Better late than never, right? Between being the mom of three, my part time job and getting ready for my first triathlon of 2011(June 11th!!) – I’ve had little time or energy to sit down and post anything. Plus, I think I needed some time to absorb it all.
Up until then, my longest run, was 8 miles and my longest race was a 5k (3.1 miles). The Mountain Goat is 10, very hilly miles through the city of Syracuse, NY. Here is a map of the elevations – that last hill was a BEAST!
My husband and I got there early enough to snag an excellent parking spot and have time to walk around. FYI – he also ran the race and finished in an hour and 27 minutes. Pretty kick ass I must say. Well done, love, well done. Anyhoo – I ran into many of my friends I’ve made from participating in my YMCA’s running club, especially my friend Debbie – whom I had every intention of pacing for as much of the run as I was able, more on that later (so ashamed).
Last minute trips to the bathroom done, a couple of Shot Bloks eaten and we lined up toward the rear of the group of runners. I wasn’t nervous at all until that point, then it all hit me. All at once. Literally and figuratively. I had a moment when I thought I really was going to faint or throw up. I felt like I had to pee. I wanted to cry, to turn and run away. What the HELL was I doing there?! I didn’t belong there!
Then, all of a sudden, we were running and the urge to pee thankfully went away…only to be replaced by a sudden cramping in my stomach. A horrible, painful cramping. Not even a half mile into the run, I realized I was about to have a very messy and very smelly accident. Frantically looking around for rescue, I shouted my apologies to my friend – only later did she find out how badly this had hit me… this case of nerves. At the time, she understandably wanted to strangle me. Running and trying not to cry, I spotted a Family Dollar and ran in.
Doing a runner’s version of the potty dance, I asked the surprised clerk if i could use their bathroom. “I’m not sure,” he replied. “I need to get the manager.” From the end of a nearby isle, a woman looks out, takes one look at my race bib and says “Follow me, honey! I know what you’re going through!” she dashed me to the rear of the store and my dignity was saved. Sweet relief! I shouted my thanks as I ran back out in an attempt to catch up to my friend. “Don’t you worry about it! Good luck on your race!” the store manager replied. God bless that woman, she was my savior that day.
I tried to catch up to my friend. I could see her in the distance, far away – but not so far I thought I couldn’t catch up to her if I sprinted a bit. I put in a bit of speed, trying to ignore my still cramping belly. Slowly, I was catching up, but then she crested that first hill and I lost her on the downhill. For a short bit, I would catch a glimpse of her up ahead – then nothing. Before too long, I completely lost her. She rocked the run by the way, finishing in just under two hours.
Those first three miles were absolute HELL for me. Not just the stomach pain, but it took me forever to warm up. I felt creaky and uncoordinated. My stride seemed clumsy and I labored to breathe. I tried to distract myself by looking at my surroundings. I couldn’t understand why i felt so bad.
But then, ever so slowly, I felt my body warm up. I worked on relaxing by taking in what was going on along the route. Gradually the nerves and my mind began to unclench and I was starting to really enjoy the run. Its a fantastic course too – Starting off in the heart of the city and through some of the most beautiful and also some of the poorest neighborhoods in Syracuse , it covers it all (I love that it includes such a kalidescope of neighborhoods).
After the 5k point, I was feeling a lot better. I remember noting I was in the very rear – expected. Running through the Strathmore area was beautiful, so many lovely old homes. Many 1920’s era – some art deco, craftsman and a smattering of earlier Victorian homes. Simply lovely. Many of the residents, were out along the course, cheering us on as we made our way up toward the resivoir and Onondaga Park.
At this point, I’ll switch to quick impressions – since I was so focused on finishing this race I really have only that left…impressions:
* My friends who are so much faster than me, cheering me on as much as those at the front of the pack. I love running because it celebrates those who RUN – whether you’re the hare or the tortoise.
* Cowbells…LOVE hearing them rung on a race.
* The lady I ran with most of the race. A few years older than me and about the same speed. She merely said she ran this race every year for the past seven years for personal reasons. I didn’t pry, but I did notice that every police officer on the route knew her by name.
* The lady who told me she’s run this race every year its been held. She was in her early 70s. Her husband was waiting at the 5 mile marker with water, Ibuprofen and a hug. Love it.
* The residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods – they were some of the most enthusiastic and friendliest along the route. Little kids would shout “Hey Lady! What’s your name??” “Shawn!” I’d gasp. “Great job, Shawn!” they’d holler…”YAY SHAWN!!!” I found out later, that they’d been out there most of the day, doing their best to cheer on each individual runner…so sweet, so cute and so wonderful!!!
* Another shout out to an area of the ‘Cuse that is too often ignored. Around the 7 mile/8 mile point… BEST AID STATION HANDS DOWN. From the hose misting water onto the runners, the two teens debating who had given out the most gels so far and the guy who loved my spontaneous drum solo (they were cranking Queen’s “We Are The Champions” ) when I went through. They were having so much fun, it was infectious and I just had to join in.
* Coming into that last mile and seeing my husband waiting for me.
* Having the WINNER of the race, walk past me as I limped toward the finish and tell me “You’re looking great! You got it, great job!!” I had no idea who he was, until later, other than that he was a finisher – as he had a medal around his neck.
* That beautiful finish line. Somehow I found a bit of speed and finished longest and hilliest run – Net time 2:17, gun time 2:19 – meeting my goal of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Net pace 13 minutes and 46 seconds.
I am so doing this race next year and I will finish in 2 hours or less. Love this race, LOVE this town!