Hey, I'm back! Still running, mostly training miles, until my journey to Syracuse, NY.
I'm going with the "Roman" theme seeing how Syracuse has been compared in some ways to Rome. It must be the fact that the city was settled by Italian immigrants and the city is very hilly.
If you are a follower of this blog, you know I have written a few posts regarding hills. I refer to myself as a "flatlander", residing here in Central Florida. Only appropriate I would travel to Central New York for a race. Actually, my father, sister and brother-in-law reside in the Syracuse area and the vacation included the run. Can't leave out my niece Eileen, who unfortunately couldn't be there for the race, but was there for the expo on Saturday and post-race!
The race was the "Mountain Goat" 10 miler. The name of the event gives you a quick insight as to the course. This was the 31st year the race was held and I must say it was extremely well organized and fun. For the first time in the history of the race they had over 2,000 registered runners. We started in downtown Syracuse at "Clinton Square". The start was very orderly and the runners courteous as we moved out of downtown. The first mile and one-half is deceiving as it is relatively flat, just a slight roll to the roadway. Just as my body and brain were relaxing, thinking this was going to be easy, we reached the first hill. At one point I looked at the street sign and it read "Summit", another clue to the contour of the course. I was looking for any sign with the word "valley" in it, no luck. After reaching the summit, we made our way through a very nice neighborhood of beautiful homes. This was also the first time since leaving downtown, we had a large number of spectators. This area also leveled off and in a few areas we had some downhill runs. As with earlier in the race, just when you thought the course wasn't too difficult, here comes another hill, or two, or three!
I wasn't sure how to pace myself for this race. I knew what I could run on the flat portions, I had to decide on hill tactics once I got there. I had a time goal of between 8:00 and 9:00 minutes per mile. I reached mile one in 7:40, comfortable on the flat course. I reached mile marker two at 15:45, ahead of my pace and into the hills. Mile three was at 24:20. Not to bore you with all the splits, my first five miles were at 40:30 and the final five miles at 40:51.
At the eight mile point in the race you reach Thornden Park, high above the city. In the summer they have a beautiful rose garden in full bloom. Today the overcast skies and cool temperatures covered the dormant rose bushes. The spectators inside the park were terrific. I saw groups of school aged kids maybe girl scouts or boy scouts with signs and cheering us on. The final uphill was manned by supporters who "pulled" you up the hill with their encouragement. Someone had written slogans on the roadway to help motivate us as our heads drooped with fatigue. Exiting the park it is a two mile downhill run to the finish. I was not familiar with the streets of downtown Syracuse. Of course there was the spectator yelling encouragement that the finish was, "right around the corner"! Not sure how many corners I turned before I could see the finish line ahead of me. One last charge down Salina Street to the finish. It was over!
The results were posted quickly and I located my finish time of 1:21:23, a bit quicker than I had actually anticipated. As I scanned the results, I could only locate one other runner in my age group ahead of me. I walked back to the car with my sister and brother-in-law to change shirts and get my half-gallon of chocolate milk. Returning to the finish area, I confirmed that I had in fact finished 2nd in my age group. Later I learned there were 33 runners in our group.
Thanks to Rick from Pennsylvania who I ran with for about four miles before he dusted me on the hill at mile seven. Also, Matt Mulcahy, from the local television affiliate, who I met after the race. Matt writes a blog in Syracuse and often his topic is about running. Thanks to the people of Syracuse who came out and supported all of us and all of the sponsors. I'm looking forward to running again next year!
Vini, Vedi, Vici............. I came, I saw, I conquered!