By JEFF FOLEY, Special to the Times Union
First published: Sunday, March 12, 2006
Before Saturday's Runnin' of the Green (Island) four-mile road race, it had been months since Nick Conway and Jamie Rodriguez donned singlets and went sneaker-to-sneaker. The passage of time didn't change much: The two are still at the top of the local running food chain -- and Conway's kick is still dominant.
The Albany runners renewed their friendly rivalry Saturday by pulling away early from the field. Rodriguez led the pair through the first mile in four minutes, 39 seconds, but Conway hit the accelerator in the final quarter-mile to win in 19:45, one second ahead of Rodriguez.
Rensselaer's Brina Seguine, 16, was the top female in 24:08. She finished 24 seconds ahead of Dana Peterson to win the race for the second time.
"This is the start of the season," said Conway, 30. "No one's really raced, so you kind of go out there to have fun and see where you're at. You go into it like, 'Maybe I'm out of shape.' You're nervous for that first race. You get a little soft in the off-season because you're not used to the pain ... Assessing here, I'm real happy."
Saturday's win was Conway's third at the Runnin' of the Green and his first since 2002. Rodriguez won in 2004 and 2005. Conway and Rodriguez logged a 5:01 second mile and 4:50 third mile. Then, with the end in sight, Conway used his potent finishing speed to claim the victory.
"(Rodriguez) was stronger today," Conway said. "He did more of the work."
"I feel good," said Rodriguez, 25. "It was a joint effort."
Seguine, meanwhile, did not have another female runner to work with. The Columbia High School athlete went out hard, clocking a 5:32 opening mile, and saw no other women the entire way. She was, however, appreciative of the male runners around her.
"It was tough going against this wind," Seguine said. "I'm only, like, around 95 pounds."
Coming off an indoor track season during which she ran 1,500- and 3,000-meter races, the wind in Green Island was a shock. But the male runners provided a bit of a buffer.
"I wasn't expecting to do good today, but I did surprisingly well," said Seguine, who thought a lack of recent distance racing would hurt her. "I'm in pretty good shape."