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



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