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.