Friday, May 13, 2022

Amway River Bank Run-'Masters Elite' Running-Veneziano and Carlin

 May 13, 2022 The Amway River Bank Run takes place on Saturday. May 14, 2022. This returns the race to its traditional spring date. It was cancelled in 2020 and moved to the fall in 2021 due to Covid concerns. It once again serves as the USATF Open 25K Championship. Parker Stinson, who set the current record of 1:13:48 the last time the course was run in the spring, in 2019.

Jordan Hasay owns the US Record at 1:22:19, set as a split at her phenomenal 2017 Chicago Marathon performance. Because the Women have a separate start ahead of the Men, this race also qualifies for a 'Women's Only' mark. That is held by Makena Morley, set last October at this race at 1:23:17. Keira DAmato who set the Women's Marathon record this past January in Houston at 2:19:12 should have an excellent shot at both. 

Since the last time they ran the race, they have reversed the course. The consensus is that it should be faster now. The infamous 'Butterworth Hills' now come between miles 3 and 6 rather than between miles 9 to 12. According to the Elevation Map, though, there is still a 60' climb from the Half Marathon mark up to Mile 15 in a series of three short hills. We may not know, for sure, if the course is faster or not for a few years. Using a color scale, the weather is yellow, not green. Conditions are moderate and runners should be prepared to dial back goals if necessary, and take plenty of fluids.The forecast for the race is for upper 60's at the start, rising to the mid-70's by the time the Open Elites are finishing but will hit the lower 80's for any of the Community Runners who average much over a 9 minute/mile pace. 

There are also some Masters athletes in the race. A few have been designated as Masters Elite and have a  profile set up on the race website. To start with a little shameless self promotion, if you direct your browser to:

After viewing profiles of Open Elites such as Mr. Stinson, the record holder, scroll down to the Masters area. There you will find a profile of Fernando Cabada, who just turned 40 and, no doubt, considers himself still a threat for the win. After all, he won the 25K Championship on this course in 2011. To Cabada's right, the viewer's left, one can scan the profile of Matthew Blume, another fine runner who has just aged up into the Masters ranks (40 and up for LDR). Look to Cabada's left, the viewer's right, and you find me, Paul Carlin, the self-styled 'Running Professor'. There is a pic and a mini runners bio, mine longer than most. Maybe that is because, at age 76, I am by far the oldest Elite that is profiled. It stretches from Fall of 1966; as a senior at Tufts, I was the Captain of an undefeated Cross Country team, It travels through my late 60's and early 70's, when I won three national Championships, two at the Half Marathon and one at 10K. It finishes with one of the Team National Championships won as a member of the Ann Arbor Track Club's Men's 70 and Up team. We also took the Masters National Grand Prix title in 2018 and 2019.

Here I am, Paul Carlin, the Running Prof, finishing off my 2022 effort at the USATF Masters Half Marathon Championships in Syracuse NY Photo Courtesy of Syracuse Half Marathon Crop by author.


It is ironic that i am profiled in May of 2022. Coming out of Covid last spring, I ran two good 10K races, breaking 8 minutes per mile in the 2nd one, which is competitive nationally in my 75-79 age division. I expected to quicken that pace with the few months of training I could put in before the first USATF National Championship of 2021. But my Achilles tendon had other ideas. Although I was occasionally able to walk/jog and even on a handful of occasions, slow jog workouts I was not able to do a single 'real' workout from May to December. Occasionally I was making progress but each time suffered a setback. I was finally able to work though it and gradually start training on a 3-running days a week basis. The others were either exercise Bike or walking/hiking. By late February I was up to 4 days per week, and by early March, 5 days. I ran over 40 miles in a week. The recovery has continued well since then but I lost a lot of fitness during that time. At the 10 Km National Championships on April, I was running just over 8 minutes per mile, slower than I had been running in May of 2021. 

Given that I am not yet back to full fitness, how did I have the gumption to ask for a Comp Entry to the Amway River Bank Run, definitely one of the prestige races in the USA? There were three factors, not necessarily in order:

1. Although not at full fitness, my training has been gong well. Each outing has been better than the last in terms of the ace I can carry. In terms of age grading, for example, at the 5 km Championships in late February, my age grade score was 72.64%, at the Half Marathon in the 3rd week in March it was 73.37%; at the 10 Mile Championships in early April, 75.73%, and at the 10K in late April 77.42%. I figured I might be able to hit 80% by the third week in May. We shall see.

2. The fastest winning time for Men 75-79 from 2014 through 2019 was 2:24:17. At age 76 there are never guarantees, but that sort of time is well within my grasp. I will be quite disappointed if I do not finish under 2:20:00 and feel like I have a very good shot at breaking 2:15:00.

3. The first time I ran the River Bank Run was in 2014 when at the top of my 65-69 game.  I had won the USATF M65-69 Half Marathon National Championship a few months earlier in 1:29:29. I wound up winning my division in 1:46:26, an 89% age grade based on the 2010 tables in use at the time. After the race I had occasion to contact Greg Meyer, the Elite Recruiter for the race, on another matter. When I mentioned that I had run the race and my time he said, please at least ask for a Comp Entry next time; at least we could do that. So I figured I should take him up on that.


I have a set of goals for my race:

i. Run faster than the Men 75-79 winning times from 2014-2019 --faster than 2:24:17

ii. Run faster than all but two winning Men 75-79 times from 2005 to 2019, faster than 2:14:45

iii. Run faster than the fastest winning Men 75-79 times from 2005-2019,  faster than 2:09:17

iv. Finish the race healthy and ready for more training and racing.

When the Elite Coordinator, Nicki Costello contacted me, she asked me to fill out an elite form that asked for a runner's bio and a photo. I supplied both. A week later I was checking out the Elite Men and Women in the field to see who was signed up and who the likely contenders for the win were. I gradually worked my way through the alphabet. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found myself listed in a Masters section with a picture from the 5 Km National Championships at Atlanta this year and a rather lengthy bio! Kudos to the River Bank Run for posting profiles of their Masters Runners.

Masters Records?

The American Record for a 75-79 year old male is 1:52:57 held by the remarkable Warren Utes, from 1997. There is no way I can even fantasize about breaking that! It would require a sub-7:20 pace per mile! There is a Masters runner entered who has a shot at a Masters American Record, though. 

 Direct your browser to:

and scroll down to find Lisa Veneziano, identified as follows:

Lisa Veneziano
USA 25 km Open Championship
Age 57, Fenton, MI - 

It is a minimal description of a runner with maximal accomplishments over the past year. One of those was to set the American 12 Km Record for Women 55-59. She ran 46:13 on a flat, fast course in New Jersey, winning the USATF National Championship at the same time. That is a 95.92% age graded performance. 
Lisa Veneziano  finishes off her 12 km American Record-Breaking Run in Highlands NJ at the By Hook Or By Crook 12K Photo courtesy of Jason Timochko crop by author

At the 5 Km Championships her age graded score was 91.58%, on a tough, hilly course. Her other recent national championship effort was over the Half Marathon on another tough, hilly course. That was a 1:27:00 for a 93.06%. She also ran Boston last October in 2:58:23, an age grade of 92.81%. Her Philly Marathon, over a much flatter course, was 2:56:13. That age graded at 93.95%. Why list all of these age grades? 
It gives us insight into how likely it is that Veneziano can capture the Women's 55-59 American 25 K record. It is currently held by Shirley Matson, who, in 1996, over a course at Mission Bay in San Diego ran 1:41:01. If Veneziano runs that fast, her Age Graded score would be 94.47%. Her only age grade that high was on the flat 12 km course in New Jersey. The River Bank Run is not flat, nor are the conditions likely to be perfect tomorrow. The forecast is for temperatures right around 70 tomorrow at the 8:30 race time, rising into the mid to upper 70's over the course of the race. The humidity in the mid 60% range should not add much complication. Luckily the winds are moderate. It would be a tremendous accomplishment should Veneziano be able to break Matson's long-standing record!

It should be interesting to see how our efforts turn out tomorrow!

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