Despite, my recent medical break, I was inspired enough by my short training run yesterday to give the Mountain Goat Race a shot. After missing it do to medical problems last year, I was really interested in doing it this year. Thankfully, my hand was well enough to let me give it a shot.
My running buddy, Larry, and I made the scene about 8:30. I second guessed myself a little bit about getting there so early, since I already registered and picked up my packet. Other than a chilly wind, it was quite comfortable out. We opted to leave our coats for the pre-race and make a trip back to the cars to dump them off before the start.
Before the race, we stumbled on some other 1st Marathon folks. It was good to see them on race day. I think some were kinda surprised to see me there, after basically blowing off the latest 2 weeks of training. I was almost as surprised to be there as them. I also got a chance to introduce myself to Arlene, the volunteer coordinator that I worked with to set up the Mountain Goat Volunteer Signup Page. She thanked me and said my little page helped her a lot. I thanked her for helping put together another great race. Its not the runners that make the race, its the volunteers. Props to everyone who helped out!
So, here’s the blow by blow, complete with route sketched out the Gmaps-Pedometer (disclaimer, I did this purely from memory and may have been off by a street or two here or there.) so you can follow along if you like. Normally, I like to include the splits for the miles, but I couldn’t wear my watch due to the wrist brace; I tried putting my watch on the other wrist, but it was just too uncomfortable, doh!
- Start — With all the folks huddled into together for the start, I was starting to feel a lot more comfortable. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough PA power to cut through the crowd noise to get much useful info from the announcer. All I could make out was occasional numbers which I assumed was the time to start. Soon enough, the starters pistol fired and we were off. Same old, same old, run a few steps, stop, walk a few more, etc. I think was a little worse than usual as the running field crunch inward to get across the rather narrow mats.
- Mile 1 — For me, the hardest part of most races is the first mile(s). Running to get to my comfortable pace in the middle of the crowd is always tough. This race wasn’t too bad, but there were a couple of times where I had shift around to get buy slower people. It did feel nice to get access to the entire road, unlike just the shoulder in the training runs.After making the turn onto Onondaga Street, traffic thinned substantially and I was able to slow things up just a little bit to leave something for later. Even a the slightly slower pace, I was still passing a lot of folks. That made me just a bit nervous that I was going to fast.
- Mile 2 — Ah, here come the hills. As I made the turn on to Onondaga Ave, I heard a basketball bouncing. At first, I thought it was someone on the side of the road, but after closer inspection is was someone dribbling while running. Hmm, don’t think I’ve seen that trick before (even after some weird Boilermaker experiences…)I’m not sure why, but I think the transition from Onondaga Ave to Bellevue to Summit is my favorite part of the race. Maybe its because this where the part timers start to fall off?
- Mile 3 — The bigger groups of runners are starting to fragment into smaller and smaller clumps. On Stolp, I’m running solo most of the time. I pass a few folks on the way up to the first water tower, but got a little winded, and they blew right back by me when things flattened out on Hancock.I’m still a little nervous that I’m going a little fast. I’m not passing hordes of people, but I’m still catching up to people that I think should be faster than me.
- Mile 4 — This mile begins on the cusp of the first major downhill section. Man, if there’s one thing I gotta work on, its downhills. I think I’m way too tentative, as other folks are sailing past. I think its Out of Control Truck Syndrome. Just don’t feel stable when I’m getting major gravity assist. Something to work on. I was happy to make the slight climb back up Strathmore.In upper Onondaga Park (geez everything is named Onondaga around here, isn’t it?), I grumbled to myself that I always wanted to visit this park outside of running. It looks like a great place for a picnic and some pictures. The view from the tippy top is spectacular; it makes both race day and the training runs so worth it.
- Mile 5 — After the nice view, its back to work. Ugh, more downhill. I’m happy to report that they moved the planters and cleaned up all the loose debris at the bottom of the hill where you make the left on Onondaga Park Drive. Again, folks cruising by me.Phew. Break time. Things are relatively flat until the monster that is Colvin. I had to duck an overly zealous volunteer pointing a Power Bar at me on the bend on Kirk Ave.
- Mile 6 — Hydration check. Wanted to make sure I was good before Colvin. Still doing pretty good. Getting a little warm, but the cool breeze is keeping things comfortable.After enjoying a few blocks of relative flatness, I made the turn off of South Salina St onto Colvin. Its kinda deceptive. It looks like its not too bad; but, its pretty long and the steepness ramps up toward the eventual summit. For the first time this race, I saw some folks walking. I wasn’t gonna have any of that!
- Mile 7 — Now we’re in the thick of it. I shortened my stride just a bit and chugged my way up the hill. I didn’t have any doubt that I’d make it, but I was noticeably tired at the top.Hmm, left knee is also feeling a little weird. A little pinch every now again.After the turn onto Comstock, my wind was pretty much back. The SU band was a great pick me up.But, Houston, we have a problem here. The left knee is starting to hurt more. Its not constant, and its not really in beat with my steps.
Time for some water. That hit the spot.
- Mile 8 — Making the turn onto Stratford and then again onto Ostrum, the pain was getting worse. Oh crap, its elevation related. I confirmed this as Ostrum began to level off. Geez, this is getting less and less fun, another big uphill followed by a bunch of downs.I made turn into Thorden Park and started up the steepest hill the course (not sure if its officially the steepest, but this far into the race, it sure feels that way.) Knee is really not happy with me. I really shorten my stride and grunt it up the final uphill part. Phew, maybe it was just tight?
- Mile 9 — Hmm, nope. For a few steps, I thought I was in the clear. But, as soon as I the long rolling downhill around the pool, the pain came right back. The rest of my time in the park was wrestling with if I should hang it up or (stupidly?) try to finish.Soon enough, I was making the turn onto Harrison, the final downhill section. Ow, ow, ow, I kept to myself. Hate downhills enough as it is, the new knee pain thing took it to a whole new level of ick. Tons of people go blasting by me.Then, things level off for a block and the knee feels a little better. But, the final downhill section brought the pain right back.
- Mile 10 — Wait, a second. Did they change the course? I’m sure if it was this year or last (especially since I missed last year.) But, the last time I did the Goat it went straight down Harrison to Salina. Now, it turns at South Crouse Ave and hooks up with East Genesee St. Fine, by me, but I wasn’t expecting that.Now that I’m back on the flat land, the knee is still hurting, but its pretty tolerable. So, I decided to keep the pace a little on the slow and ride out the rest of the race. I was little out of sorts with the change in course. The last mile felt a lot longer than it really was. It took forever to make it to the final turn back on Salina Street.The Goat finish always feels weird because after running on 2 lane roads for a while, ending up on Salina with its 4 lanes everyone spreads out. Kinda gives you the feeling that you’re the last person on the course. Luckily, there’s a sizable crowd out to pull me in.
The clock was just about tick into 1:20 when it go close enough for me to read. Even with my knee still hurting, I gave a few full strides to get across the line.
So, how’d I do? 80:26 (as reported on the timing website; I looked at the print out at the race and it said 80:11; don’t know wassup with the difference.) I thought this was my 4th Mountain Goat, but after digging back through my logs, it was actually my third. My last time out (2005), my time was 90:42. So, even with the knee annoyance, I’m still a lot faster than back then. That, and 23 pounds lighter.
All in all, I was pretty pleased with the effort. I was a little disappointed about the knee problem. I suspect I could have been a few minutes better had it not been there. I think the lack of training in the last few weeks and inexperience on the hills did me in. Probably not the smartest option to keep running. But, I’m not going down with a fight!
Update — Here’s are clips from the local news: