Today myself and a group of friends took part in the annual Portugal day 5k. This race has special meaning to me, its in my old neighborhood of the Ironbound, and it was the first organized race I did back in my younger days ( it used to be a 2-mile and 10k back then), I haven’t done it in about 7 years,but I’m back. Its a great local community race, and its traditionally been held on the weekend of Portugal Day , a local weekend event celebrating the Portuguese community…. plus Christine beat me the last time we did this course, I was in much worse shape then even though it was her first race, she got me, so its payback time…
As always the weather is warm and muggy on this early June weekend, the streets still have the odor from last nights party , although much reduced from years past (now Portugal day celebrations in the Ironbound only take place a few blocks East of Penn Station, whereas in the past it used to be all along Ferry street to the five corners.), other than that the atmosphere is much as I remember it. The race attracts a lot of good local talent, and sub-15 minute winning times are common.
We lined up right across the street behind Penn Station Rail Road station. Facing east we waited and the starter’s horn and then went off. Then it was time to run down Ferry St. which has been revitalized quite a bit in recent years, with new sidewalks, and many new storefronts and buildings. The first mile down Ferry went pretty smooth, Christine dropped off the back almost immediately from the start and within the first 800m I already had a sizeable gap on her.
As we approached the five corners we turned left onto Wilson before making a couple of turns on to Lang, and finally rounding out the course on Magazine street. At mile one I was settling in no one was passing me and I was still catching a few runners, but felt my pace slow. I know this just isn’t my running year, I’m still not at my ideal race weight , still carrying a bit of “winter weight” and even though shape wise I feel fine, I don’t have the snap in my legs I need for these short races.. my HR was steady in the 165-175 range,so fitness heart-wise I’m where I need to be , but I just don’t have the run speed this year.. those are the facts..
Mile 1 to mile 2 were uneventful , just more chugging along at about mile two we turn back onto east Ferry Street before heading for home. As I hit the five corners and headed back for home, I turned right onto Ferry st. and the folks started yelling at us in Portuguese “….depressá…. forçá” (faster, power) .. and assorted other encouragements. I picked up the pace and from the reflections in the windows I could see that there was no one around, so I pressed on.
As I approached the finish near Iberia Restaurant the crowd grew larger and noisier and the fan noise always gives me an extra boost. I heard my GPS heart rate alarm go off, knowing I was over my 175bpm threshold, but thats how its supposed to be when your sprinting for the finish. A few more strides, and I caught a glimpse of my dad on the side, he saw me too, nice! then it was over… I was finished, huffing and puffing , I turned around to encourage and capture Christine finish her run.
Afterwards, we chatted with friends and other runners, Christine seems to know everyone.. the awards ceremony was in Iberia parking area, and Christine as usual placed in her age-group, of course the race director couldn’t pronounce her last name, darn those ethnic names.. . Race amenities were decent water and flavored drinks , plus donuts and portuguese bread.. the usual swag bag, plus they raffled off a bunch of prizes including a 32″ LCD Tv and GPS watch, pretty good deal for $20.. Its a great event, I’m a little biased because its my hometown race, but overall very well run, family and fan friendly, and you can stick around afterwards for the Portuguese day feast and festivities.