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 (http://www.lexmed.com/calendar/special-events/governors-cup.aspx)
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:
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.