Tune of the day: Brockhampton – Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
At the present time it is just an occasional sign – Folks with a start number pinned on their vest. Joe DiNoto of infamous New York Underground running powerhouse Orchard Street Runners is a man that makes things happen. One of his most prominent races, the OSR30, an unauthorized 30 miles contest round Manhattan was one of many race annulments in the mist of the Covid-19 epidemic. Last weekend saw yet another turnout of this raw and self-navigating competition. Even with basic knowledge of the New York running scene, a look at the start list made clear that the stakes for a thrilling showdown were high.
And race day delivered. With favorites David Kilgore and Alex Burks surging away early on, it seemed clear who was battling for victory. But then again after missing a checkpoint, the lead changed, and it was Travis Hawkins who crossed the line in first place. His 3:17:44 for 51,90 kilometer (Strava) was not the fastest time of the day, but he was the fastest runner to reach all the necessary checkpoints along the course.
The father of two (Rafaela 7 & Mathilda 3) and Brooklyn resident is definitely no stranger to this competition. He won it on two occasions, but this time his stakes were unquestionably the lowest. Travis grew up in Leonia, New Jersey which is exactly 1,5 miles from the George Washington Bridge a checkpoint in the OSR30. Travis has a 08:51:10 Ironman PB (Challenge Roth 2019) to his name and owns a personal training and endurance coaching business. I caught up with him in the aftermath of last weekend’s win.
Runssel: Congrats to your three peat at this year’s OSR30. How does this victory weight in in comparison to your first two successful excursions around Manhattan?
Travis: Thanks so much. All my three OSR30 races are all pretty unique. In 2018 I was 100% confident that I was going to win. When Erik Reitinger put a gap on me 10 miles in that I couldn’t seem to close I was kind of devastated. I was as shocked as he was when I passed him by taking the Brooklyn Bridge instead of the Manhattan, for the win. In 2019 and 2021 I had no reason to think I could beat David Kilgore, or Alex Burks. I do know that these races are about so much more than speed. I have a ton of experience navigating around the city. I am comfortable in traffic. I ride my bike through it all day. This years victory was the biggest shock of all though. After the year we’ve all had and the level of competition on the day, it was definitely the most rewarding.
Runssel: As we all know, Covid-19 knowingly slowed down the racing the last couple of months. How did you keep up the motivation and when did you fully commit to another OSR30?
Travis: In late February of 2020 I tore a calf muscle, training for the OSR30. The race was cancelled etc… I moved my entire business to Zoom in one day. I had no confidence in coaching my clients via video chat, so I did every workout with them as they did it for the first few weeks. This meant essentially doing 8-12 hours of resistance training with bands each day. I was back running in less than a month and was able to slowly build to more volume than I have ever even considered.
Without a race on the calendar, I was really able to be patient with strength training, yoga and Physical Therapy, slowly accumulating tons of fitness. To answer your question though, I didn’t have a goal in mind. I was just running because I didn’t know what else to do. Balancing school from home with my 2 kids, my wife is studying to be a nurse and I’m on my computer coaching clients from an office all day. I can usually carve out 60-90 minutes to go run and clear my head, so I do. Without it, I don’t know how I would have survived the year. Joe DiNoto sent me a text in early February, asking if I would be interested in running the 30 sometime towards the end of March. I said yes but wasn’t really sure if I was going to want to put in the speed work required. It turned out I had accumulated a lot more fitness than I thought.
Runssel: This year’s OSR30 start list was perhaps the best it’s ever been. What battle scenario did you assume and how did you plan for it?
Travis: It was definitely the strongest field! I knew there were going to be at least 2 guys capable of running way faster than me (It turned out that I was right). I also knew that I had the fitness to put together my strongest race. My strategy was to run my strongest race and hope that they pushed each other beyond their limits or got lost trying. I suppose it worked. I definitely ran my strongest race.
Runssel: Do you have any key workouts leading up to a race like this? How do you approach training towards such a race?
Travis: I am a strong believer in running hard on long days for races like this. I can usually accumulate a decent amount of weekly miles with a bunch of light runs, but there is always a hard long run and a harder short run. I do most of my running in similar conditions around Brooklyn, so I suppose that helps too. There’s typically a ton of concrete in these races which I think tends to do more damage than people realize. If you’re doing all your training on blacktop, it’s not great preparation for a race that’s on a lot of walkways and paths made of concrete and slate.
Runssel: Knowing the city is a huge advantage. How do you prepare the navigational part of the OSR30?
Travis: I know the city intimately. I ride my bike around all day from client to client. I like to make a game of finding the fastest routes. Riding and running in traffic are fun and adds a level of adventure to training and commuting. Finding the shortest route for OSR races and practicing them on my bike has been part of the fun since the first midnight half I did in 2016.
Runssel: Another indefinite year of racing is ahead. Do you have any goals planned out?
Travis: I don’t have any goals this year. I’d love to get lost in the woods at some point- in a race or on a long adventure run. I’d also like to get on my bike for a race since I haven’t done that since 2019. Who knows?
Runssel: Will there be a OSR30 four peat next year?
Travis: The target on my back keeps getting bigger. I don’t think it would be fair to take it down prematurely.
Tune of the day: Fred The Godson – Garcias
YouTube of the day: Kengo Suzuki’s 2:04:56 National Record to Win Final Lake Biwa Mainichi
Pod of the day: Tommy Hughes joins the Spring Snyggt Podcast (Start at 53 Minutes)
Society inquired – Sometimes strangers (to my sheer surprise) and every now and then friends – Why is there no steady blog update any longer?
A well-meant request for information with a modest response: My MacBook broke. Our partnership finished abrupt and miserably. While being away the battery of my keying devise blow up and I never got around to get a new one. Whereas there are other (non-moveable) computers available in the household, I never got the enthusiasm to sit in front of a screen and type a report or any other training considerations. The simple peace of siting on the couch and philosophe about sports was gone and from this time my enthusiasm to transcribe and report. In the long run this means that I get to reflect on my season at once. A good thing for once as I think looking back creates a complete different view on what had happened.
A lot has happened and I will sum all the 2018 races up in two separate posts. Onto the first one it is…
01-2018: Premiärmilen, Stockholm
There were still snowflakes on the ground. Temperatures just snatched a little bit higher than zero but the first big 10k road race in the Swedish calendar was on the itinerary. The name pretty much says it all. Premiärmilen kick starts the outdoor racing season and a huge field lined up in my back garden, Djurgården. I felt in decent shape after regular indoor track workouts on the 200 meter oval in Bosön reimbursed little speed to the old legs. As I do most of my training runs around the park where the race took place I kinda knew the course. Not a fast one. Plenty of bends and hills make sure there is not much of a time trial going on. I felt good but the last steep hill at around 8k was too much for me on that day. I wanted to go under 38 minutes as training forecasted. I did not. At the end I was a mere of 40 seconds short.
02-2018: Utö Swimrun
It is weird. Swimrun season appears to come around so fast. Although perceiving the ice-covered Baltic sea a couple of weeks back, it seems so far away to swim in the open water. As soon as the first competitions are around the corner you wonder. So the Utö weekend came around fast. For me, this race is one of the best races around. During the last years I raced quite a bit across Europe but this one is always special to me. Historically the sport of Swimrun was born on this islet. You have heard the story somewhere around here. I will not bore you with more insights on Swimrun history. Plain simple, this course has everything that makes this sport so special to many. You have challenging and icy swims, you face technical and rolling trails, you climb, you need to have fast transitions and you have clean running. This course is fair. Perhaps the fairest course out there. The team that reaches at the finish line first is the best.
For this year’s competition I teamed up with my training buddy Karl. During the winter running was our main focus. We both prefer to swim in the open water. This meant that our swim performance was not at an all-time high. On the other hand the running form was decent and we had the goal to stick around the top 15 as long as possible. With this objective in mind we started offensively as this approach worked out at last year’s race (LINK). The first 2,5 hours went just as we expected it. We altered places between 10th to 14th place. We swam decent, we ran fast and transitions were good. But it wouldn’t be endurance sports if a certain portion of unpredictability and the resulting problem management would not be involved. The wheels started to fall off and we had to slow down. As a team is only as strong as its weakest link we pushed on and fought until the very end. Needless to say we didn’t make the top-15. We came in 29th place in 4:50:57, a mere of 47 minutes off the winners.
03-2018: 40th Stockholm Marathon
It is long ago that I ran a marathon. Moving to Stockholm, learning the (new and upgraded) route and finding out that this year’s version is the 40th, it was a no-brainer and the seed for plenty of inspiration and training motivation. I signed up for the competition with the clear goal to snatch under the magic 3 hours wall once more. There is something I really like about the Marathon Training circle. The simplicity of running is second to none. I’m not shy of repeating myself when it comes to this fact. So getting in the honest and lengthy miles, doing the rigid speed grind and staying healthy went well. Regular track sessions and long runs alone and with my cherished YO people created a running form that I did not had in a good while. The week before the marathon I set out on a last test run and it felt easy to jog 20k a good bit below my goal marathon pace. After I came back home with an 3:57 minutes per kilometer average on the clock I was convinced to reach my goal – Sub 3.
Race-week was on and not only the tension was rising. Sudden heat stemmed an formed an wonderful but strangely hot and wind-less June day in Stockholm. I got changed at home and jogged the 500 meters to the startline nearby our apartment. Such a treat and something I have never experienced before. Being so close to the start of a major marathon is amazing. I grabbed a bottle of water and relaxed beside in the tiny bit of shadow that was available beside the start. The weather conditions should command the pace. I’m not too good in the heat. Particularly when running at Marathon pace. I tried to not tell me this too often and just think about pacing and nutrition. It all went well and I found my tempo fast.
Traveling around my new hometown was pure class. Swedes do value their sports. Stockholmers were out to applaud and it was a picture-perfect day for it. For cheering. I need to be precise. I hit the splits on target, adored the YO cheering zone (THANKS so much…) and was one happy jogger while running through our home district of Östermalm. Some neighbors and friends were out and it was great and uplifting to see everyone out on the streets partying.
All went pretty well for me until about the “fairy-tale”-like 30 Kilometer mark. This is where I fell apart and got broiled in the heat and sun on Södermalm. For a good couple of kilometers I was able to hold it together but I could not hold my nutrition and ultimately had to dispense all the stuff I had eaten for the last couple of hours. The rest was a dead-march back to the Olympic stadium where I tried to enjoy the magnificent finish line in this antique place. I do not really recall my time and my motivation to look it up again is not that high. It was well over 3 hours. My friend Sana, who took care of the elite athletes, promised me a picture opportunity with my blue-collar hero Yuki Kawauchi. I’m not sure what hurt most. This fact or the one that I did not break the 3 hours mark.
Nobody wants to read about stupid excuses. That is why I will never go into that. The heat, the nutrition? Whatever. No balls to tackle the heat. That’s how I see it. Onto the next one.
04-2018: Stockhom SwimRun Sprint
I guess it is OK to call it a tradition by now. One competition a year has to be done with brother Henrik Kindgren. This time the local retreat around Djurgarden was the target. Goal-wise we tried to keep it simple. We aimed for the win.
“We won this solely by experience!” was Henrik’s swift race recap when we crossed the finish line first. We ran hard from the start. Entered the water first. Swam hard but got overtaken. Got the lead back on the run and then lost it again in the water. This went on and on until the very last swim. After that we decided to excel. Still worn-out from the Marathon my legs hurt a lot but we made it. Even before the finish line was set up.
Super fun to do this with Henrik and a great mental boost after the disappointment at the Stockholm Marathon. Let’s ride this tradition!
05-2018: Långholmen SwimRun Sprint
I love when people get hooked with SwimRun. My colleague Firas was stunned and motivated as he watched last year’s ÖtillÖ with my colleagues. Consequently he wanted to try the sport himself. I insisted him to sign us up for the best race Inner-Stockholm has to offer, the Långholmen SwimRun. After several early morning swims and lunch-break gear checks we were ready to go. And what fun it was to scramble and run around the beautiful island of Långholmen. I’m confident SwimRun has a new fan.
It has been a while. And it did not take me long to rekindle my love for proper trail running.
A great day out on the Sörmlandsleden. A 1.000 kilometer hiking trail that hits the south of greater Stockholm. Saturday saw some remarkable Trail Jogging with the lads (Strava evidence)
You gotta love some off-road jogging.
Tune of the day: The Deli – Sunflowers