Run Wild 5k (cross country/trail) – Sesqui State Park – Columbia,SC 8/27/11

It looks like I'm running fast...I wasn't
Run Wild is a cool event run by the Richland Northeast cross country team , and features an open 5k followed by varsity boys, varsity girls, JV boys and JV girls high school races. Ive run it the last two years and both efforts were some of my strongest performances of those years. I live only 2 miles from the start and run Sesqui all the time in training, so I know the course extremely well. Starts in a field near the lake, winds through a scout camping area thats pretty flat, then brings you up a long slow incline on the firebreak trail for the first mile.  Rolling hills on the firebreak trail in mile 2, then turns into the forest for single track trail for all of mile 3. Finish is flat right next to the lake.

I had a rough week this week, with a nasty cold and lingering sciatic pain. I had taken 2 days off from running before the race to try and get some energy back. It didn’t seem to help as I still felt like crap on the warmup, did 2 miles at warmup effort and ended up with a very slow 10:30 pace. Temps were OK, still high 70’s and humid, but a little breeze courtesy of Irene.

There was a huge crowd on site with all the high school teams, and a good bunch of the regulars: Team Howell and Ward, Meg, Rick, Code Brown, Burgess were all present. Trophy showed up as photographer, which he’s probably regretting right now, as he missed his big chance.

At the gun, everybody sprinted to avoid the bottleneck that happens at the end of the field. The flat areas around the cub scout camp werent too bad, but there was a lot of congestion and a bunch of turns to slow you down. I paced with Greg for awhile, but we both got beat down as soon as the hill started as we turned onto the firebreak. I think the sand on the trail was more packed last year, because I was constantly trying to avoid the beach like effect of all the soft stuff. Mile one wasnt even over and I was already beginning to die. Watched the Code and Meg slowly fade away, and my Palmetto 200 teammate David was also kicking my tail. Mile 1 split was 6:37, which wasnt too bad given the hill and all the sand, but you might as well of stuck a fork in me right there. I tried to speed up on the downhill at the beginning of the 2nd mile, but actually had to slow some just to catch some semblance of breathing back. No one was passing me though, so I guess the course was killing everybody else too. More beach like sand on the rolling hills of the firebreak trail. I think I reached a dark point here where I really thought about dropping out, which I’ve never done. Just felt really fatigued, like I was finishing a half marathon rather than 1.5 miles into a 5k. Suffered some more to a 6:56 split on mile 2, a good 30-40 seconds slower than usual. At this point sub 20 was way out the window, and I was looking at a tough chance even at breaking 21. Kept waiting to get Burgessed or Howelled. Mile 3 seemed to take forever – its all single track trail. I kept misreading the trail and thinking I was coming out to the finish, only to find another turn. Some nice surprise hills here too. Finally got to the lake and found absolutely zero in the tank for a kick. Looked back and thankfully there was no one there. I’m thinking it was bad karma to wear my red trail shoes, plus the “McAwesome” shirt is starting to have a curse too. I’m sure Trophy caught a beautiful race face pic on the last stretch.  I watched helplessly as the clock turned over to 21, strolled across the line in 21:09. 24th place. A minute and 25 seconds slower than last year. Probably would have gotten Trophied. By some stroke of luck, I managed to pull a 2nd in age group. Won a Run Wild plastic tumbler, which is a nice change from the medals.

Springdale at Sunset 5k – 8/20/11

OK, so I didnt run this race. I may be excessive and obsessive about racing, but 13.1 miles in the morning was enough for me today. Plus I had spent the previous 2 hours chasing 3 kids around Monkey Joes for my oldest’ 8th birthday party. This race has previously had beer at the end, but for some reason they nixed the cervesa this year. Good thing I brought my own.

I ran this race in 2009 and thought it would be perfect for PRs, because its run on a horse race course, and thus must be completely flat. It is flat, but unlike the Kentucky Derby dirt I had in mind, it has long grass instead. Long, momentum sucking dew-laden soft grass. Plus it was 94 degrees at race time that year. Basically it added up to a 23:45 5k in which I had to throw down a ridiculous (both in effort and in appearance) kick to beat a guy that had passed me a quarter of a mile back (later identified as Chad Long). Strictly Running had an 8 photo montage of our finish, complete with grimaces and my shirt riding up showing my white gut. Beautiful.

This year it was much cooler, probably low 80’s to maybe high 70’s. This race has really grown , now up to 199 runners this year. The race is pretty cool to watch, as you can see the whole course and race from the grandstand area. Mr and Mrs Diesel where also there spectating.  A 15 year old kid won this race, just destroying the field with a low 17 time, really impressive. Anton and Angel also had really fast times for this course, both breaking 19 minutes. Most people were 30 seconds off their road times with the grass. I do think theyve cut the grass a lot more than in 09 and of course the temps kept the times more respectable this year.

Pics are below:

Governor’s Cup Preview Run #1 – 8/20/11 – Columbia, SC




Naomi's photo of the start

After much internal debate, I decided to run the Gov Cup Half Marathon preview this morning. The William Wilson 5k was the same morning just down the road, but most people I knew were doing the preview run, and the prospect of then doing my long run solo on Sunday was not cool. It also helped that the preview run was free, so I didnt mind saving thirty bucks either. The actual race is Nov.5 (

The last time I ran this race was in 2009, and it was my first half marathon. At that point I knew nothing about training for this kind of race, and my “long run” topped out at 9.3 miles at a 15k a month before. I ran that race with Trophy, starting at mid 8 pace and progressing to mid/high 7’s. Predictably, the wheels starting coming off about mile 10 and I was dead man (almost) walking down Devine St, not to mention the Blossom St hill. Trophy dropped me and will always hold this over my head. Savor the beauty below:

I should say that, despite feeling like total death, I was very happy with the time given my lack of training.

Anyway, this morning it seemed like every runner in Columbia was downtown – A Team in Training group, Strictly’s Long Distance group, the William Wilson 5k race and the 621 Ninjas were all out in the 5 points/Shandon area, in addition to the Preview runners (probably 50 or so?) . Most of our marathon training group, Ken aka “Captain Marathon” , Trophy, Diesel, Jon aka “Freight Train”. Spivey and myself showed up.

We ended up running this as a progression run, starting low 9 pace and ramping it up slowly. The course :


Mile 1: False sense of security as you start at the State House and go downhill on Gervais. Don’t worry, you’ll get to enjoy the flip side of this hill later. An incline as you pass Harden St and then another nice downhill to Millwood.

Mile 2: Pretty much a slow gradual incline through the sketchy parts of Millwood. Was either heckled or offered support by two women who were both still clutching a brown bag beverage. I’m sure it was milk or orange juice… Course does level out a bit as you approach Dreher High.

Miles 3, 4,5 : Pretty flat loop around Shandon and exiting into Lake Katherine/Heathwood area via Kilbourne. Not too bad.

MIles 6, 7 : Rolling hills but an overall descent into the Lake Katherine neighborhood. My favorite area for emergency bathroom breaks because rich people are always renovating, and construction crews mean porta-potties.

End of mile 7, Mile 8 and 9 – Beware the Shady Lane. Basically the start of a long slow incline back to Devine St. The turn back on to  Kilbourne has a disheartening view of the full 4 tiered monster hill, which I think is the hardest part of this course. The Blossom st hill gets all the attention, but at least its quick and its at the end. This is brutally long and youve still got almost 4 miles once youve scaled it. Diesel’s favorite part for sure.

Mile 10, 11, start of 12 – The rolling hills continue on Kilbourne but level out as you reenter Shandon. I have PTSD from mile 10 in 2009. Basically the Kilbourne hill sucked out my soul leaving the corpse you see in the picture above. Two years later I was sucking wind again. The fact that Capt. Marathon and Trophy decided to start rocking 730 pace didnt help.  The Captain had to make a detour at Earth Fare, but Trophy apparently did a line of coke before this run and he left me again on Devine, leaving me to my horrible flashbacks from 09. Diesel, Spivey and I were left in his dust.

Miles 12, 13 – A whole lot of suck. We passed the Wilson 5k finish line then proceeded up the infamous Blossom St hill. You know its bad when there’s steps at one point. Ive run this hill before on fresh legs, and its actually pretty short, though very steep. At mile 12.5 though, youre having to drag your cinder block quads up this monster. I didnt walk , but the Garmin shows I was crushing 9:58 pace at one point. Whats worse, is that the turn onto Sumter gives you another helping of hill that no one ever talks about. I also am forced to see the upscale hotel like dorm USC put up in place of the Towers on the left. You finally get a whole .05 miles of flat as the course ends in front of the Horseshoe.

All in all, not a bad training run. The Diesel and Spivey performed admirably and finished only about a minute behind. Trophy got his glory and blue shoed the blue shoes on the last 2 miles. Ken, feeling much lighter, finished just a couple minutes behind.

Eagle 5k – North, SC – 8/13/11

This is the second year for this 5k, organized by the RU running club (maybe Palmetto Running Club now) and directed by fellow age grouper Eric McMichael, aka “King of the Quarter”.  It had a small turnout last year, but it was put on the Palmetto Grand Prix in 2011, so I figured a larger crowd. I had to decide between this race and the Tour de Columbia “Silver Fox Trot 5k” in Saluda Shoals, which I had done the past two years. I decided to check out the Eagle 5k since I had never been to North and to support a fellow runner directing a race. I actually like the Silver Fox but its a race purely against the  rough XC course and the field, as times are usually 2-3 minutes slower than the roads. This has been a trying running week for me, as my last Dr Pain 400 interval session tweaked my sciatic nerve problems (piriformis syndrome), and I took 3 whole days off to give it some time to recover.

The trip to North was kind of nice, about 55 minutes on highway 321. Had to go through Gaston and Swansea, where I was looking for a monument honoring Trophy McGaha for his historic 5k win there in 2010. Decent crowd was on site for such a rural race, and a lot of the big dogs on the mens side were there for grand prix points. Did a 1.5 mile warmup with the OG and Anton. Sciatic was a little sore from the long ride but got progressively looser and pain free after the warmup. Temps were not too bad, mid 70’s, but sauna like humidity as usual. Crowd was abut 50. With the gun, I went out pretty fast, since the field was competitive and kind of drew you towards a quick pace. About half a mile in, a major mishap occurred – the lead cop car made a turn too early and then the lead runner turned the wrong way. The top 15 or so of us ended up veering off course. Eric ran part of the race and luckily brought us back to the rest of the course. The detour ended up cutting the course slightly short and of course slowed us down, as many of us came to a complete stop before we figured out what to do.  I got back on the course and passed a good number of people who didnt make the wrong turn. The lead runner, Chad Ware, blasted past me at sub 5 pace.  Angel , Anton, Omar and a few others did likewise. I settled into a small pack with Tigs, OG and Billy Tisdale. The legs felt pretty good, but motivation was pretty low, given that the detour killed any chance at a good time and I knew Angel would take my age group. First mile, even with the stop, came up about 6:20, so I must have been blazing before the wrong turn. Second mile slowed to a 6:30ish, mostly because I wasnt sure if I should save something in case the course was now long. There were some gradual inclines on this mile, but in all the course is pretty flat and fast. The OG faded a bit here – he’s still hurting, also with sciatic problems. Felt very strong at about 2 miles, so I picked up the pace and caught Tigs, who had gapped me pretty bad at one point. Tisdale was ahead but he seemed to be picking up steam instead of fading. I tried to catch him initially but saw it probably wasnt going to happen. Was basically all alone in the last stretch. I made out the clock turning over to the 19’s, which I figured probably meant a slightly short course (with the detour – actual course is certified) . Crossed in 19:34. Garmin read 3.05 miles. I was happy with the effort and time. Cooled down a half mile.  Awards were pretty nice – overall and masters all won trophies and cash, 10 year age groups three deep. I won 2nd in the 31-40 group, even picked up 2 grand prix points by finishing 10th overall, 9th male. Results were adjusted for 3 miles, though each us in the top 15 ran longer than this.


Still undecided about next week – there’s the gov cup half marathon preview run, the william wilson 5k in the am and the springdale 5k in the pm. I’ve never done the william wilson, but did springdale 2 years ago. Springdale is brutal with the heat and the long grass on the horse track, but they have BEER at the end. That may weigh into my decision making.

Hot Summer Night 5k – Columbia,SC – 8/6/11

the start (Naomi's photo)

Strictly Running hosts two 5ks in Columbia, the Cold Winter’s Day in December, and this one, Hot Summer Night in August. Both bring out some of the most competitive fields in the area, and tonight was no exception.  I got there at 5:45 for a 7 pm start and the place was already crowded.  Trophy made a rare appearance as did Mr and Mrs Diesel. Temps were brutal as always, low 90’s and miserable humidity. Did 2 miles with Trophy, Burgess and the Code, and I marked off the last quarter, half and mile in my head. Got back to the car and chugged more tea and water and cranked up the AC, just drenched in sweat already. Despite the heat, I had been feeling pretty strong.

The start seemed to have every competitive runner in the area and several high school kids. I had run a 19:47 a few weeks back at the Capital City Safe 5k in the terrible heat, so I think I thought I could do better at this race- temps were slightly cooler and the course was flat. The problem is that I suffer from occasional delusions of grandeur where I think I’m fast, but in reality half the JV squad from any local high school would destroy me. So, instead of being conservative in the heat in the first mile, I decided to burn it. It didnt help everybody was flying with the gun. I felt pretty good in the first mile, and thought I was crushing some awesome sub 6 pace, but the mile clock brought me back into reality – 6:13.  About this time is when I started sucking some serious wind, and could feel a bad bonk coming on. I wanted to push the pace, but it just wasnt happening. I saw Angel  pull out of the race ahead, so this gave me a faint glimmer of hope of placing in my age group. The heat was killing me, and I was trying my best to dump water on my head every water station and hitting every sprinkler on the course. I think I got passed at this point by a few guys. Geary decided to pay me back for Capital City Safe and I never caught him. Second mile was rough – legs were cooperating but my lungs were protesting severely. Hit the 2 mile clock around 12:50ish but I was already dying pretty bad. Third mile was pretty much misery. Just tried to keep going and keep up with the pack that passed me in the 2nd mile. I could see Code Brown fading a bit but there was nothing left in the tank to make a surge. I hoped I could still notch a sub 20. The last turn I had marked at .39 miles, and you can see the finish the whole way, but there was not to be a blue shoes kick today. I saw the 19’s fade away  and I crossed the line in 20:03. Took me forever to stop gasping for air and I had to double fist the water. Right after the race a hellacious storm rolled in, so there was a pretty big delay before the awards. I knew I had a slim to none chance of getting an award and I almost left early with the storm coming. I decided to wait it out though, and much to my surprise I managed to pull out an age group 3rd place.  Top 30 all broke 20 minutes, so just a crazy deep field.