Francisco Balagtas is a running coach that lives and trains in New York City. He recently reached a 1000 day running streak. He is an integral member of the local running community and he one of very few core members of OSR. This is his response to the 2019 OSRM10K that took place on September 14th in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Orchard Street Runners
September 14, 2019
I’m not a stranger to Joe DiNoto and his Orchard Street Runners events, but I am also not a veteran in the scope of the OSR world. Although I tip towards the older segment of the spectrum of runners partaking in his events, I am considerably still a young tiger trying to earn my stripes since the fall/winter of 2016 where I first ran with OSR on a Tuesday Night. Even when I ran my first OSR race in March of 2017 at the OSR30, up until that point I was still introducing myself to Joe and others accompanied by the firmest handshake my hands could deliver. After finishing the 30 in the tundra like conditions I figuratively earned that first stripe.
OSR races do not happen often and you also cannot assume it will happen annually, let alone at the same time as previous years. I ran one more OSR30 in 2018 before opting out in 2019 to focus on the Boston Marathon (in retrospect, should have ran it anyway). I didn’t sign up for any of the Bread Route Races but volunteered my time instead. I waited two years to run my first Midnight Half earlier this year after a 2 year event hiatus. I was lucky enough to get into the OSR10K race in 2017 and 2018, which happened in November (2 days after the NYC Marathon) and then July, respectively. In 2019, I’ve decided not to get out of bed to race anything less than a marathon. But throughout countless Tuesday Night Runs, Joe and the OSR crowd have become family, and when the family calls with an opportunity to earn another stripe, I will answer.
When the registration opened for the OSRM10K, I signed up, no hesitation. I immediately had disregard for my scheduled training plan for the fall and how it would fit in. As race day approached my mental standpoint for the race was to have fun. Finishing in the top half of a 66 person field was a reasonable goal for me as the format of the race (1.3km prologue lap, 4 checkpoints served 15 minutes before race start), the oversaturation of talented runners, a somewhat unfamiliar area, and the cover of darkness, made the actual distance the easiest factor to comprehend. With Joe’s flair for last minute “M. Night Shyamalan plot twists” coupled with David Trimble’s airtight course design experience, 10K was not a sure guarantee.
Saturday’s race day came early for me with work commitments that landed me a 5:00AM wake up call. I followed up a cup of cold brew coffee and an energy gel with a 13.1 mile run at 6:50/mi pace to Rockaway Beach.
Who the fuck runs a half marathon in the morning before a 10K in the evening and thinks it’s a “good idea”?
I told myself over and over that it would be a good warm up and said the same to anyone that asked if I was racing. But more so for the first time it was a race I wasn’t whole heartedly invested in doing well. My approach to the race was very “laissez faire”. I didn’t scout any of the prologue course or the surrounding areas, and it wasn’t until the completion of prologue lap itself that I realized it was only 1.3km not 1.3 miles.
No Sleep Until (We Run) Brooklyn:
After returning from the Rockaway Beach I attempted a battery recharge in the form of a nap which involved my back flat on the floor and legs draped over the couch with the “Songs For Sleeping” playlist from Spotify emitting from my phone. Add in a lukewarm cup of coffee and 80g of a carbohydrate drink for fuel and I was on my way to a 6:00PM arrival at the race site.
This is when the fatigue started to dawn on me. After a bathroom stop, bib pickup, and changed into my race attire, I jumped right into shortest warmup of my life. I covered maybe about 400 meters jogging with about 100 meters of strides before I stopped. When Joe called out at 6:45PM to the athletes to come get their manifests at the start line everyone ran over immediately.
After receiving the checkpoints (Red Hook Track, Valentino Pier, Brooklyn Bridge Pier 5, Adam Yauch Park), everyone began cramming routes on their phone. I started to perk up, I felt the excitement course through. Everyone around me was buzzing and it was giving me energy.
Fuck it. I’m going to race and go for it. I began mapping out my strategy on how I would survive this.
David Trimble counted down the start of the race like the older sibling who doesn’t count evenly so they could get a head start and beat you. The actual time between 3 and GO was about a nanosecond. I don’t blame him either. If I had a pack of savages gunning for a $500 prime, I’d be worried about getting run down, even on a bike.
I wasn’t considering going for the Prime prize at any point as speed isn’t my strength. But that prologue lap was a rude awakening for me as I found myself in the back of the field already huffing as much oxygen as possible at the same thinking to myself “13 miles this morning was a mistake.” I was running with my oversized phone in one hand, which I hated the most, and the checkpoint manifest in the other hand which I had to keep from dissolving from the sweat accumulation.
As the other runners and I sped from checkpoint to checkpoint it was almost impossible to tell where you stood in the field. Maybe it was for the better that you didn’t know as it was one less thing to focus on and you could turn your attention to not becoming roadkill and pay attention to dimly lit street signs.
I felt like I was following a checkpoint sequence a majority of the field had chosen, but still not sure about position. I saw who I assumed were the leaders running towards me heading south on Van Brunt while I still had a long way to go myself to a checkpoint in the north. I also ran past a group of runners who were at a dead stop trying to figure out directions. With this race, trust nobody but yourself. Don’t follow and lead yourself and only you.
As I made the final stretch south on Richards and eventually back to the start on Delevan, I still wasn’t sure where anybody else was. I had just run the last 1200 meters down Hicks completely alone, losing sight of everyone.
I crossed the timing mat with my OSR Bread Route Race crop top shirt completely soaked. It was considerably the hardest I had run all year, pace and distance wise. I feel like I snuck into the finish so far under the radar that some people didn’t even realize I was done. I wasn’t even sure myself that I was actually done, that race felt like I had done another Midnight Half.
Soon it was time for the Women (OSRW10K) to race and complete their own “manifest destiny” (I’ve got jokes). It turned out to be an ideal Saturday capped off by another stellar OSR production that even MCA & Nathanial Hornblower would tip a cap to.
You’ve Got To Fight, For Your Right, To Party:
Yup, there was plenty of that going around, but someone else can write about it.