Report of David Alm of the 40+: Team Championships

Gerry O’Hara
Photo: Andy Kiss
The CPTC M40 team is an absolute force in New York City road racing. Other teams have a lot of talented runners, but our depth is unparalleled. And we proved it with yet another first place finish at what is arguably the most competitive race of the year: Team Champs. We are solidly in first place for 2019, and it’s truly been a team effort, in this past race especially. As Coach Tony said after our victory, “Congrats on being great when it mattered most!”
That’s for all of us. Now, to our scorers:
Osvaldo Martinez led our victory with his blazing 28:19, good for second in the M40-44 age group as well. No small feat. Osvaldo says Team Champs is one of his favorite races because “everyone comes to race, to compete, to help their team… and the atmosphere is electric.” He says he didn’t go in with any particular goal time, but knew from his recent races and training that he was in good shape. He attributes a lot of this to training with the morning crew, and his success at Team Champs to the huge CPTC cheering section at 97th Street. Says Osvaldo: “That really helped me get to the finish line!”
Our next two scorers were Eduardo Ribeiro Ferreira and Cary Segall, who finished in 28:33 and 28:34, respectively.
Eduardo says he felt good through mile 3, but struggled to maintain goal pace to finish under 28 minutes. He’s still happy with his result, and says “the most important thing is that together, as a team, we got the job done, finishing first.”
Cary had a tough spring, with string of injuries starting in March, after running a very strong Washington Heights 5K, where he snuck in under 17 with 16:59. He had to dash his plans to race the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, Broad Street, NYC Half, and Brooklyn Half, and focus on getting healthy. From there it was two steps forward, one step back as he would improve, resume training, and suffer another injury. Finally, with just eight weeks to go, he was able to cautiously resume his training, motivated by the knowledge that the team was down a few guys due to injury and other commitments. He slowly ramped back up, and just three weeks out, added some workouts with the morning crew, which helped sharpen up for race day. “In hindsight, I did a very good job coming back slowly and taking the necessary time to allow my body to adjust and not risk injury,” he says.
He ran well within himself for the first four miles, executing each mile with precision pacing. “When I looked at the clock at mile 4, it read 22:57, so I knew with a 5:30 final mile I could hit the 28:30 that I set as a good goal,” he says. “It was great to have Osvaldo and Eduardo nearby and I just tried to pace with them and hold on until the finish. I ended up running mile 5 in 5:33, which was my fastest split of the race and finished in 28:34.”
As a final note we could all benefit from, Cary adds: “The irony of the day is that in 2018, I was in much better fitness but the combination of higher humidity and running high 5:20 pace for the first two miles of that race just ruined me for the final three miles and I finished in 28:38, 4 second slower than this year!  This is a good lesson in pacing and running smart.”
Our final two scorers were a couple guys from the M50 crew who were generous enough to lend their speed to our effort. Gerry O’Hara and Mohammed Lahseni ran 29:11 and 29:19, respectively, to give our team a collective time of 2:23:56.
Gerry, a track specialist, says that because he doesn’t run many road races, he especially appreciates the post-race atmosphere and seeing teammates he doesn’t see often enough. As for the race itself, he rightly notes that course management is key, as “an early hard fast start in the hilly Mile 1 can be the death knell.” Gerry started conservatively, intending to make up the time once he the middle miles. “It wound up being a good plan,” he says, giving kudos to Devon and Armondo for the advice. “I was very mindful of my pace throughout, and when approaching Cat Hill, thankfully I wasn’t broken as in previous years.” Like everyone who ran, the Wall of Orange 600 meters from the finish helped Gerry finish like a champ. “A kick to the finish was owed them,” he says.
Mohammed, who just turned 50 in June, says Team Champs “was on the top” of his races of the year so far. “I went from 30:58 minutes in Pride, to 29:58 in the 4th of July race, to 29:19 minutes in Team Champs.” He credits Tony, who told him “to hold back on the second mile and don’t go fast.” Says Mohammed, “Thank you Tony, it worked! After that, my time got faster with each passing mile. I was motivated to keep our team standing up, and on the lead.”
And finally, a special shoutout to Duncan McVerry, who ran his fastest 5-miler yet, in 31:03. “Damn those four seconds,” he says. “But still a 20-second PR, so very happy.” Duncan executed his plan almost to a T, though his second and final miles were faster than he expected. That 5:51 last mile, especially, proves that he ran a smart, and very solid, race. What’s more, he placed third for Ireland. “Surely that counts?!” he half-jokes. Surely it does.
 
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