Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, October 9th, 2011

Hudson Mohawk

“Your PR awaits” beckons the website for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. “The path to Boston starts in Schenectady,” it declares, referring to the start of the race in Schenectady, NY and encouraging those looking for a Boston Qualifying time. The product lives up to its billing with a well organized event, a net downhill course and typically cool temperatures. That’s why I took Coach Joe Burgasser’s advice and traveled to Albany New York for the race.
I arrived Friday night and had Saturday to rest, visit the expo and check out the finish area of the race. I jogged to the riverfront with Sean Gallagher, another runner coached by Joe Burgasser on Saturday morning. We were pleased to see the finish line was only about half a mile from our hotel. We both were feeling confident despite the weather reports calling for unseasonably warm weather. The forecast predicted high 50s for the start and low to mid 70s by the time we would finish. As Floridians we joked that the locals were not going to be happy- they weren’t. I said I’d run a 2:44 if I did it right and possibly faster if everything went really well. Sean was ready to go out hard and looking for a sub 2:30.
A friendly greeting awaited me at the starting line. I glanced down front row of runners and saw a Florida Track Club singlet. It was Gainesville native, Kellam Bartley. He was on a down cycle of training and was running just for fun. As it turned out, he still ran a pretty fast time for not training much! It was about 57 degrees at the gun and 400 meters into it I was in 9th place watching the lead pack pull away. They were out fast and well behind them was the right spot for me. Unfortunately, nobody else thought it was a good pace so I was by myself. The first few miles had some of the biggest downhill portions and everything felt great. Arriving at the Mohawk River, there was a steep downhill and the view of the river in the morning sun was beautiful. My splits varied some but based on the amount of downhill each mile it was actually pretty even effort. I finally saw another runner at 14 miles. I could see his legs were dead and I just went by quickly. We were running on a paved trail now with nice shade that felt like running in San Felasco, just with pavement rather than dirt.
I really focused during mile 14 to 21, rolling my imaginary mix of music from our Praise Service at Church to Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet and Toby Mac. I passed another runner at about 18, pulling into 7th place; just rolling, picking up the pace a bit and having fun. By 22 I was working hard, I missed the mile marker at 23 and realized when I saw 24, I had slowed down a bit. OK. Time to get the party started. I blew past a tall Russian guy who looked fast on the starting line but now looked like a race walker because his heel float was so low. At mile 25 the skyline of downtown Albany can be seen and I was weaving around half marathon walkers who were cheering me on. Downtown looked so far away. I bumped into a walker during the last mile, not because she was in the way but because I couldn’t run where I told my legs to go. Just after the 26 mark, I heard a voice from the crowd, “Go! You can be under 2:44!” I went, but I was 2:44:02 at the finish. It was now about 75 degrees, sunny, and I wanted nothing more than to sit down. I sat next to the Medical Tent and drank chocolate milk and water before heading back to the hotel, another marathon away. Really it was just a half mile but it seemed far at the time.
Sean had followed his plan to go out hard, hitting 1:15:32 at the half marathon mark. However at 16 miles, he got a cramp in his calf and stopped to stretch it out. Even with that lost time and running with a sore calf, he ended up with a time of 2:36:27 in 3rd place. A somewhat disappointing time but an accomplishment considering the adversity he faced during the run. Kellam told me on the starting line he’d probably run 2:55 and he delivered, running a 2:55:43 for 19th place. Overall, it was a good day for the Floridians.
Full Results: http://areep.com/events/mhrm/2011/marathon.txt
Race site: http://mohawkhudsonmarathon.com/

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