Red Shoe Run 5k/10k- Columbia, SC – 1/24/15


The Red Shoe Run is a 5k and 10k that has been around since the mid 2000’s and goes to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. It was previously known as the “Red Nose Run” but got a name change when the circus decided to bow out as a sponsor. Now its name references Ronald McDonald, a distant relative who shares my alabaster skin tone and maniacal grin.

One awesome thing about the circus dumping the race was a change in venue. We used to have to start and end at the Colonial Center, which sits at the bottom of a quad-busting, lung destroying mountain of a hill. Oh and the 10k made you do it twice. Not fun. And since the race is held in January, it has been plagued by terrible weather – it was around 10 degrees in 2009, and 34 degrees and raining the next year. 2014’s race was 17 degrees at the start. I still have this lovely gem of a photo from my 2009 5k, my second race in Columbia. I was certainly less than the model of fitness at the time, but three layers of sweatshirts and a blue shoe finish make me look like I’m 300 pounds. And that was for a 25:39. Sexxxy.


Wearing my kindergartener’s spider man gloves and clutching my wife’s sky blue hat. So stylish.


The change last year let the race move to Shandon, which, though certainly lacking in variety, is gloriously flat. The 10k is still 2 loops, but hey, no mountain.

I missed the 2014 race nursing an achilles injury but I planned to give it a shot in the 10k this year. My original thought was making a run for the sub 40 in this race, but between post marathon recovery, the holidays and getting sidelined with whatever virus Polo road elementary  decided to send my way…I was less than optimally trained. Did I mention no speedwork? Yeah, that too. Still, all that Kiawah mileage was still paying dividends, and I was pretty happy with the 19:19 at MLK 5k the week before.

I was slack getting to the race and I’m amazed how many people are at this thing when I pulled up about 30 minutes to race time. The Hand middle parking lot is completely full and there are blazing fast people everywhere. I know it had been a bit of a arm twist to get the new race director to put this on the Tour de Columbia, but there are probably 50 Columbia Running Club peeps there. That might have offset the 75 buck fee.

I already knew from facebook that TEam Utopia would be decending on this race in force. Justin, Drew, Joyce, Kris, Kana, Che, David, Michael Nance, Mrs. Beast Colleen Vowles, Ashley “Bud Light Lime” Horton, Ivanka and Eliere Tolan, Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Ian Clawson and Brittany Robbins  all turned up. There was a Red Storm front moving in as well with the SR crew more than well represented – Coach B, Lightning Plexico, Shannon, Jeff “the pose” Godby, Jennifer “6:02 first mile” Lybrand,  Jason Dimery, Steven Johnson, and Justin Jones. Palmetto Runners fielded Pam Inman, Jeff Smith, Lucia Velicu, Angel, Cait Costello and Laurin Long.  Other CRC peeps included Pam ad Mike Griffin, James Hicks, Rocky Soderbeg, Alex Ponomarev, John Gasque, Pete Poore, Lisa Smarr, Janice Addison, Arnold Floyd, Travis Cowan, Caprice Poore, Chip Lupo, Jennifer Reeves, Paul Bates, Melinda and Reese and Bob Petruzzi, Randy  “the H is silent” Hrechko, Rafael Marquez, the Robertson clan, and Brigitte Smith. Familar faces included Kristen Cattieu, Anita Recchio ,Kyle “Ghost Rider” Addy.  Oh and the Trophy. I told him he was not to slip into Blackjack (i.e. 21 minute) territory in the 5k. More on that later. Code has been an orthopedic train wreck of late but he did show up to watch. Ditto the Pale Beast.

I did a mile with trophy and Jamey. Felt kind of like crap, but what else is new. The Friday night at the Tilted Kilt didnt help with my morning hydration status.

The 10k starts 15 minutes before the 5k, so I was able to size up my age group at the start. Thankfully Angel and Drew were undercarding it in the 5k. Nance was doing the 10k and would smoke me for sure. No one else stood out, but the 35-39 is always rife with the sforementioned super fit soccer dads. I was glad to see my marathon doppelganger Shannon Iriel and track suit aficionado Jeff Godbee , as they could provide some pacing. I blasted out of the start like Jen Lybrand on crack….except she was still ahead of me. She must have done a better grade cocaine.  Iriel’s got her side to side elbow metronomes going and is already leaving me for dead.  No way, chicas. The first mile is a lot of suckage. When you’ve been cruising around at 9 minute pace for weeks, trying to drop 6:30’s feels like complete ass. I try to focus on the TUS #nipstohips form mantra and drive from my hips instead of my sasquatch mall walker mom stride. I manage to pass the female Red Storm front and get a boost from the 5k crowd at after the first loop. Mile 1 is at 6:32 so not too bad. The rest of the first 5k loop is kind of a blur. I’m completely by myself, not in an elite-kicking-ass way but more of a slightly-above-average-no-one-else-is-there way. I focus on some F3 guy who looks suspiciously 35-39. He maintains about a 20 meter lead on me through the next two miles, both at kind of a mail-it-in 6:40 pace.

It’s such a psychological struggle with two loops, I just try to zone out and bide my time until I can get to the finishing 5k. I pass by the finish line at like 20:40 , which pretty much kills my spirit for the sub 40 – though I later find out its slightly past halfway. I’m deathly afraid of Shannon or Godby catching me at this point, but im still all alone. This doesnt last long, as soon as I hit Queen street I see the sag wagon police cruiser and a mob of walkers up ahead. The back of the 5k. Suddenly its a mob scene and I’m in a sea of walkers, narrowly missing a bus-like collision with me blasting through and around packs of people walking 3 and 4 abreast. My only focus was trying to keep up with F3 guy, who now was just ahead. I finally catch him around mile 4, though I’m starting to hurt pretty bad by this point. Only a Chuck Wollery-esque 2 and 2 to go. Thankfully I get through the walkers and start progressing through the 5k crowd. Once you get to people consistently running, the juking and dodging gets a lot easier. What’s not getting easier is this whole oxygen exchange thing. I’m sucking wind pretty bad. I hit mile 5 and I’m desperate to get this thing over. Man, I hate 10ks. Time to throw down, except my lungs doth protest too much. I finally make the last turn, except its almost a half mile to the finsih from there. Just painful to see the distant clock for so long. I catch up with Ms. Bud Light Lime and the Code pacing her, and I’m sure I look like death. All that form stuff has gone out the window, and I can feel an attack of headless chicken coming on. But there’s Justin running back towards the field, so I try to do #nipstohips for like three strides before relapsing into sasquatch mall walker. By the time I can see the clock , all I see is the 5k one, so I’m not sure where I stand. Finally I see the 10k at about 40:30.  I sprint it out and hit the line in 40:47. Good enough for 12th overall (out of 186) and 2nd in AG. Not my sub 40, but not too bad. My 10k PR is a 40:38 so this is actually my 2nd fastest. I’ll take it.

No surprise that Justin “A Standard” Bishop crushed this race for first in under 35 minutes. High schooler Hunter Janus took 2nd in 37:41 and Ryan Strickler 3rd.  SR swept the top 2 in the women’s race with Shannon taking 1st in 42:11 and Jen Lybrand scoring a PR 43:27 for 2nd. Cheri Lee from Fort Bragg took 3rd.

10K Age Group honor roll: Brittany Robbins (TUS) took 2nd in the 15-19, David Russell (TUS) won the 25-29. In the 30-34, Jason Dimery (SR) placed 1st with Kris Litman-Koon (TUS) taking 3rd. Jamey Wilson won the women’s 30-34. Nance easily won my age group, and frequent racer Mark Tibshrany placed 3rd. “She Hulk” Jen Clyburn won the 35-39. Godby  (SR) won the 40-44 men while Colleen Vowles (TUS) and Kana Rahman (TUS) placed among the women. Matt Buffum and Randy Hrechko went 1-2 in the 45-49.  Joyce and Pam Griffin did the same for the ladies. Janice Addison (TUS) and Anita Recchio destroyed the 50-54 competition. Some familiar faces int he 55-59 with Geary McAlister, Kyle Addy and Mike Griffin cleaning up the 55-59. Alsena Edwards and Lisa Smarr won the ladies 55-59. Harry Strick took 2nd int he 60-64, while Brigitte Smith won the 65-69.

In the 5k, Lightning struck and the Plex (SR) took the win in sub 17 (16:59). Justin Jones placed 3rd.  Kristen Cattieu took a break from the yoga and won the women’s race in 21:23. Ivanka Tolan (TUS) took an impressive 3rd.

Age group honor roll: Ian Clawson and Alex Robertson took 1st and 3rd in the 11-14.  The Budlight lime will flow tonight with Ashley Horton (TUS) winning 2nd in the 25-29, and Cait Costello (Palm) 3rd. TDC award winner Kathryn Ryan won the 30-34.  Angel Manuel (Palm), Drew Williams(TUS) and yes, even Trophy swept the 35-39. Trophy had the shame of his 21:41 amplified by Joe Pinner yet again mangling his last name “Mc-GAY-ha”. Awesome. Steven Johnson won the 40-44 – better get ready for some Blue Shoes in 37 days, Steven.  Tracy took 2nd in the 45-49 despite fighting off a GI bug this week.  Coach B (SR) easily took the 50-54 with Eliere Tolan (TUS) and Travis Cowan behind him. Gregory Jones won the 55-59, still getting sub 20’s. Melinda Petruzzi continues to rack up TDC points with a 3rd in the  55-59.  Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll are 3 for 3 in TDC events this year with a 1-2 in the 60-64. Albert Andersona nd Alex Ponomarev did the smae in a competitive 65-69. No surprise to see Arnold Floyd and Rocky Soderberg sweeping the 70+.











Martin Luther King 5k – Columbia, SC – 1/17/15


The MLK 5k is a fairly small race that actually one of Columbia’s oldest, now in its 25th year. While small, the race has often been the first Columbia area race of the Palmetto Grand Prix, which typically brings out all the big dawgs looking for points. Its put on by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, with proceeds going to support their charity Bridging the Gap with Alpha.

It seems like a nice course on paper – most of it is in Shandon with the start and end fittingly at MLK park near 5 points. What the course map leaves out is the fact that MLK park sits in the valley of the little-known Old Shandon mountain range. Consequently, the first half mile in this race is spent climbing out of said valley before going on a relatively “flat and fast” Shandon loop, before cliff diving back into the park. Well, at least I have the cliff dive down pat.

I did my first MLK in 2010, when they had postponed the race from January to June.  This was briefly after my first sub 20, and I had no idea about the opening climb. I sprinted up the mountain like a boss, only to die a thousand deaths the rest of the course, producing one of my early race faces – see here:


Head to one side, arms locked in pain, grimace/scowl from hell. Yep, that’s me. It looks like I  got shot in the back attempting to do the twist. Beautiful. It didnt help it was like 90 degrees either. I missed the race with an achilles injury last year, but 2013 was my course record, a 19:15. But that time was when I was doing sub 19’s in prime 5k shape. The last month has been a mixed bag of marathon recovery, post-Christmas snot fest and basically no speed work (other than races of course).  So, no idea what to expect this time. On the plus side, the mucinex guy has left my lungs, allowing for adequate oxygen exchange again. That tends to help with running. On the negative, running in my old new balance minimus shoes to avoid getting my precious blues wet left me recovering from a sore heel this week and fretting about the evil plantar fasciitis. But hey, racing down a mountain at 5k speed is good for PF, right?

Right. Anyway, I figured this might be a relative trophy hunt this year. The Grand Prix isnt happening in ’15, and though this is on the Tour de Columbia, it seems a lot of people are focusing on next week’s flat Red Shoe Run 5k/10k. My archnemesis, the Pale Beast, is sadly on injured reserve, as is the Code. Angel does this race sometimes, but he’s just been a spectator or pacing Meme the last few years. None of the other 35-39 rivals have done this race, though that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a random Brumbach sighting or one of the stealth superfit soccer dads ready to crash my hunt.

Got there an hour early and the registration table is already set up and ready to go. Most races I show up and they can’t believe some freak is already here.  Pretty on point for a bunch of college guys.

I’m not there more than a few minutes before I see my trophy chances getting a lot slimmer. OJ Striggles, Plex and Brandenburg are all on board. Yeah, the holy grail (i.e. the overall win) was not to be had at this one. Plenty of familiar faces in the small crowd. James Hicks was ready to pick up some 35-39 points, since none of the other regular age groupers were there (though I keep forgetting OJ is in our group – doh!). Thomas Beattie was replacing Wes Spratt in JB’s tri entourage, with Barb filling out Team Brandenburg. Albert Anderson and Arnold Floyd were sure to make the 65 and 70 year age groups faster than almost everyone else. Pete Poore was out for his 25th consecutive MLK – now that deserves a trophy. His main rival, Alex P., has now aged up to the 65’s, but still ready for a Poore/Ponomarev showdown. Eric McMichael was ready to test his new masters wheels (just turned 40).  John Gasque, Lisa Smarr and Rocky Soderberg were representing just a few years of CRC membership. Newly minted CRC member Leeds Barroll was out to add to his 2015 TDC point collection, having already started at Resolution run. Laurie Royson is grooming a next generation CRC/TUS member with  son Cotes. Dutch Fork’s Anna Johnson was there for an easy win.

I did a mile or so warmup , jogging up the hill, which reinforced in my mind what I already knew: this was going to suck. I was breathing hard doing 9 minute pace. Ruh Roh.

And suck it did. The start gives you zero flat time to warm up – just straight up the face of Mount Preston Road. I hate slogging up hills, so I try and attack it the best I can. Yes, the hill is getting done quicker but my lungs are getting the beatdown of their life. Two weeks of easy running did not prepare me for 5k pace+mountain. As soon as I reach the summit I’m relieved, with a turn on King, but sucking this much wind less than a half mile in cant be good. JB comes up from behind and passes the gasping Saquatch like I’m standing still. Not two races in a row. I make a point to keep him in range. Anna J, who I’m sure is quite literally half my weight, is using me like a giant windscreen. I’m sure I’m good at that.    There’s another nasty slog up the incline right before Hand Middle School. OJ and Plexico are already in another zip code but there’s one random in between. I have a sixth sense about detecting 35-39 year olds but I decide he’s a good bit younger. He starts to fade almost immediately though and we pass him in front of the school.

The lungs are still complaining about all the previous climbing and I’m not even a mile in. Briefly I contemplate mailing in the rest of the race since there’s no further age group glory to be had. But its Saturday and I have a bib on, and my giant melon will have none of that. JB has gapped me by about 20 meters and Anna is  on my shoulder, like a 90 pound monkey on my back. She keeps surging ahead, engaging in Billy Tisdale-esque psychological warfare. First mile was like 6:27, which isnt too bad considering the climb. That’s right on 20 minute pace, one that I had ingrained in my memory in my 18 month pursuit of the 19:59.  Unfortunately the lungs will not have any ramping up of pace.

After a long slog on Heyward, the turnaround is on Sims.  About this point is when I realized that my lungs had finally calmed down and things felt a little easier. And hold the JB getting  closer?? I managed to pass Anna at some point on the return on Wheat and hit mile 2 in like 6:24, which is irritating since I guess it was all recovery from that first climb. Time to throw down. Wheat is pretty nice and flat and once I make out Woodrow st up ahead I decide to basically empty the tank. Right at the Woodrow crossing is when I finally catch JB. I would have liked to make a snarky comment but there was no air, and plus, he might catch me. With the turn on to King again I’m in full-on headless chicken mode, which isnt particularly good because the finish is over a half mile away.  At the Devine street crossing, Jordan is screaming at me at the top of his lungs something about “this is what you live to write about!”  just before he screams at JB about getting blue shoed.

One more incline on King about kills me, but then you get dumped off onto Preston for the cliff dive down to MLK park. I cant imagine the ugliness of my form on the way down, but I’m sure there was a lot of flailing limbs and head bobbing. Thank God gravity is my friend because I was on fumes. I kept waiting to hear Brandenburg footsteps. One last turn to a straightaway in front of the park and I can see the clock. Red digital numbers apparently cause me to go into convulsions because I find another gear and sprint like there’s no tomorrow to the line. Crossed in 19:19 , 3rd overall. Last mile: 5:52. I crash out like I usually do at the finish, and damned if JB is just now making the turn. His spirit must have been broken. I can barely move from sucking so much wind, but I manage to pull out the iphone just in time:



It would be more triumphant if I wasn’t on the ground from all the effort, but I’ll take it. My JB victories are few and far between.

OJ crushed a 16:36 for the win, which is a smoking fast time for this course. Plex also recorded a blazing 17:22. JB placed 4th in 19:40, with Anna just behind in 19:45. Barbara took 2nd overall female in 23:46, with Vernell Rixner trophy hunting it for third in 26 minutes.

Age group glory: Cotes Royson blazed a 25:42 and a new PR to take second in his age group.  Kyzer “A.J.” Garrick completed his first 5k in 29:33, being paced in by Lisa Smarr. Both got first in age group for their efforts. James Hicks took home the 35-39. Eric “King of the Quarter” McMichael took 2nd in the 40-44. Tom Beattie won the 50-54, while John Gasque did the same in the 55-59.  Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll took 1st and 3rd in the 60-64.  Albert Anderson and Alex Ponomarev went 1-2 in a super competitive 65-69, with Brigitte Smith taking the women’s division. Arnold Floyd (72) continues to make runners half his age look bad in winning the 70+, with Rocky Soderberg placing 2nd with his patented 1966 SEC mile champion kick.

106 106b 107 108 108b 109 111 111b 112 114 115 117 119 120 120b 121 121b 122 123 124 125 126 127





New Year’s Resolution 5k – Columbia, SC – 1/3/15



It’s the new year, so what’s my resolution? More trophy hunting!! Duh. I turn the big 4-0 this year in March, so while other people worry about getting old, I get all giddy as a schoolgirl thinking about being a masters (40+) runner. Being 40 is awesome because you’re still young enough to still go for open overall wins, but there’s also masters glory to shoot for if some high cross country dude decides to show up and kick your tail. This sounds great in theory, but there’s plenty of masters beasts out there too. I only need to think back to September when a 60 year old (Dave Geer) smoked me by four minutes in a 10k.

OK, so this race was not a great choice to try and win. It being the first race of the year, and first on the Tour de Columbia, it kind of stands out. Still, some part of me wondered if all the competitive guys had done Cold Winters Day and Main Street Crit, leaving this little nugget for a trophy starved Albino Sasquatch.

Um… not so much. I’m not there more than a couple of minutes and I see Jordan Lybrand, Brandenburg and John Charlton doing warmups.  I can only beat JB when he’s either injured or coming back from an Ironman. I think I have one win over Jordan at the IOP beach run two years ago – in the interim he’s running 17 minute 5ks and not even in my zip code. Charlton has been crushing elite level 5k times for 30 years and I’ve only seen him finish when I was spectating. So yeah, the overall holy grail would have to wait.

But there’s always the age group. Quick check yielded none of my usual nemeses. No Angel, Code, Pale Beast, Derek, Yerg or Drew to be found. Trophy continues to be MIA. James Hicks was on board but I didn’t see any other 35-39ers. No shock to see Jen Lybrand there – an expert level (and much more successful, I might add) trophy hunter herself. Kris Litman-Koon was the sole other Utopian.  Barb Brandenburg, John Gasque, Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone, Lynn Grimes, Leeds Barroll, and Brigitte Smith rounded out a roster of some seriously hardcore racers. Hrechko was taking a break from his body pumping to try and get his speed back. Wes and Rhea Spratt have now turned into serial road racers.  Newly minted CRCers Melinda, Bob and Reese Petruzzi were on hand to start their 2015 Tour de Columbia point hunting.

This year the crowd was a little smaller than the inaugural event in 2014, probably because WACH TV bowed out as a sponsor. Still, Columbia Boot Camp did an awesome job picking up the slack and there was probably 100 people there (99 by check of the results).

The course was one used in the past by the Colorectal 5k from my March 2013 birthday triple dip – you know, the one where I beat a fresh legged Trophy in my third 5k in 2 hours – yeah, that one. Pretty decent course for speed. You have one nasty climb at the end of mile 1 on Blossom street that lasts a few blocks, the same one that you go up at Get to the Green. Once on top of that hill, you’re golden – virtually all flat and downhill from there. Turnaround is on Capitol street, comeback on Wheat, right turn to plummet down Harden then a left on Blossom to the finish.

The start separated out the crowd pretty quickly. Jen had talked about showing some restraint but she was leaving me and Brandenburg in the dust in the first half mile. As expected, Charlton and Jordan were in another zip code right off the bat. There was an unknown dude just ahead of JB. First half mile is flat through 5 points on Blossom. After you cross Harden is the start of the long incline to King, and doesnt level out until Woodrow. I finally caught Jen on the hill and I tucked in behind JB. Unfortunately, Brandenburg has like 2 percent body fat, so not much of a wind shield. Legs were feeling the other 2 races in the last 7 days, so I was surprised I was keeping up with JB pretty easily. Once I hit the mile 1 mark I saw why – 6:30. JB was slacking big time and I was apparently more than ready to follow him to a crap race.

JB must have seen the split too because he started ramping it up. I tried to do the same but legs were cashed from the long climb, and lungs were still not 100 percent. We turned around on Capitol street and JB and random guy gapped me some. I was pretty much all alone on Wheat  street on the way back. Way up ahead I could see Charlton and Jordan locked in an epic battle. JB and random were also running stride for stride. I hit mile 2 in 6:20 something, so I was way slower than I hoped. I was going to have to throw down quite a bit to even break 20. I kicked it up a notch as we started the descent past Hand Middle. I was drawing pretty close to JB and random but they gapped me again on the sharp decline on the turn to Harden. I remember that Jordan said that the finish seemed a lot further than it looked once you got back on Blossom, and he wasn’t kidding.  I thought for awhile I was going to catch JB and random guy and epically blue shoe them both, but my lungs didnt get the memo. They were still working on hacking up whatever plague had been living in my respiratory tract for the past week. I was able to make out the clock from pretty far out and saw low 19’s. It took an eternity, but eventually I mustered a weak kick and crossed the line in 19:45. 5th overall, 1st in AG. Not thrilled with the time, but I cant expect too much with the way I’ve been feeling. Hopefully I can get back to 100 percent soon.

It turns out Jordan won the battle of the beasts in 17:38 and took the overall win, which is damn impressive to beat a guy like Charlton. Third place went to the aforementioned “random”, who turns out is 37 year old Tony Marshall from San Francisco, who usually does ultras. Tony will now undoubtedly take his 10 Tour de Columbia age group points back to California, leaving me with 7 (they went three deep in overall so he got removed from the 35-39). Damn him. Good job keeping JB away from the podium though.

Among the women, Jennifer completed the sweep for Team Lybrand for an impressive start to 2015, taking the win in 21:09. Hopefully she and Jordan will be spared being called twins in the newspaper again. Barbara Brandenburg and Christina Marshall (wife of Tony Marshall from above)  finished 2nd and 3rd, so apparently it was a good day for husband/wife teams.

Age group honor roll: Reese Petruzzi claimed 1st in the 2-14, though had to endure the shame of an excited grandmother. Hey, I take any attention I can get. Kris Litman-Koon made Team Utopia proud with a win in the 30-34. James Hicks took 3rd in the 35-39.  JB took 4th overall and 1st in the 45-49, with Randy Hrechko finishing 2nd. Rhea Spratt won third in the 50-54 while husband Wes had to endure JB mocking him all the way down the home stretch. He did get 3rd in the 55-59 for his troubles. John Gasque held off Wes for 2nd in the AG. Dawn Galloway-Hale won the female 55-59, with Melinda Petruzzi placing 3rd to earn her first TDC points. The 60+ group was filled with some serious competition as Arnold Floyd, Peter Migglestone and Leeds Barroll swept the mens side, and Lynn Grimes, Brigitte Smith, and Dianne Jackson winning among the women.






Main Street Crit – Columbia, SC – 12/31/14


The Main Street Crit is now in its 3rd year, this time with a big change by being held in the afternoon and attaching itself to the Famously Hot New Years party put on by the city of Columbia.

This is a really cool, unique event. I’m not sure its exact origins, but Steven Johnson and some of his fellow 621 ninjas thought of the idea to bring a criterium style race to downtown, hold it at night, and ramp up the excitement with an elite race after everyone finishes. I had a blast in the first two years – I never get a chance to see pro runners live, and apparently pounding 3 or 4 post race beers makes me a very vocal spectator.

As anyone who’s ever watched a road race knows, watching a regular road race is not super exciting. You basically get two chances to see who you came there for.  A criterium involves multiple loops around a short course, so you get to see everyone every half mile or so. In the case of the Main Street Crit, 6 loops for the 5k, and 10 for the elite 8k.

No beer this year with the race in the afternoon, but the daylight would at least help with the runner traffic on the course. Plus, I needed to pace the alcohol anyway since it would be a long time ’til midnight on New Years Eve.

Unfortunately I was still riding the snot train that started the night before Cold Winter’s Day.  Speaking of CWD, I was contacted by multiple people about my performance there, basically asking what the hell was wrong with me. Apparently I’m not allowed to go less than 100 percent or people think I’m dying.

So I was going to do my usual balls-to-the-wall 5k this time around, if anything to avoid all the faux concern and trash talk. I was hating my decision when I got there though, since I was still hacking like a pack-a-day Marlboro habit. I ended up getting there so late I really didn’t have any time (or motivation) to warm up other than a jog to and from my car. There was a decent crowd this year, about the same as last, but again packed with lots of road racing regulars. Most of the ninjas were pulling volunteer duty or racing, with my marathon twin Shannon Iriel race directing.

I tried desperately at the start to get a Garmin signal but I guess all the tall buildings were blocking the satellites. Alas, I would be running “naked”. You would think a 6 lap course with a time clock wouldn’t require a GPS device, but somehow I seem to believe the miles disappear if not fully recorded on Garmin Connect. At any rate, I kind of blasted out of the gate with all the fast peeps around and the pancake flat course. There was a band at one corner playing Rage Against the Machine, which was awesome since most race musical selections include
“Running on Empty”, “Born to Run” or any other song with “Run” in the title. The first lap is actually only a partial one, maybe 3/4 of the two blocks. I had already been running too fast,and the wall of noise and spectators as you cross the finish area didn’t help.

And that’s about the time I started feeling like death. Lungs just couldn’t get my usual breath and I had to hack up a lung a couple of times. This was going to hurt. Will Brumbach, (who hardly ever races but always gives me trouble when he does) comes flying by me and basically drops me right away. I hear Geary’s industrial machine breathing behind me tracking me down. I notice the back stretch is actually painfully a slight incline, which ends in a smoke haze of the Sumter city bus station. I’m in a world of trouble by lap 2 and I’m afraid I might have to drop. Everything feels slow and Geary eventually passes me.

The rest of the race is pretty much a haze. The next three laps, by Strictly’s record, have me running about the same pace, slowly bleeding a couple seconds. It was great to get some adrenaline in the finish area each lap because that was about the only thing keeping me going. Plus, I saw the Pale Beast had arrived to watch, so I couldn’t let him see me drop.  The dude made it a point to beat me in the Tour de Columbia this year, and he had already clinched it . He may or may not  have received this gift from his wife:


Somehow I passed Geary at some point but I could hear him close behind. I started to lose touch with the field with all the laps and I had to concentrate on not freight training people that I lapped.  Speaking of lapped, OJ Striggles blasted by me on my lap 5 and cruised to the win in just over 16 minutes. It was painful to see him finish, but I had to put the jets on as not to also get lapped by Justin, who I could hear just behind me. I managed to avoid that by exactly one second. The last lap I threw down as hard as I could, which wasn’t a whole hell of a lot. I was making some ground on Brumbach but I had nothing left in the tank to do my usual headless chicken sprint to the finish. I somehow finished in 19:29, 2nd in AG behind Will. That’s not to say I didn’t finish ugly. You can count on that:


I rarely have felt that bad in a 5k so I was pretty thrilled with the time.

As noted, OJ and Justin took 1-2 in the overall with Adam Feigh taking third. Never seen him race before. Top 10 finishers included mini beast Kenneth Vowles in 17:58 for 4th and Jack Carmody, king of the Crooked Creek 5k, finishing 5th. Parker Roof continues to throw down some fast times, despite his Jennifer Lybrand style rocket fast starts. He finished 6th in 18:28. Jason Dimery  took 9th.

Among the women, Erin Miller was disappointed with her time but still was good enough for the win in 19:06. MC Cox gave me the beat down and finished 2nd in 19:23. Anna Johnson of Dutch Fork also kicked my butt – I couldnt catch her in the home stretch and she took 3rd in 19:26.  Female masters included Linn Hall  taking the win, just outkicking Sarah Allers 20:13 to 20:17.  Sarah turned in another 85+ percent age grade performance. Male masters was won by Jason Gibson, with Geary and Winston Holliday taking 2nd and 3rd.

Age group honor roll: Ian Clawson barely won the 11-14 by like 7 minutes. Brittany Robbins won the 15-19 girls. Samantha Yeoman won the 20-24. Marian Nanney took 2nd in the 35-39. Colleen Vowles claimed the 40-44 with Jennifer Glass 3rd. A trio of familiar faces in the 45-49 with Randy “don’t pronounce the H” Hrechko , Jim Fadel and Tim Hewitt rounding out the category. Jennifer “JR” Reeves finished 2nd in AG despite me catching her with the walksies. Joe Roof and Phil Togneri had a photo finish (same time) in the 45-49 but Joe must have outleaned him to bring home the win. Anita Recchio, Jeanna Moffett and Lisa King swept a very competitive 50-54. Likewise with Pete O’Boyle, Kyle “Ghost Rider”, and Larry Bates in the 55-59, all just over 21 minutes. Dolly Rodgers took 3rd in the female division. Mary Howk threw down an incredible 23:23 at age 63 to take the win in her AG, while Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll won the men’s 60-64. Alex Ponamarev won the 65-69.

Other finishers included Andrew Touzel, making a return to the racing scene. CRC officers Sheila Subbarao (on a comeback, now down to 28:11) and John Gasque.

The elite 8k was awesome to watch after the open 5k, even while completely sober. Kipkoech Ruto crushed the competition for the win in 22:52 (4:36 pace) and just missed the state record set last year at this race. CWD winner Adam Freudenthal finished 6th in 23:27, just ahead of Running Times cover guy Matthew Elliott. Ricky Flynn took 9th. Eric Ashton and Tim Jeffries were locked in a brutal one-on-one battle the whole way, with Eric outkicking Tim in the last lap for the win. The women’s race was also hotly contested, with a large pack separating only in the last lap. Kimberly Ruck took the win in 26:32 ahead of Alyssa McKaig and Charlotte’s Caitlin Bullock. Major props go out to Shawanna White for breaking the 30 minute barrier and claiming a new PR in 29:49.

Mere mortals:






Cold Winter’s Day – Columbia, SC -12/27/14


This is where it all began. In Columbia, at least. I did three 5k’s while I was in Charleston in 2007 and became so obsessed that I promptly got shin splints so bad that I couldn’t run until late 2008. Cold Winter’s Day was the first race I could find when I finally could run injury-free again. I knew it was a Strictly Running race and figured I owed them a debt of gratitude for fitting me for some “real” running shoes – I had been training in yardwork-weary asics gels that I think I might have bought in college.  I showed up at that race not knowing a soul and scared of what was still a new experience for me.  I bonked hard at about 2.5 miles when I misjudged the finish (these were my pre-garmin days) and about donated breakfast en route to a 23:59. The ugly race face was also born:


CWD 2008


Since then I’ve always used CWD as a bench mark for my 5k race fitness. I managed to improve every year, culminating in one of my best races ever, an 18:52 in 2012. The cliff dive reset my expectations last year, though I did manage a 20:09 on a gimp toe and couch surfing fatness on roughly the same effort as the year before. So I wanted to crush this one to make up for it, though the chip on my shoulder about Hawaii recovery had largely been removed by the Savannah half PR and the Kiawah BQ.  The marathon was only 2 weeks ago, but I had gotten some decent runs in since then. I’ve read  somewhere that you need a recovery day for each mile of the race you’ve run, though for me you might switch that to hours. I lasted until Tuesday. (Still better than some – cough- Joyce – cough  that had to run the next morning.)



CWD 2013 – the Walking Dead. Some road kill behind me.


CWD 2009 – Inconceivably, upping the ugly from ’08


CWD 2011 – thug life


CWD 2012 – Beauty and the Beast


I have to admit, the marathon took a lot out of me. Although a freak sasquatch on the outside, apparently I do actually have normal human physiology internally. Still, I was able to put in a couple of 35 mile weeks. Then my three disease vectors, I mean beautiful loving children, decided to conspire against me and throw a heinous cold virus my way. Twenty four hours before race time I started riding the snot train and I was wiped out. Thanks guys.

Still, this was CWD, and I had to keep the six year streak alive. Since doing my best was not in the cards, I figured I could at least show up and jog the course. The following near-sleepless night looking like an extra in a Vicks commercial had me second guessing that idea too.

I got there thirty minutes ahead of time and figured I would keep my running to a minimum – just cross the line and get in the results. I ran a mile with Tigs, which was nice since I haven’t seen her most of the year with her Reckless Running schedule taking her out of area. This race usually brings out everyone, and its usually one of the most competitive 5ks of the year. There was a time bounty for sub 14:30 and sub 14:00, which was disappointing since if I had been well that would’ve been easy money.  Still, this year seemed a little less elite than most. I saw the SR crew with Jeff, Shannon, Kenzie, MC, Linn and Jen. CRC standbys Geary, Alex Ponamarev, Diesel/Brady/Jennifer/Brooke Ward,  Brie McGrievy, Henry Holt, Lisa and Jesse Smarr, Larry Bates, John Gasque, Pam and Mike Griffin, Debbie McCauley, Sharon Sherbourne, Jim and Sandra Manning, Jim Fadel, Lisa King, Lois Leaburn, Shirley Smith, Teresa Harrington, Mike Wainscott  were on hand.  TUS’ Carol Wallace, Brittany Robbins, Drew Williams (w/ stepson Ian Clawson), Stephanie Dukes, Sheila Subbarao, Kana Rahman and Chris Fawver showed up, with Justin doing pacing duty.  Pam Inman, Tracy Tisdale-Williams and Coleen Strasburger were doing spectating duty. Special shout out to TDBS reader Eric Stamey, who I met at the race. Notably absent was the Trophy. C’mon Lady McGaha, where are you?? At least Code and Pale Beast have injury excuses.

I lined up several rows back this time in what I hoped would be a calming influence.  Anyone who knows me knows I am ridiculously, maniacally competitive when it comes to racing. I spend 99 percent of my time being very laid back, but once I get that racing bib, its on like freaking Donkey Kong.  I make it about 7 steps before I cant take being in this sardine can start, so I break to the outside like Connor Shaw on an end around and about trample the Diesel in the process. OK hero…slow down – you’re supposed to take this one easy, remember? I do manage to rein it in and settle into what feels like my Kiawah marathon pace (or at least the pace before I wanted to crawl into a corner and cry for my mommy). First quarter mile is a nasty uphill on  Trenholm Rd before the first turn to the right. Long downhill on Spring Lake followed by another up and down in the first mile. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the tagline for this race “flat and fast” is a total myth. Especially the first mile, which has exactly zero flat parts and is always my slowest. I’m proud of myself as I approach the first mile clock, hitting about 7:17, more than a minute slower than 100 percent. I even let myself get strollered. Strollered! Do you realize how much stress that puts on my fragile ego??  It was tough but I remained true to my goal of taking it easy. Plus, what maniac goes seven minute pace with a toddler in tow? (Actually I would.) Just as I start to enjoy the fact that I’m not sucking wind, some kid starts stomping behind me and passes me on the ensuing downhill past the mile marker. I swear my eyes start turning green like David Banner, but I let him go. I’ll just pick it up a little though.

Mile 2 actually does have a little flatness in the first part, which includes 2 bridges. I’ve settled into a slightly faster pace, a little slower than half marathon now. Jordan is manning a water stop and requests a race selfie (I’m carrying my phone since I couldnt find my dorky fanny pack spibelt). To make up for the lost dork factor I do attempt the extremely dorky race selfie but all I can see is my giant forehead eclipsing everything. I even race ugly going easy. About 1.5 miles in is the hill of death, which usually makes we want to cry. It’s not super steep, but just long. A girl in front of me catches a case of the walksies.  After the death hill is a fairly steep decline which ends right around the mile 2 marker. Split was 6:49.


And then it happened. A 20 something kid pulls up alongside and gives me a pseudo-encouraging “only a mile to go” and passes me. Oh, hell no. I catch up to the kid who is probably wondering what got into this pasty ass clydesdalish old dude. We go along for awhile pretty much side by side until I finally lose self control and start launching into actual 5k pace about a half mile from the finish (the right turn which I bonked at in 2008). It turns out 5k pace is pretty easy to hold when all you have is 800 meters. Kid gets dropped big time. I can even see Jen Lybrand up ahead, so clearly I’m coming in a bit faster than my 23 minute projected time.  I told Tracy at the start that I would try and throw down a good blue shoe kick for the finish line pics, so with about 200 meters left I pretty much empty the tank. With all the extra energy and the downhill finish, it turns into a scary albino runaway freight train . The Garmin shows mid 4 minute pace for the last stretch, where I unceremoniously, and completely unnecessarily, wickedly blue shoed a guy about 10 meters from the finish. And completely eclipsed him in the finish line photos. Sorry, Mr. Glenn Robinette, take solace in knowing that at least I’m aware of being a complete jackass. Crossed in 21:27.  What kills me is that my age group, without Code, Angel, Steven Johnson or Gomez on board, is super weak this year and mid 20 would have scored me a trophy. Damn you, sinuses.


There’s nothing I can eclipse of the Glenn. CWD 2014

The top three of this race was all-beast. Spartanburg’s Adam Fruedenthal  took home the win in 14:47, though missed out on the time bounties. If only I had been healthy to challenge him.  Graham Tribble, who I remember won my inaugural CWD in 2008, placed second in 15:20, with Eric Ashton taking 3rd in 16 flat.  New Columbian and first year CRC member Shawanna White rocked the women’s field with an 18:17, edging out Brooke Grice for the win. SR’s Kenzie Riddle placed third.

Age group honor roll: Brady “mini Diesel” Ward won 3rd in a tough 2-10 category. Dutch Fork’s Anna Jenkins, who brutally blue shoed me at Run Red Bank, won the 11-13 by a mere 7 minutes. Parker Roof placed second in the 14-16, while Brittany Robbins took 3rd in the female division. Dutch Fork claimed more glory with Anna Johnson’s 2nd in the 17-19. Eddie Lopez took 2nd in the 20-24, just missing out on a sub 17.  Jen Lybrand capped off a huge 2014 for her with another 1st in AG in the 25-29 and winning the overall Palmetto Grand Prix. Calhoun Hipp has apparently turned into a total beast since moving from Columbia, winning the 30-34 in 17:45. Jason Dimery placed third. Drew Williams claimed 2nd in the 35-39. EA’s Heather Costello and SR’s MC Cox went 1-2 in the women’s 35-39. Strictly’s Shannon Iriel and Linn Hall took top two in the 40-44, while Jeff Godby and Coke Mann did the same among the men. Matt Buffum took 2nd in the 45-49, with Glenn Robinette stepping out of my shadow and claiming 3rd. Sarah Allers, Chantal Faure and Lisa King swept a very competitive 50-54.  Phil Togneri placed 2nd in the men’s division. CRC swept the 55-59 men, with Geary McAlister, Pete O’Boyle and Larry Bates taking home the glory.  Carol Wallace, Alsena Edwards and Lisa Smarr won among the women in another tough division. Rob Kriegshaber and Harry Strick went 1-2 in the 60-64, while Lynn Grimes easily won the women’s division. Ageless Albert Anderson and Brigitte Smith claimed the 65-69, while Arnold Floyd took the 70-74 by only 18 minutes. Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr were champs of the 75-79.


Kiawah Marathon – Kiawah Island, SC – 12/13/14


Photo Credit: Pat Norcia

So this is it. Somehow I got suckered into signing up for the Kiawah Marathon about nine months ago. My mind was already made up – this would be a year to get healthy and maybe, just maybe, get somewhere near where I was before my Hawaii debacle in July 2013. But everyone was planning for a fall marathon then, and my 5k speed was picking up, so somehow I developed the twisted notion to do Kiawah.

And this wasn’t going to be for grins and giggles. Oh no, if I was going to do another 26.2, it was going to be for all the marbles – the elusive Boston qualifier. The big BQ. Sure, the longest run I had done since my cliff dive was 13.1 at the Newberry Half, and nine minutes slower than my PR. But my melon head has no limit to its grandiosity, and I was in.

One problem – I suck at marathons. I’m all 5k – 20 minutes of cathartic pain and frenzy is my thing. Carefully measured pacing and restraint is not.  And the marathon has been a brutal mistress. She left me wrecked on the side of the road in Richmond at mile 18. I got way dehydrated at Jacksonville and was saved by a random stranger with a water bottle. Richmond part II brought me to a crawl past mile 22.

And this whole BQ thing. Fortunately my advanced age bought me 5 extra minutes. I turn 40 in March so I could get in with a 3:15. That’s great and all, but my marathon PR was a 3:20:44 in Jacksonville which I thought I ran almost perfectly (save for the guardian angel with the critical water bottle at mile 12).  I was going to have to shave at least 5 minutes. “At least”, because even those who qualified last year got screwed when the race filled up before those that were close to their qualifying times could register.  Just ask Randy Hrechko or Jeff Godby about that. Brutal.

So I was probably looking at more like 3:13 to be sure. That’s around 7:20 pace.  Just a 22 minute 5k….eight and a half times in a row. No sweat, right? Yeah.

To be honest, I had very little confidence going into my training. But Justin drew up the TUS workout schedule (on a monthly basis, as not to scare us for the horrors to come) and I drank the yellow and black kool-aid.  No messing around this time. Sure, I switched some days so I could do my ridiculous racing schedule, but I made sure I did every key workout.

I’m pretty sure Justin did some time at Guantanamo Bay before coming to SC, because this plan was insane. I was doing mid week 10 milers, crazy long speedwork, marathon pace intervals in long runs. It beat me up pretty bad. Luckily the Pale Beast agreed to be my company for the Sunday long run misery, so that helped. I finally came up for air for a couple of days to test myself at the Savannah half last month. It was total Mr Miyagi paint-the-fence/wash-the-car/sand-the-floor. Totally stunned with a 1:28 –  a 2 minute PR. Not post-cliff, but all time. I was convinced.

Flash forward five more weeks. Three more killer 20+ milers.  Tapered for about a week and a half. I was scared to death of every little twinge and tingle but managed to make it to the starting line healthy.  Code, Joyce, Justin and I rented a condo on the island, just a short walk from the start. Definitely the way to go. Doubly nice was not having to share a bed with the Code, though our sleeping accommodations were better suited as military barracks for children.  Plus Darrell likes to keep the condo at below 60 degrees to help him sleep. As if you didn’t know he’s a freak already.

But you couldn’t argue with the condo location. I got to desecrate an actual bathroom instead of the portapotty nightmare. Sweet. We were able to leave at about 7:40 for an 8 am start. Everyone and their mom from Columbia was here. Meme Spurgeon, Pam Inman, Angel  and Laurin Long (running the half post chemo – total beast mode) were there for Palmetto Runners. The Strictly “Red Storm” featured Erin Miller, Linn Hall, Jennifer and Jordan Lybrand and MC Cox.  Pete O’Boyle, Karen Manning, Geary McAlister, Howie Phan, Mike and Kat Hudgins, Coleen Strasburger, Ken and Patti Lowden,  Sheila Subbarao, Shufy Rowe, Lee Walker, Jennifer and Mario Tudor were some familiar faces.  TUS fielded myself, the Code, Coach Bishop, Lorikay Keinzle, Carol Wallace, Julia Early, Joyce, Ivanka Tolan, the Yerg (running the half with Laurin). Jessica was running with Marathon Man.  In a great coincidence, my high school friend Cole Smith was running the marathon with the same BQ goal, and Emily Granberry , my original running partner, was visiting from San Antonio to do the half.   Temps were cold and little to no wind or humidity. Time to put up or shutup.

I was nervous as hell at the start but I had Cole and the Code to form a mini 3:10 pace group. I had gone back and forth as to what I would try to do, but I figured 3:10/7:15 pace gave me the optimal speed with room for error. Main goal: Anything under 3:13. Reach goal was to go sub 3:10. B standard: 3:14:59. Nice on paper, though I knew all was theoretical since nothing prepares you fully for the actual race.

With the start there was a lot of jockeying for position, but we were finally able to settle into a nice groove. We rattled off a bunch of sub 7:10 miles. It felt pretty crappy early on. Just none of the light, euphoric feeling from Savannah. I kept trying to block out the mental magnitude of the 26 miles. Luckily we had Superman in our pace group – also known as Joe Wilson from Atlanta. He helped keep us occupied on something other than the long miles ahead of us and gave us a mini history of running in Columbia in the early 2000’s when he lived there. He even knew Brandenberg and how he’s a beast on the bike. Great – as if JB’s ego needs any boosting. Pace was dialed in pretty well, if maybe a touch fast. I figured it might be good to have a little time in the bank anyway. Yeah – we’ll get back to that.

Kiawah no longer has a two loop course, which is nice, though one must realize its a pretty small island. Solution: run down every cul de sac and road in the whole place. The majority of the distance was four out-and-back “fingers” which took you out to the north end of the island and back. The first finger (miles 5-9) was nice – it felt good to be out in the sun and you could start to see the race unfolding ahead of you. Eric Ashton and the two other half leaders came blowing by us on the way back at some insane speed, and I thought for a second Kiawah had added a 5k. Nope, just some low 5 minute half marathon pace. Holy crap. Joe and I had separated a bit from Cole and Darrell at this point, which I knew meant bad news for the Code, since his half PR is three minutes faster than mine. This was his first marathon though.  Popped the first espresso love GU as planned just before the turnaround at mile 7. The way back probably made my race. So much support from all the other Columbia runners, even some people I didnt even know were there. Its easy to stand out when your 6’3″, in a black singlet, and have the complexion of Edward Scissorhands. I even saw Emily out on the course for the first time in 5 years – that was pretty cool. I got a little speedy but made sure to tell myself to not be an idiot and trash my race by getting too excitable. Yeah – we’ll get back to that too.


A whiter shade of pale

A whiter shade of pale


Once the first finger was done, more flat shady miles in the main part of the island. Kiawah is kind of like Hilton Head – everything is kind of understated and everything pretty much looks the same, so I had no idea where we were. Some girl, who I assume was doing the half, was getting it and using me as a human wind shield (FYI, if there’s one thing I’m good at its blocking wind). She was sucking air like it was going out of style and I felt like I was being chased by a rabid hyena for at least a half mile. I guess we all get a dose of our own medicine at some point. Joe sped up a lot on the way back and gapped me quite a bit. Suddenly Cole comes back into the picture, and it was just us for a while. Neither one of us were runners or athletes in high school, so I kept thinking how improbable this moment would have been to our 1993 selves.  All of a sudden the half and full separate at about 11.5 miles. I am mercifully relieved of hyena girl and it gets dead quiet. There’s like one guy ahead of us, and he’s the only thing separating this race from a glorified training run at this point. I had been feeling pretty good up to this point, but there was a little belly churning going on and I was fearful of having a Code Brown signature moment. Thankfully it subsided. Hit the half at 1:34 – a little quick but basically right where I wanted to be. Second finger was miles 14-15. I was feeling a little tired, but GU number two gave me a jolt of energy. I ended up leaving Cole and passing Joe and I felt pretty good.

Then I broke the first rule of marathoning –  respect the distance. I admit, the head started to swell and I started thinking about rocking the crap out of this race. I was going to be a bad ass and pull off some ridiculous 3:05 or something. I hit mile 15 in 6:57 and kept going. Another 6:57 at mile 16. I was feeling great. Only ten miles to go – how hard could it be?? Third  finger was miles 16-20. It just went on forever. I saw Robby walking and I was crushed, since we had done a lot of the Team Utopia speed sessions together. Still, he was on his way back so he was probably at least a mile ahead of me. Angel was also on his way back and looking strong. It felt like we running halfway to Charleston (at one point you could even see the Cooper river bridge) but eventually the turnaround came. On the way back things started to take a slight turn for the worse. I was still hitting the 7:10ish pace but I was laboring a bit more. I saw Larry and Joyce looking good on my way back in.  Finishing the out and back was the 20 mile mark. I forget the exact time but I was way ahead of Justin’s 20 mile Boston threshold of 2:29. I got a slight jolt of adrenaline but my great feeling of miles 15-17 was definitely gone.

You get dumped right back into the out and back of finger four for miles 20-22. Things were going south in a hurry – certainly the fatigue but also a subtle mental fogginess too. Ruh roh. The mile markers seemed to be taking a lot longer to appear. I hit mile 20 in 7:18, which was my first one slower than goal pace. This scared me a bit so I think I pushed it a bit in the next mile, bringing it only down to 7:14. I finally took a sharp right and I knew it headed back to the finish. All of a sudden I  hear a cop shouting me down on the road and I realize I’m supposed to be on the damn paved trail. Turning around and having to go backward was pretty crushing. Mile 22 was in 7:23 and I started getting really scared. I felt like complete death. I put the blinders on and just tried to focus on whatever I could see ahead of me.

At the mile 24 mark I knew I was in a world of trouble. I was still on the paved trail, now dodging three hour plus halfers. A few times I stepped off the path and felt my leg start to crumple beneath me. I wasnt familiar with that, but I figured it was decidedly bad. I finally hit mile 25 after an eternity and I didnt dare look at my Garmin. At this point I was dangerously close to having to hit the med tent. Just  totally in a fog, nauseated, legs like jello. One mile to go – even with the death march going on I knew I had enough banked time if I could just get my Sasquatch ass across the finish line. I summoned all the demons of the past 16 months to help me – the pain and frustration  of Kauai, the walking on the side of the road in near tears when my toe hurt too bad to run, the months of couch surfing. I kept screaming to myself “IT’S JUST ONE FREAKING MILE!! YOU CAN DO THIS!! “. That , and a new world record for F bombs. Finally, finally, I “saw the light” and people turning towards it. Either I was about to die or this was the finish. I was ready for either. Luckily, it was the latter. Justin caught me at the turn and said “You’re going to Boston!!” and I made out  3:10’s on the clock. I got a jolt of adrenaline and tried to muster a kick and instead got brutally blue shoed by a woman half my size (wow, after rabid hyena, that’s karma payback number two for this race). Hit the tape at 3:11:16. Nine minute PR and a BQ by almost four minutes. Completely blown away.  In my mind I had envisioned some triumphant, epic finish to BQ, but at this point I was complete and utter toast. I sat down on one of the chairs and had to wait about 5 minutes to make sure I was a) not going to puke and b) not going to pass out when I stood up. So it wasn’t glamorous… but damn was it sweet. This guy gives it a big thumbs up:


Lots of people to list here thanks to our huge Columbia contingent. Coach Justin was a little underwhelmed by his performance but still grabbed third overall in 2:44. I do owe him a huge debt of gratitude for getting me to Kiawah perfectly trained and injury fee – thanks dude! Maybe I’ll take it easy on you in our next Sega NHL 95 showdown.

Team Utopia BQ’ers also included Lorikay Keinzle (who also got 2nd grandmasters in 3:44), Joyce (3:38)  and Julia (3:48). Robby, Cole and Code had a tough day but its only a matter a time before they will join the 2016 class. Mike Hudgins had a big PR with a 4:30.

Others included Angel rocking a 3:06 to qualify for Boston again. Karen Manning rocked a 3:28 (BQ), Jennifer Lybrand 3:33 ( a big PR and new BQ), Larry Bates 3:35 (BQ), Wendy Hart 3:46,  Hal Ray 3:54, Laurie Royson 4:02,  Meme Spurgeon 4:06 (first marathon)  Ivanka Tolan 4:11 (first marathon) , Alexandra Rippy 4:18, Lorand Batten 4:19 Pam Inman 4:24, Mike Hudgins 4:30 , Jessica Workman 5:41, Hou-Yin Chang 6:05,  Jennifer Tudor 6:16, Mario Tudor 6:16,

In the half, Caroline Peyton finished 3rd in 1:22, with Erin Miller just behind in 5th in 1:23. Eric Ashton placed 3rd in 1:11. Linn Hall took 3rd female master in 1:32. Irv Batten blazed to first in male masters in 1:17, while Marc Embler set a pending age group record with a 1:19 at age 57. Wow. David Quick placed 3rd grandmasters in 1:24. MC Cox took 3rd in the brutal 35-39 age group. A quick scan of the results: Jordan Lybrand 1:31,  Geary McAlister 1:32 (3rd in AG) Howie Phan 1:33, Pete O’Boyle 1:34 (4th in AG), Leyden Hane 1:42, Lee Walker 1:44, Carol Wallace 1:51, Coleen Strasburger 1:51, Sue Porter 1:57,  Kana Rahman 1:59, Renee McCormick 1:59, Sandy Smith 1:59,  Heather Alexander 2:04, Peter Mugglestone 2:04, Emily Granberry 2:07, Mike Wainscott 2:08, Teresa Harrington 2:08, Ken Lowden 2:12, Jeff Smith 2:17, Sheila Subbarao 2:21, Patti Lowden 2:25 Kat Hudgins 2:49, Rob Yerger and Laurin Long 3:13. Sorry if I missed anybody.





Shandon Turkey Trot 8k and Runway Run 5k double dip – Columbia, SC – 11/22/14


Oh, the double dip. I mean if youre going to be all obsessed and race every week you might as well go all out, right? While I wouldnt recommend it for your average road racer (i.e. someone who values sound decision making and adequate rest) , the double dip is perfect for the advanced level trophy hunter.

The first step is actually finding two races that are physically possible to make it to the start line of both without finding a wormhole in the space-time continuum. You would think that a relatively small city like Columbia wouldn’t give you many opportunities for this, but with multiple races every weekend in the spring and fall, its more common than you think. Preparation is also key – if its going to be a time crunch, early packet pickup is crucial on the second race. Parking your car in a getaway position at the first race is another consideration. Timing of portapotty hits, warmups and mental strength are also variables which come into play. It is not for the faint of heart.  But I have apprenticed under the wing of double dip veterans like John Gasque, Pete Poore, and William Schmitz, and they have taught me well.

This tutelage culminated in my senior thesis: the March for Meals/Colorectal 5k/Race Judicata triple dip in March 2013. Three races, three age group wins, 35 Tour de Columbia AG points and 17 open points. Oh and we mustn’t forget the epic shaming of the Trophy in the third race. Victory has rarely been sweeter.


But this double dip is pretty easy. Sure the Shandon Turkey Trot is an 8k, but its about as flat as downtown Columbia races come. The Runway Run is a 5k , two hours later and completely level.

Shandon has historically been one of my favorites. Certainly not for its course – while its flat, it is one of those cursed two loopers that cruelly brings you by the finish area when you are only half  done. No, it is because it has actual, honest to God trophies. Big ridiculous turkey ones…even for age groupers. Awesome.

Unfortunately there is usually some pretty tough competition for the golden turkeys, and in the past Code, Angel, Phil Midden, Drew Williams and other random superfit soccer dads have shown up to steal my precious. But this year was looking up. When I got to the race, there were none of the usual 35-39 suspects except for Ken “The Pale Beast” Vowles.  Time for yet another albino showdown I guess. Although I still savor the holy grail of the Resurrection 5k overall win over him, the Beast gave me such an epic beatdown at Race to Read that it  still gives me nightmares. He remains my sole rival that can beat me at my own game: the Blue Shoe kick.

Omar Sharif was the one elite level guy I saw at the start, but Strictly also brought in Shannon “Decent” Iriel, Jeff “The Pose” Godby and Luke “The Stache” Godwin as some worthy Blue Shoe level competition. Kenzie Riddle was also there to claim the women’s win.  Parker and Joe Roof, Colleen “Ms. Beast” Vowles, Beau Long, Ponamarev, Gasque, Henry Holt, John Zemp and Wes and Rhea Spratt were some familiar faces. Laurie Royson was on hand to cheer on her son Cotes in the 4k.

I did about a mile warmup with the Beast but I was afraid to do too many miles with the double dip. My strategy was to try to aim for 6:20’s similar to last weekend’s 5 miler. The start separated out the top end almost immediately. Omar and Parker blasted out to the front with Kenzie right behind. Shannon went out fast too just in front of me. For the first mile, it was weird to actually have a pack to run in. I tucked in behind the Beast, Luke, Godby and some other guy. Just as we approached the mile mark myself and Vowles separated a bit and he hit the split at about 6:27, right where I wanted to be. Although the course is pretty flat, mile 2 had the only major inclines. One thing was sure, this week was going to suck a lot worse than last. Legs felt like crap. Vowles was on me like white on rice. This was going to be brutal. Mile 2 faded to 6:41 and still felt like death despite being at the same pace as most of Savannah’s half. I tried to pick it up some but legs refused to respond.  What’s worse is that “other guy” from our mile 1 pack was almost literally breathing down my neck, using my Sasquatchian physique as a convenient wind shield.  By the finish area, I could see we were way over pace, like 16:20 for the first lap. I really wanted to bail out to the 4k, but I’d never hear the end of it if I “won” that race. The second lap at least got me over the psychological hurdle of the two looper. Mile 3 was in 6:37.  By this time “other guy” had faded and it was me and Vowles running stride for stride. Shannon was still ahead from the start but I could sense our gap slowly shrinking in the 4th mile, especially when we hit the inclines near the Prospect street turnaround. I knew I was in trouble. For one, the pace had picked up some and damned if the Beast wasn’t right at my side. I know I have to break his spirit early or kick it in from way out to hold him off, and neither seemed to be happening. Right around the mile 4 mark I tried to throw in a surge and I passed Shannon (it should be noted she is just 2 weeks out from a 3:11 marathon). Ooh, maybe I’ve finally lost my shadow?? Not a chance. Just when it started to get a little quiet here comes Vowles panting like an elephant in full stampede mode. We both start ramping it up from there, at least .75 to the finish. I feel like the sweet release of death would be nice at this point but my maniacal competitive streak will not let me back away.  You can see the finish from way out on a long straightaway and we are just flying down the home stretch. Just when I think its going to be a photo finish, Vowles finds another gear two blocks out and leaves me in the dust. I try to respond , but the legs and lungs have had enough. I cross the finish in 32:18, 6th overall and 2nd in AG. Not my best race, but glad I was able to push it to the finish. Last 0.96 was in 6:11 pace so at least I made the Beast earn his victory.


Omar crushed the field in 28:06 to take the easy win while Parker Roof also broke 30 to take second. Kenzie took the women’s win in 30 and change with Shannon and Christie Martin placing 2nd and 3rd. Theo Kuhler, a 16 year old kid, placed third male. Luke Godwin placed 3rd in our age group and 9th overall, proving the 35-39 is always stacked. Godby finished a few seconds behind him to take the 40-44.  Other age groupers included Matthew Pollard taking the 25-2 and Carly Jackson winnin gth e 30-34. Colleen placed 2nd behind Shannon in the 40-44 since they didnt take out 2nd or 3rd overalls. Beau Long placed third in the male 40-44. Joe Roof was tops in the 50-54. Wes Spratt placed third in the 55-59 despite being ruthlessly turkeyed by “Thom Gobbler” (,aka Shawn Chillag) who took home 1st in the 60-64 in full costume. Henry Holt won the 70-98 in sub 10 minute pace at age 79.

I had to leave of course before the award ceremony. Sources confirm they only had medals this year, which crushes me. You know I love my golden turkey. Other sources confirm that Strictly will likely be taking over the race next year, so hopefuly they can resurrect my favorite gilded bird.


Nothing like crushing out the last mile of a 8k and having to think about racing a 5k in less than 2 hours, but that was the task ahead of me. Plenty of time to get to the airport. Legs feel trashed but less sore than they have on other double dips. I already had my packet from early pickup so I was good to go soon as I got there. I did a quick mile or so warmup with James Hicks. Felt good to flush out the lactic acid bath I had just given my legs a half hour before. The Runway Run is in its fifth year and this is supposed to be the last year of the event. Not sure why, since the race has exploded to over 600 runners a year now. Must be something with airport operations, though CAE is hardly O’Hare.

Since they offer a free airline ticket as the top prize, the big dawgs will come out for this. Three time champ Eric Ashton showed up along with fellow elites Ricky Flynn, Jud Brooker and Justin Bishop. Several hundred people on the runway made it hard to scope out the crowd but I saw Linn Hall, Geary McAlister, Birgit Spann, Ilia Owens, Makenzie Wilson, Drew Williams, Tracy Tisdale-Williams, and Ian Clawson. This was also the target race for the Run for God program, so Jeanna Moffett and Bill Haselden led a huge group from Riverland Hills.

I’m not sure what happened to the start of this race. I was back in the middle of the pack taking pictures and had just put my phone away when I hear a GO, and the whole crowd stampedes. I didnt hear an intro or anything. Suddenly I’m weaving through hundreds of people in a total free-for-all towards the open runway. The sudden break into race pace isn’t doing the double dipped legs any favors, but it actually feels easier on the lungs. I guess I already blew them out in race #1. I find a seam on the outer edge and find my way up through the mob, first seeking out Birgit then just trying to find around a 20 minute 5k pace. The wind is always critical at Runway and this time its smacking you in the face the whole way out.  I hit mile 1 in 6:28 – not too bad considering the hundreds of people I had to dodge to get there. Shortly after the mile mark the course turns, forms a track like loop, then folds back towards the finish. Right near the loop I spot Drew Williams, who appears to be inexpicably just cruising along. Then I realize he is pacing Ian. Hopefully, one less age grouper to worry about, though Ian is getting faster by the day so I didnt know for sure. Must be nice to be young. All of a sudden I spot Micah Simonsen to my left and he is motoring along at a good clip. The break in the wind and the turnaround has me feeling better so I ramp up the pace some in hopes of holding Micah off. Suddenly I’m all alone for awhile as I pass mile 2 in 6:20. Strangely, I now feel the best that I’ve felt for the whole double dip. The wind is no longer a factor, I’m headed home, and I see a strange pack up ahead to try and track down. Its Linn and two other small women right next to her with Geary McAlister, a whole head taller than the rest of them, right behind. I’ve suddenly locked into some zone and everything seems to be flowing easier. I’m going way faster than before but have no idea what my pace is.  I finally catch the pack with a little less than a half mile to go . I thought Linn was battling it out for first so I tried to encourage her to follow me to the finish. The guy ahead has led us way out on a wide turn when I know in years past you could take the inside track near the grass. I dont want to get DQ’d so I follow. By the time I can make out the finish I’ve been redlining it for a while and its getting rough quickly. But seeing red numbers apparently causes enough of an adrenaline spike to keep me going. I’m surprised to see 19:30 on the clock and I sprint it out as hard as I can to the finish, crossing in 19:49. I’m shocked to learn this is good enough for 1st in AG and 8th overall. I had no idea since the chaos of the start gave me no sense of who was still ahead. Last mile of 6:05 certainly helped get me under 20, though our wide turn made the course 3.17 miles.

In the overall, Ricky Flynn cruised to the win in 15:17, with Jud Brooker not toof ar behind in 15:48. Eric finished third in 16 flat. Justin posted one of his best times of the year with a 16:29 to take 4th. Alyssa Bloomquist, running for Eric’s new racing team, crushed the women’s field in 18:01. Linn’s pack was a race for second actually, and looking at video shows I was awfully close to getting chicked by Kaci Handlery. All three of them broke 20 minutes, with Linn finishing 1st in female masters. Geary was just a few seconds behind in 20:05, taking first in male masters (watch out Geary someone turns 40 in 3 months). Birgit took 2nd in female masters in 20:42.


Ian made mom and stepdad proud with 1st in the 11-14 and a new PR 21:19. Alex Wilcox was the guy ahead of me at the end, though I had no idea with all the oxygen deprivation going on. Micah took 2nd in my AG with Drew still getting third even on pacing duty. John Ramage of RUI placed 2nd in the 55-59, while Harry Strick took 3rd in his new 60-64 age group. Ageless Albert Anderson took 1st in the 65-69 in 21:52, which is surely an 80+% age grade performance. Impressive.