I had started to post about this race this weekend but I got distracted and lost it. This was a fairly small race (122 entries), which was rescheduled from March when it conflicted with the Cooper River Bridge Run. However, it is on both the Tour de Columbia race series as well as the larger, South Carolina wide Palmetto Grand Prix. Thus, there was some serious competition showing out for race points. Race temps were hovering around 80, pretty humid but there was a bit of a breeze. This course starts off with a brutal hill about a quarter mile long, does a relatively flat loop and then plunges back down the same hill. I did a 2 mile warm up, which left me drenched in sweat even at 9:30 pace. This was my first race in 3 weeks, which is a rare dry stretch for me. The races get more spaced out here in the summer given the oven like heat of the Columbia summer. Our tourism slogan: “Famously Hot” – I’m not kidding!
I started out at what I thought was a strong pace, probably low 6’s, but the hill just sapped my strength immediately. I’ve been doing mostly treadmill training, and I’ve been slack about using the incline, so this was a rude awakening. My garmin showed me slowing to around 7 min pace near the top and just after. I was able to pick it up a little as the course flattened a little, though there were some definite inclines before hitting the true flat section. Right away a huge gap developed between the top 9 runners and the rest of the field. Behind the “elites” was me and one other guy, a good ways back. We exchanged positions several times in the first mile, which I beleive was 6:36. I was pretty dissapointed in this, as I thought I was going faster. Unfortunately, I didnt think I could push the pace much, as I was already wilting in the heat and breathing hard. The second mile was pretty even for me, just kept at the same pace, definitely starting to hurt. The lack of big hills certainly helped. I was bummed again at my 2nd split of 6:34. At this point I knew I was going to have to really push it to have any hope of keeping my sub 20 streak alive. I picked up the pace a little, and was able to drop the other guy. It became really hard to gauge pace at this point as I was completely alone. I could see the elite pack way ahead, and I couldnt hear anyone else behind me as I approached the last half mile. I was really dying there towards the end, just sucking wind like it was going out of style. There was an incline right before the big downhill, whcih unfortunately neutralized my plan to really burn it on the decline. I just couldnt catch my breath adequately to push it. I saw the clock in the final tenth, painfully watching 19:40’s give way to 20 minutes, just no way I could get there in time. Actually took a look back to make sure other guy wasnt sneaking up on me but there was no one. Kicked what I could and finished in 20:09. I was very happy to take first in age group and 10th overall (8th male), but couldnt help being a little dissapointed. I shouldnt expect great times in the heat and hills, but I had hoped to continue the sub 20 streak.
Good to see Mr and Mrs Sig out there!
See Spot Run 5k
This is a first year event with a good turnout, about 250 runners, though it was sponsored by the humane society and running with your dog was encouraged. About 80 degrees and humid at race time, just unpleasant even to walk around. Did 2 miles of warmup at 10 minute pace and was already drenched in sweat. Course is a nice one, with 2 bridge crossings. There were definitely some rough inclines, particularly one right around the 2 mile mark, where you run to the top of a nasty hill, turnaround and come back down. I knew the course from a different race last year, which was helpful. I did that race when I was still trying to break 22 minutes and in a much cooler time of year (April). I felt really fresh for this race, because I took 2 days off to try to give it my best effort. Were about to hit the legendary Columbia SC summer, and the races are few and far between for the next 2-3 months.
My plan was to go out in 6:15 and see how I felt. The first mile felt pretty good – there was actually a slight breeze and some shade. I had an age grouper (Eric) breathing down my neck the first mile – I think he was drafting and I could hear every breath. We crossed the 1st bridge right before the frist mile mark, and out into the brutal sun. The heat got rough pretty quick and the breeze seemed to die off. It was nice and flat on the bridge though, so that helped me stay on pace. Hit the first mile right on schedule, 6:13. I was able to lose Eric on the bridge, or at least I didnt feel like he was over my shoulder. The heat and no shade continued throughout the 2nd mile, and I was fighting the urge to slow down, especially with the hill-turnaround ahead. When I hit the hill I was in real fear of completely bonking. Going up a steep incline 2 miles into a 5k with full sun and 80+ temps is pretty much torture. The plus side was that I could see exactly my place in the field with the short out and back section. The first group was way ahead so I didnt pay attention to them, but it was nice to see a fairly big gap on the rest of the pack coming down the hill. I didnt look at my Garmin purposely at this point, but my split was 6:36. As I started the 2nd bridge crossing at 2.15 miles, I saw 2 people, the lead woman and a guy about 50 meters ahead. I could tell the guy was really laboring, and I was gaining on him, so I decided to put the hammer down on the flat bridge. He surged as I passed him, but he couldnt keep up the pace and dropped back. I was also gaining on the top female, but between her early kick and my bursting lungs, I just couldnt close the gap. Hit one last incline before the 3rd mile mark, which absolutely killed me. Rounded the last turn and saw 19:30, which was enough for me to give one last adrenaline push and crossed in 19:48. I was the most winded I’ve been in a while at the finish, just pukish and sucking air so fast my lungs could hardly keep up. After about 5 minutes I joined some friends for an exceptionally slow “cooldown” by doing the course again, probably 10 minute pace. Got back just in time for awards and was totally surprised I finished 3rd overall male. I had lost track of the first “pack” which ended up being only 2 people. Very happy with the time and finish, especially considering the conditions. Won a 10 dollar gift certificate to fleet feet running store and free registration for next years race. Pretty cool!