Following the continued failure of my 2011 triathlon season, I was glad to take it fairly easy last week. Correction - mostly easy. I somehow managed 16k in the pool, which took place in just the first four days of the week, and that's the most I've swam in any "week" this year. I headed back home to NJ on Thursday night for Father's Day and one of my favorite races, the George Sheehan Classic 5 Miler.
Friday's weather was threatening, with off and on rain showers, so in my effort to not tempt fate, I opted to not ride. I headed into Red Bank to the packet pickup with my brother when it opened, and then we went up to Tatum Park to run. Tatum is a park that's about 5 miles from my parents' house and for some reason I didn't really start running there until college. It's a small park, good for 5-7 mile runs without repeating any trails, but the terrain varies from single track trails to large meadows, and it's not a very hard place to run. Ran my 7 mile loop and felt alright heading into Saturday.
Get to the race on Saturday morning and am immediately saddened by the field. This used to be a race won in 23 minutes. There would be 3 to 4 thousand people in the race. And that's when it was in August - inevitably worse conditions. Now the whole race just seems budget, like they're hanging on to this ghost of a race to try to keep the memory of Dr. George Sheehan alive (If you aren't familiar with the good doctor, check him or some of his books out - he was my mom's doctor when she was growing up). After warming up with the siblings, I came back to the car to discover that I had not brought my flats. Bummer. I even took out the stupid elastic laces (from last week) and put back in my regular laces the night before, and now I had to run in my trainers.
On the line and it was like a high school reunion of sorts. There's Rathbone, who was maybe two years younger than me in high school, and has been running super strong as of late. Falvey, who ran for CBA and lives with Pat's brother Tommy. Petey Fo, who went to school with my sister and who is quite speedy. The four of us started on the line together, and after saying I was looking to run about 5:40 for the first mile, they agreed that sounded good. After a lengthy speech from Dr. Sheehan's son Michael, and then not having someone to sing the National Anthem so we just sang it ourselves, the gun went off and away we went. There's a slight incline for a quarter mile before making a left and the race had already separated.
The four of us were a few steps behind Noel, who has won this race at least the last two years and generally wins all the races in the area. I knew two years ago she ran 27:3x, and last year she was around 28:30, so it would be a good bet to follow her if that's what I was looking to run. My legs felt okay, but I just felt tired. We split mile 1 in 5:39 - right on - but I just didn't feel like I had it in me on this day. Meanwhile, Eric is riding his bike alongside Falvey, and then drops back when I got dropped. It looked like he was trying to "pace" me, to which I wanted to shoo him away. My 2nd mile was 5:54 and I felt depleted. Looked like I just wasn't quite ready for the effort!
Faced with the decision of a) running the same effort, but still slowing down or b) consciously slowing down and saving it for another day, I chose B. And once on Ridge Rd, that's where I felt the tiny force that is...E Lun. Erin ran with my sister in high school and just graduated from Richmond, having run I think in the 17:30 range for 5000m. She was flying, and of course I was now legitimately running like a zombie. I uttered some encouragement, as did she, and she flew up the road. Despite this relaxing of effort, I was surprised to see a 6:12 mile 3. That wasn't as bad as I expected, but I was raining sweat and was sloshing in my shoes. And that's when my least favorite part of the race hits: the Neighborhood.
It features many, many turns and I've never run well in there. Fortunately, despite running 6:28 for the mile in there, only one or two people passed me. This was a surprise, I guess most other people were struggling too. It was when we popped back out onto Ridge that I began to run out of fear. I heard that the 3rd place girl was behind me, and that 4, 5 and 6 were close behind. Awesome, let's get beat by 6 chicks. Tower Hill was upon us, and I ran well up that, nearly bridging to Falvey. Unfortunately, as we all know I can't run downhills, and he opened back up. Simultaneously, the third place girl went by me. I was fine with sitting behind for a brief second, due to the view, but then I had to run a little faster. I turned onto Broad Street, saw my parents and Vic on the side, realized I couldn't catch Falvey and just strided in. 30:18. Ouch. This is literally the 2nd slowest time I've ever run here. Even after Eagleman 2008 I ran a 29:44. I just did not have it today.
Yet somehow, when results were posted, this abysmal time was good enough for 20th place, out of just 1443 runners. Every year I get slower but my place stays about the same. I wish this race could return to its former glory! Noel did wind up winning, in 28:39 I think, and Erin was 2nd in 29:34. Falvey finished just 6 seconds up on me, but Rath went 28 low for 6th or 7th place I believe. So he actually got faster than our first mile.
The good news of the day was that my brother and I won the sibling-sibling title, as he ran a course best 35:02. Just depends on who shows up any given year, and more importantly, who fills out the team paperwork. At least we won something.
Later in the day I met Tommy to go ride. We left at 3pm and I was looking for 2-2.5 hours. We rode around the various townships and finally got out to the beach and saw that we were going to pick up the north-blowing tailwind on Ocean Ave. Blazed it. I looked back at one point and Tommy was nowhere to be seen. Once we hit the beach clubs, where the cars have a tendency to NOT look as they pull into or out of the parking lots, I slowed down and Tommy caught back on. Kept it chill on the freshly paved 2 mile stretch from Rumson bridge to Sandy Hook, and once on the Hook, I wanted to put in a fair effort to the end of the island. It's somewhere between 5.5 and 6 miles, and armed with a tailwind, it meant going pretty quick. Tommy stayed on my wheel for 4 miles of it before slipping back a little, and it felt super easy to push 30mph (tailwind obviously helps). I split 12:02 for the lenght of the island, and then we had to come back into the wind. Bleh.
Tommy again stuck to my wheel as I was getting tossed around, and we made it back in just under 17 minutes. Once we hit the uphill of the mammoth bridge into Highlands, he was gone. Ha. I chilled and waited, and then we rode down Scenic Blvd into Leonardo. He went home from there, and I turned around and went back up the 2 mile climb. I tried to stay in the aerobars and was successful, riding it in 7:08 (not a bad split up). I came home via Locust and Rumson, along River Rd and through Red Bank. A solid 2:25 on the bike for the day and then headed over to the NJ International Track Meet. Saw a few solid performances, including Canadian Olympic Carmen Douma-Hassar in the 1500m, and rolled out.
The next day was some family time, so the crew rolled to Allaire State Park for a 2 hour "hike" - really a walk, but that's a long time to be on your feet! I hadn't been to the park in years, and it was awesome. Lots of good trails, but nothing too challenging. Some sandy stretches, some pine needles, real cool. The roads outside the park are great for the TT bike, so next time I'm home I'll head down there. After helping dad move some real heavy stuff, we went to eat at this new place in Marine Park, The Boondocks. Great weather, awesome view. Didn't want to eat too much as I still needed to run, so following dinner, my bro came with me to Hartshorne. We didn't start running until 7:30. He ran real well, keeping up with me for the whole 7 miles, and then I added on 2. That was dicey, as it was now pretty dark in the trails, and the trail I was on was pretty shitty. Got back, satisfied with the run. When I lived there, one of my favorite things to do on the longest day of the year was to run there with waning daylight up to the bunkers, and run back in the dark. June 19 was close enough this year!
Going home is mostly always enjoyable. I definitely miss the beach lifestyle, and the plethora of parks is a great resource. Discounting my run-in 2 years ago on the bike, in general the roads are good to ride on. Not a lot of debris, no highway riding, and above all, flat. I obviously wouldn't trade my training here, but every so often it's nice to know you can just leave your house and immediately be rolling on the bike. I like catching up with my friends, and this weekend a few extra were home because of the weekend. Got to see Koot, Lauren, P, Vic, Bobber and LByrne, so that's a major success. Considering I have to go home twice in July, likely twice in September and once in October for races, I'll get to see enough of it this year.
Following the race I feel pretty decent, realizing I just wasn't ready to race I suppose, and I think I'll take it pretty easy again this week.