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.
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.