee. I have also been training a co-worker, Matt Rivas, himself now 51, for this event as it would be his first ever 5K. We have been running together during our lunch breaks and sometimes after work since February and he has been making great progress enough to convince him to go for a race. He was a bit nervous this week, but I felt he was going to impress himself with his ability and get hooked on 5K’s once he experiences the fun in an event like LIMA.

I have been a month into my preparation for the Buffalo Springs Half-Ironman and the recent blast of hot, humid weather was welcoming as it gave me a chance to acclimate to what I am expecting in Texas. I haven’t raced a 5K since I was dressed in Da Bear costume for Kahru so I approached this event as simply a hard quick run effort, on a scheduled active rest day. I made sure to get my normal volume/intensity in and would measure this 5K as a chance to race hard on regular legs. Granted I won this event last year, but I knew some heavy hitters would be at this race this year as its popularity has almost doubled its entrants and is part of the Sayville Race Running Series. I was still excited to let it rip on the runway. Gina was set to walk it, her sister Chris was joined by her husband Bernie and son Tim, but her other sister Susie got sick the day before and wasn’t able to attend. Matt was to meet us at the airport the morning of the race as he lives nearby.

The morning was crisp as we made our way to her sisters house at 6:30am. Everyone seemed to be livening up by 7:30am as we jumped into their car and headed to the airport. Parking was a breeze as the race staff organized everything to precision. From checking in to making our way to the start, we had no issues. The sun rose and warmed things up nicely (and half a ClifShot Turbo jacked things us as well) as Matt arrived a bit after 8am  ready to roll. He admitted to having some nervousness, but we went over his game plan of pacing and starting position. He set his heart monitor to help guide him as he has through training, and I knew he would be fine. The whole crew made their way to the start and with a kiss from G, I made my way to the front. The legs felt good and I planned to run out with the McGrath brothers as they are a force on the LI road racing scene. These guys are indeed runners at all distances. A fast time was easy if you hung to them. The crowds swarmed and everyone was ready to rock. The Southwest planes continued to take off in the distance and now it was our turn. RS800 activated. Three deep breaths.

Off we go with a thruster blast. Gotta make sure to ease off the throttle as you always get some exhuberant young guns trying to hang. I stuck behind and in a blink we go through the first mile in 5:10. Yo! I am fine and know I won’t hang all 3 miles at this pace, but as it turns out, I get to ride behind one of the brothers and another runner nicely. We hit the runway and since no real tangents exist to manipulate, there was a headwind which I tucked in behind two guys to minimize. It helped as we made the turnaround and with a small tailwind cross the two mile mark in 10:30. I was now in 4th and simply hung on. I heard Matt cheer on as we now had a look at others entering the runway. Down the stretch I knew the guy behind me had a kick and he did it nicely. I cross in 5th overall under the great announcing sound of Terry B and with a time of 16:30, was 24 seconds faster than last year!!! Hitting the reverse thrusters I needed a good ten minute jog around the parking lot to fully cool down and assess the body. I spent the whole time in Zone 5 and recovered nicely as there was no soreness, pain, or cramping. I love 5K’s since its all balls to the wall and your heart i in your throat. Its a blast and on a runway clearly personified in a takeoff and landing of an airplane. I made my way back to the finish and awaited the rest of the crew, now being a coach and cheerleader.

Matt had ambitious goals of 25-26 minutes, but soon enough I knew he was more like 27. And in he came at 27:20 as he was all smiles and elated. He had done it and knew he had more in the tank as he quickly stated that he can go faster now that his butterflies have settled. I was so proud of him. He worked hard and now, yes I officially called him a runner. I poured some water over his head to celebrate. Behind the Army squadron came Bernie in a time of 33 minutes! This was his first race in a year and he was also all smiles. I was impressed in that he devoured a MetRx Big 100 bar a half hour before the start and still ran well. Water over his head too. His son Timmy came in at 39 minutes but LOOK OUT, here come his mom Chris less tha a minute behind!!! Awesome. A big hug for her and she was gleaming with joy on her efforts (she later admitted to wanting to try and catch Timmy and now I think there is a race family rivarly). Gina came through with a shout out from Terry and with a time of 47 minutes, was impressed and happy as well. Hugs, kisses, and more water pouring was in effect as it got pleasantly warmer by 10am. Now everyone was rehashing stories and walking around collecting goodies. Gina some bagels, Chris devoured a slice of pizza, and Tim some oreos. Bernie ate anything and I just helped stash stuff in a shoe bag. I did see Southwest had these cans of what looked like LaBlatt beer, and had to get a closer look. Turns out it was La Blue Southwest cans of WATER. Purified, no joke, and since they were under ice it was sooooooooo cooooooold! I cracked it open and took a few chugs then proceeded to pour it over each of the crew. Had to be the best drink of water I’ve had in months. I then proceeded to knock out 14 pullups at the Marine booth. I didn’t even manage to eat until noon and that was only half an Odwalla bar. That water was so crisp and refreshing seriously. I took 4 cans for the fridge.

Matt soon had to leave and we all were happy for him in his efforts. Guy done did well. We hung around for the awards as I did win my age group and was able to give that award to Susie when we dropped off her goodie bag (and got a refreshing dip in the pool!). It was great morning and the fact that it was a celebration of effort with friends and family made it so worthwhile.  We were home by 1pm and it felt like a whole day already. Special thanks to the people involved with LIMA – they handled almost 1900 entrants and with ease and professionalism. Clearly a top rated 5K to do on Long Island. 

Gina and I ate brunch on the patio and then errands in house, walked to Mass, finishing with some shopping, as we managed to hang on until 9:30pm. No sangria tonight, but definitely Sunday!!! It will be another three weeks before Lubbock, Texas and training is going nicely. We have some plans to attend to as we will be making a short trip to Charlotte next weekend to check some things out. After Lubbock, I will have a journal update for the 4th of July weekend that will address our plans for the second half of the year. Welcome summer!

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