Runway Run 5k – Columbia Metropolitan Airport – 10/29/11

This is the second year of this 5k, which is held at the Columbia airport. It’s not on the Tour de Columbia or Palmetto Grand Prix, but I couldnt resist the temptation of running a completely flat race and possibly setting a PR. I skipped the Poochapalooza 5k in Lake Carolina, half because of the crazy hills in that neighborhood and half to protest the 35 and 40 dollar registration fees. This decision may have cost me a trophy opportunity, as it turned out, though I was glad to see Greg Howell take the overall win there. I already knew the results from that race (thanks to the Diesel) on the way to the Runway because the race had a late start – 10 am. Still really cold by the time I got there, probably high 40’s with a nasty wind. This race offered a free airplane ticket as the prize for overall, so I knew there would be no trophies today. Eric Ashton and OJ Striggles showed up to make a run for the overall win. The rest of the crowd was actually mostly unknown to me. Crazy Legs Schmitz was back with tri season over.  Code Brown was there as always.  The “barefoot guy” John Richards and a few of the RU running/Palmetto running club guys showed up, as well as the guy Jack that took 2nd at Crooked Creek. Did a mile warmup and felt pretty good – I took a needed day off yesterday after further increasing my mileage this week in prep for the Jacksonville Marathon (Dec 18).

Start is right outside a plane hangar, and the course is a long out and back with a little loop at the turnaround.

http://www.usatf.org/events/courses/maps/showMap.asp?courseID=SC10086BS

 Almost completely flat, since its on a runway, though there were some very slight incline/declines on some parts.  I lined up front row and was surprised at how many people went bolting out of the gate. My goal was to throw down a very low 6 first mile and try to hold on, with a hope of taking down the 19:10 PR. I was a little unsure of my pace in the first half mile because there were so many people still around me, though I felt like I was really moving. The course was so flat and open, it was tough to figure out exactly where you were. I had scouted out the offical USATF map ahead of time and saw the turnaround just after the first mile, with about a quarter mile track loop before heading back where you started. I was happy to just barely miss Ashton and Striggles coming back on the loop as I approached the start of the loop. Hit mile one at 6:07, about where I wanted to be. I felt really strong at this point, and I’d passed maybe 10 people in the previous half mile. With a very slight decline at the start of the loop, I thought a sub 19 might be possible today. Just when I started feeling especially grandiose, the loop made its turn and all of a sudden I was getting smacked in the face with a vicious headwind. I guess this was at my back the whole time on the way out, because I swear I never felt it earlier. I hoped that when we finished the loop the wind would be changed, but no luck with that. With the turn back home, the wind as slightly less, though probably like that between a class 4 and 5 hurricane. All of the glory I was feeling at 1.25 miles was replaced with the dread of having to fight this headwind with my less than aerodynamic body.

Hit mile 2 in 6:20. Not terrible, but definitely not going to help me get my PR (6:11 pace) . It was very difficult to figure out pacing at this point. I could see the finish, though it looked pretty far out. I was totally alone, too. I could see two guys start to fade towards me as I tried to ramp up the pace in mile 3.  I wasnt feeling great but as I neared these guys I could hear them sucking wind as least as bad as me. After drafting them a bit, I decided to lay down a blue shoes kick, and passed them both. Turns out I misjudged the distance because the course just seemed to keep on going, and my lungs and legs were really starting to protest. What I thought was a half mile was probably more like .75. I did start to gain on the Code some, but I knew I couldnt close the gap in time. As I hit mile 3, I could feel the gas gauge officially at empty. I finally made out the finish line at about 18:50 but just didnt have enough to get there in time to sub 19 or even PR. Crossed the finish at about 19:14, 5th overall, 2nd in AG behind the Code. I’m pretty happy with the time, though I would have loved to see what I could have run without that wind. Got a runway run winter cap, which was pretty cool. Ashton and Striggles finished 1-2, followed by Jack and the Code. Schmitz pulled a low 21. Ive never heard of the top women in this race, though i think overall was at mid 20 or so, which is pretty good for someone that presumably doesnt race regularly. I’ll post the results when they’re available.

Results just posted – they tacked on at least 4 seconds so maybe my chip didnt read when I crossed.

http://runwayrun.com/overall2011.txt

http://runwayrun.com/age2011.txt

http://runwayrun.com/

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Race to Read 8k – Lugoff, SC – 10/22/11

Today is one of the busiest race weekends of the year, with no less than nine events on the results page of Strictly Running. But there was never a moment of hesitation with which race I would do, because Race to Read is my holy grail, my one moment in the sun. Last year there was a decent crowd but absolutely no local “elites”. Greg Howell and I battled all out  in 2010, two age groupers hell bent on the dream of the elusive overall win. It was only an absolute balls-out, 190 percent effort, dry-heave-on-the-last-turn, blue shoes kick for the ages that secured me my one and only first place. And so I had to defend my title this year. I knew ahead of time that Anton and the Code had already signed up for this race this time, so my chance of repeating rested on these guys both missing a turn and running at least a mile off course. It was actually my fault both had signed up. I had talked it up so much with my grandiose rambling that they probably felt practically obliged to go out there and kick my ass. I knew the race director had already gotten the race on the palmetto grand prix this year as well, so I knew the competition would be significantly stiffer this time around. Plus, any race that crowns me as their champion clearly needs more publicity.

I got there about an hour early and it was super cold, low 40’s and windy. Did 2 miles very slow warmup with the Code and Anton, and with the surprisingly slim turnout at that point, figured they would probably take the top two slots. Later though,  Bedenbaugh, Kelley, Geary and Billy Tisdale all showed up, making the field look like a SC Masters running championship. Plexico then came out, crushing Anton’s hope for glory. To be fair though, I think Anton’s already won 2 races this year, so its not like me where the chance to win comes around once in an eternity.

Towards the end of my warmup, my Garmin decided to completely crap out on me, which makes no sense, since I charged it overnight. Hope its not dying on me. Strolled up to the line with my bare wrist feeling so vulnerable and exposed, actually having to run by feel… imagine that. The course to this race is awesome – its set in rural Lugoff. You start with a slow incline out of Doby’s Mill Elementary, turn right on an almost flat stretch for the first mile. Mile 2 is on a gravel/dirt road almost downhill the whole way. Turn right again for mile 3 with lots of rolling hills, some pretty tough ones in there. Mile 4 continues with the net incline from mile 3, then turns back toward the school with a sharp downhill. Mile 5 is crazy with a very tough long hill followed by a winding nature trail section in some woods near the school, then a lap around the bus loop for the finish.

At the start, it looked like most of the crowd was doing the walk instead. Turned out to only be around 40 runners. With the start, plexico and anton blasted out of the gate with all the masters guys and the Code and I brought up the rear end of the front pack. After staying with me for about a half mile, the Code finally realized he was slumming it and decided to kick it into high gear, passing Billy in the process. I was clueless as to my pace, having relied on my calculator watch brain for so long. Tried to keep the intensity up but not let Billy get too far ahead, since he was the only one I could see in my zip code. The whole first mile felt really good, so I can only assume I was pulling some slow pace. When I hit the downhill mile 2, I kept hearing some serious breathing and footsteps behind me, who was clearly pacing off me and almost drafting at times. I had no idea who it was, but kept imagining a 35-39 unknown guy. That or a rabid bear, by the sound. At mile 2.5, there was a water stop, with cups and a cooler…if you wanted to stop and get some. Maybe we outran the volunteer.

The turn back onto the pavement for mile 3 was most unpleasant, as we had to make up all that downgrade we enjoyed on the gravel road. Hill after rolling hill, but definitely a net elevation gain.  Wind sucking commenced. I run downhills like a floppy chicken but somehow I always make up ground on uphills. I credit my beast-like quads, jacked up from years of carrying my heavy ass around. Cujo sounded a little more distant behind me and I could see Billy a little closer. Code must of been using some bath salts, because he was way off in the distance. I was glad to see Anton leading the pack way in front. Plexico was probably in another area code by then. At about 3.5 miles came the plunge downhill again, and I tried super hard to keep up my form, though limb flailing was inevitable at times. Rabid bear made his presence known again, and Billy gapped me badly. At the mile 4 marker, I pulled an Emeril and tried to really kick it up a notch. Again, I had no idea what pace I was pulling or what time it was. Very unnerving for my obsessiveness. Made up some ground again on Billy on the brutal hill of the last mile. As I entered the “nature trail” loop, Bedenbaugh was coming out and halfway through I see the Code flying. With all the turns on the trail I finally saw it was Geary that had been chasing me down the whole time, which made sense since we usually run very similar times. This provided me a little motivation to avoid him blue shoeing me..since I knew TDC open points were on the line. As I exited the trail, with just under a quarter mile to go, I could make out the clock in the 31’s. I knew it would be close to last years PR time. I tried to push it, but the drive to finish 7th just isnt the same as for the win. With the last turn, I saw last years 32:37 pass so painfully close to the finish. Crossed the line at 32:41. 7th overall, 2nd in AG.

Geary finished about 30 sec behind. After the finish there was no one to be seen on the course..found out later there was a 4 and a half minute gap after the top 8. Plexico won easily, Anton crushed his own sub 30 expectations with a 29:11. Kevin Kelley took 3rd. Code beat me by over a minute for 1st in AG. Jennifer Lybrand took top female and was the only one under 40 minutes. Overall winners got a cool custom trophy, age groups only went one deep, which is probably appropriate given the small size of the field – they won water bottles. Although it didnt match the euphoria of last year, I was still happy with the race and I’m glad to be at the same fitness level.It was this point last year when I was so high on winning this race, that I went out for my long run the next day and did 26.2, tweaked my IT band and sent me on a downward injury spiral for months. Wont be doing that again this year. Kudos to Betsy Long for directing this race well – the trophies, food spread and tech race shirts were really nice.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/11racetoread.txt

Ray Tanner “Home Run” 12k – Columbia,SC – 10/15/11

This is my third year doing the Ray Tanner 12k, one of my favorite races on the Tour de Columbia.  The race is held to benefit the Ray Tanner foundation, a charity set up by the USC baseball coach’s wife. Although I think it started relatively small, the race has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and now is one of the biggest races in the state.  The new awesome Carolina baseball stadium and Ray Tanner’s  back to back national championships certainly had something to do with it. Ken Lowden race directs with the help of a lot of Strictly Running volunteers, so its an event that really caters to the running community here in the city, and this has also helped it grow. The race actually completely sold out a couple of weeks ago, with 1600 total runners – about 1000 5kers and 600 12kers I think. Almost every runner I know in Columbia showed up this morning.

This is the only 12k I’ve ever run and I’ve always had a hard time figuring out how to pace myself. Did a 55:55 in 2009, and just missed my goal last year of going sub 50, with a 50:10. The course is really nice, featuring two crossings of the Congaree River and giving you good views of the city throughout.  Both years I got suckered into stupid pace in the first mile:  the start is crazy with all the 5kers , cheerleaders and spectators cheering. You do a short loop and then go right back through the same start area gauntlet.  People prone to grandiose tendencies will go out way too fast, setting themselves up for a bonk super early in the race. Yeah, that would be me.  As soon as you finish the 1 mile loop, you have to climb a nasty incline on a bridge over the railroad, do a 2 mile loop in the greek vilage/colonial center area of USC, then back on the railroad bridge. Miles 3 and 4 crossover the river and go uphill to Avenue B. Avenue B is one very long , though not terribly steep hill. Mile 5 marker is right at the turnaround. Miles 6 and 7 are mostly down hill back across the river with one last little nasty hill on Huger, then a nice drop back down into the stadium with the finish at home plate.

I got to the race about an hour early and did a couple of warmup miles with the Longcreek training group (Trophy, Diesel, Charley, Nathan, Freight Train) as well as Team Schmitz, Code Brown, Burgess, Anton, and a few others. A sad thing was our training group leader, Ken, lost his father this week, so Trophy gave the team all yellow ribbons to wear in his honor.  I felt kind of flat this morning – a trip to the fair had given me the beginnings of a cold, and I had been up since before 4 for absolutely no reason. Planned to make another attempt at a sub 50, but really wasnt feeling it before the race.

12k start was first at 8 am, about 60 degrees, clear. As mentioned, the crowd is nuts at the beginning. I lined up in front (remember grandiose tendencies) and had to bust out a sprint to make sure I didnt get trampled from 600 people behind me. I had decided to try and pace with Yerger and Greg again, like last week at the Habitat 10k. The problem with this is that Yerger apparently had delusions of Ryan Hall and immediately gapped me by at least 50 meters. Greg held back a little but was still pretty far in front very early.  Just as I tried to settle into a reasonable pace, here come the screaming cheerleaders again on the loop back, and of course I have to show them what a bad ass I am, and another near sprint ensues. I felt OK as I approached the Mile 1 marker, figuring I was about where I should be for pace. Garmin spits out a 6:20 and I spit out my first obscenity of the day. Nice job, hero.  I tried to slow down at this point, remembering all to well my 6:18 start at the Dam Run and total breakdown at the end.  Yerger was already out of sight over the bridge and Howell was dropping me like a bad habit too.  Hit mile 2 in 7:02, so now I had overshot the other way (50 min 12k is 6:42 pace). Wanted to speed up some but I hit the bridge again and any surge attempt got stuffed. Got passed at this point by Mike Ufford, who is always trying to track me down in 5ks.  Race crowd had gotten pretty sparse until I crossed the bridge and got blindsided by the huge 5k start. Luckily Ken Lowden was there to keep most of the 5kers in their lanes.  Had to do a little maneuvering but managed to get through the crowd and run near the front mid-pack 5kers, Started to recover some from my ridiculous start mile, though was still doing 6:50ish pace. Mile 3 in 6:44, Mile 4 in 6:58.  I did pass Mike back again but Greg was way ahead. Mile 5 was mostly Avenue B hill, just one long slog up a gradual incline. Tried to push it since hills tend to be my strength.  I made it close to the top before Plexico and Anton passed me going back down, having already done the short loop at the turnaround.  I had made up some ground on Greg and another guy ahead of me, but mile 5 was still just a shade under 7 minutes, way off my 49:59 goal.

I was kind of gassed from the hill climb, but there was no way to get my sub 50 continuing this way. Last year I had slacked on the way down the hill and lost too much time, so I really tried to pick it up at this point. Despite being 190 lbs and thus having a lot of gravity to help me on my way down, I just dont run downhills very well. Greg gapped me a little more on the way down, though it was cool to see everybody else coming up and getting some support. Merged into the slower 5kers at the bottom of the hill and onto Gervais, which made it difficult to run the turns efficiently – basically had to swing wide and run right next to the cars on the bridge. Hit mile 6 more on pace at 6:34. Crossed the bridge and really tried to push it up the hill on the other side. Managed to pass the guy in front of me and make up some ground on Greg. At the crest of the hill I knew it was all downhill to the stadium, and it would take a crazy kick to pull a sub 50. Hit mile 7 at 6:37, which gave me a chance. Total redline the rest of the way, even though I was hurting. I could feel my form going all to hell as we turned onto Wheat St in front of the stadium, but the crowd and the stadium was a huge adrenaline boost.  Finally managed to pass Greg in almost the same spot as last week, less than quarter mile from home plate. I had to really start dodging 5kers and made a hard cut into the stadium and made out the clock at 49:30. Pulled a couple of Marcus Lattimore moves on the baseball field, sprinting as hard as I could, and crossed the line in 49:55, 5 seconds to spare. 5:32 pace for the last .49.  Despite my effort, I still didnt come close to placing in my age group. The Code did get 2nd for his 47:52. Plexico won fairly easily. Anton scored an impressive 3rd overall. Amy McDonaugh crushed the female field, not sure of the time but not even in the same zip code as me. Robbie and Tigs both had good returns to form in the 5k, with a 19:3x and 19:4x respectively. Eric A crushed an 18:20 something in the 5k, and Brian Clyburn (Capt of my Palmetto and Blue Ridge relay teams) PR’d with a 20:11. Results should be up shortly. Look at the pics for my beauty at the finish. Classic race face.

Photos by Jen Ward, Janette Robinson

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/Results/11RayTanner.txt

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/121712798

Habitat for Humanity “Hammer the Hills” 5k/10k – 10/8/11

This is my second time running this race, a 5k/10k run and walk to benefit the Central SC Habitat for Humanity. The race is notorious for being the hilliest race in the Midlands, something which it doesnt hide with its “Hammer the Hills” motto.  My first try at this race was back in 2009, when I had no idea what I was getting myself into. That was my first year racing consistently, and I had just done the Dam Run 10k with a PR of 45:07 a couple of weeks earlier. My first 10k.  I naively thought I would try and break that at this race and blasted (2009 standards) a 7 min first mile. That was the start of one of the longest death marches I’ve ever endured, as I completely bonked by the second mile, just getting wrecked by the relentless hills. I had not one, but two walks of shame on that day. Didnt catch my breath until the final mile and had to blast a sub 7 split just to barely break 53 minutes. Pretty sure I swore I’d never do this race again. Somehow I managed to win 2nd in AG with that time, mostly because the race was smaller at that time and I was still in the much less competitive 30-34 group. Awards are really cool – basically hammers and other hardware. There’s also a free pancake breakfast, which I skipped then because of my post-race depression. Race director Jenn Covington is also a runner, so the event has a reputation of being well run and has grown a lot over the past 2 years.

I actually did skip this race in 2010, partially because I was at Folly Beach that weekend, but I’m sure my selection of that weekend for my vacation was intentional. I did run the preview run they had last year, so I learned the course and how to better pace myself. This year I decided I would tackle the 10k again and vindicate myself from my traumatic experience of 2009.  Plus, I won a facebook contest for free entry, so I had absolutely no excuse not to run. The Code told me last week he was doing the 5k, so I knew my age group would probably be wide open.

Got there early and did a slow 2 mile warmup with the Code, giving him a preview of Saluda River Drive, which isnt too far from the mountains of the Blue Ridge Relay. The 10k course is a large loop with a few smaller out and back segments that weave back into the 5k course. The 5k course cuts off the worst loop of the 10k course and avoids most of the hills save for Mount Saluda River. My memory was a little vague on the specifics, but the 10k is about 3 miles of hill hell, rolling hills on mile 4 and considerably flatter miles 5 and 6.

The crowd was fairly sizable, but none of the usual overall winners were there, except for Anton, who I knew would take the 10k.  The 5k looked pretty sparse, and I thought Darrell might have a trophy opportunity. Rob Yerger and Greg Howell were there, and I felt those guys would be good to pace against, since they are usually a shade faster then me in the 10k. Mr. and Mrs. Diesel were pulling a blue shoes and running the 5k to take a shot at some cheap TDC points. Teo and Geary and Laura were also out for points in the shorter race, or maybe just avoiding the suffering of all the hills.

My goal in this race was simply to avoid the death march again. Times are usually 2-3 minutes off of usual 10k  times, so I figured around a 7 minute pace would be reasonable. This is a race against the course – if you PR on this 10k you simply havent been trying hard enough on a flat course. The start was necessarily fast, as the first quarter mile is straight downhill. I blasted out of the gate and led the race for a good 50 meters before being brought back to reality by Anton and about 10 others. Greg and Rob passed me and started to gap me right off the bat. I was trying to be conservative but I also had to keep these guys in my sight. Hills on mile 1 were tough but manageable, hit the split in 6:47. A little fast but comfortable. Hills got very unpleasant on mile 2, but the Yerger/Howell team was still crushing it, so I couldnt lay off, second split was almost identical at 6:48.  Finally came back to the shared part of the course and plunged down the cliff of Saluda River Dr. I felt pretty good at this point, since I’ve done nothing but 5ks most of the summer, and this pace was around 30 sec slower than the lactic acid blast of the 3.1 miles.  Passed mile 3 around 7:12, maybe got a little too comfortable. Rob and Greg were still killing me, and I was barely keeping them in sight around the turns. In mile 3, I started hearing footsteps and an unknown guy passed me, who of course looked suspiciously 35-39. No way I could hang with this guy, as he was really crushing the pace. He did seem to slow down a little after the pass, and when the course opened up on the straightaway, I could clearly see the 4 guys in front of me. Anton had already dusted the field I suppose. It was hard to gauge pace at this point, because I wasnt close to any of the 10kers, and we were racing alongside a crowd of 5k walkers, which gave you the illusion that you were really flying. After mile 4,  7:23 split, I knew I had to do something if I was going to take down anyone ahead of me.  Started ramping up the pace and was able to slowly cut into the sizable lead of the 3 in front of me. Unknown guy clearly had gone out slowly on purpose and now was gaining fast on Yerger-Howell and I believe passed them shortly after mile 5 (6:45 for me) . With 1.2 to go, switched into 5k mode and really started pouring it on. The hills were pretty much gone at this point and we went out onto highway 378.  The course has one more short out and back on the entrance road to the Riverbanks botanical gardens, which unfortunately robbed me of my plan to stealth track down Rob and Greg. Rob had started rocking a crazy pace anyway and separated himself from Greg. Unknown guy was still maintaining 3rd. After the turnaround, the Code (who finished the 5k 3rd in 18:59) caught up with me and started pushing me to catch Greg, who was still pretty far away. Hit mile 6 in 6:28.  Decided to absolutely redline it with a quarter to go, felt a little bit pukish, but had enough for a better than average blue shoes kick. Passed Greg with about a tenth to go, a little of a dick move but I’ll blame it on the Code. Pushed it even harder when I saw a sub 43 was possible. Finished in 42:56, 5th overall, 1st officially in AG , though unknown guy was 38 (of course) and took 3rd overall.  This is a very good time for me on this course, not too far from my PR of 42:11, and 10 minutes better than the 2009 debacle. Anton won easily, low 39. Two guys I dont know took 2nd and 3rd, Rob finished strong for 4th, and myself and Greg took 5th and 6th. Brad Steele managed a top 10 at 9th. Greg took the masters win.

Code got 3rd in the 5k, Mrs. Diesel got 3rd as well , and a PR, though suffered getting chicked in the final few meters. Teo and Geary won their age group, with Geary also taking home the masters win with a 19:59. Laura won first in AG as well with a sub 27. Pancake breakfast was awesome after the race, and I got a hammer for my age group placing. I’ve got 20 miles on the marathon training  schedule for tomorrow, though I dont know how I’ll be feeling after the effort today. Next race is one of my favorites, the Ray Tanner 12k at the USC baseball stadium.

Photos courtesy of the Diesels, most taken by Mark.

http://www.rmssports.com/results/11habitatforhumanity.txt

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/119949728

Race for Life – Columbia,SC – 10/1/11

The Race for Life is a nice downtown 5k associated with the Walk for Life, a very popular walk which helps benefit breast cancer research. This is the second year they’ve had the run, which features a certified, fairly flat course through the center of Columbia, ending in Finlay Park.  This year I signed up with a team organized by a friend who’s a breast cancer survivor, and my whole family and my wife’s friend joined in to do the walk.

I felt pretty good the morning of the race, though it was a little crazy trying to get all the kids ready and out the door too.  I was worried about the traffic, since I knew the walk attracts a few thousand people. Luckily we got there early enough to beat the rush and I was able to meet up with the Code and Charley to do a couple of miles warmup. Temps were ideal, probably high 50’s, though a little windy. There was a pretty sizable crowd by race time, and a fair amount of regulars including Teo, Geary, Eric M., Angel, the Howells,  and Mrs. Diesel. Diesel himself was on daddy and photo duty.  Plexico was there to further dash Code’s chances at the overall Tour de Columbia championship.

I ran the race last year, and knew it to be a pretty PR friendly one. Its basically an out and back starting at the top of the hill near Finlay Park and finishing at the bottom of the hill in the park. This means a net downhill and a screaming fast last quarter mile, flying down a steep decline.  There are a few rolling hills on the course with one nasty steep hill right after the turnaround of the out and back. Ran a 19:47 last year, where Brad “Major” Marlow and I had a photo finish.  Pretty sure he could crush me now after all of his Jourdain group training, though he didnt show up for the rematch.

Race starts are always  crazy fast, usually with a couple of kids  and some random jokers sprinting out like its a 100 meter dash, but this one felt particularly blazing. I lined up first row but instantly got passed by what seemed like 20 people.  Eric and Code gapped me pretty bad in the first quarter mile. It was a struggle not to panic and go out chasing people but I was able to rein it in some after doing a little scalded chicken pace myself.  The first mile was mostly straight and fairly flat after an initial dip and climb to Assembly st. I was slowly able to make up ground on Eric though I noticed the Code was still blazing it. Hit the first mile in 6:17 by Garmin , though I was concerned the split was pretty far in front of the race mile marker.  Felt pretty good, and tried my best to keep at this pace, since I tend to lose focus in mile 2 and slow down.  Was able to pass Eric soon after the turnaround, and took down a few more people on the steep hill, which luckily was a lot shorter than I remembered. After the passes on the hill I was pretty much in no-man’s land, as the next pack was pretty far ahead. I could make out the Code, Mike Hedgecock and the same tiny girl from the Chapin crooked 5k that finished just in front of me there (google search, Claudia Nunez) .  After sucking a little wind on the hill, I was able to regain my regular breathing again surprisingly well. Last year I remember being really slowed after climbing that monster, and never fully recovering.

Mile 2 in 6:16 and had drawn closer to Claudia and the Code. At this point I thought I might be able to turn in a PR effort, as I felt great still and knew all I had to do was average 6:11 to pull out a 19:10.  In hindsight, this would mean a 5:57 average over the last mile, but math is a bit fuzzy at race pace. Plus,  I knew there was a hill before the final drop down into Finlay Park, so I was too afraid to redline it too early.  Started to hurt on that incline, but I was able to crest the hill at a pretty good speed and Claudia appeared to be within reach.  I have no problem getting chicked but I will still seek out potential roadkill if at all possible. I know this is irrational and unnecessary, but the blue shoes kick takes no prisoners. I also thought the hundred extra pounds I was carrying might help me fly down the hill faster than she. Unfortunately the Nunez kick is apparently a force to be reckoned with, as I just couldnt do it, despite spiking a 3:40 pace on the Garmin on the freefall into Finlay. I made out the clock as the course turned sharply into a field. Had to pull a Marcus Lattimore around a clueless very late walker and went blasting towards the finish in search of a sub 19:30.  Strictly running’s photo site captures the ugly race face in all its glory, showing Nunez calmly finishing while a rabid bear chases behind her. (http://www.photoreflect.com/store/Orderpage.aspx?pi=1K1000B7000010&po=10&pc=424)  Was able to cross the line in 19:29, 7th overall and 2nd in age group.  Always happy with a sub 19:30. Garmin had the distance at 3.17, though the course is certified.

Times were pretty fast overall. Charley PR’d by 30 seconds and Jen also PR’d with her first sub 25.  Results seem to be missing a few people – not sure whats up with that. Teo may have PR’d as well.

Cooled down with the Code and Amanda, and tried to find my family walking on the course.  The walkers were in one continuous huge pack stretching for miles, most wearing the pink and white colors of the race shirt. Got about halfway back through the course and by dumb luck I was able to spot our double stroller. Walked the rest of the way back with the fam, including carrying an unruly 40 lb 3 year old a good part of the way. Sub 20 5ks are nothing compared to that kind of workout, believe me.

Pics below courtesy of the Diesel

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/RESULTS/11PALMETTOHEALTH.TXT

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/118586538