Bayler’s Birthday Bash 5k in Bishopville,SC is in its second year, and now on the Palmetto Grand Prix. It started in 2010 to honor Bayler Teal, a 7 year old with neuroblastoma who became an unofficial rallying point for the USC baseball team in their run to the national championship. See here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/sports/bayler-teal-was-south-carolinas-talisman.html. Proceeds from the race go to benefit Palmetto Children’s Hospital.
I ran the race last year, as its pretty hard to find any race going on Christmas weekend. I’m also a huge USC sports fan, and remember Bayler from the news coverage of the Gamecocks that year. Plus, Bishopville is less than an hour away, and home to the legendary OG. Last year had a pretty decent crowd, but was almost all local and mostly noncompetitive. Since the race was a first year event then, relatively rural, and on a holiday, it fit the Blue Shoes race profile for a possible overall placement. Sure enough, I eked out a 3rd place by throwing down a ridiculous sub 4 kick in the last tenth, as a local kid threatened to take my glory away. I dont think I was real popular in Bishopville that day. I got a nice trophy though.
This year the race made the Grand Prix, and was advertised pretty heavily on the SR website, so I knew there would be no chance of a second trophy. Kevin Kelley, Paul Reardon , Angel Manuel were there, so I knew at the start line the best I could manage would be 4th overall and 2nd in AG. Billy,Geary, Teo and Jay also made appearances. I’m usually between Billy and Geary in 5ks, so this would provide a decent gauge of pace. Race was at 9 am, weather was pretty much perfect – sunny, not much wind, and high 40’s. Just short of 200 total runners.
I guess it ‘s worth noting that this is day 6 post marathon for me, so probably not the best training week leading up to this race. I had originally signed up to run it with my brother again, but he bailed yesterday, leaving me “forced” to run it all out. Monday I could barely walk, Tuesday I was slightly less sore and walked a half mile on the dreadmill, Wednesday I did a very slow 3 miles on the indoor track at Golds, Thursday was the first day back over 75 percent – did 6.5 miles at 9 min pace with the Code. Friday off except for a walk at Riverfront with the fam. Today I was feeling pretty good, maybe 85 percent. I debated about how I should run the race for a second, until I put the bib on, and then I knew I’d be race facing it.
I jogged the whole course solo to warm up, around 10 min pace. As I remembered, this thing is flat with a capital F. Total pool table. Similar to Camden, which is the flattest 5k in the midlands. Basically a nice loop starting and ending on the main street of Bishopville. Came back from the run and had to wait forever at the one port-a-potty, which is exactly one more than last year. My only gripe about this race.
Start was like Fitness Zone, basically we got called to the line and they blew the horn the second we all got there. The police were caught napping, as the lead car just sat there for a few seconds until we were all blasting around it. The leaders almost missed the first turn until the cop car pulled a Dukes of Hazzard and peeled out to the left. Leaders were going out crazy fast – Angel later said they were blasting 520ish pace in the first mile. It was kind of a shock to my system after 26 miles of 7:30’s to suddenly go plummeting back into low 6 pace. Ran with Eric M and drafted behind the OG for the first .75, before passing him on the turn onto Baskin. Hit mile 1 at 6:19, which I couldn’t believe, because I thought were at like 6:05. I guess legs werent liking the abuse so much. Mile 2 was very uneventful, basically maintained pace though all the turns slowed me down a little. Passed 2 guys. Hit mile 2 at 6:24, which I really didnt like. Legs and lungs felt a little better after the initial shock of the marathon to 5k transition, so I ramped up the effort a little. I passed a guy who looked like he might be an age grouper, who apparently didnt like it much, because he then flew past me. I returned the favor after the next turn onto Heyward. I then saw Billy in my sights and started gaining on him. Unfortunately he looked back at the turnaround on Cedar, and I knew I was toast. Sure enough, he blasted a surge and I did not have the oxygen or the motivation to match it. The last straightaway is nice, right down main st with the finish line in sight. Hit mile 3 at 6:14 pretty far from the finish, and knew it would be a little long by Garmin. Made one look back to make sure I wasnt getting a dose of my own blue shoes and cruised in to a 19:44. Good enough for 2nd in age group, 10 year groups. Not my fastest but I’ll take it given I’m still in recovery. Angel luckily placed 3rd overall and kindly removed himself from the AG, with a giant trophy to boot.
A kid I dont know won the race, followed by Kevin Kelley and Angel. With all the masters powerhouses in attendance, no one placing in the 40-60 age groups ran slower than 21 minutes – Geary, Billy, Paul, OG all placed. Some guy I’ve never seen before won 1st in my AG. I think the 3rd place guy was the one I was leapfrogging in the last mile. Awards were huge trophies and nice medals. Great race!