Race to Read 5 miler – Lugoff, SC – 9/27/14

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Everybody remembers their first time…

Race to Read was mine. In 2010 I ran this race before it was on the Tour de Columbia, before it was on the Palmetto Grand Prix. Just a little rural race with a loop course to benefit Doby’s Mill Elementary school . I thought I was going to end up third in the middle of that race, and I was going to be pretty happy with that. There was a fit looking kid with a Lander college singlet out in front and Greg Howell seemed to be pulling away  for second place.

But the kid bonked at mile 3 and Greg started to fade. A quarter mile from the finish, I passed Greg in full-on headless chicken mode. I somehow suppressed two dry heaves on the last turn and came crashing through the finish in what was assuredly one of the most hideous finishes in SC road race history.

But I won. Not just the age group. The whole damn thing.

If my first age group win the year before was my gateway drug, this was pure cocaine. The overall trophy hunt was my new addiction.

But alas, this was 4 years ago. Betsy Long, the race director, got her race on both the TDC and the Grand Prix, and changed the date a couple of times to avoid other race competition. Although the race was still small, it certainly had no lack of speed. My chances at a repeat victory grew increasingly small – especially when beasts like Justin Bishop and Ryan Plexico started signing up.

But that doesn’t mean I  stop trying.  I even signed up last year, a few weeks removed from walking around in a orthopedic boot and bearing the multiple scars of my ill fated cliff dive in Hawaii. I finished 6 minutes slower than usual, but at least I got to relive the glory of the course.

This year I had been signed up for a couple of weeks but the race got talked up at this week’s Team Utopia South practice, so it became an unofficial side event for the team. Coach Bishop, the Code, Joyce, Julie, the Pale Beast and myself were all on board for the black and gold.  I also recruited my friend/coworker Michael Ferlauto to sign up after plying him with pizza and craft beer the night before.

There was a small but decent crowd on hand when I showed up. Of course, any thoughts of the overall win were squashed with Bishop showing up, but “Trackstar” Eddie Lopez was on hand to pick up the slack should the “A standard” get attacked by a stray country dog. Heather Costello was also there, which made getting chicked a virtual certainty as well. Billy Tisdale was there to provide me a nice pacer. In addition to the TUS crew, Jen Lybrand, Alex Ponamarev, the Robertsons, Rocky, Andy Mikula, Burgess, Shirley Smith and Ron Hagell were some familiar faces. I did a nice 2 mile warm up with the team, during which some Lugoff-Elgin high school guys dared to mock the Utopians. That was ok, because nothing feels better than administering a beatdown to a kid half your age (in a race, of course). Code was in typical “I’m going to suck because I have a (insert leg/foot injury or illness here)” mode. Julie was all spazzed because this was her first time competing in front of the coach, plus her chances of playing DJ Khaled were severely limited by the presence of Ms. Costello. And of course, the Battle of the Paleness was set up once again with myself and the Beast.  Bishop was on a most unpleasant race puke streak that he was hoping to break. Notably absent were the Wards, who live like 5 minutes away, and the Trophy. You’ve been officially called out, guys.

With the start, the first quarter mile is uphill, so the small crowd thinned almost instantly. Also instant, in my mind, was the fact it was a lot hotter than last week and wearing an undershirt to my racing singlet was a terrible idea. There had been some significant time since my last pool/beach visit, so the guns were back to their ghostly pallor, which caused me a moment of ill-fated vanity that morning. I mean, when did I start caring what I looked like in a race?? Racing ugly is my signature. Anyway, the heat was building up from the get go. I settled in behind Billy with Vowles on me like white on rice. Lybrand had done her usual sub 6 sprint off the line but she retreated back to sanity quicker than usual, and we passed her about a half mile in. The rest of mile 1 is flat on a country road into the sun, with the marker just as you turn right onto a gravel road. Split was 6:30ish, so not too bad. I didnt want to go out too fast with the hilly second half.

Mile 2 is almost completely on the gravel road, and mostly a slight downhill (with a slight bump towards the end). The downhill was nice, but Vowles was pretending he was a Garmin training partner. I became acutely aware that we were completely alone and that there was only one sound of feet hitting the ground. Completely in tandem. Damn, he means business today. I could see Billy up ahead, a Lugoff kid, then Code and Costello together. Justin and Eddie had pretty much dusted us by the time we neared the mile 2 mark. It was about this time when some significant suckage commenced. Whether it was the high mileage this week, or too much Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale (oh, you didnt know I was an epically douchey beer snob? Now you know.) the night before, I was laboring way too much. And Vowles was trying to leave me. Never! There’s a nice scenic route through Turtle Creek Farms in the third mile, but you tend to not notice the cows and horses because “the hill” starts kicking your ass. Its no Blossom Street or Quarry, but its long and highly sucky. I’m used to powering up it and dropping some road kill on the way, but Ken is actually dragging me this time.

The mile 3 marker is at the top of this monster (definitely the slowest, almost 6:50) and my legs feel like lead. All the spring from last weekend is just gone. And the Pale Beast must sense the blood in the water, because he just takes off. Not a subtle surge, but he starts barreling ahead like the finish is around the corner. And I’ve got nothing. We finally turn the corner at an ancient gas station that looks like it closed in the Carter administration, and we’re back on the road home. A much welcome downhill all the way to the mile 4 marker. I suck at downhills but I’m trying my best to push the pace, but my spirit is getting crushed every time I look up. Vowles is speeding up and passes Billy. What the hell, did he snort a line of coke at the mile 3 marker??  I’d like to say I used this as the catalyst for an epic kick to the finish, but my legs were having no part of it. Split at mile 4 was actually about the same as the first two, around 6:30, but it felt slower with me getting so brutally Beasted. After the marker is the last nasty hill, over a quarter mile slog up to the Doby’s Mill back entrance, upon which you get treated to the weirdest loop in a road race I’ve ever seen. The “nature trail” – a twisty, winding paved trail on the elementary school grounds. It’s mostly out in the open, so you can see exactly where you stand in the race. At one point the trail loops back on itself,  and I could almost reach out and trip the Beast….not that I would ever think of something like that…never.  I had an outside chance of catching Billy right before the trail, but he can see me now, and he’s still got a killer kick. No way. After the trail you dump out onto the parking lot. I can make out low 32’s on the clock and I throw down as hard as I can in an attempt to get sub 33. And….nope. I hit the last turn, where I had the dry heaves in 2010, and the clock flips over to 33. Finished in 33:08, 8th overall and 3rd in age group.

So, not thrilled with the result, but I’ll chalk some of it up to a 50 mile week and the warmer weather. I have to give credit to the Beast – he crushed the last 2 miles in 6:01 and 6:08. No way I could have hung on to that this week. He crushed a PR and beat my best time on this course with a 32:16. Justin won the race, though Eddie was only 15 seconds behind. Unfortunately, this led to the puke streak remaining intact. Costello easily took the women’s win, finishing third and outkicking the Code, who took 4th., both in high 31’s.  The only L-E kid in the top 10 was Andrew Mills, who finished just ahead of Billy and me. Editors note: TUS placed 5 in the top 10.  Julie missed out on her win but did take second in sub 7 style, recording a 34:44. 62 year old racing machine Rob Kriegshaber also broke 35 just behind her.

Jennifer Lybrand rocked a new 5 mile PR with a 35:27 and 3rd overall. Burgess finished first in AG and looked ravishing in his pink princess backpack.  Andy Mikula also got 1st in his age group for Palmetto Runners. Oh, and I forgot Ferlauto had just turned 40, which got him out of my murderous age group and scored him a 1st place. I even had to deliver him his prize. Oh the shame. He did manage an epic blue shoe of Joyce, which I made sure to extensively photodocument. Gotta lift those legs! She still won masters and got a nice gift basket to console her. Shirley Smith and Ron Hagell also won 1st place AG mugs, along with racing machines Rocky Soderberg and Brigitte Smith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Splash and Dash – Saluda Shoals Park – Columbia,SC – 9/6/14

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So there were literally no races in a 50 mile radius of Columbia this morning, and I was supposed to run like 2 hrs 15 minutes according to my Kiawah training plan. But mention a relay race and I’m apparently willing to chuck the whole long run plan. Looks like I’ll have to feel the pain tomorrow. Speaking of relays, I decided against the Blue Ridge Relay this year. After following the Strictly Running team on FB the last 24 hours, I need to get back there. It’s just too awesome. Congrats to their team for the overall coed win in 24:11 – that’s blazing on that course.

The Splash and Dash was presented to me by Charley, a member of our long dormant Sunday morning marathon training group. He had done it before, and thought it was cool. I’m always up for a trophy hunt, and apparently he and Trophy himself had managed a 2nd place in 2012 (it was canceled in ’13 do to a high river level). I was in.

OK, so this isn’t a relay race, but its still a team event. You start off with 2 miles of trail running, then jump in a canoe and paddle a mile long course. After the canoeing you jump on a mountain bike and do 5 miles. All of this is in Saluda Shoals. You dont finish until your slowest member crosses the line, and obviously you have to do the canoe all together. Smith Harden, who does the Climb the Clay 8k, race directs.

So the only bike I possess is a woefully undersized road model, so luckily Charlie had an old mountain bike for me to borrow. Trophy had to hit up Mark again, who has like a garage full of bikes and other cycling stuff.

We showed up an hour early to scope out the competition. It was kind of difficult to assess since I dont think there’s a vibrant race canoe paddling community in Columbia. There was a fair amount of fit looking people, a couple of teams from Running under the Influence. The only runner I recognized was Tim Rollason-Reese, who is way faster than all three of us. Not a good sign. We were kind of a last minute team, so the only “team shirt” we had was our glowing neon Jacksonville Marathon shirts from 2011. At least everyone could see us.

I jumped on Charlie’s bike and, because he’s like 6’4″, the bike actually fit. Amazing concept. I hadn’t ridden a bike off road since I was in grade school, so this was going to be a total wing-it job. Not to mention the whole paddling thing. I did go canoeing one time on the Saluda with my parents in 1994, so I’m sure I could bank off that training.

The two man teams went first, with the three man teams starting 20 minutes later because of the limited number of canoes. We went for a brief warm up run and came back to see Rollason-Reese’s team finish the 2 mile together, but fortunately just around 16 minutes.

A few minutes later we were off. I figured the best chance at winning this thing was to absolutely crush the 2 mile. Its a short distance, but with all the hills, grass and trails it would certainly put a hurting on the non-running contingent. I went out like a total maniac. Not more than a half mile in, I was all alone…..except for the dude breathing down my neck like a rabid monkey on my back. At first I was glad that Trophy or Charley was keeping up, but it was a guy in a gray shirt. This dude was not fooling around. The course is crazy twisty, but thankfully well marked with a ton of red signs. Like any trail run it was tough to build up any momentum, and of course navigating my Sasquatchian physique around tight turns was more than a little inefficient. We hit mile 1 at 6:58 but it felt like I had been sprinting the whole way. Fortunately the crazy Kiawah mileage I’ve been doing started to kick in, and I tried to ramp it up even further. The whole last mile was like the Silver Fox 5k – big ditches, roots and sharp turns. Just nuts. I was constantly one false move away from doing a face plant. But damned if I was going to let someone keep me from my meaningless “win”. Finally I lost my shadow in the last half mile and hit the exchange right at 14 minutes. Gray team guy was maybe 10-20 seconds back. But WTF?? Where was my team? I walked around, got some water and put on my life jacket.

I was about to step out for brunch when Trophy and Charley come rumbling in. We all jump in the boat, and start paddling like champs, knowing the gray team was close behind. Did I say all? I meant Charley and I started paddling like champs. Trophy decided to nominate himself for a “supervisory” role on the canoe, i.e. Lady McGaha was pure ballast on this ship. My arms are taking a total lactic acid bath by the time we hit the first buoy, while Trophy is informing us that Team Gray is totally gaining on us. Sure enough, when we make the turn they are crushing it like a Harvard rowing team while we look like a raft of castaways. To make matters worse we hit a patch of river grass and we come to a complete halt, run aground like a beached whale. It takes every bit of leverage we have with the paddles to slowly extricate ourselves, because I’m too fancy to get my precious blue trail shoes wet. We pass by the launch point and head downstream to round buoy number two. Trophy is seabiscuiting me in the canoe though my arms have turned into complete spaghetti trying to paddle this thing. The worst is making the turn where I’m providing the sole paddle leverage to make a tight circle around the buoy. Not more than a few strokes back and Gray team is paddling right with us. I can make out the launch point again and getting caught by the Grays has stirred my dark paddling passenger, launching me into a frenzy. The next few minutes is total chaos, with both of us rowing like complete maniacs, water and paddles flying in an all out canoe kick. We finally hit the launch point again, with the Grays just a nudge ahead of us. I throw all caution to the wind and jump out of the canoe, soaking my shoes to the core instantly. I grab a cup of water and start the bike transition.

My tri transitions are ridiculously slow, but this is a lot simpler since I havent opted for cycling shoes. Just strap on the enormous helmet and take off. As we depart I realize that a) Gray team is really a coed team (so not really competing with us) and b) one of their members looks to be a 12 year old girl. I dont know whether these realizations result in shame or relief, probably a little of both. We all start blasting 100 percent out of the gate, because we thought we were competing against the two man teams as well. Mountain biking is completely different from the roads. There’s all these sudden tight turns that are tough for my Sasquatch self to manage on the run. Add 25 pounds of metal to the equation and its a damn miracle I managed to not end up flying over the handlebars. Thats not to say I didnt come close. Very close. Multiple times. But hey, at least my bike was the same beastly size as my body. Our only moment of shame was facing the clay mountain a couple of miles in. We had agreed to jump off and run the bikes up beforehand, which was a good plan since there was no way in hell I could have stayed upright. The last few miles involved a couple of ditches where I nearly did a face plant and a brief stretch where we caught up to a 2 woman team and I was breathing down their neck like an oversized gorilla. Sorry, ladies. It is not wise to position yourself between me and my trophies. Remarkably, we all stayed together as a team the whole time. When we finally hit the home stretch, you’d think it was a time trial at the freaking Tour de France, barreling through the finish like a herd of elephants at top speed.

Done. Not much later Smith tells us there are actually separate divisions for two and three man teams, so we were pretty much busting our tails for nothing.  But we got first place, so I was eternally happy. The trophy was a super cool custom Splash and Dash picture frame with free team photos you could take at a photo booth at the finish. Very nice. Overall it was a blast. I should be back next year. Hopefully I’ll learn to paddle by then.

 

 

 

 

Run or Walk a Crooked 5k – Chapin, SC – 8/30/2014

 

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The “Run or Walk a Crooked 5k” is a race held on Labor Day weekend in Chapin that has been a staple on the Blue Shoes calendar since my first year of racing in 2009.
It’s a weird race, run completely at Crooked Creek park. You start with a lap around a soccer field, then go through a maze of paved trails, athletic fields and parking lots with the finish on the same soccer field you started on. It’s a touch on the long side and definitely not going to produce a fast time. Its also the only race that I know with no online registration. You can actually do the mail-in route, but this would involve the motivation and ability to simultaneously locate a checkbook, stamp and envelope. So yeah, that never happens.
So why do I love this race? OK, I do love the old school , “mom and pop” feel, but most of my racing boils down to my absurd lust for glory known as the trophy hunt.
And Crooked Creek sets up perfectly for this. Labor Day weekend has typically had a big race on the actual Monday holiday – previously the Labor Day Fitness Challenge 15k, then the dueling Blythewood and Strictly Running races the last few years. All the fast people go after these. Crooked creek is on the Saturday leading up to these races, its out of the way, and of course has the whole 1985 mail in vibe that usually keeps registration fairly low (50-100 range).
That being said, some fast guys always show up to win this thing. A couple of guys home from west point won it one year, Dimery also took home a victory, and Plex has been trouncing the field the last couple of times. I’ve usually placed in the 3rd-6th range. Never ever broken 20 minutes. Like, ever. My course best is 20:09, even when I was doing low 19’s elsewhere.

I showed up my customary hour ahead of time, even with the 40 minute drive to Chapin, because I’m obsessive like that. Not a huge crowd on hand, but the TDC diehards like Pete Poore, Valerie Selby, Cheryl Outlaw, Geary McAlister, Leeds Barroll, John Gasque and Alex Ponamarev were already there. On my way to the sign up table , the Pale Beast makes an appearance. Uh -oh  – dude’s been dropping some serious weight and has been jumping into Kiawah training at TUS practice “just for fun”.  Doing six 6:40ish one mile repeats in the furnace of the SC late summer doesn’t exactly meet my “fun” criteria, but to each his own. Plexico comes rolling in soon after to crush the trophy hunt holy grail opportunity, but competition still seems fairly weak. There are a couple of lean young guys, but being all ripped doesnt necessarily mean fast. And vice versa, so I’ve been told.

Strolling up to the start there looks like about 60-70 people as we line up on the soccer field. Henry Holt and Lisa Smarr have turned up as well. A fair number of unknown teenagers look ready to crush my trophy hopes. I dont see any other of my fellow age groupers except for Vowles, so at least we have that wrapped up.

With the gun, the crowd immediately thins out. What I thought was going to be a slightly cooler morning got hot and oppressively humid in a hurry, especially with the damp grass. Plex immediately jumps to the front but is being matched stride for stride with a skinny teenage kid, who looks like he might be fast. Before we exit the field though, Ryan has already gapped him. Kids these days. I’m in fourth as we complete the field lap, but I’ve got Geary working his industrial machine breathing down my neck and Vowles is riding me like an oversized monkey.  I make sure I block him at the parking lot where someone is taking pictures, eclipsing him with both my melon sized head and ego.

We exit the parking lot and plummet into the twisty, paved trail part of the course. Plex’s shadow and his high school buddy are already feeling the pain of trying to ride the Lightning. They are fading fast and sucking some serious wind. I passed the first kid then pull up alongside Plex’s shadow at the mile mark, hit in high 6:20’s. OK pace for this course. This kid apparently was OK with getting passed by lean singlet wearing dudes like Plexico, but is not taking too kindly to getting the beat down by an aging, Clydesdalish guy in a neon “Blue Shoes” shirt. Too bad dude. Oxygen debt does not discriminate.

We pull out of the forest and into a lap around a couple of baseball fields. I think I’ve gapped Geary and the Beast some, but Vowles starts talking trash behind me about cutting a corner. Its a fenced complex dude, its not like I’m going to jump into right field. Or am I? As I make the lap around the two fields, I had stopped hugging the fence to find some pavement. All of a sudden I realize I’m outside a wooden fence that is separating me from the course. Just when I think I’m going to have to go all parkour and some how scale a three foot barrier at 5k speed, there’s a gap. I have to make a sudden turn and haul ass to get back on the course, where I see the kid trying to take advantage of my little detour. Vowles and Geary have followed me, either because my melon has eclipsed all trail markings or in some gallant show of sportsmanship. I’m going with the former.

Either way, I return the favor by amping up the pace a bit, since I know we are closing in on the two mile mark.  We re-enter the forest where the course folds back on itself and pass some of the midpack. Always good to get some encouragement from the crowd, and someone confirms to me I’m running second behind Plexico. Just before the two mile mark is a long track-like oval encircling a parking lot, and there’s nowhere to hide. I remember this section all to well when I went out too fast (also  in 2nd place)  in 2010, only to get passed by Amy McDonaugh and another guy in this parking lot. As I make the last turn, I see Vowles has moved ahead of Geary and is way too close for comfort. I hear mile 2 beep and its definitely on like Donkey Kong. I don’t even look at the watch. No way is the Beast going to take down my 2nd place. Unfortunately there are some nasty twisty inclines as we enter the forest once again. I keep blasting around corners and scaring the hell of little kids and walkers at the back of the pack. I’m sure there was a sudden spike in Albino Sasquatch night terrors in the Chapin area this weekend.

Eventually I see I’m nearing the soccer fields and the finish. But having done this race 4 times before, I know there’s a killer 1-2 punch. A sharp, short incline up to a parking lot, then about a third of a mile lap out in the sun after you pass the finish area. I hardly ever get Blue Shoed myself, but this is where it happened one time back in ’10 or ’11. I power up the sharp incline, which hits me like a punch to the gut,  and there’s a vocal family there cheering. As I pass them, I listen carefully, and its way too short of a time before I hear the next cheer.  I can’t see him but I’m sure Vowles is out for blood. I hit the soccer field and see Plex finish. The sun is just killer and I’m in a world of hurt by this point. It feels painfully slow on the grass even though I’m absolutely redlining it by this point. I expect the Beast to come up from behind at any time. Finally I make the last turn and can see Vowles – not too far behind but I know now safely out of reach. Still burning it to the finish though, and I make out 1940ish on the clock. I want to get sub 20 so bad, but there just arent enough oxygen molecules in Chapin to carry me fast enough. I flop across the finish in 20:02 and give the grass a whole lot of Sasquatch lovin’. Vowles comes rolling in for 3rd at 20:17, and I believe Geary (4th) also broke 21.

I was certainly disappointed with not breaking 20, but then I realize this is a course record for me. Not a post-cliff record but an all-time best time for this race. All this Kiawah mileage must be paying off. Taking second sure is sweet too – prize money was 30 bucks, earning me back the registration fee. Thanks to Code and Jack Carmody for taking the day off and allowing me to have my day in the sun.

This race takes a long time to get online, so I don’t have the official results. I know most of the regulars scored age group wins – Lisa Smarr, Alex Ponamarev, Valerie Selby, Pete Poore, Cheryl Outlaw , Leeds Barroll and John Gasque. The F3 group also did very well in the age groups, with several wins. Great race!

 

 

 

 

 

Stomp the Swamp 5k – Lexington, SC – 8/25/14

Mr and Mrs. Beast

Mr and Mrs. Beast

 

The Stomp the Swamp 5k is a first year event put on by the River Bluff High School cross country team to benefit their program. Derek Gomez, their coach and fellow 35-39 age grouper, race directed, using Jesse Harmon’s Run Hard group for timing.
I admit – this race had me scared.
Derek had freely admitted that the course would be “challenging”, and with a race date in late August in South Carolina, it was pretty much a given to be oppressively hot.
Plus, there was the Corley Mill Rd factor, the road on which River Bluff sits. I don’t go on that road much anymore, but in high school it was notorious for being a roller coaster through the woods – one of the hilliest roads in the area. There was no way this was going to be “flat and fast”.
But I hadn’t done a 5k in a long while and I’m already chomping at the bit for the fall racing season, so I decided to give it a shot. Derek tried to bill it as a trophy hunt, but when he invited the entirety of the Dutch Fork cross country team to come run, I was pretty sure my old Sasquatch ass wasn’t going to beat all these high school kids.
I showed up about an hour early to the race site and checked out the high school campus, where the whole race would be run. Um, to say this school is “nice” would be an injustice. Try gleaming modern windowscapes and high end construction everywhere. The football stadium was one a small private college would be proud of. These Lexington taxpayers must want their kids to be in the lap of luxury.
But I digress. First thing out of the car and it feels like a wet wool blanket got stuffed over my face. Just smothering humidity. I came across Colleen Vowles and the Pale Beast and we did a couple of miles at north of 9 minute pace. This “grueling” workout left me completely soaked and chugging whatever water I had lying around the Honda Pilot. Yeah this was going to suck.
I couldn’t figure out the whole course but it seemed vaguely nightmarish from what I could tell. There was an out and back stretch that took you straight up a quarter mile hill only to bring you right back down. Gomez must have a sadistic streak.
The course started and ended on the football field of the stadium, so that was pretty cool. Pretty nice crowd gathered, especially for a first year race. All the Dutch Fork kids were up front, ready to trample any grandiose adults trying to fend off middle age. Not that I know any of those.
The start is a total stampede across the football field. The Pale Beast, aka Ken Vowles, blasts out of the gate at a full sprint and acts like he’s going to give Avery Dominick a run for his money. He’s still up near the front as we exit the stadium, in full-on delusional mode. The first quarter mile was pretty flat, but I had held back at the start, so I was left dodging quite a bit and trying to jockey for position. Pretty much right off the bat is a quick climb and then that dreaded out and back sadistic mountain I mentioned earlier. This is where Vowles suddenly realized he’s not a 120 pound high school freshman and starts hurting. I trudge up this monster as best as I can and finally catch the Beast at the top, before plunging down with an extra surge. I hit mile 1 in like 6:30ish, which isn’t too bad considering the climb. Mile 2 is more stealthily sucky. After a flat parking lot stretch you head up into a paved trail area through a patch of forest. Basically it forces you to slow down some and there’s a nasty climb going on throughout. I’ve separated out into what must be the most bizarre looking pack – its me and 3 Dutch Fork girls. I recognize Bri Hartley right off the bat, and then I see Anna Johnson, who usually runs way under 19 and is inexplicably slumming it back in Blue Shoes territory. I don’t know who the third girl is but later identified her as Anna Jenkins, the 12 year old that so wickedly chicked me at the end of the Run Red Bank. The three of them are all like a foot shorter than me and are probably my weight all combined. That’s not to say they aren’t brutal racers. Elbows flying and cutting me off, these ladies mean business. I’m just hoping I don’t pull a Mary Decker and flatten one of them with my fall.
Jesse had said the course was pretty rough through the first 1.5 miles or so, so I was definitely cursing his name when things were still sucking at almost 2 miles. Finally we exited the trail area and hit another parking lot stretch. Mile 2 comes back in 6:56 or so, which definitely explains why I’m not hurting too bad. With a mile to go it seems like the course cant do too much more climbing, since I can see the stadium area. Time to go all in and kick it up a notch. I’d like to say I left some middle schoolers in the dust but damned if these girls weren’t riding in the Sasquatch wake and making me feel like a runaway grizzly bear being hunted by a pack of kids. 2.5 mile mark and the four of us are picking up some roadkill as we descend towards the stadium. I’m starting to dip below six minute pace and the wind suckage has commenced with a vengeance. To worsen things, all three of the girls are now slightly ahead of me. The shame is palpable. On a high note, the three girls surprise the hell out of a thirtiesh looking dude as they pass, act as an effective smokescreen for me to blow by this potential 35-39 trophy crasher as well.
Just when I think I’m home free, I realize there’s another little hill and we are going to circle the stadium before going in. By this time I’m feeling like death and praying for it to end. I’m redlining it pretty hard but these freaking 8th graders (maybe 7th graders?) are giving me an epic beatdown. Finally we hit the football field again and were all sprinting. I don’t even see the time since I’m so focused on getting brutally middle schooled. But I’m not catching Jenkins or Bri. I did pass Johnson right near the line but I think she was pacing the other two.
I don’t even see the time until I hit my Garmin at 20:09 right past the finish. Normally I would be pretty bummed with a time over 20 but given this course and those first two splits, I’ll take it. Mile 3 was in 6:00 flat and a 5:09 kick for the last 0.14 by the watch. That explains the taste of death and lung in my mouth. Ended up 1st in AG, though 16th overall with all the high school kids. 3rd place among those that can legally drink a beer though. The Beast came rumbling in at 20:34, and I think also took down the thirtiesh guy because 3rd in our AG was at 20:48 (more formally known as Jonathan Calore). Since the event was hand timed, I think they switched Anna Johnson’s and my time, probably just to amplify the fact I got chicked so badly.
Avery Dominick took the overall win in 16:18, dusting the field by 2 minutes. Teammates James Bowen (who I think won the Xterra 5k) and Alex Chalgren took 2nd and 3rd. My pack of Anna Jenkins, Bri Hartley and Anna Johnson swept the women’s overall.  In the age groups, Kenneth Vowles finished fifth but in an impressive 18:50.  Tour de Blue Shoes subscriber Eric Bopp took 2nd in the 40-44 in 21:35.  Darryl and Jay Hammond took the top two in the 50-54. Harry Strick, Alex Ponamarev, Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll were top 4 in the brutal “over 60″ group. Colleen said she wasnt even racing but still captured second in the 40-44 in 23 minutes and change. Nina Brook finished 2nd in the 50-54.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/571792048

https://www.runhard.org/files/swampOverall.pdf

https://www.runhard.org/files/swampAge.pdf

Little Mountain 5k/10k – Little Mountain, SC – 8/2/2014

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Somehow my summer vacation always seems to get in the way of running Hot Summer’s Night – My family’s annual trip to Folly had kept me from the race in 2011 and 2012. Last year I decided to mix things up and go to Hawaii, and we all know how that turned out. This year my wife’s family did the Folly trip, and sure enough, picked the first week in August again.  As much as I enjoy racing with the fastest people in Columbia on a broiling hot evening, it was not to be.

But that left a Saturday morning open, and with everybody doing HSN, that could only mean one thing…TROPHY HUNT. I scanned Strictly’s web site and came up with three options – the two Little Mountian reunion races (5k and 10k) and a race in Sesqui so minimally advertised that a road race freak living just a half mile from the race site had no idea it was happening. Naturally  the Sesqui race seemed like the obvious choice, but I was wondering if anybody would show. I mean, I love me some trophies, but winning a 10 person race would be a bit of a hollow victory. Not that I wouldn’t blab about it all over social media if I did. That’s what attention whores do.

Jen Lybrand said she was doing the Little Mountain 10k so I figured I’d go up there and try a change of scenery. I debated for quite some time about which of the two LM races to do, but finally and uncharacteristically opted for the 10k. I hardly ever do that distance and I figured maybe I could throw down a good time with all the recent Team Utopia speedwork. I had no idea what the course was, but it couldn’t be that bad, right? We’ll get back to that.

I woke up at o’ dark thirty and made the 45 minute trek up to Little Mountain. I get there on the late side and damned if my stealth trophy hunt hasn’t already gotten crashed. I’m not there more than 5 minutes and I see Plexico and a bunch of lean cross country kids.  Jen Lybrand is there with Jordan, and Jeff and Erika Burgess have made an unexpected appearance. Oh , and the freaking Code. WTH? Guy doesn’t race for weeks, I don’t tell him I’m racing, and he shows up to blow up my age group. That’s what I get for blabbing on facebook, apparently. And they’re all doing the 10k. Damn pre-registration, or I would have bailed to the five. Oh well, maybe the course is flat. We’ll get back to that.

We stroll up to the line and Jordan has decided to jump in last second. Great – am I even going to get top 10 in this thing? The gun fires and we are off on a beautiful downhill. Nice and easy decline, making the pace feel easy. This is going to be great.  Jen blasts off like Kara Goucher in the first mile and leaves me and Burgess for dead. Code runs with us for awhile , then gets bored and goes to track down Jen. I’m feeling pretty good doing about 6:30ish pace when all of a sudden the course turns. BAM. Hello there half-mile-of-quad-burning-hill-from-hell. I try to power up this thing but I’m doing a crawl by the time I reach the summit. Thankfully there’s another stretch of decline right after. Pace went all to hell on the hill and Garmin gives me a 6:50ish split for mile 1. The next 2 miles I spend slowly trying to reel Jen back in. Burgess followed for awhile but I hear him start to fade. The hills just keep rolling. I catch two guys running together at about mile 2.5 and they look at me with terror in their eyes. First they get chicked by Jen then get Clydesdaled by the Albino Sasquatch. Oh, the shame.

I hit the 5k mark just under 22, so not too bad considering the hills. Surely the worst of the course must be over. Oh, no. I finally pass Jen at this point and try to muster a surge up a nasty incline. The only problem is that this incline has a twin brother I couldn’t see from below, and then I’ll be damned if it isn’t a whole freaking family of false-front hills all in a row that never seem to end. I catch up with a teenager from Atlanta and we try to keep each other company through the misery. Turns out the guy is related to the original race director, who died in a freak accident just a couple of months ago. Sad story.

We could talk, however, because no one can put forth much effort on the mountain. I don’t think it ended until about mile 5, and by then my legs were total jello. Then the kid tells me we have to do that Jacob Shealy rd hill again. Which hill was that? Just as I ask the question, quad burner comes into view again. Son of a bitch. Really?

I reach the top of the monster at a near walk and my teen friend stops for an extended water break. I can see Code way up ahead but no way can I muster a chase. Pace has been hemorrhaging into the sevens for the last couple of miles and the humidity is making my shirt feel like a wet blanket. One more little incline and we are finally back on Main st near the start. I start to make the turn towards the finish when a volunteer yells and I realize there is yet another quarter mile loop of fun left. Good times. At least its flat, though – probably the only level part of the course. I finally see the finish and try to kick it in for Erika’s camera but you can stick a fork in me. Crossed in 44:20, 5th place and 2nd in age group.

Ok, so this is almost  4 minutes off my 10k PR, but I’m not too unhappy given the sheer brutality of the course. They don’t call it Little Mountain for nothing. Trophy hunt is a complete bust since they only did 1st in AG and of course my archnemesis the Code took that. The award presentation is a bitter pill though, because they were giving cash to the overall winners. 5k winner ran a 20:48 and got a hundred bucks. DOH! Oh well. At least Plexico and Jen each got a Benjamin for taking the 10k titles. Jordan placed second and got 50 bucks I believe. I think the Lybrands should consider going pro at this rate. Burgess finished 9th , so all the Columbia Running Club peeps placed in the top 10. Nice race and interesting course, but definitely don’t be thinking PR on this one.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/RESULTS/14LITTLEMOUNTAIN.TXT

 

 

Tom Hoskins Duathlon – Irmo, SC – 7/26/2014

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I’ve been wanting to get back into triathlon for a while because, like many things in life, I have a foolishly grandiose idea that I would be good at it. Thoughts like these led me to my first tri experience at the Downtown triathlon a couple of years ago , a failure so epic that I sometimes still wake up screaming I’m in that damn USC pool.

My next triathlon I was so overly focused on correcting that horrific swim, that I forgot one critical thing…

I suck on the bike too.

My bike is too small (I got it secondhand from a guy who might be 5’8″) and it’s a road bike, so tri guys (and girls) routinely leave me in their dust doing about half the effort. And I’m left pedaling like a maniac behind them like Brand from Goonies.

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So hey, let’s do an event that basically puts your cycling at a premium – the duathlon. Sure, there’s two parts running, but most du’s have quick run segments and a much longer cycling portion in the middle.

I wouldn’t typically have much interest in the du, but Jennifer “Tenacious J” Hill was trying to drum up participants for the Tom Hoskins duathlon several weeks ago and she encouraged me to do it.

Wait a minute… this is Jen speaking…and I have some thoughts to include here. First of all, “encouraged” is a very gentle word. I think maybe “dared” is more appropriate. “I DARE YOU to try to beat me again.” (Alex beat me at Tri the Midlands in 2012. I cried for days.)

Knowing me, she knew exactly how to sell it – the TROPHY HUNT.  Yes, she filled my swollen head with thoughts that I might even be able to win this event, since it draws only a small fraction of the tri crowd, and usually a much less competitive one at that. The red-headed stepchild of the multisport world.

It’s true, duathlon doesn’t seem to interest people as much as triathlon does. Why the bad rap? Someone even asked me at the start if I was doing the du because I was afraid of the swim. Ha! All I can say is, I’ve done both, and I love both. You think running a fast mile before hopping on your bike is easier than swimming? Give it a shot.

My lust for meaningless metal trinkets knows no limits, so I was in. Time to hit the bike again. I hadn’t touched the thing in over a year. I literally had to dust it off. Since I have the patience of a 4 year old , I thought it was a fantastic idea to start off with 36 miles as fast as I could go at the Fort Jackson Awareness ride. Yeah, that sucked. I think I was sore for like a week. My legs surprisingly held up ok but damned if these regular cyclists don’t have crotches of steel. I didn’t want to sit down for days.

Sitting down is for losers! Carry on…

But I did go back to the bike every Sunday for about 6 weeks. Once a week does not a Lance Armstrong make, but hopefully it would keep me from getting shamed too bad.

Did someone mention shame? As I dutifully trained, J Hill was waging an all-out social media campaign that she was going to bring me down.  I could feel the bus wheels running over me already. Alex, you are exaggerating here. I merely gave you some creative encouragement in a very public realm. J is a tri beast and is best on the bike. Hmmmm…. Maybe. But slower than I used to be. And slower than I’m going to be. It’s a rebuilding year. She completed Ironman Texas last year, and my crotch hurts just thinking about biking 112 miles. My crotch STILL hurts. Suddenly I was overcome with fear – she was going to kick my ass so bad on the bike that I wouldn’t be able to make it up on the 5k. And I transition like your grandma. Please don’t insult my grandma like that. She was definitely going to bank time there too.  Dear God, what have I gotten myself into.

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So with 6 bike rides and nary a transition practice, I headed to Irmo for the Battle Royale. This was lose-lose for me. The best I could do would be to beat her, and no one would think less of her – she’s a foot shorter than me and everyone knew I could beat her in a 5k. I lose, and I would never hear the end of it. This is true. I already had the t-shirts printed up. I’ll save them for next time. Jeff Brandenburg and Wes Spratt would probably create a facebook page to publicly humiliate me. Oh, and outside of my mom and maybe my wife, no one was rooting for me. Everyone wanted to see the melon headed kid with the overblown ego get taken down.

I had done the calculations. I figured Alex would beat me by 2 minutes on the first run and 4 minutes on the second run. I could gain a minute on him in Transition, so I needed to beat him by 5 minutes on the bike. My bike skillz aren’t at their best right now, and I had doubts; so I needed to see how Alex was progressing on the bike. I invited him to join me for a run-bike-run workout on the course a week before the race. I bided my time and just watched him. Have you ever seen a clown riding a tricycle? It’s like that – only bigger. Despite his non-aerodynamic head, he rode pretty well. I felt I could beat him on the bike course, but not by much – and I’d have to work pretty hard.

So I showed up an hour and a half early. I am embarrassed to say how nervous I was. So I got in your head? Exxxxxxcellent. I felt pretty good since I had taken 2 whole days off from running, which is like an eternity for an obsessive like me. I was a little worried about hydration and GI issues though, since I had been out the night before on my 16th anniversary date (one that involved a few martinis and beer). I have never met your lovely wife, but I could tell she was on my side, plying you with drinks on Race Eve. Everything seemed OK, despite the unconventional carb loading.

Lots of familiar faces – Brian Clyburn showed up for the du, which I knew would give some tough competition if J-Hill didn’t. Jennifer Reeves, Amber Todd and Cheryl Outlaw were also du-ing it. TUS teammates Luci, Jeff, Ilia, and Kris were on hand for the tri, along with the Griffins, Jennifer Tudor, Randy Hrechko, Tommy Outlaw, Patti Lowden, Missy Caughman, John Zemp, Pam Free, Laurin Long, and  Lorand Batten. Tenacious had her tri peeps out and rooting her on with Lisa Powell and April Hutto. Brian Talkington and Rob Yerger were spectating.

Part I  – MILE RUN

I originally was going to blast this one at full speed, but I realized that would be reeally stupid given it’s such a small part of the race. Well, poop. I was really hoping you would let your ego take hold and start out too fast. With the start I tried to target low 6 minute pace. There was a guy with a tri kit on with USA and his name on the back, so I figured this dude either had it in the bag or was completely delusional. He took off in first right away so I guess he was the real deal. Simple out and back course, but since we were going downhill practically the whole first half, the way back hurt a lot worse. Me, Clyburn and another guy hit the transition area around the same time. It ended up being a little over a mile so I had a 6:36 split (6:20 by Garmin for 1 mile). My plan was to start comfortably strong and build into it… But when they shouted “Go!” I took off like my shoes were on fire. I was ahead of Alex for 8 seconds. “I AM WINNING! I AM BEATING ALEX! I AM THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE!” Then Alex passed me, and two women passed me, and I thought, “That’s okay – I feel great and I’m going to pick them off on the bike!” Approximately 40 seconds later, my heart caught up with the work load and sent message to my muscles and my digestive system, and they all got together and had a pow-wow and decided to send a telegram to my brain that said, “You’re an idiot. You can’t run this fast. We’d really, really like to poop in these shorts now.” So I spent the rest of the first run praying I could finish the race without soiling myself. It still ended up being my fastest mile this year, which is both AWESOME and a really stupid way to start a race.

I was sucking some wind at T1 but I was so proud of myself for getting my shoes changed and gigantic helmet on pretty quick. I didn’t know if the Y was aware of J-Hill’s viral social media campaign, but we were assigned consecutive numbers and adjacent bike spots in the transition area. I may or may not have had something to do with that. I’m about to begin my awkward bike cleat jog when J comes flying in (some fast girl was trying to pass me and I COULD NOT LET HER PASS ME – turns out it was Amber Todd, whom I don’t know personally but I know she can RUN), transitioning like a well-oiled machine. Did I mention my chip leg strap came off in T1?  It did, and the chip detached too. HA HA HA HA HA Still waiting for that elusive sub 1 minute transition time. (6:36 ,3rd) Notice Alex didn’t list his T1 time here. It was 1:21, in case you were wondering. Alex, were you writing a Haiku during transition or something? My times: 7:39 for leg 1 (7:26 pace), 3rd female (tied with Amber); :54 at T1 (moving me into 2nd female overall because I can change my shoes LIKE A BOSS).

Part II – 13.7 mile bike

I figure I might have a 20-30 second head start so I try to make the most of it. The mile run, despite being way slower than I had hoped, still seemed to take a lot out of me. I start crushing it pretty hard on the bike off the bat but soon back off because my legs are starting to burn and I’m accumulating an oxygen debt I can’t pay back . The way out on this course feels hillier than the way back in. Yes. Very much so. I had done the course twice in practice, but at a more relaxed pace. Now I was churning and burning, standing up in the saddle like I was in a mountain stage on the Tour.  Of course, I was usually getting passed by people gliding by me in their tri bikes and probably mocking my ridiculous display. Alex wasn’t even wearing a tri top or bike jersey! He had on his blue Van on the Run tech tee! Athletes were probably shaking their heads at his disregard of the cult uniform. It’s OK. No one ever gave me points for style. Despite all the hip rocking and bobbing and weaving on the bike I figure I’m still going faster than the 18 mph I had hoped to average. And hey, still hadn’t seen J pass me.  Every time someone came up behind me I was having a Tenacious panic attack though. “Don’t let her get in your head”, they said.  Too late for that.  Muahahahahaha I see Clyburn coming back my way and the guy must be a mile ahead of me. Guess I can forget about catching him.

After about 3 miles, I spied Alex ahead of me. The road would curve and I’d lose sight of him, then I’d crest a hill and see I’d closed the gap a bit. It was such an internal struggle: Do I hammer it and catch him and ruin my chances of a good 5k run, or do I stick to my race plan and conserve energy? I had dreamt of making The Pass and was chomping at the bit… But I’d already blown a podium spot earlier this season by visiting the Pain Cave on the bike leg and blowing up on the run.

From what I’d observed the previous weekend, I wasn’t going to be able to make up 5 minutes on Alex on the bike unless he flatted or dropped his chain – and as much as I like to win, I don’t want to beat him that way. I nixed my vood00-doll plan in the days before the race. During the bike leg, I stuck to my race plan – push hard the first couple miles, then cruise to the turn aroun. I kept inching closer to Alex but I didn’t chase. I did see the 1st female of the Du heading back, but where was the 2nd? I didn’t know that I had passed her in transition, and I don’t know her or her bike skills, so I kept my eyes peeled for her.

I finally make the turnaround at Freshly Mill Rd and I see a mini peloton of three bikes pretty close behind me but a huge gap behind them. Just when I think I’m in the clear, J suddenly appears as the third bike in that group and scares the crap out of me. She says she said some words of encouragement (I totally did!), but all I could offer her was an obscenity in return.(How rude.) I figure she’ll pass me at any second but maybe I can stay with her once that happens. With the fire officially lit under my ass, I start pedaling like a madman trying to hold her off. Fortunately the mile run has finally gotten out of my system and it feels vaguely easier on the bike now. The next several miles I’m going at 150 percent and still waiting to hear her coming up behind me. I have this paranoia that maybe she is just silently riding my tail and mocking me. (I would never.) But hey, I know she has to bank at least 3-4 minutes before the 5k so the closer I get home the better I feel. At this point, I’m calculating: although I might not actually pass Alex, I could (should!) still have a faster bike split than him. But I start seeing the gap widen. Decision time again: Chase (follow my ego) or stay steady (follow my plan)? If Alex beats me on the bike, I will BLOW A GASKET. But I also want a podium spot, and for that, I have to run. So I stick to the plan.

One major long hill about 10 miles in is actually a relief because it neutralizes the tri bikes and I can employ the freak quads to do some work. I’ve called this hill a lot of things over the years, but NEVER a “relief.” At the top of the hill I pass somebody, which I think is my one roadkill for the whole course (other than some random guy on a mountain bike that I wasn’t 100 percent sure was in the race).  Once the hill is over, I completely empty the tank and burn it as hard as possible to the finish. Lorand passes me at mach 5 near the Y but I’m in disbelief I avoided getting chicked by J the whole time.  (43:57, 8th, 19 mph)

I never got to make The Pass. I am heartbroken. Not only that, but Alex beat me on the bike leg by 4 seconds. I will write “4 seconds” on my hand for the next 3 months of workouts. My time: 44:01, 18.9mph, 3rd fastest female but finishing in 2nd place thanks to changing my shoes really fast at T1.

Part III – 5k run

I pull in to T2 and I’m pretty beat but now I know all I need to do is run a tempo 5k and not die to seal the win. Jumping off the bike, my legs and glutes feel like rocks though I’m able to change the shoes back pretty quick. I am so uncoordinated on the bike that I didn’t get any water from my bottle so I chug from my tervis tumbler I was using to hydrate before the race. I don’t get more than a few gulps down before Jen comes hauling ass into the zone and mocking me for sucking on my adult sippy cup in the middle of a race. Hee hee This snaps me back into reality and I awkwardly head out onto the run course. Again, Alex “forgets” to include his transition time here, like it doesn’t count. IT COUNTS. Alex: 1:01 (actually not too bad). Me? :44. Fastest female T2 in the Du. All that practice changing shoes really pays off!

Few things feel worse than trying to run after a hard cycling effort. Wait, you don’t like that feeling? It’s GREAT! I make stiff and awkward a way of life, but I’m sure I looked like the tin man out there. My laces feel like they’re coming undone so I stop and try to tie them, but then my oxygen deprived brain realizes they’re elastic and have a clamp. I’m running behind Alex and see him stop and bend over to check his elastic laces. He had just installed them 9 hours before the race, and I silently scream, “Nothing new on race day!” It’s almost a half mile before things start to loosen up some, but this is where there hill starts. A mile-long, relentless incline. And I admit, I kind of mailed it in for most that hill. Clyburn was like 5 minutes ahead of me and the lead woman wasn’t too far behind him, and I thought there was little chance of anyone else in the du field catching me at this point. Once I reached the run turnaround though, I was surprised to see Jen a lot closer than I would have liked. Oh hell no. Oh hell yes! I finally break into some sub 7 pace on the way back down, though Scott Brewer catches me and passes. I ran sub-7 pace once. See “poop my shorts” story above. I use him as a pacer the rest of the way, hanging back a few meters until we start to crest the hill near the Y entrance. With less than a half mile to go, my giant ego gets the best of me and I decide to launch into a full-on sprint all the way to the finish.  (22:27, 3rd)

Holding back on the bike did help my run a good bit, and I was happy to finish strong instead of die a slow, painful death. Negative splits, baby! I knew the first female was light years ahead of me, but I didn’t know if any others were ahead of me or how far they might be behind me. I didn’t really push until the last mile, and never felt too terrible either – which means I left some out on the course. I’m a tad disappointed about that. Every race is a learning opportunity! (Sometimes I get tired of learning, though, and would really prefer to just WIN.) 5k time was 26:46, which was only 4th fastest female, but my mad transition skillz saved me enough time to snag 2nd overall female and the coveted coffee cup award (soooo much better than a plaque!). What’s the lesson here, folks? Transitions count! Oh, and MUST GET FASTER!!

So glad to be done, especially with the heat of the day really starting to fire up. Ended up 5th overall (1:15:27). Alex did really well. If he actually got a bike that fit him, and trained, he would be a force to be reckoned with. Tri kit dude (Keith Jackson) beat the du field by like 11 minutes and completed the whole thing in less than an hour. Clyburn managed 2nd overall, crushing me by 3 minutes on the bike and taking me down in the 5k to boot. First woman beat me too (Meredith Dammers) – she passed me on the bike like I was standing still and got me by almost 4 minutes. I don’t know who she is, but she is truly a beast! The 3rd place guy (Samuel Lucio) also destroyed me on the bike.

Tenacious J may have lost the Battle Royale but had a successful trophy hunt by taking 2nd overall female.  She also propelled me to my fastest bike time ever, so I have to give her credit for that too. (Wait, I was propelling you? That is totally not fair. I never agreed to that. I want a du-over! Get it? Du-over? Hahahahaha) I’m hoping I can come back next year and ride faster, because I’m sure she’ll seek to have her revenge.  But for now, the Electrolyte Cup is all mine.

Thank you for playing Duathlon with me! I only challenge people I don’t think I can beat, at least not easily – so you should feel flattered. But make no mistake: It’s ON. You’d better work it, SmackDonald. And for the love…. Go buy a bike.

 

In the tri, familiar names included Hunter Janus taking 4th overall, and Lorand Batten placing 7th, Scott Brewer 12th (he also beat me by a minute in the 5k, but I never thought of different start times). Lisa Powell took first in the 50-54. Randy Hrechko won 3rd in the 45-49. TDBS follower Jennifer Wild placed 1st in the 40-44 while TUS teammate Kris Littman-Koon took 5th in the 30-34. Mike Griffin won 2nd in the 55-59. Luci Velicu took 2nd in the 35-39 while Tommy Outlaw placed 4th in the 55-59. Patti Lowden took 2nd 65-69. John Zemp, Pam Free, Chad FShivar, Missy Caughman and Hou-Yin Chang were also finishers. Fellow du finishers included Amber Todd, Cheryl Outlaw and Jennifer Reeves. Laurin Long and Jennifer Tudor both completed their first tris – congrats guys! Overall, this was a very well done event and major thanks go out to Joe Roof, Erin Roof, Todd Heinecke and YMCA of Columbia.

 

 

 

 

 

Born in the USA 4 miler and 2×2 mile relay – July 4, 2014

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The Born in the USA 4 miler and relay is one of Strictly Running’s 2 summer events (along with Hot Summer’s Night 5k) and features a course through the Forest Lakes neighborhood. Essentially it uses the majority of the Cold Winter’s Day course with an extra mile tacked on.

Although I’ve run the full course hundreds of times, its been 5 years since I actually did the 4 miler. This can be explained in one word: relay.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a relay freak. I live for the 12 people in a van, 200 mile variety, but I’ll take any version I can find.

I love the team concept, running like a bat out of hell in short distances, and of course..the trophy hunt factor.

Most relays bear the prejudice of “real runners” who deem them the event for newbies, kids and old people. I, for one, don’t think this way. I love me some newbies, kids and old people. They dont get in the way of my lust for golden trinkets.

Case in point: the relay part of this race was a total cake walk for most of its existence, setting up my first entry into the event in 2010. The result, is below:

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Trophy and I (the aptly named team “Trophy Hunting”) won the damn thing. We got fifty dollars and a couple of watermelons. Eight individual runners beat us in the 4 miler, but I”m apparently completely without shame when it comes to hollow victories. I mean look at that grin – it  looks like I won a week in Bali with Scarlett Johannsen rather than 25 bucks and a fruit I don’t even like that much.

That was the end of our glory though. Once actually fast people saw that jokers like us won, it was all over. We have never come close again, even with Code subbing out for Trophy the last couple of years.

Code was in again this year, and Trophy Hunting, Part 5 was trying the waters again. I keep hoping that the cycle will come back again, that teams will get discouraged and the competition level will get lower. I’ll save you the suspense – it doesnt. I had already done a quick “Strictly stalk” of the registered teams and it was looking grim. A bunch of cross country kids, the Spring Valley CC coach, plus the super fast team that won it last year were signed up. Yeah, we were dead on arrival.

Oh well, at least it would be a good test of a 2 miler. I was taking leg 1 and giving the anchor to the Code. I usually get to races an hour early, but I was feeling lazy and wound up with under a half hour to go by the time I drove up. Code was having a panic attack but it at least gave him some time to jog out to the exchange point.

Everyone and their mom was out there, though they didnt have the elite crowd they drew last year (won by Michael Banks in 19:20 something).  Justin was in ATL for the Peachtree 10k, but we had a decent Team Utopia presence with Julie (doing the relay with Jen Clyburn), Michael Nance, Stevie Dee, Jeff, Lucia, Mike Compton, Ivanka, the Yerg, Kris, Chris Fawver, Tracy, Michael Jensen, Hunter and Laurie.  Lots of Tour de Columbia regulars with Howie Phan, Scott Flicker, Jeff Godby, Shannon Iriel, Randy Hrechko. Billy Tisdale, Birgit Spann and husband Holger, Geary McAlsiter, Pete Poore, Pete O’ Boyle, Andy Mikula, Parker and Joe Roof, Naomi Rabon, Larry Bates, Jim and Sherry Fadel, Albert Anderson, Kathryn Cavanaugh, Meme Spurgeon, the Griffins, Pam Inman, Angel Manuel, Bill Iskrzak, Arnold Floyd, Harry Strick, Henry Holt, Ken Lowden, Rocky Soderberg, Jason Thompson, Jesse Smarr, Sharon Sherbourne, Laurin Long, Cait Costello, The Wards, Coleen Strasburger, Lisa King, Linn Hall, the Ferlautos. I’m leaving out a bunch of people but you get the point. Great CRC turnout.

Since we had no chance of winning, maybe we could at least race the girls. That would be fine except the top womens team had MC Cox and Kenzie Riddle, so I would have to spot the Code a nice lead for us to have a chance at that.

Well, with the start, MC let me know there was no way in hell that was happening. Took off like a beast out of the blocks and left me for dead. The start was weird because they relocated it from the Coplon’s parking lot (which had steeplechase pit like pot holes last year) to a small loop off of Trenholm. Although the footing was more secure, it was super narrow and I got boxed in. As soon as we left the loop (less than a quarter mile) we had the fun of ascending Mount Trenholm – a low grade but endless hill. It sucks jogging up this thing but going sub 6 pace makes you want to cry. At the top I was a half mile in and wanted to stop. Not only was MC way ahead but Angel and the Yerg were kicking my tail, and they were doing the whole four miles. It probably doesnt help I weigh about the three of them combined. Thankfully there’s a long downhill after this, but I’m never good at flying down declines, particularly steep ones in tropical locales.  I make out the mile clock and I can see I’m going to be way over my hope for a 5:50ish pace. Actually did about 6:09 – 2 whole seconds faster than my post cliff 5k pr pace. Way to go hero.

OK, a mile to go, just headless chicken it. It doesnt help that you have yet another nasty incline right after the mile marker, which essentially sits in a valley. At the top of that hill is a turn right and I know its basically all downhill or flat from here. I start trying to ramp it up some. It would probably help if my lungs would stop trying to free themselves from my chest. Those hills take a toll. I finally track down Angel, and I can make out Parker Roof, MC and the Yerg just ahead. Unfortunately I am pretty much toast though, and I’m not making up much ground. Just one short slight incline to the finish but it feels like a roundhouse to the gut. Any chance at sub 12 goes out the window but I do manage a feeble kick right on Parker’s heels. I apologize for the future “being chased by a rabid bear” nightmares, Parker. Hit mile 2 in 5:57, but I had an extra .04 by Garmin, probably due to my jockeying around in the early going.  Code took off after the hand slap and I collapsed in a crumpled heap, making sweet love to the asphalt.

I hung around to take some pics and then jogged back to the finish, some with Jen and Brooke, who was cursing her mother’s name for dragging her through all these hills. Code finished in about 12 minutes and we came in at 24:19 total – both chicked and Yergered, and in 7th place. Still a lot faster than the 2010 win but with competition 100 times more brutal.

Below are results from the Columbia Running Club newsletter. That editor sure is a great guy.

Let it be known that Shannon crushed the competition to take the overall female win.  Michael Lantz won on the mens side. John Charlton dominated male masters with a  blazing 5:49 pace 23:13., while SR’s Linn Hall  won among the women.  No surprise to see Birgit Spann and Billy Tisdale win grandmasters.

In the age groups, Brady Ward took the Under 10 division and Matt Fadel placed second in the 11-13.  Anna Jenkins, fresh from beating down the Blue Shoes at Red Bank, easily won the 11-13 females with an impressive sub 7 effort.  The Golbus twins won the 14-16 while Sarah Hudgins made mom and dad proud with a  first place in the 17-19. Eddie Lopez won the 20-24.  Jennifer Lybrand claimed yet another 25-29 victory in a PR 28:36.  Rob “the Yerg” Yerger topped a competitive 35-39 division over Angel Manuel and Michael Nance. Naomi Rabon won on the women’s side. Jeff Godby and Scott Flicker battled it out for 1-2 in the men’s 40-44, while Meme Spurgeon and Shanequa Coles placed among the women. Pam Inman and Sherry Fadel  took 2nd and 3rd in the 45-49, with Randy Hrechko placing 2nd in the mens division. Lisa King placed second in the 50-54, with Howie Phan taking the mens win.  The 55-59 men was swept by a trio of racing studs: Tisdale, Peter O’Boyle and Geary McAlister. Alsena Edwards won the 55-59 women. Mike Compton placed third in the 60-64 while Lynn Grimes placed second among the women. Ageless Albert Anderson won the 65-69 while Bill Iskrzak finished third. Nita Eichstaedt placed second in the 65-69 and husband Frank did the same in the 70+.  Arnold Floyd and Henry Holt placed first and third in the 70-98.

Oh, and don’t forget the relay. Competition was brutal this year, though I heard the 7th place team was very fast and devastatingly handsome. Mini Van on the Run (Julie Bitzel and Jen Clyburn) placed second among the female teams, with Super Foxes (Bri Hartley and Marie Demetriades) taking third.  Lets not forget Laurin Long also—winner of the costume contest!

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/14busa.txt