Jingle All the Way 5k – Columbia, SC – 12/3/11

The Jingle All the Way 5k is a race held in conjunction with the Carolina Carilon parade, where you essentially lead off the parade through the first mile. This race, for whatever reason, has not been one of my best. My first try in 2009 led to my first “shoelace incident”. I was on PR pace when my shoelace and car key started flopping loose, making me have to stop, hold the key and quickly tie the laces back up. I made a valiant effort to regain lost ground and caught up with the pack I was with in the final stretch, only to get a taste of my own blue shoe medicine by Eric McMichael. The guy completely obliterated my kick. This was of course before I knew he could lay down a 54 sec quarter like he was out for a jog. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8tezHE9nyE  Last year I ran what I thought was a strong race, overtaking Amy and Greg with the kick, but still finishing way over 20 minutes (20:15 I think). Its worthy of mention this race has a hill…a long, first gradual, then lung-blasting, lactic-acid-producing, and spirit-crushingly steep incline.  I used to hate it in undergrad, when I had a class at the coliseum and had to hike back to my dorm on top of that mountain. Losing the backpack and about 20 pounds hasnt made it any less painful, unfortunately.

Other than the killer hill, the course is not too bad. You start with about a half mile little loop around main street where all the parade crowd is, reminiscent of the Ray Tanner start. Read: you will go out way too fast. After the loop you plunge down Gervais st into the vista. You will continue to go too fast. Flat stretch on Lincoln St where you will start to feel the ridiculously fast mile you just did, then make a left turn. At that turn, any hope of having a good time or otherwise enjoying your race will be instantly gone. A half mile of pain and suffering awaits, where you will either actually will or will at least contemplate the walk of shame. Course never seems to level out until the Russell House, after which there are some rolling hills that loops you back into downtown and the finish. Oh wait, maybe it is kind of bad.

Got there an hour early, did just under 3 miles warmup with the Code and JB – had to orient JB to Mt Greene St. Start time was 9:45 – which the flyer states is “9:45- sharp!”. Just in case you thought about moseying up there 9:45″-ish”. Temps were 40’s, some wind, not too bad. Even Trophy didnt complain. Fairly sizable crowd, including a trash talking Tigs, who had her sights on taking down the blue shoes after her 19:15 last week.  Code, Trophy/Lady McGaha/Sweet T , JB, Greg, Jen with a race whisperer who looked awfully familiar, Team Allers, Meg, Teo, Geary were all in attendance. Derek Gomez was back from tri season to make the 35-39 AG even more brutal.

The start was bollocks fast, totally pants. I hadnt done any speedwork this week, having twisted my back a little last Sunday, so it felt like I was getting beat down from step one. I was instantly getting gapped by Greg, Tigs, Meg and Derek, and I was trying my psychiatrist best not to switch into panic mode. The crowd seemed a little more subdued than last year, but it still got crazy as we completed the short downtown loop and went flying down into the Vista. My goal was just to hang on to my position on the downhill, because for some paradoxical reason I cant transmit the potential energy of my gorilla physique into any speed on the decline. Finally got to the flat part and hit mile 1 in 6:09 by the almighty Garmin. Wasnt until after mile 1 that I finally caught up with Teo, who must of done just over 6 flat, and was still talking in full sentences. Greg and Tigs were still ahead but closer. I have delusions of grandeur that I’m a good hill climber, having developed Ask Naomi style defined quads from carrying around my sasquatch self, so I hit the hill hard. I started passing people but Greg and Tigs were maintaining pace pretty well. Then we got to the steep part and the hill hit me back..even harder. I havent looked closely at the garmin graph, but by the top of greene I was at a virtual walk. Legs were cooperating OK but that whole oxygen exchange thing wasnt working so well. I did catch up to Greg, who then latched on to me and chased me like a rabid dog. I was sucking wind for about a quarter mile after the hill, in a delirium past the Russell House and my old dorm (Woodrow), lungs begging for mercy. Finally started breathing again on the downslope to Pickens, where Greg had started to gap me again and a nasty 640 split came up on the Garmin. The turn on to Pickens gave me some more motivation, as I could see almost the whole field ahead of me. I started an early blue shoes, as I knew Id have to make up some serious time to even go sub 20. Managed to pass Tigs and caught up to Greg, who was matching the kick pretty well this time. Suddenly I saw the Code who was looking wounded up ahead, with Meg and Derek leaving him behind. Managed to gap Greg right before the turn to the last straightaway and  was painfully close to Code/Meg/Derek, but they were all throwing down pretty hard with the finish clock in sight. Whats worse is that my Garmin had beeped the 3 mile just after the turn, and it seemed like an endless stretch to the finish. Clock was already at 19:40ish when I could make it out, and I just didnt have enough to really crush it at the end. Fell short of the pack in front of me and crossed the line in 20:06, a full minute slower than my last 5k.

Looked at my Garmin, which showed a 6:11 mile 3 split and a 3.20 mile total distance. I know this course is certified, but this thing has got to be long based on my informal Garmin survey and just the slow times in general.  There is obviously the hill to slow things down, but the times are way slower than even that could account for. The bitterness got worse when I realized I placed 4th in age group, missing 3rd by 7th seconds and 1st by 16 seconds. Bummer. Got 13th overall. The guy that won my age group (Brad Bell) also won the AG at gov cup, and must be commuting on weekends from Solon, Ohio. Gotta figure that one out. Plexico easily won by over a minute. Two kids, including a 13 year old, took the 2-3 spots, followed closely by Mr Allers. An out-of-towner won the women’s race, with Meg and Tigs taking the next two spots.

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

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/images/11jinglealltheway.pdf      Sharp.

http://www.carolinacarillon.com/RaceRoute.pdf    Course Map.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/132734988  Garmin plot.

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