n April 28th, after I had finished the Verrazano Half Marathon put on by NYCRuns, I was checking their web site () for the results. I noticed a 5K in their calendar to take place May 12. It was on Roosevelt Island and would be just about a week before my marathon. Now that sounded intriguing. But a race just before the marathon? That would seem to violate the idea behind "Tapering" and maybe defied Common Sense. But being the sort not to follow Common Sense, I sent an email to Joe, my coach and massage guy: "I'm thinking of running a 5K one week before the marathon. Is this crazy? I just want to keep the fast twitch muscles twitching." Joe emailed back: "Running a 5K a week before a marathon can be not only OK, but beneficial. I would say that it would only be appropriate for an experienced runner who knows how to stay within themselves and not overdo things. You definitely fall into that category, so give it a go!" With that kind of advice, how could I not run this race. So I did.

The race was sponsored by the Icla da Silva Foundation (see their ), which raises money to recruit bone marrow donors for children with Leukemia. This group got all the volunteers, got the various licenses required to put on the race, did the publicity, ran the post race party, etc. and they got NYCRuns to do the registration, timing, measure the courses and other assorted nitty-gritty that comprises the technical component of the race. It was a good partnership and almost 400 runners lined up at the starting line on Saturday morning. This should be contrasted with the 7,918 finishers for the NYRR 10K in Central Park that day and the 4,985 for the 4 miler in Central Park the following day. Do those numbers give a clue to why I like to move my running "Beyond Central Park"? But I digress.

I got to Roosevelt Island by subway (the F train stops right at the island) and arrived about an hour early. So I took an easy jog around the Island and took a bunch of photos. It's a beautiful place situated right in the middle of the East River, and as you would expect, has spectacular views of the river and the Manhattan and Queens shorelines, just a stone's throw away on either side. If you've never been there, Go! Better still, run a race there. You can also take the tram, which goes from 59th Street and Second Avenue to the Island. That is a spectacular mode of transit in and of itself, but I was saving that for the return trip.

The slideshow gives a small sample of the views from around the Island but hopefully you'll be enticed by looking at them to go there. They also show what a beautiful day we had for the race. Beside the sun and blue sky, we had race time temperatures from the high 50°s to the high 60°s. Not much to complain about there.

After my tour of the island, I got back to the baggage area and changed my top and left my stuff in my bag. But at the last minute I decided to keep my camera with me and take a few photos during the race, which I almost never do. But this race was a tapering race and didn't count anyway, so what the hey! Go for the pictures.

After three tries, I found the starting line (most of the volunteers had no idea where it was) and it was already packed. So I took a few more shots, and slipped into the pack roughly where I belonged. The horn went off and it took me exactly 6 seconds to cross the starting line. Now, how many of the nearly 13,000 runners in the Central Park races can say that? Oops, digressing again.

I wanted to keep close to an 8 minute pace, but except for mile #2 I missed the mile markers, so I really didn't know. But I treated it like a tempo run and recalled the ones I had done during my training, and got into a strong, but not breakneck pace. I stopped 6 or 7 times to get representative photos, which you can see in the slideshow. I could say that cost me almost a minute off my time, but of course we weren't counting this race.

I felt good the whole way — and I'm very glad I did my warm-up run, since I worked out a few muscle glitches during that. I finished strong and figuring all the variables, just about ran my target pace (which, as you recall, we're not counting. )

After the race the volunteers were at their best giving out water, Gatorade, bagels, bananas and assorted other food. The whole crowd just relaxed and enjoyed a picnic on the grass. Interestingly, the crowd was split about 50 / 50 between serious runners looking for this type of "small town" venue and a goodly number of folks evidentially associated with the foundation sponsoring the event. I would give them a thumbs up for their organization, and of course NYCRuns gets two thumbs up for running the technical aspects of the race with a very small staff.

I didn't notice anyone who was likely to be in my age group (= gray hair) so I figured I might win an age group award. While waiting around I also met up with a couple of friends from the Van Cortlandt Track Club: James Moloney, who will be directing the and Glen Shane, a strong senior runner from the club who is directing the . (I highly recommend these races.) When they finally came to the 60+ men (which they almost forgot), lo and behold, Glen and I were standing next to each other — he as the winner of the 70+ group and I as winner of the 60-69 group. And much as the race "didn't count", these awards count!

I took the tram back to Manhattan, topping off a great day with a great ride in the sky! And I'll be there next year, sure thing!

Papa Bear