the 2009 edition of taconic putnam county classic was another outstanding event in its illustrious 33 year history. the race directors (emmy and lee), volunteers, sponsors, spectators, record field of runners, some of the best weather of the summer, and post-race refreshments and activities (including a kids run), all combined for a great 4th of july kick-off! this was my 3rd time running this hilly 8 mile loop of lake mahopac. weather-wise, the conditions were a far cry from the high humidity and rain we had in 2008.
before the race found myself in the "race kitchen" along with other volunteers prepping food for the post-race activities. i cut-up watermelons, pam cut-up bananas, and others took care of the bagels. we had at least a dozen trays of sliced watermelon loaded into the fridge - and to add spice and contrast to the mix, chips and salsa! pam then manned a water station at mile 3, and art (who also cut up watermelon) did some duty at traffic control on the course.
after the food prep, i switched my attention to the ham radio operators from pearl (putnam emergency and amateur repeater league). for the second year in row alex and his colleagues from pearl established a communications net that followed the runners on course and was linked to the ems personal stationed at the high school. once again they would be an invaluable part of the race day team (as a runner would need medical attention later that morning).
and no race, for me at least, would be complete without some pre-race socialization! i hung out with eliot, ilana, greg, michael (my neighbor and former wtc teammate), gregg (another former wtc teammate), and said a quick hi to julie as she left registration. then, in what was a huge pre-race surprise, i spotted don, as emmy and i reviewed the course map with alex! amazingly, i didn't see rob until we were off on the first mile of the race. i didn't see francoise until the race was over!
lee got the runners out to the start and made the pre-race announcements. one particular announcement that got some laughs came from emmy when she said "we're not starting the race until everyone is out of the bathroom!" that unintentionally gave me a minute to run back to the car and ditch my camera! i lined up with greg - and when he asked me what my time goal was for the race, i momentarily drew a blank. "an hour" i guess was my reply.
in all that pre-race rushing around, up to and including lining up for the start - i had practically forgotten there was a race to run! i figured a 7:30 pace should be doable. within 30 seconds of the start i spotted rob and said hi. i missed the mile marker for the first mile - but when i hit the 2 mile split in 13:46 i realized i had gone out a bit too fast. a sub-7 pace was unrealistic today, and it was time to dial it back.
just after mile 2, i saw emmy out on south lake boulevard handling traffic control (i'd also see bob and art out on the course doing traffic control as well). my pace slowed to 7:31 (a bit too slow now, it seemed) for a split of 21:17 at 3 miles. pam cheered us on at the water station - plus, anthony (and one of his beautiful daughters) and wayne were there too!
after mile 4 (7:34) the course looped around the northern part of lake mahopac. i was instantly hit with deja vu - and not from the prior putnam county classic races. last spring the sybil ludington 50k course was revised and we ran the northern portion, instead of looping around the south end of lake mahopac. one difference, where a stretch of mile 7 was unpaved dirt for the 50k, this time around it was covered with smooth asphalt.
the north lake boulevard stretch (miles 5, 6, and 7) can be described (charitably) as rolling hills. the most interesting contour, however, is the sharp downhill following the climb in mile 6! it's an eye-opening descent - and may even be tougher (at least for me) than the uphill! my splits for these miles were pretty consistent: 7:29, 7:33, and 7:22 - for a 7 mile split of 51:16. right on target for the sub-one hour finish.
emmy was once again on south lake boulevard directing traffic as we made the final turn back to the high school. with 3/4 of a mile left to run, i sped it up a little. one reason was that i had just retaken the lead from a cptc runner who had passed me a mile or so earlier. the second was emmy had just cheered on rob and urged him to catch me! i yelled back to him to hurry up and catch me! i ran the last mile in 6:45 flat - and finished just steps ahead of the cptc runner, in 58:01. a little competition goes a long way :D
afterwards, rob and i had some great captain lawrence brown ale with eliot to rehydrate with, as we cheered on the runners that finished. eliot had a growler of it, on ice, nestled in the trunk of his car! over at the field we meet up w/ilana, pam, micheal, don, and francoise for a bit more socializing. in a twist, instead of watermelon, i ate nothing but chips and salsa. probably the consequence of rehydrating with beer! then it was time for lee, emmy, and tom to present the awards.
i hitched a ride home with rob - and made it back in time to catch the tail end of our neighborhood fourth of july celebration at davis park. katie and her fellow girl scouts had manned the refreshment booth. then she did the 3 legged race and egg toss. afterwards, we went home an watched joey chestnut win his 3rd consecutive nathan's hot dog eating contest!!
check out my race photos.