Race Reports from the Men: Washington Heights

From Phil Falk of the Open:

CPTC men kicked off the road racing year with a great race at the Washington Heights 5k. Overall, the club had 94 runners in the race (!)(ed note: CPTC had 68 in 2015), as well as 17 men run sub-18. That’s an incredible showing for the team.

Greg Cass ran a helluva race, matching his 5k PR on this hilly course. He notes: “Running a PR is always nice, particularly when it takes down a 5-year old mark. Helped having teammates in the mix from the start – a lot of orange in quick succession in the results suggests we all benefited from one another, which has been true in training as well.”

Matt Lacey swooped in from Clinton, NY, cracking 16 minutes: “I was fairly happy with my race, I came in hoping to run faster than the 16:00 I put down last year, and I did that by 8 seconds. Since I’m now training over much hillier terrain than NYC, I was hoping that would improve my racing on hills, but I didn’t really feel like it had any positive effect, especially when Greg blew by me on the major climb in the second mile. It was great seeing everyone during the race and after, definitely worth the trip.”

Jesse Mang ran his debut race for the club, just over 16 minutes, followed closely by Phil Falk. Phil and Jesse ran most of the race together – and three times Phil caught Jesse on an uphill only to be passed again on the downhill. “Just relax and stride out,” Jesse advised. “I’m trying!” was Phil’s response! Scoring was rounded out by Ryan Scrudato, also his first Coogan’s. Ryan ran a nice negative split, and said he may have gone out a bit conservatively, given some of the downhills in the first half.

The team’s top five, good for third place in the team competition, were these guys:

Greg Cass, 15:48

Matthew Lacey, 15:52

Jesse Mang, 16:02

Phil Falk, 16:05

Ryan Scrudato, 16:16

Some of our other racers had great results too.

Felipe Naza Pagani wrote: “For me, it was my first 5K ever and my first race sporting the team’s colors. It was a tough course but I enjoyed every second out there.  I especially enjoyed seeing my new teammates and Tony in the course. It was very motivating! I ran a pretty decent, 18:38 (a PR… one of the benefits of being new to running, right?), knowing that I could run much faster in a flatter course.”

Herb Plummer also got a course PR by 8 seconds: “Overall it was a tough day, 36 hours after racing the mile indoors, and I just didn’t have enough race. Thought I could ride the coat-tails of the mile into a faster race, but I still had fun with it.”

 David Fanfan was also spurred on to a PR: “I would have been happy to break 20 minutes as I cut back on the running over the winter to let some nagging muscle injuries heal. But encouragement from teammates while we were waiting in corral A pumped me enough to start out what some would say is “too fast” in the beginning. I prefer to call it, ‘giving yourself a cushion for later in the race.’ The second hill slowed me down and plenty of CPTC runners passed me. Dan, my long run leader yelled for me to “PUSH HARDER” as he passed me up that very hill. Then Coach Tony yells for us all to swing are arms harder. Then finally, a teammate, Stephen, caught me at the last half mile and told me it was all downhill. I immediately kicked and formed into track mode. Finished with a PR by 16 seconds at 19:03. A pleasant surprise for a distance I hate to run.

And Dmitriy Krasny, another PR: “This month marks one year since I’ve started running with the Club. Within our ranks, my 17:52 is respectable but not stellar… and my feeling is that I could improve on it, given continued work. Having said that, it is the first time I’ve broken 18 minutes. A 16-17 second PR is nice, and on this course it is especially so. While I hope to continue to improve, I am already so thankful for the improvement I have made in the past year. Being surrounded by people of such experience and high caliber is a privilege. My gratitude goes out to you guys and to the entire team.”

Martin Huber: “5K PR for NYRR races of 16:21. In my fourth time racing Coogan’s, I finally feel like I have a handle on that brutal course. Definitely feel like it’s made for a negative split, partially because the start is always so congested.”

 

From David Greenberg of the 40+:

The M40+ had a huge turnout for Washington Heights this year: 19 finishers versus 13 last year. Something was in the air – CPTC itself had a stunning 94 finishers versus 68 last year. Seeing that much orange up and down the course is an amazing sight.

The 40+ has traditionally started the points season slowly and 2016 apparently won’t be an exception. We began our campaign toward a third consecutive championship with a third place finish. Urban and West Side beat us to the line, but we took third last year too, and still managed to win the championship.

Beside the improvement in turnout, this was our fastest combined scoring time of the last three years. Improvement in every direction.

 

Our scorers were:

Brad Kelley (age 50): 17:10/85.97%/1st AG

Eric Lattin: 17:26/80.36%/7th AG

David Greenberg 17:39/82.39%/2nd AG

 

Top 10s in the age groups:

2: David Greenberg

4: Mohammed Lahseni

5: Tim Stockert

7: Eric Lattin

8: Coleman Cowan

 

Brad Kelley’s run was extraordinary, winning the 50-54 by 45 seconds and entering the 50+ top 10 list for the road 5k at #2. But you’ll have to read Cap’n Donnelly’s report for more on his race.

Eric Lattin scored for the team for the first time, having joined the team just last year. His 80.36% is his best score yet in NYRR races. I’ll let Eric introduce himself:

I live in Elko, NV with a population of 20,000. I have to travel three hours minimum to race and even then the competition is not good. I joined CPTC because I wanted to race against the best competition to see how I measure up. I like Manhattan and it’s a great to get away to both race and vacation. My experience with the CPTC people has been fantastic. I’m really looking forward to Brooklyn, Staten Island , Team Champs, and the NYC Marathon.  

I’ve never raced a 5k but I had a great time at Washington Heights. I thought the course was brutal especially as big as I am trying to go up those hills. I went out as hard as I could and just held that effort. I’m not sure what the approach should be for that distance. 

Race of the Day honors are shared by Larry Go and David Greenberg. Both set personal records for 5k and also set all-time best age graded scores (in the NYRR database, excluding the Fifth Ave Mile).

Larry (21:00/68.18%/47th AG) has been on a tear at age 46: he PRed at four miles earlier in the year in Brooklyn, and now at 5k.

I asked Larry for some advice to those looking for similar results:

Injury free and not training for a marathon therefore lower weekly mileage and trying to run faster paces at workouts.

Still not enough sleep however. 

I managed to track down David Greenberg to ask him about his race. He said he was very happy to set a personal course record by 14 seconds on his sixth attempt on the course, and a NYRR AG best was better than he had hoped for, given the hilliness of the course.

My plan was to stay in the race for the first two miles or so and then accelerate, eventually hammering the last downhill K. The plan worked well –  I believe I was able to close the last mile at below 5:30 pace and even faster for the last K. 

I’ve been doing much of my training in the North Hills this year and clearly that had been a missing piece of my training.  I’m going to put this one in my memory banks for later use.

On his fourth attempt Nick Garramone (20:54/68.54%/42nd AG) set a course record and in fact all-time best for 5k.

Nick:

It was a total, pleasant surprise.  The plan was a nice tempo in the middle of our 24-mile run.  I’m not sure what NYC Half holds in store for me, but I’m now inspired!

Tim Stockert  (18:17/80.10%/4th AG) used his current ultramarathon training to snap to it on the roads with a AG PR for 5k. I believe he is still running after the race.

John Milone (17:58/78.01%/12th AG) stepped off the track (800 meters in 2:11/83.31%) to set an age graded best in NYRR road races.

David Alm (18:10/75.46%/16th AG) hit a masters PR by age graded score.

 Jeffrey Garnett (18:28/75.32%/11th AG) set a masters 5k PR but after only two attempts.

Besides Eric Lattin, we had a few debuts in the Heights: Shane Campbell made his CPTC and NYRR debut, and is quickly learning the ropes:

Shane:

My story from yesterday was funny, I couldn’t understand why I was given a D corral, after talking to some of the team they said NYRR would not have any history and therefore I would be placed back in the field. 

After getting knocked back at Corral entries for AA, A, B and C, I entered D! 

Anyway happy with my run, cleaned out a few cobwebs and hopefully now will be graded a little better. 

Mickey Hawtrey ran his first points race since 2013 and Andy Zhang made his course debut.

Some highlights from the track season so far:

Peter Brady won the NB Grand Prix Mile in Boston, and elsewhere ran 800m in 1:59.35/92.43%.

Andrew Hogue 600m: 1:28.06/88.32%

Neil Fitzgerald 1000m: 2:47.97/87.68%

Sherman Lau 800m: 2:06.61/87.13%

Finally, at Club Night we picked up our trophy for winning the points competition last year, and Daniel Gercke was chosen to take care of the trophy. Daniel earned the honor by scoring six times, more than anyone else.

 

From Chris Donnelly of the 50+:

Brad Kelley made a big splash in his 50+ debut,  leading the CPTC men to a first-place finish in the kick-off race of the NYRR Club Points season. Brad’s 17:10 in the Washington Heights 5K not only captured first place among men in the 50-54 age group,  but also ranks number two on CPTC’s all-time best list for 50+ men at this distance. In fact, a deep dive through the available NYRR archives finds just one performance, a 2005 run that was 11 seconds faster, as the only Coogan’s run that eclipses Brad’s result on Sunday. Huzzah!

It was a strong outing for the Orange, with four top 10 finishes across the 50-54 and 55-59 age brackets. Stephen Menlove (19:02) and Chris Donnelly (19:33) rounded out the scoring,placing eighth and tenth, respectively in the 50-54 competition. Not to be outdone, Alan Ruben was a few footfalls behind (19:43), placing sixth among 55-59 competitors.

In the end we outpaced a strong – and finally healthy – Dashing Whippets squad by nearly a full minute as each of our scorers carved time out of their counterparts. What’s more, our 50+ men came out in force to test their mettle on this notoriously difficult out and back course. A dozen 50+ runners? That’s got to be some kind or record, right?

Maybe Brad had no idea what he was getting into, but at least it wasn’t windy, rainy or snow flurrying this year!  Some impressions:

Brad Kelley:

What a tough course (duh you know it but don’t really know it till you run it the first time).  I got to the race late and did not have any warm up…the entire race felt like a dead out sprint to me, like starting an old car in winter without any warmup. Overall it was great to come close (but not close enough) to breaking 17 on such horizontally challenged course. I look forward to meeting more people now that I am in the half century club.

Steve Menlove felt the power of the Tony:

It was my first time on the course, and I was bit worried about blowing up on the hills (the map Chris sent out was very helpful…). My pacing turned out fine and I had a solid race. There were lots of orange jerseys out there to run with, and Tony screaming “GO BABY!!!!” gave me a nice boost coming out of the park.  Congrats to everyone (especially Brad Kelley).

Chris Donnelly:

The first half was as crowded as ever though it was a less physical race (fewer elbows, less shoving) than in prior years. Two miles of moderate pacing left me fresh enough to attack the final hill and that long downhill to the finish, giving me a 30 second improvement over last year. I could see Steve in front of me and could feel Alan just behind. I felt really juiced to know other teammates were in the mix. Hit the uphills hard and tried to run fluidly coming downward.” 

 It was great to see teammates working together. Mikal Scott, on the rebound following some health issues, found support in Stanley Young, up front Florida to race with us. Via Facebook, Mikal says, “Mega thanks to Stanley Young for letting me run with him at Wash Heights 5K yesterday…Stanley, we pulled each other up that last hill, couldn’t have done it without you, mate. Thank you.”  Stanley counters, “Mikal I should be thanking you. You definitely pulled my up that hill.“ Mikal crossed the line at 21:11, and Stanley hit at 21:35! 

Joe Bachana wasn’t far behind, at 22:31.

Joe reports:

A crisp and windy morning. As usual it was tough getting up steam in the first half mile due to corral congestion. Settled into a groove but was a bit too conservative on mile 2. Mile 3 I really let loose and finished strong for this ever-exciting season opener! 

Bob Markinson was next at 22:33

Art Palmer, testing out his recent procedure despite a schedule chock-a-bloc with work and travel, tempo-ed his was to a satisfying 22:55 on very little training. Dennis O’Donnell rolled to a 23:11 finish and Budd Heyman crossed the line at 23:12.  Oscar Garcia rounded out the CPTC 50+ field, running 23:19.

 

From Hank Schiffman of the 60+

The wheel of fortune turns. Each season it brings talent up, and injuries down. As of late, our 60+ men have been perennial bridesmaids, but fate is about to lower us at least one notch. Though we are maintaining our game, faster feet have crossed the age threshold and are inside the door. Taconic Road Runners has a couple of new kids on the block, and they are bullies.

This season should prove a battle for Club Night’s 1st place as Taconic and Brooklyn Road Runners size each other up. Today Brooklyn continued their dominance while Taconic ate our lunch by 10 seconds for 2nd place. We ran 1:04:27, improved over last year’s 1:05:55, also 10 seconds out of 2nd place. Say fromage. Had we the fire power off the bench to vie for 1st place, our focus would be towards being on the receiving end of 1st place come Club Night. But alas we do not. Strength is apparent in our 50+ men; our day will come. Until then we run with dignity and esprit de corps.

The Washington Heights 5k is like the doorbell that rings in the middle of the night. One is rarely prepared, it is inconvenient and seldom delivers anything good. Few of us have done enough homework in the shortened daylight hours of winter to ace this one. Pre race, the northeast wind made the low 30s seem colder than it was. Yet the wind abated in the starting corrals. Catching up on old acquaintances took minds off the cold. Relief of making it through to another season mitigated stress. Peter Ciaccia’s familiar voice was like a comfortable old shoe. The new 30 second staggered start most probably helped keep the elephant swallowed by the snake a bit smaller for the middle of the pack. After Pinehurst, I made my peace with my battle for this year’s 5k pace. This lowering of my standards it has become an annual organized retreat. As ferocious the effort to run one’s race, this challenging course has become an old friend. Albeit one that requires more effort each year to get less out of the relationship. Some friends are just that way.

Scoring 1st for our 60+ men, Gary Gosselin does his homework. His mileage towards bettering long races has lifted his boat in shorter ones. 20:50 / 77.32% at a 6:43 pace he was 5th in his very competitive age group. 2 years ago he ran 22:00, last year 21:33; yes you can get older and faster too.

Four seconds back (and we started side by side) was Hank Schiffman, 20:54 / 80.43% 6:44 pace. Faster than last year’s 21:19, but overall on the down escalator in time, yet holding his own in AG % as he picks up another annual growth ring.

Dan Molloy, out 3rd scorer, surely would have bested the recorded National Anthem by singing it himself at the race start. Dan crossed the line in 22:43 / 72.72%, faster than last year’s 22:53, this was his highest AG% of the four times he has put his shoulder to the wheel at Washington Heights. His pace was 7:19.

Our 1st back up, Kevin McGuire ran 23:10 / 71.30%, seven seconds slower than last year, at

a 7:28 pace. Kevin’s seven results at this race have been remarkably consistent, varying only incrementally from 22:57 to 23:37, that amounts to 40 seconds. He sported a bag of ice on one ankle, another on the other knee post race; the further wages of a 60+ guy running for us.

Doug Labar, fresh off being our second fastest leg at the 60+ Men’s 4 x 400 relay at the Millrose Games, pushed into the realm of road racing for the first time since the France 8k last August. Doug ran 23:36 / 68.27%, punching well below his weight. Back in ’09 he ran this one in 19:47. His speed should come back as his mileage comes back up.

Phil Vasquez, also on his way up from a slow recovery, ran 25:12 / 64.99%. Phil’s best was also back in 2009 with 21:53.  His 4 prior Washington Heights 5k races were all within 36 seconds of each other.

Rounding out our roster, Dave Delano, just shy of a new age group, ran 28:22 / 60.92%.  Faster than last year’s 28:54, but shy of his best of six, 25:50. Pre race, I spotted Dave a block away wearing his CPTC orange jacket and his silver helmet of hair. But then again, New York is full of celebrities.

Dan:

I was nervously optimistic at the start of this challenging course. My winter training was going well until about three weeks ago when I started traveling, then got sick and tweaked my lower back. So I hadn’t done much for the past three weeks. At the same time, I felt that my base was in place… and it was. I started in corral E which was a challenge as it was hard picking my way through countless slower runners. At the same time, I learned that wave starts mean there is clear sailing at the front of each wave (made a mental note about that). I felt strong the entire way and was able run well through the finish, beating last year by about 10 sec and setting my own Salsa Blues PR. Great to hear Tony shouting encouragement at the crest of the last up hill section.

Dave:

We had a great team effort on a tough course today…weather was on the edge of cold, the roads had been somewhat repaired, but the hills were still there.  I felt strong today…ran 28 seconds faster than last year, and almost matched my 2014 time.  Since my 70th is in 5 months, I was so pleased to be back in the AG 60% group again, I treated myself to a new pair of even speedier shoes!  And Spring is almost here!  I’m pumped! 

Now that the first spoonful of bitter medicine has gone down the gullet we can all relax and cruise the Scotland Run 10k come April 2nd. Don’t forget your pre race haggis. 

Doug:

My only accomplishment was passing a lady in the tutu, going uphill even.

I did not do the math, but it seems we have more runners in the top about 25 slots than any other team.  Too bad they don’t score five.

 

 
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