Celebrations 2 Mile Race - Jamaica Track, New York

First race since I got a knee injury in January where I was actually planning to run the whole thing! Had no idea how the knee would react, but having lost my race pace anyway I was unlikely to go too hard.

Arriving first and picking up number 1 for my pains, I had plenty of time to warm up gently with walking, stretching and jogging, then a few paster paced strides. I was aiming for anything between 13 and 14 minutes, somewhat shy of the 12 minutes or less I should be running here if uninjured. Hopefully this would be another milestone in the comeback trail. It was a mild, August morning with the sun just coming up when I got there, and by the start just after seven you could feel the warmth in its rays. The guys gathered by the school for the start (the boy's race is just after seven, the girl's a little later, as the pavement would be too crowded with a single race) were in jovial mood, and we almost missed the reading of the race poem by Sunday with all our chatter. He raised his voice just enough to be heard, and the chatter and laughter subsided to a mood of reverence for the poem. A few more moments of silence and we were off.

I took the bend wide to stay out of trouble and eased into the fastest paced run I'd had for several months. Of course I was holding back, but after 9 or 10 minute paced jogs to work with a backpack it's a liberating feeling to run faster again. Soon I found myself with an unfamiliar crowd - Vilas and Balavan run this sort of pace and usually I don't see them as I'm a little ahead, so it was interesting to be in different company for a two miler. Those two were trading places regularly with minor surges taking one then the other ahead, and sometimes the choice of routes through the parked cars being enough to make a difference as to who nosed ahead of the other. By the time we had tackled the hill and come past the start I still hadn't looked at my watch and was interested to know the pace - as ever Utpal was there calling times and I heard something in the six fifties for one mile - bang on target.

The guys around me were warmed up and starting to lengthen their stride - I stayed with them but was still consciously keeping my feel low to the ground, trying to run smoothly with low impact, not going flat out. When we reached the hill for the second time I felt ready to put in an effort and I was close to maximum speed when I caught Andrej from Czech at the corner of Goose Pond Park. He has youth on his side and I couldn't stay with him, but the effort of trying paid off when I finished in 13.02.

I was anxious to see if the knee would react badly but it seemed untroubled by the exertion which was a relief. Next step will be a sub thirteen at our next "Joy Day" gathering and hopefully a full return to fitness in 2013.

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