Sunday, June 16, 2013

Race Report: Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer

To cap off a day packed full of both racing and training two Sundays ago (6/2/13) I participated in the Greater Long Island Run Club's (GLIRC) Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer 5K.  

Why Run
The only good reason to run a 5K the same day as my first Tri of the year was to honor my Dad who eight years ago was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Dad is the inspiration for much of what I do out on the race course and in training.  When I'm getting tired and feeling like my tank is running empty, I think of him - he constantly pushes himself and has never let the lingering effects of his treatments become an excuse for why he can't do something - then, I dig deep and swim, bike, or run harder.  Knowing that my legs would already be tired from the day I suspected I'd need that motivation at some point during the race. 

Getting There
On the way to the race we hit a slight snag as we began to merge onto the parking lot that was the Southern State Parkway. Luckily for Jonah and me (who have equally horrific senses of direction) Dad knew an alternate route that would get us there on time. His detour was well-timed and executed and helped us get to the race when we'd planned. 

About that time thing: somehow we were both under the impression that the race started at 8:00pm. As we casually got out of the car at about 7:00pm we figured we had plenty of time to go to the bathroom and then warm up.  Not so much.  We hardly realized what was happening but eventually caught on to the fact that people had migrated over to the starting line, and for good reason. The pre-race speeches and songs were already underway and the race was starting at 7:15pm.  There'd be no time for a warmup, in fact we were lucky to have a minute to relieve ourselves in the bushes. 

And They're Off
We hurried back over to the start line and within about a minute the starting gun went off.  I hadn't developed much of a strategy or plan for the race; I figured that I'd see what my legs had leftover from the day and push as hard as possible. Caught up in my fast-running neighbors I started out way too hard but quickly realized it and reeled myself in.  I found a comfortable pace and some folks running similar speeds and stayed steady. As is typical for me in both training and racing I would plan to continually build my speed during the race to achieve a solid negative split. 

 I hadn't looked at the course prior to the race so every turn was a surprise. It wasn't the most scenic run I've ever had but it wasn't the worst.  For about 2.75 miles we circumnavigated the Belmont race track, meandering through its parking lots and following the dips and dives of its several over/under-passes. 

The Home Stretch
The final stretch of the race is where things got really cool.  Having already finished a triathlon on a NASCAR track I was excited about running the last .2 miles of the race on Belmont's dirt horse track. As we made the final turn we passed under the grandstands and out onto the historical track; a track where many a Triple Crown hopeful has either fallen short or triumphed. 

Driving my tired body forward as the dirt slightly gave way to each push off was grueling. I had to dig down to find the extra energy and fed off the noise of the crowd in the grandstand and the knowledge that my father was standing by watching my finish. I poured every once of what was left in the tank into those final strides and finished with my new 5K PR of 21:34; good for 4th (out of 25) in my Age Group and 48/475 overall. 
The final stretch.  Photo credit: GLIRC
While this was my best 5K to date (and I am by no means disappointed) I know I can do even better.  I've set my sights on a sub-20 minute 5K (and hopefully a podium finish) sometime this year and I'm confident I will get it. 

The Post-Race Party
Easily the best array I've ever seen, GLIRC and their race sponsors put together an incredible spread.  There was a variety of post-race food the likes of which I'd never seen including: pizza (from at least three pizzarias), Clif Bars, Zone bars, cupcakes, sandwiches, fruit, cannolis, Haitian pastries, and more.  We ate more than our fair share of goodies and spent some time chatting with both new and old faces. 

Hats off to GLIRC. This is the second event of theirs I've participated in and both were fun and well-run. I'll be joining GLIRC pretty soon as I have already begun frequenting their weekly track workout. 


  1. My dad and I supported this event and we are very delightful for those who participated in this event, we are very happy because there are plenty of people who are participating for the benefit of prostate health within our town.

    1. Thanks for dropping a note Hanna; I'm glad to hear you were involved in the race. Prostate Cancer has had a big impact on my family and I was honored to race at Belmont.