"The Syracuse Half Marathon? OK." That was the response to some running friends in my LRG when one suggested that we put together a group to run this race. It fell 3 weeks before Rehoboth so it fit perfectly. I've always felt that nothing prepares me for racing a half better than racing a half, so the timing was right. I'd like to race Rehoboth, as long as the weather and surface cooperates - part of the race is on trails so that's a factor.
This was my first trip to Syracuse, NY. It's a 2.5 hour drive from my house, not exactly what you want before a race. I didn't think sitting in a car for the long drive would be an issue since 3 of us were planning only a moderate effort. Typically it's not easy to run after sitting in a car for a few hours but we managed.
The alarm went off at 3:40 AM and you can imagine how that felt. Everything was packed/laid out. Alarm, bathroom, clothes, toothbrush, fridge, coat, shoes, running bag, and out the door by 4:00 AM. We ate in the car and talked about strategy. 2.5 hours later we parked in a ramp and made our way to packet pickup and the bathrooms. The weekend featured record low temps. Big change from the 70 degree temps that seemed to last until the end of October this year. I definitely over dressed for the 27 degree temp at the start. Fortunately, packet pickup and the after party were inside a convention center so we didn't have to stand around outside.
Whoever told us the course was mostly flat was full of shit or didn't have a clue. The course was a never ending hill. Not much elevation gain, but always up or down. Nothing gradual, just BAM! running uphill. This is the elevation profile according to Garmin:
We started on a flat street downtown and went into a long hill starting about 1/2 mile into the race. Seemed like it would never end. From there it was mostly up or down. After the first few miles we turned into neighborhoods, then it was back to a more urban area where some bar patrons greeted us from the front door. Maybe they just finished 3rd shift?
Next we ran through an area that could pass for the "heroin district" and then back toward the downtown area and the finish. There were plenty of water stops and GU was handed out at 2 spots. The race seemed well run and there was some crowd support despite the cold temps. The race site indicated they sold out all 6,000 spots. After finishing we refueled on chocolate mile, pancakes, bacon and beer. (Hard cider for me.)
Garmin says we ran a 1:57:53. Slightly slower than the planned pace. I'll blame that on the long car ride and lack of sleep. I was dreading this race at 3:40 AM when the alarm went off, but it turned out to be a good day with friends. The race is worth running if you find yourself in that area. Next stop is Rehoboth and hopefully a PR. My current PR is 1:53:21. Anyone want to pace me to a 1:51 finish? I was counting on FiveStarks. 1:51 is an easy day for her, but then she went off and strained a hamstring so I need a plan B.