Run for Our Troops – Cayce, SC – 9/11/16


The Run for our Troops is a 5k in its 4th year, and is always held in the evening on September 11th, regardless of the day of the week. Based at the West Columbia Riverwalk, the event has become pretty big, with attendance in the 150-300 range over the years. Proceeds go to fund Hidden Wounds (a veteran’s advocacy group for PTSD, TBI and other post-combat conditions) , Team RWB and the host group, Cayce-West Columbia Jaycees.

I actually missed the first couple of RFOT’s, with the odd time and day, but the one last year was really cool and moving, so I wanted to come back. They have a nice ceremony preceding the race honoring veterans and those affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. The course is pretty unique with a finish on the Riverwalk itself.

This year, however, there was a construction issue on the certified course, so they opted for a one-time non-certified route in West Columbia. I noticed this a few weeks ago but didn’t bother to look that closely at it. Yeah…we will get to that.

You’d think I’d have learned from my rough weekend over Labor Day about race prep, but apparently that went right out the window. I have a few half marathons (Palmetto Foundation, Lexington, Kiawah) on the fall schedule, so I have been ramping up the long runs. I missed several weeks over the summer, but started out at 10 last month and got up to 12 last week. I ended up doing 14 on Saturday since there wasn’t a local race, but I couldn’t turn down an offer for tennis that morning either. Between the 14 miler and two hours of tennis in the heat, I was completely wrecked the rest of the day. Somehow my 17 year old brain hasn’t come to terms with the 41 year old body to which it’s attached. At least I took it easy on the beer and avoided getting tortured by a Hrechko-led body pump session. It was not looking good for a Sunday race.   Code was planning to run RFOT but wussed out after the Saturday long run. Typical Code.


I woke up on Sunday and thought I’d be mr. tin man again, but I think all the tennis actually acted as a prolonged stretch/cool down. A little sore but not too bad. I was all good until I left the house for the race that afternoon. Holy crap it was hot. Last weekend was a total tease that fall was here, and summer decided to come back with a vengeance. Like 95 degrees with a nice wet blanket of humidity. Fantastic.

I got there with a little less than an hour until race time, forgetting about the half-hour ceremony beforehand.  The place was pretty packed. I met up with Tracy for a warm up and got my first look at the course. O.M.G.  We started going uphill, then some more hill, oh, and lets add some steeper hill. Sun was beating me down. Eventually we stopped and tried to make sure we were still on course. I could barely see my phone through the blinding inferno in the sky and my oversized head wringing out sweat on my screen, but it turns out we stopped right at the turnaround.  OF THE FIRST HILL. Dear God. Three quarters of a mile straight up.  What’s next? Run back down and do the B avenue Ray Tanner climb just for funsies. At least the rest of the course was mercifully back down to the finish.  We only did the one hill up and down, but by the time I made it back to my car it felt like I had been on a caravan in the sahara. I took down every remaining drop of liquid in my car – the rest of my zoe’s kitchen tumbler of tea and half a cooler of nice warm leftover water from yesterday’s tennis match . Mmmm, tasty.

I ended up missing the opening ceremony with my impromptu drinking binge, instead seeking refuge in the shade near the start with CRC veterans Pete Poore, John Gasque, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Leeds Barroll and Brigitte and Garrett Smith. I’m sure our lifetime races would add up to several thousand. Liz Locke was also taking a rare break from the timing at SR to do a race. Later OJ and Shawanna showed up to dash , yet again, any remote hopes of a trophy hunt. The Yerg was there anyway, so he was probably ruining those chances too. Ever since he got his payback and winning the beer bet at Stomp the Swamp, he’s trying to bet a beer on every race. He may never pay for brew ever again at this rate. RWB brought out almost their whole crew including Omar Armstrong, Michael Beaudet, Jack Brklich, Teresa Shelton, Matt Havens, Joe Greene and Maria Huff. Scott Brewer, the unwitting photobomber of the legendary Code-Blue Shoes Jailbreak finish, was on hand.


Carrie Miller, Melinda, Bob and Reese Petruzzi, Hou-Yin Chang, Ken and Patti Lowden, and Kat Vorhauer were some other familiar faces. Gretchen Lambert and Sammye Locklair are some frequent racers newly popping up on the Blue Shoes age group radar recently.

The start is sudden and off I go at 5k race pace straight up a hill in the 90+ degree heat. Fun times.  Surprisingly, it feels marginally better than my warm up slog, probably because you get at least a little breeze running faster. Striggles and Shawanna immediately shoot to the front followed by some ripped young guy and a mini pack with me, Liz Locke, Scott Brewer, a random shirtless guy and the Yerg. Legs actually feel decent, though I could do without the suffocating wet blanket of Columbia’s famous heat and humidity.  Yerg starts to gap us a bit near 9th street as the hill decides to kick it up a notch. The Yerg may be kicking my ass and taking my beer of late, but I have to at least make him earn it. Plus, you never know when he might pull a Code-esque epic bonk, a la his 2015 Stomp the Swamp or my own 2015 Bayler’s Bash. We reach the top, navigate a short block and then start plummeting back down. Shawanna and OJ are still visible but they are giving the rest of the field their typical beatdown. I feel surprisingly good and I start being all impressed with myself until the Garmin spits back its first split. 6:54. WTF?? Nice half marathon pace mile in a 5k, hero. I try to step it up on the ensuing decline, but I am notoriously bad at going downhill. You’d think a 190 pound boulder would have some serious kinetic energy, though mine seems to get wasted in head flopping, unnecessary braking and assorted Elaine Benes dance moves. It’s not pretty.

We (and by this time I should say “I” since I’m getting left for dead by this point) hit the turnaround with the water station. I would have grabbed a cup but I wasn’t sure if the day-old tennis water and chugged sweet tea wanted the company. I then turn onto B avenue – the site where many a Ray Tanner 12k dream has been crushed. And damn it starts to suck real quick. Halfway up there’s a big patch of sun, a shadeless inferno of pain. Just my brief time in this oven sucks any remaining will to live, sun shining off my oversized noggin like a giant solar panel. But at least I’ve made some ground on shirtless guy and the Yerg, who are now both feeling the pain. I hit mile 2 in 6:39. Wow, I’ve almost made it to 10k pace now.

I know the last 1.1 must be almost all downhill, but I’m having a hard time generating any will to push it. Yerg is still 39 and outside my AG for another 3 months, and surely this random guy is not 40, right? Yeah… again, we’ll get to that. More flopping and albino incoordination follow on the long downhill back to State Street. I keep wishing I could really haul some ass on this part but the B avenue climb has sucker punched me and I’m still trying to catch my breath.  Striggles and White are barely even visible at this point and are way out of the picture by the time I hit State. I forget State has a little roll to it and the last mini incline saps any thought I had of catching shirtless guy. I turn the last corner near New Brookland tavern and I’m very surprised to see low 19’s. I must have really crushed that last mile. But wait, I never felt the 3rd mile buzz on my watch. I hit the finish in 19:46, hit my watch and then see why. 2.98 miles. My new 4.8k PR. But hey, I’ll take it since I knew it was uncertified and this brutal course needs a handicap anyway. Hopefully we’ll get the old course back next year.

In the overall, OJ cruised to a first place finish, repeating as champion from his 2014 win. Devante Kinlaw was 2nd with the Yerg taking home third. Shawanna took the ladies win, just a few steps back from Striggles. Liz won second and Jasmine Harris third. Awesome eagle trophies for the overall winners.

Age group honor roll: Reese Petruzzi placed second in the 2-14. Omar and Matt Havens placed 1-2 in the 35-39. Turns out the guy in front of me was 44 year old Andrew Ortaglia, so I got all of second in age group (3rd if you consider OJ) for being 6th overall. Damn these old dudes are fast. Gretchen Lambert won the 40-44 women. Tracy won the 45-49 women, while Scott Brewer and Jack Brklich were champs of the 45-49 men. Sammye Locklair and Carrie Miller won the 50-54 women. Tour de Columbia director John Gasque won 2nd in the 55-59 men. Mike Compton was the 60-64 champion. Henry Holt scored an impressive 65-98 win, with Ken Lowden 3rd. Patti Lowden and Brigitte Smith went 1-2 among the women.


Labor Day 5 miler -Columbia, SC – 9/4/16



The Labor Day 5 miler is now the standalone race on the holiday, in its 4th year.It’s hosted by Strictly Running and it has now come to rival its other classic races (i.e. Hot Summer’s Night, Born in the USA and Cold Winter’s Day) in popularity. It’s been helped in recent years with some other races going under, like the Blythewood 5k/10k and the Labor Day Fitness Fest 15k. The Chapin Crooked Creek 5k is still on the same weekend, so I usually do a long double dip with these two.

The first year of this race was a big event with some pro Kenyans and a winning time in 24:08. I was still hobbling from my Hawaii cliff adventure at the time, so I had to skip that one with picture duty only. In 2014 the course got changed a bit with Strictly’s new store, but retained a similar elevation profile. I did the relay that year with my oldest son (11 at the time). Unfortunately that year was brutally hot – I nearly died on my slow 2.5 miler and then my son cursed my name a thousand times on his half (he hadn’t trained at all). I did spot him a lead on most of the field but I think we got passed by virtually everyone.


I finally got my chance to race the whole thing myself in 2015. I couldn’t remember the specifics other than I kind of sucked, but it turns out that my Labor Day activities were not well suited to race preparation. See here: Hopefully I could remedy that this year. Right.

So lets summarize my “race prep” this year. Thursday: Wings and beer and late night watching my Gamecocks struggle to beat Vandy. Friday: Learning the Crooked Creek 5k was postponed, getting stir crazy, then running 5 miles in the middle of Tropical Storm Hermine. Saturday: 12 miles with the Code, Randy, Colleen, Rick Gibbons and Flicker. Two hours of tennis. Opening Saturday night college football games at our  friends’ house. More beer. Sunday: I swear I was going to rest up. But even though I was a lazy teen, I’m like an ADHD middle aged dude. Had to get out, so I went to the gym. Was almost done with my workout when Randy showed up to teach his Body Pump class. Declined, then got sucked in. 60 minutes of building up lactic acid in every muscle of my body. But hey, I actually felt pretty loose. Quaker Steak and Lube with the fam for dinner. More beer. Monday morning: Waking up like the tin man who got in a bar fight. This was going to be ugly.

But hey, I was already registered, so apparently I’d rather be tortured than simply waste 25 bucks. I got there an hour ahead of time, in the pitch dark (race time was 7:30), and “running hard” was far down the list of preferred activities for that time, headed by sleep and taking ibuprofen. A few minutes later my nemesis/friend Code showed up along with the TortureMaster himself, Randy. Luckily we were all not super thrilled about racing so I got a chance to meet Wilson Lybrand before we warmed up. He’s like the calmest baby ever and will probably be whipping my butt in 5ks in about 14 years. Once we did get around to the warmup, things weren’t getting much better. Felt like David Ortiz had taken some batting practice against my quads. Because learning to do lunges is a great thing to do 18 hours before race time.

This being a Strictly race there were plenty of beasts this year, though not the pros they had in years past. Eric Ashton was on board with wife Sara. Eric was wearing his plain white “I just threw this on but I can pretty much kick your ass anyway” singlet. I figured he had the win in hand without Striggles or Bishop to give him a challenge. Hunter McGahee and TUS beasts Michael Nance and David Russell , along with some other fit younger guys would be battling it out well ahead of me. In my radar, the Yerg would probably give me another sizable beatdown, but the Code, Wilson Harvey, Whitney Keen, Randy and Jen Kryzanowski would surely be near. Chandler Barrett, the 17 year old kid from the Press Box 5k was there, but I haven’t figured out his pace yet. Other familiar faces were Naomi Rabon making a rare road racing appearance.  TUS’ Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Greta Dobe, Mario Alvarez, Kana Rahman, Colleen Vowles, Sheila Bolin, Michael Jensen, Mike Compton, Mike Hudgins  were representing at one of coach Bishop’s benchmark races.  Jim and Sherry Fadel, Linn Hall, MC Cox, Larry Jourdain, Alex Wilcox, Micah Simonsen, Geary McAlister, Pete Poore, Jennifer Glass, Kimberly Hardin, Omar Armstrong, Coleen Strasburger, Caroline and Julia Keen, Pamela Knapp, Kim La, Kelly Ghent, John Zemp, Brigitte Smith, Charlene Fink, Lorand Batten, Alsena Edwards, Arnold Floyd, Lynn Grimes, Melinda Kurhan, Alex Ponomarev, Henry Holt, Carrie Miller, Peter Mugglestone, Reese and Melinda Petruzzi, Hou-Yin Chang, Jessica Weaver, Jennifer Reeves, Debbie McCauley and Kerry Stubbs were some familiar faces at the start and later on course picture duty. Speaking of picture duty, Roy Shelley was on board with Tracy’s awesome camera as official Columbia Running Club photog for this event.

Before trashing my body this weekend, I had two conflicting race strategies that I was mulling over. One was to jump on Code’s back like an oversized monkey and hang on for dear life, the other was to run my own race and hope to catch him at the end (he goes out ridiculously fast). I didn’t see any other of the usual age group suspects, so I figured it was a just a duel of the white and nerdy for the coveted 40-44 crown and first masters not named Eric.

The course is essentially 3 loops – one in Old Shandon behind Strictly, one looping around MLK park and through 5 Points, and one rectangle in Shandon with a finish in front of the Strictly store. The major hill is the Blossom-King incline coming out of 5 points, shared by the Get to the Green 5k in March. There’s also a kind of nasty incline right off the bat in the first half mile, and the usual Shandon slight roll. Overall not too bad, provided you don’t die on Blossom-King.

The start, predictably, feels like death. Cardio is fine but I still haven’t exorcised the bar-fighting tin man from my body. The David Ortiz hammies are begging for mercy. Code has apparently been listening to Bishop and was told to take a chill on this first incline, hanging back with me and Randy. As soon as we hit the turn on Cypress though, he starts taking off. I start to make chase but the thighs vetoed that decision real quick. I let him go but try to keep him in range. He joins a pack with Whitney and Jen K  up ahead and seems to stick with them. I’ve got Wilson hanging with me when I realize he may be trying to return the epic blue shoeing he got on Devine St last year. Randy is still hanging when we go through the first mile in 6:29. This is surprisingly fast, since it feels like I’ve been fighting my lower body the whole way. It’s about perfect for what I should be able to do for 5 miles, so I try and focus on matching that pace. Just after the mile mark is a freefall into MLK park. I attempt to let go a bit on the hill and let gravity pound out some of this soreness. As we round MLK and head out onto Harden, it seems like Randy has fallen back a couple of steps and Wilson is a few paces ahead. It feels good to be on level ground but I know that’s about to change soon. Five Points was built on a swamp so you pretty much have to climb any way you leave the area, whether you’re racing in 2016 or stumbling home in 1995. Or so I’ve heard.


Mile 2 in 6:34, right as you turn onto Blossom. Predictably, the Blossom street hill exacts a heavy toll and I pass a bunch of people who don’t obsessively train on hills. Code is also known for his mountain climbing and I can see him and the Yerg both crushing it. Justin’s Henderson st repeats must be paying dividends. Got to make it to TUS practice more. The half way mark and relay exchange is on King street right before Wheat. I see Linn Hall and Larry Jourdain are actually part of the relay. This makes me feel a little better because Linn was WAY ahead of me and I thought she was taking the start crazy fast. Also, Larry missed the start, ran back a good block to the official line, and still passed me only a half mile in. I run through in 16:34 , which is almost identical to my relay  split in 2014 and 30+ seconds faster than last year, so not too bad (though way off my 5 miler PR) . It’s such a relief to hit Hand Middle School because I know most of the hill work is done. I’m cruising along basically in Wilson’s wake. This drafting would probably work better if I wasn’t like twice his mass, but I’ll take whatever windbreak I can get. We make the turn onto Heyward for a long straight stretch. Drew Williams suddenly appears but he’s not racing , saving a Sasquatch showdown for another day. Code and Yerg are still within sight the whole long stretch, and seemingly getting closer. Whitney has fallen off the back of the pack and seems within striking distance. Mile 3 in 6:43, an expected slowdown with the hill.

By the time we hit the turnaround of the final loop on Ott, I’m certainly sucking some wind, but I’m energized by pulling in some of the field and making some passes. Wilson is killing it and is not letting up, so I use him as a pacer. Mile 4 in 6:38, which I’m not thrilled about. With a mile to go, I start ramping it up because I’m going to have to make a move to catch Whitney or Code. I finally catch Whitney , and surprisingly, Chandler, just before we turn onto Devine.  I figured Whitney was done but I was sorely mistaken. He is not taking kindly to getting Sasquatched, so he latches on to my side and even surges a step ahead. Oh hellz no. I start 1983 Sister Christian MOTORING it on Devine street, thinking this kick is going to leave him in the dust. Nope. He’s matching me stride for stride. By this time we can see the finish line in the distance. Having raced the same stretch last year and many times at Get to the Green, I know it looks closer than it really is. A half mile from the finish, I turn it up another notch, thinking surely this will be the decisive move. Again I get nothing – Whitney is throwing down like there is no tomorrow. By the time we reach about 3 blocks away we are both flailing away at 10000% percent effort side by side. And finally, finally I get a little separation. Those three blocks seem to take forever as my lungs struggle to break free from my chest and my whole body is begging for mercy. Code is just ahead but there’s not enough room to catch him. What’s worse, Wilson has been oblivious to this whole epic cage match because he has blown us both away. I’m scared to death of Whitney blue shoeing me at the line, but I manage to flop across at Mach 5 at about 32:39 a few steps ahead of him. Last split 6:11.

Ended up 2nd in the 40-44 behind the Code. I’m OK with the time given the way I felt at the start, though still a good 30 seconds off my best 5 mile time. There were donuts and beer at the finish, which is way better than most post race spreads. Age group awards were watermelons like Born in the USA, also pretty cool.

In the overall, Eric Ashton crushed the field by a minute at 5:28 pace at age 48. Pretty sure he is not human. Billy Grimes took second with Hunter McGahee 3rd. On the women’s side, Sara Ashton was an easy winner in 29:38 with Tammy Putt and Jennifer Kryzanowski also claiming the podium.

No masters in this race though Code and Colleen would have taken the crowns. Age group honors: Reese Petruzzi was 3rd in the 11-14.  Lindsay Fadel and Julia Keen took the top two 15-19 girls with Chandler Barrett winning on the guys’ side. Wilson Harvey won the 25-29 and must have done about 6 flat in his last mile – very impressive. Jennifer Lybrand is on the comeback from childbirth and is already placing in age groups again, taking second in the women’s 25-29.  TUS’ David Russell and RWB’s Kimberly Hardin were champs of the 30-34. Michael Nance and Rob Yerger took first and third in the 35-39 men. Naomi Rabon won the 35-39 with Pamela Knapp 3rd. Colleen Vowles, Sherri Mims and Caroline Keen took the 40-44 women. Whitney Keen and Randy Hrechko took the top two in the 45-49 men. Tracy Tisdale-Williams placed 3rd in the 45-49 women in a close battle with Heather Hawn. Mario Alvarez won the 50-54 men. Charlene Fink and Colleen Reed went 1-2 in the 50-54 women. John Bradley, Geary McAlister and Hal Ray swept the 55-59 men, while Colleen Strasburger and Alsena Edwards took the top two among the women. Mike Compton and Lynn Grimes both took 2nd in the 60-64. Alex Ponomarev and Brigitte Smith were champs of the 65-69. Arnold Floyd and Peter Mugglestone went 1-2 in the 70-74, while Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr won the 75+.

In the relay, Erin Miller and Larry Jourdain teamed up for a 30:14 finish and first place overall. MC Cox and Linn Hall took the women’s win. Of course, in one of the few years I don’t do a relay in a Strictly race, there are NO MEN’S TEAMS. I could have run it with little Alex again and won. A trophy hunt missed.

And lets not forget the costumes. Melinda Kurhan pulled off a close victory over Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Savage.





Springdale at Sunrise 5k – Camden, SC -8/20/16


The Springdale 5k is a race held near the Springdale horse track in Camden, going to benefit the Kershaw County United Way. I first got interested in this race in its first year in 2009. At that time, it was called the Springdale at Sunset, since it was held at 7 pm, and was actually staged on the horse track itself. All I remember from that race is that it was 94 degrees at race time, and the grass was ankle length the whole way. I died a thousand deaths on that course that night, going out too fast and then almost walking in the last mile. I got into an epic pissing match with Chad Long, with him passing me 200 meters from the finish and then me blowing by him right before the tape. One of my deepest race photo regrets was not buying the whole 8 pic montage of that incident, complete with horrific race faces and a sweaty, bare bellied contortion at line, where I leaned at the tape like an Olympic 100 meter final. Strictly Running, if you have these in your vault somewhere, I will pay a premium for their recovery. I did get the “win” though, a meaningless 8th place over 2 minutes slower than my PR at the time.


2010: for grins and giggles:

But that was many years ago. Sadly, they’ve moved the race off the track and into the surrounding neighborhoods. It certainly has made for a more comfortable race, but they’ve taken away the post race party with beer and music they had in 2009.  I had missed the race for a few years before coming back in 2015, fresh off a summer plagued with injury and low mileage. As my melon headed grandiosity is wont to think, I went out last year like I was in the peak of fitness, only to suffer one of the most painful last miles of all time. I almost walked and ended up with a 20:40, my slowest time in years. To make things worse, Brandenburg was on hand to revel in my shame. See below:


A year later, having had a much more productive summer, I hoped to erase that miserable death march from my memory.



Course Map

The map, of course, doesn’t do the route justice. Basically you drop in elevation almost the entire first half, lulling you into a false sense of confidence. You then make that turn on Forest drive and then realize, oh yeah, this is a loop course and you’re going to have to climb all the way back. Don’t forget you’re in South Carolina in August. Fun times. None of it is super steep, just unrelenting and  when your legs and lungs are toast. Be forewarned.

I showed up on race day my usual hour early, but spent most of it avoiding a warm up in the heat. To be fair it wasn’t super hot , but the rain the night before rendered some sauna-like conditions. 75 degrees and 89 percent humidity per Garmin. Erin Roof and Eggplant Events, along with Start2Finish timing always do a good job with the set up and things were going smoothly. Sadly, I missed the elaborate packet pickup event they had the night before. I’m all for pre-race parties but I wasn’t making the hour round trip to  Camden for that. I was pretty impressed with the horseshoe trophies and post-race waffle station they were setting up.

I did a solo mile warmup and tried to scope out the competition.  Chandler Barrett’s sister from last weeks Press Box 5k points me out as “that guy who wrote the article about my brother”.  Lolz. I didn’t see any adult elites, though Parker Roof was on hand and a pack of teens I assume were Camden high cross country. The holy grail was probably off the table. In my range, there was only Wilson Harvey and Whitney Keen  I recognized. Since I was out of Columbia though, you never know which randoms might come out and steal your trophies. We would see. John Gasque, Rocky Soderberg, Pete Poore, Brigitte Smith were the CRC regulars on hand. Betsy and Chad Long, Kara Clyburn, Martie McCallum (taking pictures)  and Caroline and Julia Keen were representing for the Camden/Lugoff/Elgin contingent. Kerry Stubbs was there for RWB.


In case you had any wonder why I call myself a Sasquatch – photo courtesy of Martie McCallum

Starting horn goes off and we get released on the roller coaster downhill of the first mile. Parker and the Camden kids sprint out ahead of me. As we plunge down the hill, a guy with grey hair and a sleeveless tech shirt pulls alongside of me. I always worry about the superfit soccer dad types but this guy may be another trophy stealer, the aging elite. Aging elites ran like 15 minute 5ks when they were younger but still throw down 19’s in their 50’s and 60’s and take my precious masters points. Dave Geer pulled this trick on me at the Richland RUNS 10k in 2014 – I try to hang with an unassuming 60 year old guy , and he ends up spanking me in 37 minutes and sets at a state age group record. That was before I knew who he was. The guy this morning seems pretty fit but he drifts back at about the half mile mark. As we near the mile mark, another guy pulls up alongside the Albino Sasquatch freight train, who I recognize as leading the high school guys on their warm up run. I tell him how nice it is to have all this downhill, but how that trip back isn’t going to be so much fun. I was just running my mouth but I think it ended up coming out as some kind of psychological warfare. Either way, he drops back just after we pass the mile mark in a brisk 6:06.  Most of the downhill has faded away by this point but at least its flat on 5 Bridge Rd and Brook Dr .

At 1.69 miles is the turn on to Forest Drive and you’d better be ready. Nothing but a gradual incline all the way back. I know its coming, but it still sucks. The pace feels a lot slower as we start slogging up the hill – again, not steep but gradual and unrelenting. Since I spend much of my time suffering on the mountainous entrance road to Sesqui park, I can feel the hill engine kick into gear. Mile 2 passes in 6:18, so still pretty good. I know mile 3 is all uphill. A couple of the kids and some fit-looking 20 something guy have paid the price for their sub 6 first mile as the incline and the warm blanket humidity start to take their toll. I pass these guys and plow ahead, arms churning and trying to lift those legs. By 2.5 miles in I’m starting to hurt pretty bad myself. I keep having hallucinations that the finish is just around the next turn , but I keep getting disappointed until I start checking my watch to prevent any further mirages. I am pretty much toast at this point until I realize the runner up ahead is Parker Roof, and he’s looking back. This gives me a jolt of adrenaline and I try to surge ahead. I start making up some ground but just as I make some headway, the real finish appears. I figure I’m running third and definitely first guy that can legally buy a beer, because there were just high school kids at the front. I see the clock turn over to 19 from way out and I sprint to the finish in 19:28 and change, flopping on the gravel over the line. I just can’t coast on in, apparently. Erin makes sure to capture my gravel road love making in all its ugliness.


Dr. Pasty Thighs


I’m so sure I got third I don’t bother to check the results until Erin tells me Parker took 3rd and was feeling pukish at the finish. I guess turning around and seeing my third mile kick is scary enough to turn the stomach. Turns out there were 2 kids up ahead and I actually took 4th . But hey, I’ve got 25 years on all these guys, so I was pretty jacked. 1:12 faster than last years debacle and first masters – pretty sweet. Good thing Springdale regulars Brandenburg and Bedenbaugh stayed home!

In the overall, Garrett Lawson and Samuel Messinides took the top 2 spots with Parker 3rd. Sharon Cole took yet another win among the women, with Whitney and Caroline’s daughter Julia placing 2nd. Laura Holt placed 3rd. In masters, Kara Clyburn took 2nd without any idea what masters is, since she just turned 40. I told her its awesome to be old. Emily Skufka and Heather hawn placed 1st and 3rd. Whitney Keen took 2nd masters among the men.

Age group honor roll: Wilson Harvey set out to break 20 and did just that with a 19:53 and a 25-29 win. Garrick Douglas placed 1st in the 30-34, with Melinda Kurhan 3rd. Chad Long finally recovered from the 2009 showdown and took 1st in the 40-44. Caroline Keen won the 40-44 women in a very good day for team Keen. My med school classmate Michael Nienhuis won the 45-49 with Mark Chickering 2nd. Joe Roof crushed the 50-54 by 6 minutes.  John Gasque took 2nd in the 55-59, with Pete Poore taking the 60-64. Brigitte Smith continued her domination of the 65-69, while Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg placed 1st and 3rd in the 70+. Great turnout for this race and a big enthusiastic presence by Camden High – nice job to Erin Roof for continuing her awesome race directing with Eggplant.




Philip’s Nighttime 5k – Lake Carolina – Columbia, SC -8/13/16



I’ll admit, this was a complete, unabashed trophy hunt. After suffering a world of hurt at the Press Box 5k, I came home and crashed for a couple of hours. Like zonked out, totally asleep. I woke up and felt a lot better, and then I remembered there was a second Tour de Columbia race that night. My insider sources told me there was going to be a meager turnout, which I expected with the Press Box and 811 races in the morning. I was fully expecting to be doing something that evening, but it turns out my social director let me know there was nothing on the schedule. I tried to resist my addiction all afternoon, but eventually I succumbed to the urge to double dip at the Philip’s Nighttime 5k. This was a race at 7 pm , at Lake Carolina, only about 15 minutes from my house. I was in.

Surpisingly, these delayed double dips are actually more tricky than the more typical morning races in rapid succession. Almost 12 hours is plenty of time to get tight and sore, and to lose all motivation to race. But I had studied under the tutelage of the great double dippers before me, like John Gasque, Pete Poore and William Schmitz, and I was now a total professional. My PhD thesis was the 2013 March triple dip, 3 5ks in less than 3 hours, with a total spanking of Trophy McGaha in the final race. Such a beautiful thing.



I showed up super early to Phillip’s and there were only a handful of people there, none of which I knew. Shannon, Jeff, George and Susannah were there for Jackrabbit Timing. They confirmed only about 20 people registered. Bad for the race, good for the trophies. I have zero shame when it comes to shooting for the holy grail, the overall victory. Plus, Lake Carolina was the scene of one of my few wins, a 2013 New Years day 5k put on by Velocity Distance Project, a one-and-done race with very little evidence of my victory against like 30 other people. I did a solo warmup of about a mile which was pretty miserable. It was just like Press Box only about 15 degrees hotter. To boot, Shannon informed me of the course, which I recognized as the Harborside Lights 5k route. This hilly monster produces slow times even in December.

But maybe I could mail it in. Jonathan Kirkwood showed up, though, and this made me a little scared. True, I knew Jonathan hasn’t broken 20 minutes, but I was weakened and he had put up a good fight at Hot Summer’s Night. Plus, he’s like 60 pounds lighter than me. Damn, I was going to have to try.

There was a bit of a delay in the start, but apparently it was for the RD to assure everything was in place before they got started. I wasn’t complaining, figuring every minute meant a little but cooler. Probably 90 degrees at the start, high humidity. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but we seemed to be starting at a random point in Lake Carolina’s Town Center, away from the Harborside start line. Only about 20 people at the start. Melinda and Reese Petruzzi were also double dipping. Rocky, Jonathan and Katharina Vorhauer were the only other people I recognized. There were a couple of other fit guys that concerned me, but I think both had headphones, which I rarely see with runners under 7 minute pace.

With the start, Jonathan takes off like a beast and I am caught by surprise. It’s not 100 meters in and I’m already running faster than I had planned. The lead cop car pauses at the middle of the divided lake carolina drive entrance road, and Jonathan turns left into the oncoming traffic. Holy crap. I’m hugging the right side of the lane as traffic comes to a momentary standstill. Jonathan starts to veer off to the left at the traffic circle so I yell at him to come back to the course. He responds by jumping right in front of an SUV, scaring me to death. Dude means business. The first mile is almost all downhill through Harborside. Kirkwood is crushing it downhill, like a springy gazelle behind a lumbering grizzly. This grizzly is trying to rein it in a bit because a) I’m not sure how much is in the tank after Press Box and b) the remainder of the course is an unrelenting hell. Ok , I may be exaggerating a bit, but you have to climb right back out of Harborside and then scale a miserable out and back mountain loop.

We hit the bottom of the Harborside loop at the lake and I’m sitting about 10 meters back. We make the turn and the hill going back up hits like a ton of bricks. Mile 1 in 6:23, though it felt faster. Jonathan is still a little bit ahead and I briefly consider the thought of letting him go. It would be nice to take it easy, Jonathan would get the win and everything would be great, right? WHO AM I KIDDING? Yeah, I would probably blue shoe my mom if it meant getting first place. Less than half way up the hill I’ve made up the gap and surge to the front. Oh God – I’m on my own now, hopefully. Just don’t blow yourself up. I’m hurting by the time we finally get back onto Lake Carolina Drive and mercifully there’s an immediate plunge downhill (which I know I’ll get the privilege of climbing back up on the way back).  I hit the bottom of the valley and then here comes the pain. A half mile straight up. The first part seems OK but pretty soon the 93 degree heat starts taking its toll. By the time I near the turnaround it feels like I’m barely moving and sucking some serious wind. Split is 6:43, slowest 5k mile in a long time. I’ll take it considering the double dip and the conditions, though. I’m not sure where Kirkwood is, but I’m sure he’s lurking not too far behind.

Just after the mile 2 mark is the plunge back down the half mile hill. Legs are toast at this point. Just flopping down the hill as hard as I can go. One last steep hill to go. I’ve got nothing left, but seeing the Town Center sign up ahead surges the adrenaline. Rounding the last turn I can make out the clock and I’m shocked to see it still in the 18’s. I can’t hear anything behind me but I make sure to sprint it out to make sure. I cross in 19:15, 1st overall! Garmin shows a super short course at 2.97, which makes sense since we got about a couple hundred meters head start from where we were supposed to begin.


OK, so winning a 21 person race probably isn’t something to brag about, but crossing that finish line first never gets old. Second holy grail of the year! Nice lamp as the trophy too.

In the overall, Kirkwood easily got 2nd in 20:10, followed by Stephen Barlow. Sonya Sumpter-Green won the women’s race followed by Carrie Miller and Sierra Sumpter. Rocky Soderberg and Melinda Petruzzi also scored some trophies, placing 3rd male masters and 1st female masters respectively.  In the age groups, Reese Petruzzi won 2nd and Jeremy Vorhauer 3rd in the 0-14 with Jacqueline Vorhauer 2nd among the girls. Katharina Vorhauer won the 35-39.





Race to the Press Box 5k – Lugoff, SC – 8/12/16


The Able Club Race to the Press Box is now in its 3rd year, directed by runner and softball mom extraordinaire Amanda Holland and going to benefit Lugoff-Elgin’s Dorton/Evans Scholarship fund. I did the race 2 years ago when it was in May. Then I gave Lady McGaha and Whitney Keen a beatdown after an early challenge, but got smoked by Bedenbaugh and Heather Costello. Heather ended up winning the whole thing.

Last year the race coincided with a couple of other events, so I ended up missing it. To avoid conflict this year,  Amanda moved the race to the current date in August. I am a sucker for small town races – always good for a change of scenery, and of course the smaller crowds amp up the trophy opportunities.

Speaking of amped up, I was pretty jacked about last week’s Hot Summer Night – a 19:15 on a brutally hot night and actually a 2016 PR. Code Brown was so demoralized he had to phone in a 22 minute effort after the Sasquatch pulled away. Even though I knew the Press Box has a longish course (though certified), its rural site and competition with the ridiculously cheap 811 5k sent my trophy sense a-tingling.

So what do I do to prepare? Everything you shouldn’t.  I got home late from work on Friday and did a brisk, hilly 4 miler in the 95 degree heat. Came home in a dehydrated sweaty mess and then left for the Fireflies game less than an hour later. Four bud lights, a crap-ton of really bad ballpark food and a long game with fireworks meant I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight. My 1995 self would scoff at this “night out” but my 41 year old self knew this would not be pretty in the morning.

And oh was I right.  Alarm rang and it felt like I had passed out in the Sahara desert.  All cottonmouthed and the stomach was none too happy. Apparently draining a gallon of sweat out and then replacing it with watery American macrobrew is not a recipe for good hydration. In addition to feeling sleepy-tired , I was double fisting Gatorade and coffee on the way to my morning date with the Lugoff-Elgin stadium restroom.

Luckily, Lugoff is only about 20 minutes from my house, actually closer than a lot of Columbia races. I was still running late though, as my stomach waged an unholy war against the Single A league ballpark soft tacos. Dear God make it stop. I finally emerged sweaty and victorious, but I had less than 15 minutes until race time, so I did a half lap on the track and a few stretches before they called us to the start line. My trophy hopes were dashed immediately with the presence of Columbia’s running power couple, OJ Striggles and Shawanna White. Plus, my nemesis Drew Williams was on hand to probably give me the beat down too. Robbie McLendon, Betsy Long, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, John Gasque, Pete Poore, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Andrew Lipps, Heather Costello, Brigitte Smith, Caprice Poore and the Robertsons were some familiar faces.


After having high hopes the past week, my race strategy morphed into just surviving by this point. In addition to the tenuous state of my belly, I was facing about 80 degree heat with high humidity. Plus, I knew the course to be slightly uphill most of the second half. Let’s not forget the zero warmup. This was going to be ugly.

Sure enough, the gun goes off and there’s no denying, everything feels like crap. Shawanna and OJ separate out right away with some teenager latching on. Drew and Heather are the next ones back, followed by a few teens and finally me. First mile is a good one for a fast start , since it’s a gradual downhill where you can go hard and not have to brake. Without the warmup, my legs are still ridiculously tight and everything feels sluggish. My morning routine was so chaotic that I forgot my sunglasses, so of course now I’m completely blinded running right into the sun. Drew is starting to pull away but there’s not much I can do.  After replaying this Debbie Downer stuff in my head for a while, I realize we are nearing the mile marker as the course starts to level out. I am sure it’s going to be close to 7 minute pace when my Garmin suddenly spits out a 6:10. WTH?I’m totally confused but I know it’s legit as I know the course. Williams and maybe Costello must have gone sub 6.

The downhill mile must have been good for my system since I think the Bud Light toxins got flushed out and the legs finally start moving again. This is good, because the course is done with its fun and games and is about to get real Janet Jackson nasty in a second. Somehow I manage to pass Heather early in mile 2 and do a few short turns before we hit a long straight hill (I think Critzer dr if I’m reading the map correctly). Suprisingly, I can see Shawanna and OJ up ahead with the lead police car, so OJ is clearly just pacing with her and Shawanna is probably mailing it in too. The teenager has fallen back quite a bit near Drew. We’ve already done some climbing, so I seem to remember that most of the rest of the elevation gain is on this hill, with mostly flat thereafter (editor’s note: this is dead wrong by my garmin data, all slow uphill to the finish). I almost caught Coach B on the hill in 2014 until he had enough of some pasty Sasquatch trying to steal his thunder.

I decide to push most of my metaphorical chips in the table at this point, figuring that the hills have always been my friend. I power up all of Mt. Critzer as best I can, arms pumping and fighting the morning sun.  By the time I reach the top I’ve reeled in Drew pretty close, with the kid not too far in front of him. Mile 2 was right near the summit, 6:25 split. By this time the heat has really built up and I am definitely starting to hurt, my only solace being that these guys went out way faster than me and may be dying more. I finally catch Drew after taking a painfully long time to close the gap. I’m pretty sure he could see my giant shadow lurking behind him. The kid had no idea what was going on because all of a sudden he jumps back in apparent fright when he feels a rabid bear barreling down on him. He looks pretty fit, so I can only think he’s toast for making the very bad decision to try and hang with Shawanna and OJ.  Dude, I could have told you that. After passing him I start to recognize the area near the stadium so I give it all I’ve got…which is pretty much nothing at this point. The engine is overheated and I am dying a slow death. I finally hit the track for the painful half lap to the finish. I usually love the track, but it feels like an oven out in the sun. Up ahead I can make out the red numbers and its getting close to 20. Damn, I forgot this course was a little long (3.16-3.20 by informal survey). I launch into full headless chicken mode, form going completely to hell. I slap my Garmin just as I hit the mat – 19:59.9. YES. I knew Strictly’s timing system would round it up to 20 flat, but at least I could rest assured that ugly display was not all for naught (Ashley from SR also verified a 19:59 and change by the official time).  Mark Robertson captured the horrific scene on video and Nicole captured a race face for the ages:



In the overall, Shawanna took the win in 19:10 with OJ a step behind.  Easy money for both. Sasquatch and the kid (Chandler Barrett)  finished the podium for the guys while Heather Costello and Sharon Cole placed 2nd and 3rd for the women.


Age group honor roll (awards were rubber footballs,  really cool) : Amanda’s daughter Sophie won the women’s 15-24. Heather Costello and Betsy Long won the women’s 35-44 , while myself and Drew went 1-2 among the men.  Andrew Lipps placed 3rd in the 45-54, with Sharon Cole winning among the women.  The 55-64 was a CRC sweep with Robbie McClendon, John Gasque and Pete Poore. Melinda Petruzzi won the women’s 55-64. Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg won 1st and 3rd in the 65-98 men, with Brigitte Smith claiming the women’s top spot.

Hot Summer’s Night 5k – Columbia, SC – Shandon- 8/6/2016


Hot Summer’s Night is one of the oldest races in Columbia, run continuously since my senior year in high school (1993), and is usually the most competitive race of the summer. It’s a companion race to the younger Cold Winter’s Day and put on by Strictly Running, so it’s always high quality.

But…I first ran this race in 2009, and I think I swore I’d never do it again. Not anything against the race organization, it’s just that this race is very, very aptly named. Early August is usually in the deepest depths of the Dante’s inferno we call Columbia in the summertime. This race starts at 7 pm, which usually means it hasn’t cooled down past 90. I was oblivious to these obvious facts in my first attempt, and even brought my whole family out to watch me. My then 4 and 6 year old did the kids run around the Hand Middle School cinder track and loved it. Me, not so much. I went out like a bat out of hell, not having any idea what heat can do to your race times. I was pretty much delirious at the finish – I was walking around moaning and tossing off my shoes, pouring water over myself. Like most of my race performances, it wasn’t pretty. I did manage a 21:36, which was a decent time for me then, but I about donated lunch and my consciousness in the process. I didn’t know hardly anyone at the time, but I see from the results all the beasts were there back then too. And of course Micah beat me by a second.–3/5k    Garmin (with post-race delirium included) :


With the little munchkins (now almost 11 and 13)


Of course, the suffering fades with time, and inevitably I did the next couple of HSN’s.  Although I was getting much faster at other, non-nuclear-hot races, my HSN course record clocked in at just a shade under 20 minutes (19:56 in 2011). The years since have been interrupted by my family’s yearly week at Folly Beach, so either I wasn’t there or had just returned that day from a week of working out with 12 ounce bottles. The only year we didn’t do Folly was in 2013, where I decided to become an orthopedic trauma case instead.

I thought I might use vacation as an excuse this year, but sadly checkout was 10 am at our rental condo. I was back in Columbia by 1 and even got a nice nap in too. Time to man up. I’ve spent this whole summer ( including at Folly) torturing myself in the oven of late summer afternoons, so hopefully this would bode better than 2009. Last week’s Race for the Case (19:33) was decent, though it did involve getting a beatdown by Drew , wresting the holy grail overall win from my clutches. Damn you, Mr. Williams. Folly training included a Sunday run with the Tiny Terror and the OnShore recreation group – they have a great scenic route and even have beer at the finish. Highly recommend.

I carpooled with the Code in my beat up 2005 honda pilot, mostly to save his sports car/sex machine from what would assuredly be a tidal wave of sweat on the ride home. Beasts from near and far were at this one. I’m not there more than a few minutes before Brandenburg comes rolling up, presumably coming out of his tri season to kick my ass. Luckily, he was just there to work the race, along with most of the other Strictly team peeps (Erin Suttman, Jen K, Jason Dimery, Mike Hedgecock, Jonathan Kinsey, Barb, Linn, Erin Miller and RD Mark Bedenbaugh).  Shawanna and OJ were there on their second race of the day, having suffered the misery (and both winning) of the Little Mountain 5k in the morning. Angel showed up for yet another age group showdown. Randy was back at it after a rough couple of weeks. I was parked next to the Yerg, who has a Blue Shoes voodoo doll ever since my surprise Stomp the Swamp victory last year. TUS was well represented with Kana Rahman, Colleen Vowles with son Danny, Justin “Gary Johnson 2016” Bishop, Roy Shelley, Sara Bonner, Greta Dobe, Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Stephanie “Stevie D” Dukes, Michael Nance, Sheila Bolin, Bruce Edmonds, and Mike Compton. Joyce wasn’t racing but brought her Team Utopia Youth group, a bunch of pre-teens that can flirt with a sub 20 (Connor Forche, Tyler Miles, Camden Forche, Wyatt Wilson, Trapp Bryan, Danny Vowles, Wesley Bumgarne, Ethan Kurtz). Eddie Trackstar,  ex Dutch Fork/current Clemson runner Roland Hakes, Greenville stud Brett Morley and ageless beast Eric Ashton ramped up the elite factor. The OG Robbie McLendon was on hand for race number 2 of the day as well. RU Running brought out Albert Anderson and Gregory Jones, Sr.  I finally saw Howie Phan again after he blew by me at mile 10 in Boston. Good to see Billy Tisdale making a long awaited return after racing mostly in Sumter the past year. Shirley Smith, Ron Hagell, Melinda and Reese Petruzzi, Beau Long, Larry Bates, Ken Bolin, all the McGrievys (Brie, Matt, Sabine and Quentin), Arnold Floyd, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Lynn Grimes, Brigitte Smith, the Weavers (Jessica, Rich and Susan), Kerry Stubbs, Johnathan Kirkwood and Hou Yin Chang were some other familiar faces. Sarah and Eric Allers were on hand to spectate.

After a mile or so warmup, there was no mistaking – this was going to be rough. Totally sweat soaked in 10 minutes. Garmin read it as 91 degrees, 63 percent humidity and a heat index of 105. Yikes. I knew this course pretty well – just a loop of rectangles in the mostly flat Shandon area. Last week’s Race for the Case was basically a preview, using an almost identical route. I figure definitely masters and probably age grouping are not in the cards, so I would try to run my own race.

Liz Locke started us and the pace was insanely fast at the start with all the competition. I’m full of fear with this level of heat but I also don’t want to start too slow like last weekend. Something about 6:20 was my goal.  Joyce’s kids are out in front of me in the early going, so my ego is getting bruised right away. I manage to pull ahead of them after the first loop near Hand and focus on pacing behind Angel. Legs feel surprisingly fresh, coming after a rest day on Friday but also some serious stairclimbing packing up from the condo in Folly. We hit mile 1 right at 6:22 though it felt faster. I keep wondering “where the hell is the Code?”, but in my mind he’s lurking right behind me like a pale, hairy ghost. Mile 2 is always tough for me on this course. You’re still going away from the start and there’s a nasty little incline before the turnaround at Prospect St. At some point Angel falls back suddenly along with Johnathan Kirkwood. The heat is starting to take its toll. I’m definitely sucking wind but I get a major adrenaline jolt seeing the field start to reel back towards me.  Mile 2 comes back in 6:29, which kills me since I thought I was speeding up. I have a vague memory of them giving out mardi gras beads at this point, which I decide against at the last minute. I thought I might have to flash my manboobs or something.With a mile to go I have that rare sense that I have a fair amount left in the tank. Time to push in all the chips if I want to have a glimmer of hope for bling in this one. Ramping up the pace, I pass a bunch of people on the backstretch on Wilmot. Somehow I’m closing in on Mike Nance, which absolutely means something is not right with him (his PR is right around 18 flat). I see Yerg up ahead too, though he seems to be moving at his usual pace. I pass Nance on the last little mini loop before the final stretch on Duncan and run like hell. My early kick is definitely catching up to me by the time I hit Duncan, the taste of death and lungs are at the back of my throat. BUT I MUST HAVE MY TROPHY. Barreling down Duncan I can see the finish line in the distance, with the red numbers providing a cocaine-like jolt through my system.  But wait a second, some joker is not taking too kindly to being Sasquatched. I can hear his footsteps and breathing like a rabid grizzly bear tracking me down. Hells to the no. I had just passed a couple of aging superfit dad types in the last bit, so one of these suburban gladiators was probably trying to rob me of my glory. I fall into one of my finishing teeth-gritting, fist-pumping, head-flopping maniac kicks. Women and children go scattering as they avert their eyes from one of the ugliest scenes in Shandon that night. Up ahead the red numbers flip over to 19 and I blast to the line at 1000 percent effort, flopping like a dead fish on the pavement. 19:16.


I make it to my feet after about 30 seconds and then have to sit on the curb for a second to fight the urge to puke or die. But hey, its my best time in months under absolutely horrible conditions, so I will take it. I’m thrilled to look at the results and see that, inexplicably, I took 1st in age group (though 40 yo Striggles took 1st masters and was obviously ahead of me). Sure enough, 40 year old Collin Webster finished a step behind me in 2nd at 19:18. I guess I can thank him for the many ugly finish photos on facebook this morning.

In the overall, Brett Morley took the win over Roland Hakes 15:35 – 16:05, with OJ Striggles third. Shawanna White was the ladies’ champion in 18:39 to complete her double dip. Emily Letts and Janay Chisholm finished 2nd and 3rd. In masters, Colleen Vowles took the women’s win, with OJ winning among the men. Grandmasters had Alsena Edwards and Gregory Jones, Sr. as champions.

Age group honor roll: Sabine McGrievy took 3rd in the girls 2-10. Connor Forsche won the boy’s 2-10 with Tyler Miles 3rd. Mike’s son Myles Hedgecock won 2nd in the 11-14. Kenneth Vowles placed third in the 15-17. Eddie placed 2nd in the 20-24 men with new TUS member Bruce Edmonds taking 3rd. Jessica Weaver won 3rd in the women’s 20-24. Sean Foerster placed 3rd in the 30-34. Justin and the Yerg took the top 2 in the 35-39 men, while Sara Bonner won among the women. Kana Rahman won the 40-44 women. Tracy Tisdale-Williams was champion of the 45-49 women. Eric Ashton, Randy Hrechko and Johnathan Kirkwood took the 45-49 men.  Howie Phan, Mario Alvarez and Ken Bolin swept a highly competitive 50-54. Greta Dobe was 3rd among the women. Melinda Petruzzi won the women’s 55-59, while Billy Tisdale and Larry Bates went 1-2 among the men. Robbie OG McClendon and Mike Compton took the top 2 in the 60-64 men, while Lynn Gries was the women’s champion. Greenvilee’s David Spark ran an amazing 21:21 at age 67 to take the 65-69, with Albert Anderson and Rich Weaver taking 2nd and 3rd. Catherine Lempesis and Brigitte Smith were the 65-69 women’s winners. Arnold Floyd, Ron Hagell and Rocky Soderberg swept the 70-74 men, while Henry Holt continues to churn out sub 30’s at age 80 for the 75+ win.





Heat Training for Sasquatches


2013 IOP Beach Run 5k with David Lee Roth chest hair

So it’s June in Columbia, which basically means it sucks for running. Our amazing spring weather gives way to a daily ration of soul-crushing, surface-of-the-sun heat followed by a good chance of monsoon like thunderstorms with death lightning basically every day. Road races kind of disappear, and I’m left with either training in this misery, or (GASP) hitting the treadmill. Shudder to think.

This year I was going to do summer right. In the past I just got lazy and slower, but I’m still chasing my dream of the sub 40 10k, so I really want to be in good shape for the fall. I already did my yearly revisit of the treadmill, which of course reinforced my belief that I’d rather repeatedly bang my head against the wall for 45 minutes than ever do that again. Jeezus. How people (cough) Tyler McGaha (cough) do a majority of their running on the dreadmill defies explanation to me.  I saw them all spring at MUV fitness, churning out miles in front of a TV while a sunny 65 degree day sat there outside. Boggles the mind. So it’s outside or nothing for me.

This summer, I’ve developed three workouts guaranteed to improve summer training for the large and pigmentally challenged.

  1. Albino Sasquatch tanning sessions. I’m a large Irish guy, which basically means my tanning ability runs from the dark beige to maybe a light khaki. My genetics would have me drinking ale by the overcast North Sea, not slogging out miles in the South Carolina heat. But I have young kids, which means I have to make at least weekly pool appearances. And I don’t want to be “that dad” with the shirt on in the pool. I may have lost all coolness points my now, but somehow I don’t want to be the shame of the suburban aging guys at the Woodlands pool. Total middle school,  I know. I go from alabaster to beet red in about an hour, so if I can get enough 30-45 minute sessions of sun, I can actually, vaguely, tan. So why not incorporate this into a run and kill two birds with one stone? I park at MUV fitness, run 1 mile into Sandhills across the street and then let the paleness fly out in the relative seclusion of the park. Four miles in the blazing sun in the open field, then shirt back on for the run back to MUV.  I don’t want to scare women and children. To date, this workout has produced decent results, at least with heat acclimation. Unfortunately, I did one of these on a Tuesday, which just happens to coincide with the weekly Northeast Farmers market. I’m in the middle of my mile loop, pushing the pace, when all of a sudden I make a turn and I’m putting on a pasty, sweaty show for about 50 people. My deepest apologies. At least the portapotty for the market stays there all summer, providing a safety net for code browns, albeit at 120 nose destroying degrees. Bikram pooping is a thing, apparently.

Photo courtesy of Liz Locke

2.  Sesqui hill training – They say hills are speedwork in disguise, so I figure hitting the double combo of  Mt Sesqui (the entrance road) and Sand HELL (Brandenburg’s torture trail paralleling Mt Sesqui) are a good way to get some quality runs in without overheating too much. I generally take these pretty easy, and they make good scouting runs for the annual CRC sufferfest route. I’ve done this combo a number of times, so last week I was feeling pretty cocky and went back to do Sand HELL one more time after leaving Brandenburg a sand note at his gate. I’m cruising along when I suddenly realize it’s after 6 pm and I was going to meet my college roommate/drinking buddy Ryan at 6:30 to go to Twisted Spur. All of a sudden I go from a 10 min pace slog to a 7 minute pace tempo. The internal radiator starts smoking almost immediately. Shirt comes off, as does my spibelt since it was bouncing with the speed downhill. It’s getting late, so I crank it up to 5k pace as I cross Polo Road, absolutely dying. I’m thinking I’m OK until Ryan texts me he’s early. I get the text just as I come flying around the corner, pure sweaty albino, sucking wind like there’s no tomorrow, double fisting a soaked shirt and an iphone. I get a WTF? look from the car, do a speed shower and rehydrate at the brewery. Let’s just say it was a good thing it was his turn to drive.


2014 Strictly Running Track Series – Worst form ever


3) The Track, or whatever – Nothing sucks worse than speedwork in the heat, but Justin Bishop likes to beat his minions into submission when June rolls around. Going to Team Utopia practice is rough, but at least there’s company to your misery at Owens field. Unfortunately my little minions all have swim meets on Mondays, so this puts a wrench in my TUS attendance. For the non-suburban parent, swim meets are 3 hours plus of roasting in the sun while they have like 60 races. They are just a notch above other kids birthday parties and Monkey Joe’s on the parental pain scale.  So, I’m often left to fend for myself with the 800 meter repeats in June. Last week: 8 x 800 in the rain, by myself, up and down the hills of Wildewood. This was after swim meet got rained out last second, 2 coronas down and an 8 pm guilt trip. I thought this had to be piece de resistance of summer training torture, though I was able to finish. But no, today had to trump that. Meadowlake track near my work, 5.5 x 800 at 6 min pace in 95 degree heat dodging walkers and kids. I was supposed to do nine. Halfway through the sixth I was feeling kind of passy outty so I figured it would not be cool to be carted off on an ambulance. Especially in front of the psychiatric hospital where i work. I’m supposed to be the sane one.

Which goes to reinforce the number one rule of summer training: just don’t die. To that end, never do the 1 x 20 feet at 9.8 m/sec/sec in Hawaii. I can’t recommend it. Stay safe out there…


July 2013 Hawaii homecoming – Hell indeed