I headed out to Syracuse for on Saturday for the USATF masters national 5k championship. I haven’t really done any speed work so my expectations weren’t very high. Worst case this would be a good tune-up for the 5k cross-country championships in two weeks. Best case I would take a shot at my senior (50+) personal best which was 17:11. I thought I had an outside shot at the 17:11 time.
I got to Syracuse after 300 miles in the car. My knee was tender from holding it in one place for 5 hours. I had planned out a visit to the scenic trail along Lake Onondaga. I was not disappointed as this was a very nice paved trail, with some options for off-road running. I stuck with the pavement and ran an easy 3 miles and then threw in 4x200 to get my legs turning over. After that it was number pick-up, pizza pick-up, and sleep.
The next morning I was out the door at 7am which got me to the race well ahead of the 8:50am start. The high winds from the day before had diminished to 10mph and the low 50 degree temps meant this would be a good day for racing. I’d raced once before on this course (in 2005 I ran 16:34 for 3rd master) and recalled that it was a flat and fast course with only three turns. I checked out the course as a warm-up and was happy to see they had Kilometer splits (every “K” race should have them) in addition they had mile marks, a half-way clock and chip timing mat, and the course tangent painted on the ground. This race really knows how to do things right!
After my warm-up I changed into my lightest racing flats and did another mile with some strides. I headed to the line and seeded myself in the second row. After a little bumping around in the first 200 meters things settled down and I found myself in the back of a pack of 5 or 6 guys. That group included 4 guys from Genesee Valley Harriers who have done very well at Nationals. I latched on and hit the 1K in 3:21. I was a little surprised because I felt pretty good. Tim Van Orden had noted before the race that “a 5k is a 2 mile race then hang on”. I was already thinking that in the early going. I got to the mile in 5:22 and was still hanging on the back of my group. They were running pretty even and it was good having some people blocking the breeze. I saw Tim at the turn and he was right around the top 10 and I was right around 30th. I thought we’d get a tailwind after the turn but it was still a cross to head wind. I hit 2 miles in 10:52 (5:30) and was thinking that I might have a shot at breaking 17. The group hadn’t broken up and I hung on through 4K. At that point people started kicking, but I had no kick. It felt like I’d been at maximum speed from the start and had no gear left. I ended up just missing sub-17 with a chip time of 17:00.5, and 7th place in the 50-54.
I can’t complain about the new PR and a top 10 finish. A sub-17 will have to wait until next year. I was pleased to see how even I ran when I looked at my Kilometer splits after the race. The Syracuse race will be the masters championship again in 2016 and I hope to go back!
1 15:08 Gregory Mitchell 42 1 M40-44 McMinnville, OR
2 15:41 Alan Black 41 2 M40-44 Hillsboro, GA
3 15:48 Chad Newton 45 1 M45-49 Pisgah Forest, NC
4 15:51 Kristian Blaich 49 2 M45-49 Decatur, GA
5 16:10 Philippe Rolly 43 3 M40-44 McLean, VA
6 16:10 Nat Larson 53 1 M50-54 Amherst, MA
7 16:14 Christian Blondin 42 4 M40-44 Ipswich, MA
8 16:25 Josh Harter 40 5 M40-44 Avon, NY
9 16:26 Peter Boyd 41 6 M40-44 Union City, PA
10 16:27 Tim Van Orden 47 3 M45-49 Bennington, VT
11 16:29 Mark Williams 42 7 M40-44 Columbia, NJ
12 16:37 David Atkinson 45 4 M45-49 Grand Blanc, MI
13 16:39 Mike Nier 50 2 M50-54 Rochester, NY
14 16:46 Matthew Whitis 47 5 M45-49 Columbus, GA
15 16:49 Chris White 41 8 M40-44 Elkhart, IN
16 16:49 Volker Burkowski 44 9 M40-44 Gansevoort, NY
17 16:51 Daniel Dixon, Jr. 51 3 M50-54 Jackson, MI
18 16:51 Gary Rosenberg 44 10 M40-44 Morristown, NJ
19 16:52 Ron Kochanowicz 44 11 M40-44 Smithville, MO
20 16:54 Ruben Henderson 53 4 M50-54 Grand Rapids, MI
21 16:55 Dave Bussard 55 1 M55-59 Elkhart, IN
22 16:56 Richard Cohen 44 12 M40-44 Utica, NY
23 16:58 Alan Evans 52 5 M50-54 Beaver Dams, NY
24 16:59 Derrick Staley 56 2 M55-59 Ballston Lake, NY
25 16:59 Gary Droze 54 6 M50-54 Tallahassee, FL
26 17:01 Dave Dunham 51 7 M50-54 Bradford, MA