On Running: Raabe is realistic about New York

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Sunday morning’s New York City Marathon has many races within the massive field of 38,000 entrants.

One of those races is the USA Men’s Championship, an annual event that this year happens to occur in New York.

That championship was Christopher Raabe’s focus race back in mid-July, just a few weeks after he ran a breakthrough 2:15 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn.

But he hit a speed bump along the way, and while he still is expecting to toe the line Sunday on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the 30-year-old D.C. native has altered his expectations.

“I’m not looking for anything crazy like a breakthrough,” he said Friday. “I don’t feel like I will be dropping a big time. I’m not feeling as fit as I was during the summer. I feel comfortable that I’ll run OK, kind of hold things together.”

Raabe said his plans were upended when a car in which he was a passenger collided with another vehicle in the Shirlington section of Arlington in August. The damage: a broken nose and many scrapes and bruises, but most debilitating to the dedicated runner was a dislocated kneecap.

“One week, no running,” he said. “I did some September training, but it was light. I tried to pick it up, and a couple of times I had to do half a workout instead. But I had a good October. I’m not as optimistic as I was three months ago but more optimistic in the past two weeks.”

That is why Raabe is not sitting at home this weekend, instead planning a 26.2-mile tour of the five boroughs. Coincidentally, he chose New York over the Twin Cities Marathon in large part to get the extra month of training New York offered. Had he entered Twin Cities, he said he would have scrapped the Oct. 4 race.

Raabe, a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, would not predict a finish time but has a goal in mind. The last time he was in New York was November 2007, when he posted a 2:17:01 for 16th at the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials, albeit on a loop course in Central Park.

“I have not run the course before, so I don’t have a sense of the time,” he said. “But I’d like to place in the U.S. Championships. I was hoping for top 10 overall, but now realistically I am looking at finishing in the top teens.”

The USA Men’s Championship is certain to be competitive this year, with Olympians Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Brian Sell in the field. These three, however, have their sights on the $130,000 cash prize for the overall winner. A championship title, worth another $40,000, would be icing on the cake.

A win by world-record holder Paula Radcliffe would earn the Brit $130,000 plus $70,000 as a previous winner (2004, 2007 and 2008).

Bellwether - A trio of recent American track and field medalists presided over the Nasdaq closing bell Friday in Times Square.

Three-time 200-meter world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist Allyson Felix, 2009 world champion decathlete Trey Hardee and 2009 world championships pole vault silver medalist Chelsea Johnson were joined by 1948 Olympic long jump bronze medalist Herb Douglas.

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