July 22, 2009

. . . any club that would accept me as a member: CPTC

I usually run alone, for want of someone running with me. My thoughts are nothing but the patch of road or dirt in front of me, or else the feeling in my lower legs.

Sometimes in races I'm propelled by the simple desire to get away from everyone else.

But I know I run better with others, and in fact I like a little company. There are a lot of track clubs in New York, each with its own specialness. Betimes, I have thought of joining one.

To feel out which club might best suit me, and I them, I'm occasionally showing up at club trainings.

First up was Central Park Track Club. I tagged along with some teammates from my work running team, one drizzly misty night, to the East River track.

I got there too early, so I got specially soaked. But I like to run in the rain, and it gave me a few minutes to talk to other earlycomers.

CPTC is sponsored by Nike, has a sharp website, and has a lot of runners throughout the year in NYRR races. They're a pretty fast club, so I was expecting a lot from the training. And I got it.

Coach Tony had planned 8 x 600m repeats w/200m recovery. He gave an animated, meandering peptalk beforehand, exhorting the very mixed crowd to get ready for the upcoming team championships. Coach Tony definitely gives you a sense of purpose.

We were grouping ourselves by pace. One group went out before I was quite sure what was going on. The next group to go included teammate B., who had beat me at the last race, so I figured I'd better try to catch up. This group turned out to be real damn fast. The first two intervals were painful, as the first two should be, but I was glad I hadn't gone out with that first group, because they were already lapping us.

By the third repeat I was pretty sure I couldn't keep this up, but I was curious to see when I would tap out. Fourth, fifth. OK, just one more. Sixth, seventh. Well, just one more. Eight! We did between 2:06 and 2:08 per, with negative splits - much faster than I could have managed on my own.

It took me a good lap of jogging to recover, I expect the pace was a little faster than it should have been for my training curve. On the other hand it was a great challenge, one my brain was sure my body wasn't up to. Screw you, brain, so pink and soft.

Note to self: speed training is about suffering, as opposed to pain, also as opposed to comfort.

Note to Parks Dept: there's probably no need to turn the sprinklers on during monsoon season.

First impressions: CPTC is hardcore athletic, with a results-oriented work ethic. The group was friendly and mixed (ages, sexes, ethnicities), and welcoming. It was a good, hard workout, and I could certainly have run with the next-slower group for an efficient training. But what would be the fun in that?

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