Crossing the Finish Line

Sunday was the second race in our cross-country series.  We went to the race with our full and bestest team (although 1 person didn’t end up running the race… you know who you are), and did slightly better than last race.  In fairness to us, we all ran pretty well and speaking for myself I know I have plenty of room for improvement by the end of the season.  The goal for me is always to be running my best come race 5, and vagaries of peaking aside I think I have done that successfully the last several years.

Jeff, Matt, Kenny, Evan, Josh, Brett (Ryan is hiding)

Matt who is marathon training head off before the start of the race to do 3 miles warm up and 3 miles at marathon pace.  The rest of us went to have a nice jog around the course to get a feel for the lay of the land.  The land lay very up and down.

A sea of red.

As usual GVH fielded a large team of open, masters, vets, supervets of both genders, but Syracuse brought along a nearly equal contingent of runners.  After some words for Coach Reif regarding cardiac hill, and the cross-country series founder Pete Glavin who loved to run this course and the hill in particular we were underway.  Coach must have forgotten we were running a distance event because he gave us a “Runners on your Mark, Get Set, GO!” which is obviously one extra command and caused mass confusion at the start… OK not really I just thought it was funny in my head and it stuck with me.

Kenny leading the way.

Kenny and Brett lead the RKR pack out through the first section of the course.  Both had raced half marathons just 2 weeks ago, Kenny with a PR of 1:13 at the Rochester Half and Brett with an impressive 1:16 in the Adirondack Mountains.  To see them take off so strong was heartening and I did my best to keep them insight and we headed up cardiac hill.

Jeff fighting the sleepies.

I think before the championship race I will kidnap Jeff and make him sleep in our guest room for 2 nights.  I’m convinced that 2 nights of 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep would propel him to work class race times.  Even without a good night sleep Jeff still ran an impressive race and would have had an even more impressive time if he had run all the way across the finish line (more on that later).

Trying to pick up a point or 2.

The Mendon West Course is my new favorite cross-country course.  I have no idea what my previous favorite one was, but I know this one is my favorite now.  The race actually takes place on trails, dirt trails with some room to pass.  It goes up hills and down hills and has some twists and turns, and despite being a fairly challenging (and slow) course it is a lot of fun to race on.  The only times you run on fields are at the start for about 600 meters and the finish for about 600 meters, and there really is no way around that.

Evan opening up one of the few flat stretches.

The only complaint I have about this course, and it wasn’t really the course it was just the finish, is no one knew where to stop.  Well almost no one did, I knew.  The course finished up the same little hill we started on and the finish shoot began just over the crest of the hill.  Many runners, including Jeff, thought the race finished at the start of the shoot and didn’t realize they were actually stopping 10 meters or so short of the line.  In some cases this resulted in slightly slower times, not a big deal in cross-country, but in other cases this lead to attempted last second passes and a bit of pushing at the line.

For the second race in a row I toward the finish line trying desperately to grab one more place.  Both times I came up less than a second short (.7 the first time .3 this time) and both times it was to the same GVH runner.  During the first race he noticed me charging just before I drew even with him and he held me off for the last 20 meters.  This time I was still a stride behind him when we entered the shoot, and he immediately slowed down and I ran into the back of him and sort of pushed him across the line just in front of me.  He grumbled something to me that I didn’t catch but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t nice race.  Had he known where the actual finish line was there was no way I would have caught him, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to slowly down before the line just because he was confused when I knew we hadn’t crossed it yet.  The lesson here for me is clearly to run faster earlier and it won’t matter.

Matt in his 5th sub 6 minute mile of the day.

Despite our best efforts we came up a little short again this meet.  No beer, no glory.  Actually we had beer after the race and it was very tasty but it wasn’t victory beer so it was missing that little extra something.  It was Ubu ale from Lake Placid Brewery.  Do you remember Ubu?


Syracuse walked away with the victory this week with GVH second Roadkill Racing third and High Noon fourth.  Whether as an act of punishment or team solidarity I’m not sure but we all did 3 miles at 5:55 pace after the race with Matt.  After battling the hills and twists and turns 6 minute pace on the road actually felt pretty good.

After 2 meets the series scoring stands thus:

  1. GVO1 – 10
  2. ST – 10
  3. RK – 5
  4. HN – 5
  5. GVO2 – 1

Next up is Watkins Glen on Sunday October 28th.

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