Race Judicata, flawed as it may be, has a special place in my heart for being the site of my first sub 20 5k. This was the maiden voyage of the original blue shoes, the 7 oz adizero adioses that cut 23 seconds off my PR and got the sub 20 monkey off my back. You could tell it wasnt that important to me by the pic below from that race (2010):
I say flawed, because this race always seems to be teetering on the edge of disaster. Its put together by Women in Law, a group of female law students at USC., This means the race always has different organizers/volunteers some of whom, shall we say, have limited road race experience. This was most evident in 2009, when a volunteer managed to direct the first 10 runners one way and most of the rest the other. A group of us ran all the way to Rosewood drive and finally realized we were way the hell off course. I doubled back and ended up running maybe an extra quarter to half mile in just under 26 minutes. I can’t criticize the law students too much though – my med school had a 5k until 2010 when there was a short course, no age group medals (except for paper certificates) and the race director ran and had to go to the ER for heat stroke. Common sense is a bit of rarity among the academically gifted, apparently.
I had hoped to make another sub 19 run at today’s race, because I have felt really strong recently with ramping up the weekly mileage (45) and being very regular again with speedwork. Unfortunately a cold struck late in the week and left me less than 100 percent, though these were the exact circumstances of my sub 20 breakthrough 2 years ago. Got there an hour early and did 1.5 mi warmup with JB, Burgess, Spence and Geary. I actually bailed on racing the new Brooks Connects – the high arch was causing some problems and I didnt want to mess with anything that might bring up some plantar fasciitis Temps were really nice, mid to high 50’s , slight wind. We ran part of the course, which, like last week, was in Shandon and mostly flat.
The first sign of trouble at this race was near the start – no one knew where to line up. The race organizers wanted us to start at the corner of king and duncan, though this was way off where we started the other years races. Strictly and a few of us were pleading for a start at the Hot Summers Night certified course (which is completely the same except for the start), but I guess it was too late. I pretty much knew this would result in a slightly short course.
Decent crowd for this race but not hugely competitive – a lot of the regular crew were up in Myrtle Beach doing the half and full marathon. Plexico and Angel were there to make sure none of us entertained any thoughts of winning or placing. JB, Amy, Spence, Geary and Burgess were the main ones that would be (hopefully) in my zip code. With the start, JB, Amy and Spence took off at a pretty hard clip, but this time I vowed to keep them more in sight. I latched on the back about 10-15 meters back in the first mile. Angel was lagging just behind Plexico but he soon got dropped – Ryan was crushing it out there today. I felt pretty strong early. I was able to pass a guy that I feared was one of those rogue 35-39 year old guys that comes out once a year and crushes an 18 min 5k. Turns out he was like 26, but my race day paranoia is legendary.
I hit the mile at 6:02, which is pretty smoking for me, but I kept telling myself not to let that second mile pace fade like last week. Mile 2 was tough – it sucked mentally because we were still going away from the start, plus there was a slight headwind and a nasty gradual incline. I kept telling myself to push the pace, especially since there was absolutely no one around me. An interesting race was developing in front of me – I saw JB start to drop Spence a little, and Amy fell off the back some as we hit mile 2 just past the turnaround. Garmin showed 6:16. Better than last week but still significantly slower. I knew I was close to sub 19 though by the average of the two miles.
At about 2.25 miles in there’s a quarter mile loop that goes out and back in to provide the correct distance (this was the site of the 2009 disaster) . I could already see Plexico coming back in, so I figured he must be doing at least sub 17. I was starting to reel Amy in, but I was also starting to notice the sudden lack of oxygen in the Shandon area. Really sucking some wind and begging for the sweet release of death more like it. I was also noticing the completely open course at this point. Here I was blindly blasting away into each intersection when I realized I really needed to look both ways. The turn off that little loop puts you in a straightaway for just under a half mile. The sight of the finish, however distant, jolted me back to life and I tried to push it as hard as I could. I knew it was going to be close to my goal. I first made out the clock around 18:07 or so, but it was pretty far away. The gas tank was on E but that didnt stop the crazy headless chicken blue shoes kick. Amy had kicked it in too, and i was getting closer, but I knew I couldnt catch her. I did hear the Garmin chime at 3 miles a block or so from the finish, so it seemed to almost be a legit course. Blasted forth without a care for the inevitable hideous finish pic and crossed the line at 18:44, 6th OA.
Great, right? I looked down and saw 3.07, which is pretty close to 3.11, but agonizing when you’ve just run a PR race but wonder if you can count it. Some others had different distances, 3.02-.07 by informal survey. My general feeling is that it would have broken the 19:06 PR and probably the 19 min barrier if you used my garmin. Times across the board were definitely a bit speedy. Did I mention how much I hate uncertified courses? Plex crushed a 16:27, Angel went sub 18, JB was at 18:11, Spence did 18:22 and Amy 18:37. Burgess crushed a 19:34 and Geary a 19:22. So basically all a good bit faster than usual.
Well, at least I placed in my age group. But that would assume a 35-39 age group. I heard rumors afterward they had larger AG this year. OK, so maybe they went to 10 year age groups, which they sometimes do for very small races. Still placed second in this (behind Angel), so fine. Nope, even better. 20 year age groups. Like everyone from a junior in college to aging dads all lumped together. Still would have gotten 3rd…but then they decided to go one deep. So I got nothing. This is the same race that gave out really nice gift certificates last year. Tigs even got a 25 dollar gift certificate to Flying Saucer, which she very generously gave to me, knowing my obsession with the place.
So between the short, poorly attended race course and the lousy awards I wasnt real happy. I cant be too judgemental given the proceeds go towards the womens shelter here in Columbia (which I utilize quite a bit for my patients), but this race needs some work to stay on the tour. John Gasque, who does an awesome job with organizing the TDC, will be talking with the faculty advisor to be sure the TDC standards (i.e. 3 deep, 5 year age groups) are met.
Got some awesome news about Myrtle Beach after the race – Greg Howell (3:19), Daniel Bliesner (3:05) and Anton Bodorouv (2:55) all qualified for Boston. Laura Howell and Jen Ward also finished their first marathons. Paul Reardon crushed a 1:26 half and Trophy (Tyler Mcgaha)/Ken Calcutt also had strong 1:34 halfs. Still waiting to hear from Drew Walker.