20 November, 2011 – Skyline Championships

Cycling

Executive report: (Skip this if you don’t want a spoiler, read it if you don’t have time to read the words that follow. Skip to the end for pictures)

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Total time: 32:19

Overall postion: 32nd

Position on team: 5th

Team position: 3rd

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That’s it. The season’s over. No more. Nothing left to do now but run around aimlessly until the 2012 Miami Half Marathon at the end of January, hoping to break 1:23.

A special thank you to those of my family who were able to make it out today (Yehudah for his professional photography skills), and of course Leah for coming out as always and taking some killer pictures. Thanks to all of our fans that attended the various races throughout the season – you guys rock.

Woke up this morning, used the restroom once, went through my pre-race ritual of prayer, stretch, motivational videos, stretch, put on the headphones and get in the zone.

On the bus, I was able to focus on my game strategy relatively uninterrupted (until one of the girls began inquiring as to if I was OK or not…) and went through the course several times in my head. I focused on when to speed up, when to maintain, when to attack, when to “drop back” and let the opponent think they were winning.

We arrive, and I use the restroom for the second time.

David, Oliver, Yoni and I walk the course. Or, we walk the 5k. We leave out cemetery hill. The leaves which had all but obscured the trail from view only two days earlier had largely been cleared, which was a great relief, given the dangerous, technical descents of Van Cortlandt Park. The girls start, and we begin milling about, stretching a bit. I drink a 5 hour energy shot and…

I use the restroom a third time.

We warm up back and forth along the finishing chute for the girls, cheering each of them on respectively. We’re really just waiting for the race to start at this point. We take our bibs and timing chips, and get ready to go.

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At the firing gun, I stay true to my strategy – begin in the back and slowly pick my way through the athletes. Unfortunately, I abandoned that strategy earlier than usual.

As the race begins to separate into the lead group and the chase (mile .25-.5), I find myself leading the chase group alongside my teammate Yehuda Safier. Just up ahead, I can make out teammate Natan Koloski tailing the lead pack. I estimate he was in 50th position at this point. I couldn’t help but turn around. I see that there are an overwhelming amount of runners behind Yehuda and I, and I imagine we are leading them out to war. The adrenaline certainly aided this, and Lux Aeterna played over and over in my head (which is why I chose that music for the video seen below).

The Mile 1 coach was off by about 6 seconds, according to my GPS.

His Mile 1 time: 6:02

GPS Mile 1 time: 6:08

After mile 1, I was running at the front of a group of four Maccabees which had formed. Yehuda, Yoni, Adam and I charged ahead at a measured full speed. Yoni and Yehuda took turns leading the pack with me. As we entered Freshman Hill, we were still rather tight packed, but as soon as we got over the hill, we began to space out a little more.

Mile 2 split: 6:30

In the back hills, I maintained the pace uphill, and let it all go on the downhills. For the most part, I was successful, perhaps slowing down a bit when I caught myself in a 3 man pace-line for 10 seconds. I passed many runners on the uphills and a few on the downhills. It was around this time when I began to wonder where the rest of my team was. I wasn’t used to sitting in 5th place, but lo and behold – there I was. I pushed onward, finishing up the uphill section of the back hills and motoring through the downhill section. My fastest recorded pace on the back hills was 4:45

Mile 3 split: 6:53

Mile 3 holds the little stretch of asphalt where I like to pass runners wearing cleats. I feel it mentally breaks them, even if it’s only a little bit. It also holds the same long downhill which each runner will pass just before Cemetery Hill and just after Cemetery Hill. Right before Cemetery Hill, I nailed it. I recorded a 3:53 going down that hill. After the hill comes a long stretch which is also the finishing chute roughly 1 mile later.

As I reached the flats, I knew there was a runner behind me. I figured I would hold him off until the hills, let him pass me, then teach him a lesson as we got to the hills. My plan worked perfectly. I held him off until within 100 meters of the second entrance into the forest and the eventual Cemetery Hill. Perhaps I slowed my roll too greatly, but he passed me, and I tucked in as he did, matching his pace quite easily.

On the first hill, I passed him and didn’t see or hear from him again.

Mile 4 split: 6:34

Cemetery Hill.

As we approach Cem. Hill, there is a small winding snake-path leading up to the hill which is the first time we can see the competition quite a bit (30 seconds – 1 minute) ahead of us or, from the other side of the path, behind us. I see my teammate Natan ahead of me, which gives me a boost of motivation, as I was right with him during the 8×1000 hill workouts we did on these very hills a week prior.

That, and the fact that this was the last mile make me turn on the jets. As I enter the snake-path, I see teammate Adam Weiss behind me, along with the Sage runner whom I passed 2 minutes earlier. I push harder. I give it everything up Cem. Hill and still manage to hit an 11:17 pace up the hill for a few seconds.

Like the name implies, Cemetery Hill killed me, and I wasn’t as fortunate on the way down the second time as I was the first time. 4:53 was the fastest pace this time around.

As I came out of the hill and reached the flats leading up to the finish line, I see teammate and chief motivator Rivky Jacobov. She begins to yell things at me, but all I can think about is how I’m doing. I remember asking her where Adam was. She told me he was behind me.

I pick up the pace and brace my abs for an extended kick.

My kick lasts 4/10 of a mile, which I complete in 1:42, or ~64 seconds for the first quarter mile of the kick and 38 seconds for the remaining .15.

Mile 5 split: 6:12

At the onset of the season, I promised Coach Benjamin Joslin that my season-long goal was to finish amongst the top 5 this season. Now that I’m here, it’s time to take out Natan and move up to fourth.

Total time: 32:19 (17 seconds off of my previous PR, 26 seconds off my previous CR – Course Record)

Overall Position: 32nd

Position on team: 5th

Team Position: 3rd (by 3 points)

Primary goal: Finish <32:00 – Incomplete

Secondary goal: Beat Adam – Complete

Tertiary goal: Finish 6th on the team – Surpassed

Quaternary goal: Beat Yoni AND Stephen – Complete

This video was filmed by my father, the pictures were taken by Yehudah Perlowitz, Leah Avner and Rose Snyder.

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