ran the Boston Marathon in April of this year (see ) and, throwing all caution aside, I ran the Shires of Vermont Marathon a month later. Boston was meant to be a do-over, so I guess since I had also tried to do the Shires last year (and DNFed) after my aborted Boston, I decided I needed to do a Shires do-over too.

So, you might say, after my double do-over, I am in need for some serious recovery. This summer I swear I'll keep my runs to 10 miles or less, and my "speed work" will consist of some very low key 5Ks: the Cross Country series in Van Cortland Park on alternate Thursday evenings, plus the Riverside Park series run by NYC Runs on not quite alternate Wednesdays. These would fill that bill quite nicely. And one thing I'll try to do on both my not-too-long long runs, and my low key 5Ks, is take plenty of photos. Maybe these photos will help you envision my summer and perhaps even get you to venture Beyond Central Park.

Enjoy!



May and June: Transitioning into Summer

he title of this blog is "Summer and Fall 2014", so May and June (except for the last week) are what you might call "pre-summer". But it was an important period because I had to recover from my two spring Marathons and make the transition to my summer schedule. In short, as mentioned at the top of this blog, this schedule consists of medium runs (say, 8 to 10 miles) on the weekends, and short races (5Ks) mid week. And the weather was true to form — cool days and evenings in May and real summer weather (= hot and humid) by the end of June.

I've kept the narratives short and the pictures plentiful, so hopefully you'll find that attractive.



May 22: VCTC Cross Country 5K #1

Rain and T-storms were forecast for Thursday. When I left home, showed showers in the area around 6:00, so when I saw taht it was pouring rain when we came out at Dyckman Street about 6:05, I figured "they got that right". Luckily it tapered off by the time the train got to 242nd Street and there was no more rain for the rest of the night and temperatures were cool.

Being well aware that I had run a marathon just 4 days before, I started slow and easy, at the back of pack. My strategy was to keep a steady pace and try to sense any problems and slow down or stop if something untoward happened. I did the "Chi-running" strategy of leaning forward from the ankles, "falling" forward and letting the legs keep up (I had just been to Joel Matalonís session the night before). I did keep a pretty steady pace and tried to keep Arnie Gore in site (he is from VCTC and is in my age group, and mostly is about my speed). But he slowly pulled away so I followed Edward James, another potential competitor.

The course went by and before I knew it we were heading back. The hills did not bother me at all. I slowly tried to pull up to Edward, but to no avail. However, upon hitting the flats, I saw that in trying to catch Edward (which I didn't) I actually caught up to Arnie who I didn't even know was close. He must have fallen off his pace (or I sped up, unlikely though that was). In the end I broke 30:00 (29:58 to be exact) somewhere between Edward and Arnie. I also found that Edward was actually not in my age group after all, (he's only 67) — but my effort to catch him was not "wasted" — it probably helped me pass Arnie and break 30:00.

In the end I was "In the muffins". I was 1st in the 70+ group, Arnie was 2nd plus 2 more septuagenarians followed (like that word?) — an unusually large group for this small race.

May 24th: Run to Krolewskie Jadlo in Greenpoint

Nice run from Melissa's to Krolewskie Jadlo, about 6.2 miles. The Weather was fair and warm (70°s) but the rain which was forecast held off.

It was a little tough getting over the Queensboro Bridge (my marathon was just 1 week before). We went down and took Vernon Boulevard from the QB bridge all the way over to the Pulaski Bridge. Once on the Brooklyn side, we took Eagle Street to Franklin and kept on that all the way to McCarran Park in Greenpoint. We were a little early (KJ opens at 12:00 noon) so we hung out on the grass. My right foot was a bit numb at the end.

As always, we had a nice lunch. As a surprise, a tour group of about a dozen people suddenly showed up and filled the center table of the restaurant. Then before we knew it they left. We asked the waitress what that was all about and she said it was a "restaurant tour" and they visit 3 or 4 places and only have a few specialties in each one. Definitely not my style!


May 28th: The NYC Runs Lousy Tee Shirt 5K in Riverside Park

This was a free invitational race that NYC Runs held for those of us who have supported them over the years. Good race: Cool weather and my time was about a minute and a half faster than the last Vanny race (28:39). Melissa was there and we walked across Central Park together.


May 31st: Run from the Webster Library to Williamsburg

Today's run was very nice. Temperatures were in the 60°s with a nice breeze. However, I felt a bit sluggish — perhaps it was the heat or I was still recovering from my marathons.

I met Susan and Melissa at the Webster Library, and we went east on 78th and down along the River to the QB Bridge. When we crossed the bridge I was was seriously dragging, and had to ask my friends to slow down a little.

We went down to Vernon like the previous week, but this time we went over to the waterfront at 47th Avenue. After a block we turned north on 5th and checked out a market. Then we followed a path from the parking lot along the Eleventh Street Basin east toward the river (where Melissa speculated a large vessel moored there would make a nice dance boat).

The whole area has been greened and developed all the way through Gantry Park to Hunters Point. That is still fenced off and undeveloped, but we went by City Harvest to Newtown Creek and we speculated that this would be a great area to green. I was very impressed as I had not visited this stretch for a year or two.

Then we headed east along 54th Ave. with a side trip on a little stub of Vernon Blvd to the old footing of the one-time Vernon Avenue Bridge.

As we approached the stairs up to the Pulaski Bridge, we noticed a brewery right across the street from the stairs, "Transmitter Brewing Company". We went in, asked questions and had a tasting. Who knew!

Then it was over the bridge, but instead of exiting as usual at Eagle, we went down the stairs and went over on Ash Street which became Commercial Street, to Franklin (passing the Brooklyn footing of the one-time Vernon Ave. Bridge).

BTW: I took most of the photos a couple of days after the run, since I only took a few pictures on the run, but I knew I MUST have a good photographic record of this route.

Now we discovered that what Long Island City had in a beautiful waterfront, Greenpoint and Williamsbug had in a bountiful array of small restaurants.

It was Franklin all the way to Kent with a peek in on a new place called "Northern Territory" at Franklin and Meserole Ave. So many place to try, so little time!

Then it was Kent to North 3rd (passing the very crowded "Smorgesburg" outdoor food market at Kent and North 7th-8th). Then North 3rd to Radegast — but wait — did we not see "Egg" just west of Radegast? Were we on the wrong block? Yes, Egg has seemingly moved from North 5th. And once again there was a crowd waiting to get in, whereas we went to a much better place next door with better food, great beers and plenty of room. Well, thus it was also on North 5th when Egg was next to Juliette's. Alas, young trendy people have no taste.

As we were finishing up our brunch, a wonderful and totally surprising thing happened. I noticed a man and a woman standing on the curb just outside of where we were sitting (there was a wide window there). Suddenly the man fell to his knees and I said quietly to my friends, "Check this out — I think he's proposing!". Sure enough, he fumbled a box out of his pocket and managed to get a ring on her finger. All she did was cry. Then they hugged and cried and got in a nice sporty white car (where did that come from?) and disappeared.

A truly wonderful run with a wonderful ending!


June 5th: VCTC Cross Country 5K #2

Today was a hot one. All times were off. I did a 30:48, about a minute off the last time. This time there was no competition. I was 1st in the 70+ (out of 2). Tim and I and took the subway home and had a nice chat.


June 7th: The East River to Earl's via Randalls Island and the South Bronx

I had a long hot day, stopping for lots of pictures and was thoroughly exhausted by the end (plus some right foot numbness and pain). But Iím glad I did it, and I explored the bike path crossing to the Bronx under the Hell Gate rail line from the Bronx side. And BTW, I was solo on this one.

The weather went from 70° to close to 80°, with high humidity (and not a lot of shade) the whole way. I started about 10:00 AM on the East River Promenade just south of Carl Schurz park, went up though that Park and up the promenade and was stopped at 96th Street by what looked like an enormous canoe! It was a replica of an 18th century transport used in this region. Check it out on the slideshow, it's the 9th picture.

I crossed over the Wards Island Bridge and headed south around the Island (counter-clockwise). I enjoyed passing a bunch of soccer games under the Triboro Bridge and finally got to the . This was built (1912-16) to carry rail traffic from the Bronx to Manhattan for the New Haven Railroad. It predatded the highway bridges by 20 years and is a very impressive and majestic structure. When it was built, it was the world's longest steel arch bridge. No less impressive is the long viaduct which starts in the Bronx and slowly brings the tracks up to the elevation of the bridge.

Underneath the tracks a bike path has been developed (with a few gaps you have to detour around) and it goes all the way to the Bronx Kill (the narrow waterway separating the Island from the Bronx). There's a sort of a bridge there which I've read is being developed into a bike path to the South Bronx, eliminating the need to climb up and over the Bronx end of the Triboro. I took a lot of pictures of this and when it's finished I'll put together a separate blog post about it.

But for me it was up and over the Triboro, and after investigating the Bronx end of this future bike path, I made my way along 138th Street, over the Third Avenue Bridge back to Manhattan and down to 98th and Park, home to , the best darn hole-in-the-wall in Manhattan. Unfortunately by the time I got back into Manhattan, my right foot was hurting.

It added up to 8.8 miles. Not bad for a hot Saturday going solo.

Here's a map of the route:


June 11th: NYC Runs Riverside Park 5K #2

This was the first of the 4 summer 5Ks I had done where I felt rested and with nothing sore and with cool weather. My 27:40 was the best so far of the season, one minute faster that the last run in Riverside Park. Would that all my races could be like this.

I started quicker than before and held the pace pretty well. I kept the mile splits on my watch, something I don't usually bother with: 1) 9:12 2) 9:04 3) 8:45 .1) 0:38. it was interesting how much faster mile 3 was. I assume that's because of the big downhill plus pushing hard at the finish.

David Dempsey and Brett Saffer were there and Betsy Petrick was volunteering. She is at the finish line with a clip board in the photo. David was 2nd in the 60-69 group and I was 1st in the 70+


June 14th: Run in Queens and Brooklyn

No one was around for this run so I took the opportunity to get more photos for the long run 2 weeks previous (see the May 31st post below) that I did with Susan and Melissa. The main difference was I skipped the first part, took the subway to Queens and did the Long Island City, Greenpoint and Williamsburg sections (about 6 miles) PLUS I bought a bottle of Transmitter Brewery Beer to sample at home some time. The slide shows for the previous run say it all.


June 19th: VCTC Cross Country 5K #3

It was a little less humid for this, the 3rd race of the summer Van Cortlandt season, and I was feeling in good shape. Melissa and Tim D. were there as well as Judith. There were a couple of other Flyers (Luisa and Zenaida) but I don't think I saw them.

The usual crowd was there including Edward James and Frankie Santiago who I usually bump into. Edward, as is often the case, managed to stay in front of me much of the way. My race was OK, but not what I had hoped. I tried to pass Edward in the stretch, but couldn't hold on and he passed me back. I probably tried to pass him too soon.

My time was 30:02, in spite of Tim yelling "You can break 30" just as I was finishing. Sorry, Tim. I was 1st in the 70+ age group but there was only one other 70+ guy there and he was well behind me.

Melissa, Tim, Judith and I took the subway home together and I was happy to share my carrot muffin with Joy for Friday's breakfast.


June 21st: Run to Indian Road Cafe via the South Bronx

On Saturday, Melissa and I hoped to do a run. But I was tired of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, so I thought it would be nice to head up to the northern tip of Manhattan. There's a good brunch spot there and we could go through the South Bronx which is a nice route we've taken a number of times. It's a bit less crowded than Manhattan, and there's a couple of nice parks along the way. Then once we got to Yankee Stadium we could cross back to Manhattan and head up through High Bridge Park, at which point we would be practically there.

The problem was it would be over 10 miles from Melissa's and I was tired and I wanted to keep it to around 8 miles. So instead of meeting at her place, we met ON the First Avenue bus, got off at 96th Street and commenced our run.

We took the Willis Avenue Bridge across to the Bronx and it was pleasant going. But when we crossed back into Manhattan at 155th Street, we needed to decide whether to take the high road (mostly along the Old Croton Aqueduct) or the low road (mostly along the Harlem River on the promenade). The last time we did this run, we took the high road (there was a humongous traffic jam on the Harlem River Drive) so this time, with little traffic on the Drive, we took the low road.

The photos I took were almost entirely along this portion, so I've put them into a slideshow below. Make a note of photos #10 and #11 which show water gushing out into the Harlem River. This was quite a mystery since it looked perfectly clean and couldn't well be just run-off. Curiously, on the other side of the road, up on the side of the cliff, we noticed a structure which I had see quite a few times and I thought I knew what it was (but I didn't). See photo #12 in the slideshow for that. In the next post (above) everything is explained — sort of.

Once were were past this section, it was west along Dyckman Street and then up along a few north bound avenues to Indian Road Cafe — our destination.


June 25th: Exploring High Bridge Park

During last Saturday's run, The "best" section was running along the Harlem River. When we were between the two automobile bridges — the Alexander Hamilton Bridge (1963) which carries I-95 across and the Washington Bridge (1888) which has been there for over a century and carries street traffic across — I pointed out a structure on the cliff side and said I thought it was a portal to one of the tunnels that I had heard about. They were built in the 1940s to take traffic to and from the George Washington Bridge before the coming of the Trans-Manhattan Expressway (built in the 1960s). Here it is, you have probably noticed it if you've come this way:

But it was right up above the outpouring of water we had noticed (next photo) — see the last post. Melissa said, "maybe it has something to do with the water system". Prophetic words, Melissa.

Well, I went home and Googled around a bit and found references for the two tunnels, , and it turns out they are nowhere near that curious structure on the cliff side — they're way up at Amsterdam Avenue and you can see them if you find your way through a maze of roads and fences and highway entrance and exit ramps to the park side of those two streets.

So I decided I needed to go back to High Bridge Park, try to find the two tunnels and also check out the structure on the cliff. This was my exploration run. Only about 4 miles but very tiring because everything in High Bridge Park is either up or down.

On Wednesday I took the C train up to 155th Street and did my winding up and down exploration. I was quite successful in finding the tunnel entrances and I spent a good deal of time exploring the mystery structure. In doing so I came upon a skate board arena just above the structure, partly under the Alexander Hamilton Bridge. What a pleasant surprise that the city was spending money on recreation instead of highways.

Here are the tunnels:
They've been closed since the 1960s, but the tunnels are still there, dormant. And every once in a while someone remembers them and has an idea of how to reuse them. But that's not my concern — I'm just glad I found out where they are and that the structure on the cliff is NOT one of them.

But what in tarnation IS that structure on the side of the cliff? Exploring around it gave me no inking as to it's function.

Well, as someone once said "You could Google it". So when I got home from my exploration run (with a little bit of poison Ivy and a lot of photos), I did Google it — for days. Problem is what do you Google if you don't know what it is?

The story starts with the Croton Aqueduct. After all, the Croton Aqueduct was the reason the High Bridge was built in the first place (to get the water across the river) and that goes for the beautiful tower as well (to pump some of the water up to a storage tank in the tower to provide water pressure for residents of Washington Heights). But why do we call it the OLD Croton Aqueduct? Yes, it is old (1842) but that's not why we call it that. We call it the Old Croton Aqueduct (generally abbreviated "OCA") because there's a . This was built from 1887 to 1895 because New York City needed more water than the OCA could provide. The New Croton Aqueduct increased the volume of water available almost three fold. But it was built almost entirely by tunneling through rock deep underground, so you never see it and there's no trail along it. Check out the reference.

And guess what, it crosses under the Harlem River exactly where the mystery structure stands. In particular, I found that the structure provides access to part of the aqueduct infrastructure known as "Shaft No. 25", one of 33 shafts (about one every mile), drilled down from the surface to the aqueduct below to provide a way to do maintenance. These were essential for the building process, otherwise the men doing the tunneling deep underground would have no way to get down to do the work and back up again. But No. 25 was special since it connects to the aqueduct where it passes under the Harlem River and stands above the deepest point in the entire aqueduct tunnel. And equipment was situated there to allow the portion of the aqueduct under the river to be drained using this shaft.

To allow this to be done, an overflow feature was built into the shaft so that flow could be diverted from the main tunnel and dumped into the river. In addition to draining the portion of the aqueduct under the river (something very rarely done), this was also used to avoid overflowing down-stream reservoirs and gate houses. And today, 125 years later, it is still used as an overflow control! And during last Saturday's run we saw it in action. Some maintenance workers must have been inside the structure opening and closing valves while we were doing our run along the river. Melissa, you got that right!

Here's a picture c. 1905 showing the structure with other buildings, now long gone. And no trees! At that point in time this was like a cultivated garden. And the brand new Washington Bridge, which by coincidence was finished within a year of the New Aqueduct, stands proudly behind. Amazing!

FYI: the shafts (there were 2) were drilled down to the aqueduct (in bedrock, about 425 feet below the surface — well below the level of the river) from just west of "our" structure and their surface portals were under the tower of the building (called the "Head-House") visible to the west of the structure. The building was demolished around 1952 and the shaft portals are now under some earth and concrete slabs. They are occasionally accessed when inspection or maintenance is needed.

The overflow pipe (called the "Blow-Off") was drilled horizontally to the shafts from the base of the retaining wall in front of the structure. The portal is visible at the highway level in the photo (it is still visible — and used! — in the modern photo at the top of this post). The actual outflow pipes are east of the highway at the water line (near where the dock in the 1905 picture is located).



June 28th: Enjoying a new Brunch Spot in Williamsburg

Today, Melissa and I did an 8 mile run which was essentially the same as our May 31st run (see below). We did a few different side trips and I took a few more pictures, but the main difference was that we ended up and a new (to us) place for brunch, namely , "The Factory", a large space with an industrial motif which reminded Melissa of the 1927 Film .

The food was good as was the beer, and I would highly recommend adding this place to your list. Since most of the new pictures were of the lunch spots in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, I've included the slide show of that part of our run. These are pictures from both the first run in May and those taken during today's run.



July: Summer is here for Sure!

Yikes! Summer is really here. Yesterday it was 88° with 55% humidity and today it's supposed to be 92° and equally humid. And here I'm fretting about doing a measly 4 or 5 mile easy run to start the month.


July 3rd: A Visit to Finish Line Sports

A little over a week ago, the Flyers held the Marathon Training Program Kick-Off. This event included talks on the methods and philosophy of the program, and an inspirational talk by Dr. Jack Daniels, who originated the ideas behind this program. Although I had no intentions of joining the program or even thinking about running a marathon, I wanted to check it out and get what I could in the way of useful training advice.

The event was held at on West 23rd Street, a physical therapy center specializing in running issues. As part of the Kick-Off, we were offered a free evaluation session at the place, so I took them up on it, and yesterday I had my evaluation. I was very impressed.

It started with an interview with Brynn, one of the therapists, which went over my history of running with emphasis on problems that occured in the last few years — the period when I got back to marathon running, qualified for Boston, and my subsequent problems and issues in training for and running several marathons in the 2012 - 2014 timeframe. If you've read my blog over this period you will be familiar with these issues.

Then I spent about 20 minutes of easy running on a treadmill with video cameras recording me from several directions. After this, Brynn went over the the videos step by step, and pointed out several problems that showed up in my form which might contribute to my problems. Without going in to details, she pointed out some large and some subtle observations and suggested a number of stretching and strengthening exercises I could do to alleviate some of these problems.

All in all, it was an hour well spent and I started out this morning by incorporating some of these suggestions into my daily routine. As is true of most things, only time will tell!


July 5th: A Run from Melissa's to Van Cortlandt Park
  via the South Bronx and the OCA

Yesterday (Saturday, the day after the 4th) Melissa and I decided it was time to run to Van Cortlandt Park, but to do it entirely in the Bronx. But since we don't live in the Bronx, we had to do a couple of miles in Manhattan to get up to the Willis Avenue Bridge.

But first a word about the weather. When I went out around 7:00 AM and bought the paper and coffee, it was beautiful — cool, sunny, clear blue sky, and low humidity. But when we got going a couple of hours later, it was no longer cool and it was too sunny — more of the course than I realized was without shade. We were hot. But it was still a beautiful run.

Check out the map (I've rotated it so it aligns with Manhattan's street grid). It's pretty much a straight shot up with one jog to the left to get over from the South Bronx to the Old Croton Aqueduct (usually abbreviated as "OCA"). We basically followed the OCA all the way up from where High Bridge crosses into the Bronx to Van Cortlandt Park, about the last 4 miles of our route. And if you've never run this section of the OCA, try it; you'll be very pleasantly surprised.

Here's the slideshow. It comes up in a new window. Kill the window when you're done watching. Oh and that reminds me, I figured this was going to be about a 10 mile run, but it turned out to be closer to 11 miles — and that was to just get to the park — we walked about another mile to get to , one of our favorite brunch spots. So it was too hot, too long and I'm still tired. But I'm not complaining!

The route was pretty simple (circled on the map): 1) go up along the East River to the Willis Avenue Bridge, 2) make your way over to the Grand Concourse and up up through a couple of parks to around 167th and Walton, 3) zig zag over to High Bridge (Bronx end), and 4) follow the OCA to Vanny.

It turns out "zig zag over to High Bridge" is easier said than done (and we took a lousy route Saturday). I've thought about the best ways and made a little map (right) that shows two ways to get to the OCA:

  1. Go up Walton from Joyce Kilmer Park to 167th Street; go left 3 blocks (under the tracks) and take a right on Edward L Grant Highway, which will take you up to University Ave. where it crosses I-95 and pick up the OCA there.
  2. If you want to visit High Bridge (the actual bridge) where the OCA enters the Bronx, go left on 170th from Grant Highway and go all the way over to University (6 blocks) and you're there.
But as we discovered, it's all wrapped up in a big fence and you won't see much till the construction is finished. BTW: in case you didn't know, the construction is to fix up High Bridge so it can be opened to pedestrians (after being closed for 40 odd years). Now that will be a great happening!

And another BTW: I found by doing some checking that Joyce Kilmer was a man (killed in action in WWI in 1918). And seemingly other folks knew that — but not me. I figured that the poem "" (also see ) had a feminine sensibilty to it. Men would rather cut down the trees and build a road through the spot . So much for my gender stereotyping!

The pictures and the map (Click on it to get the interactive version) provide the details. It's just shy of 11 miles.


July 12th: Three Bridges to Brunch Reprise

Yesterday I decided to reprise one of the first and best training runs we ever did: . I was going solo and wanted to keep the distance to around 8 miles, so I started at my apartment on East 20th Street instead of at Carl Schurz park as in the original run. The run went well except that the sun was pretty brutal in those areas without shade, which were quite a few.

It's interesting to re-read the original report and see what's changed along the route. Even though I run parts of this route rather frequently, sometimes you you don't notice gradual changes. The biggest change in this route was in the East River Promenade south of the East River Park, where the run is almost entirely below, or next to the elevated FDR Drive. The first part of that section, from the old warehouses down to the Manhattan Bridge has been undergoing a transformation and finally parts of it are done. There are playgrounds and basket ball courts and sitting areas along here that I'd never thought would get finished. Bravo for a completed project in a city where things seem to take forever. The map shows my route, almost exactly the same as the original.

The only complaint I had on the running side, besides the heat in the sun, was some numbness in my right foot, a common complaint I've had lately. You'll be happy to know, I'm seeing a doctor about that this coming week.

I ended up going to the , which was not on our list when we did the original run. Since that time this place has been one of our regular stopping points whenever we run to Williamsburg. Another surprise for me, even in this familiar place, was when the waitress asked would I like my beer small or large. I said large, not realizing that in this place large means LARGE.

The picture shows the enormity of the beer mug. I'm told the Germans call it a "". The waitress said it was one liter. Even though it was not filled to the brim it was likely more than two pint glasses. Needless to say I did my best and the pictures below show the final outcome. On the food side, the "Blueberry Lemon Pancakes" (which included bananas and mascarpone cheese) was wonderful. That plate was completely cleared as well.

All in all, a great run. I should do it again — at least the super-sized beer part .


July 31st – August 6th: Three Races in a Week – Going Down and Coming Back Up

July 23rd & 31st: Feeling a bit down after a couple of bad races

My previous post was from July 12th and I had enjoyed a number of long (actually mid-length) runs over the prior 3 or 4 weeks.

But unfortunately starting at about the time I wrote that post, the evening 5Ks (I was doing a Van Cortland Park series and a Riverside Park series), especially those at Van Cortland Park, did not go so well.

Van Cortlandt Park
Cross Country 5Ks
DateTime
May 2229:58
June 0530:48
June 1930:02
July 1731:03
July 3132:39
Riverside Park 5Ks
DateTime
May 2828:39
June 1127:40
July 2329:59
The table at the right show how things were going at the Van Cortlandt Park Races. The first 3 races in May and June were not bad (but not as good as last summer), but after a 4 week hiatus things started to take a turn for the worse in mid July.

The 5Ks in Riverside Park (table at left) had problems as well, but there are fewer of them and a pattern doesn't stand out. But there was a significant falling off in the July 23rd race — the slowest of the season by almost a minute and a half.

A large part of the problem was tightness and soreness (and sometimes pain) in my right leg, both in the hamstrings and in the groin. Problems in this area have cropped up from time to time for close to two years and I'll be going back to an orthopedist shortly, and hopefully a new round of physical therapy will help.

August 2nd: I Surprise Myself at the Club Team Race

My slowest time in the Van Cortlandt Park 5K series, was on Thursday, July 31st. My time on this admitedly tough course was 32:39 which is a 10:31 pace. The NYRR Club Team 5 miler was 2 days later on August 2nd. It would be an understatement to say my expectations were not high. I figured the best I could hope for on this easier (though longer) course was to break 10 minutes per mile.

I don't do the NYRR races in Central Park very often, but still it was a jolt to be stuck in a corral near the back with most of the 800 odd men in front of me. And together with the 600 or so women, this is considered a small race. More typically (as, say, in the Portugal Day Run) there are upwards of 5000 runners. Yikes! For comparison, that Van Cortland Park 5K had 197 finishers (I was 116th and the 1st in the 70+ group) — but I digress.

After the horn went off, I reached the starting line in about a minute and started my watch. The weather was actually quite good. The early morning rain had stopped and it was rather cool. By the turn onto the West Drive I had gotten into a steady pace. The sore muscles I had Thursday night and most of Friday were not bothering me ... yet! My form was good but I felt a tightness in my right leg so I held back just a bit in hopes that the leg would hang in there for 5 miles. The pack opened out a bit along the west side and I thought to myself, "Gosh this is such an easy course compared to Vanny! And nothing to trip over!" When I hit the one mile mark, my watch said "9:17" so I thought, "Wow, that's a surprise. Let's see if I can maintain this pace." Meanwhile, I noticed Arnie, from the VCTC club. He is a friend who is in my age group and about my speed and he was a little ahead. I wondered if I could keep up with him. [Spoiler: I couldn't.]

For the next 2 miles, going down to the bottom of the park and turning up onto the East Drive, I made every effort to hold onto my form and my pace, and my pace DID hold (with 9:05 and 9:07 miles) so I said to myself, "You CAN hold on. Now, just get yourself up that damn Cat Hill."

After passing the Boat House, I started up Cat Hill, and you know what? I had nothing to fear from this hill. After all the really tough hills In Van Cortlandt Park and Riverside Park, this was a breeze — and it was actually paved!

Splits for the Club Team 5 Miler
August 2, 2014
MileSplitComment
19:17A little sluggish at the start
29:05Easy rolling hills
39:07Easy rolling hills
49:21Cat Hill
58:41A strong finish

After I hit the 4 mile mark, somewhere around the Engineers' Gate, I decided I HAVE to push it for the last mile; who cares if my leg hurts — as long as I don't fall down! But boy, will this hurt tomorrow. So I pushed and I pushed. And finally I got past the Reservoir where there's actually a little down hill section, and I pushed. With about a quarter mile to go, I passed the Flyers crowd and there was a thunderous cheer. Usually I get a "Go Flyers" here or there but this was extraordinary. Thanks folks. It meant a lot to me. And at this point I could not help but remember that at this exact spot one year ago Laurie Harris passed by with an entourage of Flyers who spontaneously jumped it to run with her to the finish see and . You were the best Laurie!

I finished, but was momentarily disconcerted by the clock overhead which said something like 46:20. But when I looked at my watch which said 45:35, I was relieved — no it wasn't a sub 9 minute pace, but it was close. My official time was 45:31 (a 9:06 pace) and I was 4th in the 70-75 age group (out of 8) — and here I was thinking I might just break 10 minutes per mile. My friend Arnie was 3rd, about a minute ahead of me. I'll catch him next year!

As usual, the bagels and Gatorade were scrumptious and the morning rain was but a memory. The Team picture came out very well (see above) and we were amused by the drama of one of our fast 50+ women trying, with great difficulty, to catch her young daughter so she (the daughter) could get into the picture. Looks like there will be another champion in that family.

But I couldn't help but look back at last year's team photo () and realize there is someone missing this year.

August 6th: Another Good Race 4 Days Later

The last of the NYC Runs Riverside Park 5Ks was the following Wednesday. Yes, this time I had 4 days between races and I didn't know what to expect. Would I revert to my slow pace of the Thursday before at Vanny (just 6 days ago)? Or could I repeat a reputable performance like the Club Team Race (4 days ago). I made a point of NOT running Sunday, Monday or Tuesday (3 consecutive "zero" days is unusual for me) and besides the usual ice and Advil after Saturday's race, I did a lot of stretching and self-massaging of my legs with the "".

The Riverside Park 5Ks, put on by NYC Runs, have some similarities with Ths Van Cortland Park Races, put on by the Van Cortlandt Track Club. They're both small (this one had 292 finishers), both low key, and both are super friendly. This one draws a bit more locals, since it's right in Manhattan, and it uses timing chips. But the VCTC 5Ks are special in that you get a carrot muffin for a prize. This one gives out mugs or packs or as they say "whatever we have around to give out".

I got there with 20 minutes to spare and found Melissa Chase and David Dempsey who were both running and Betsy Petrick who was volunteering. The course is simple — an out and back with a tough hill in the first mile and rolling hills out to the turnaround.

I got a good start and felt fine after surmounting the steep hill around the half mile point. I picked up a lot of speed on the down hill parts and didn't lose much on the ups (except the first).

Splits for the Riverside Park 5 K
August 6, 2014
MileSplitComment
19:16A tough hill near the start
29:10Rolling hills
39:06Rolling, then down the same hill
3.10:39Flat to the finish
The splits give an accurate picture of the difficulties. It's about midway between Vanny (the hardest) and Central Park (the easiest). I'm usually about a minute faster here than at Vanny, but I hoped to do much better than that today compared to last week's 5K.

I was surprised to hear "Go Flyers" from a voice coming up behind me near the 3 mile mark. It was Melissa, and we ran together to the finish, both of us pushing the other. It was fun to finish together, somthing I seldom do. I won the 70+ age group in 28:11 (9:05 pace) and David won the 60-69 group. In the much larger 40-49 women's group, Melissa was 5th out of 20. I was quite pleased, and given the difficulties, it was probably a better effort than the Club Team Race (in which I ran almost the same pace).

Melissa, Betsy and I followed the race with a visit to the "" at 96th and Amsterdam (which, BTW, is hardly a dive bar — it has good food and a huge beer list), and it couldn't have been a nicer evening.

Whew! What a week!


August 14th: The Last Summer 5K

After the "Three Races in a Week" of July 31st – Aug. 6th, I got plenty of rest. I was feeling quite a bit better that I had two weeks ago. I got to Van Cortlandt Park earlier than usual this time and we got that picture of Judith and Melissa and me. Someone should tell Judith to keep her eyes open.

This was the last of the VCTC series and the last race I had scheduled for the summer, so after this I could really relax. No plans yet for what comes next. (I think more beer and fewer races would work .) As for tonight it was the coolest race of the summer — probably in the low 70°s and cloudy. And I felt fine.

I bumped into Jim Moloney, the race director, and he was trying to work out who the contenders were for the series award. Last year, by some miracle , primarily because all the fast guys just didn't show up at all the races. This summer the fast guys will certainly take the prize.

For tonight I was hoping to break 30 minutes, which I had not done in over 2½ months. This seems doable considering my 28:11 in the Riverside Park 5K last week. When I'm in good shape, the Riverside times tend to be about a minute faster than the Van Cortlandt times. Well, the race went OK, and certainly not like the one two weeks before, but there was a little lag in my pace. I tried to hold on to Judith who is often a little before or a little behind me but she was not to be caught. From talking to her, she was trying to come back from a tough period as well.

I finished perhaps 10 or 15 seconds behind Judith, but my time, 30:24, was just short (or actually just long) of my goal. As they say "Wait till next year!" I was first in the 70+ age group, which is 6 for 6 for the summer, but the series prize was not announced. Jim still had not worked it out and the results are not up yet. But all in all it was a good summer.

August 23rd: Back to Radegast – a Great Medium Run to Williamsburg

On Saturday I did my "medium:" run with Ed A., with whom I've been trying to link up for a run for much of the summer. Finally, both of us were free — actually neither of us were totally free but this time our run rose to the top of the stack.

Ed had run and biked through Long Island City and north Brooklyn many times, but this time I managed to surprise him with some new and very pleasant variations on the run. It was basically a variation on the May 31st Run to Williamsburg that I had done with Susan and Melissa, but this time we did a major variation when we got to Williamsburg about 15 minutes befor our brunch spot opened so we explored further south along the Williamsburg shore and foud some very promissiing areas for the future "greening" of the Williamsburg river front.

Additionally, Ed had not been along the L. I. City river front in the last few years and substantial and wondeerful green development has taken place in that area. He was suitably impressed. It was sunnier when we did that run in May than it was on Saturday, so I'll just include the slideshow I made for that run here.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg were as full of great little eating places as ever, but our target was the Radegast Hall & Biergarten (where here "&" = "und") and we were delighted that they now open at 11:00 (instead of 12:00) so we could start our run an hour earlier.

But when we got to the "Smorgasburg" green market at the park at North 6th and Kent, it was still only 10:40 — oops, we ran too fast! So we made our way into the park and circled around first by the East River Ferry landing then alomg the little esplanade in front of the Northside Piers Towers.

It looked like the end of the line, but there was a way around an undeveloped riverfront block, and through a walkway in a building and lastly we found our way to Grand Ferry Park, a little gem at the base of — you guessed it, Grand Street! The ferry connected Grand Street in Brooklyn with Grand Street in Manhattan, but it went out of business about 100 years ago after they built the Williamsburg Bridge. But of notable interest was an old 70-foot brick smokestack whose plaque said it was used by Pfizer Chemical Co. to process molasses. Since this is right next to the old Domino Sugar Refinary (which lasted till 2004), I guess it all ties together.

The map on the left shows just the extra mile or so we spent exploring the river front.

We finally made our way up the 3 or so blocks to Redegast and we were the first customers in the door at the stroke of 11:00. We started out by ordering our beers, Scottish IPAs for both of us. But Ed, with his half liter, was so jealous of my liter (see the picture above left) that he finally ordered a second half liter.