Quarry Crusher Run – Olympia/Vulcan Materials Granite Quarry – 4/28/12

The Quarry Crusher is a new event that is being run in conjunction with the Olympia Fest in the Olympia – Granby Mills neighborhood out near Williams-Brice.  I impulsively signed up for this race about a week ago .  I had  gotten an email about it and read the article the State published, so I figured it would be a unique and cool race. They normally dont allow the public in the quarry, so I my only awareness it existed was from google maps satelite pics of the city. My father-in-law also grew up in the area, so I figured it would also be a good excuse to walk around the neighborhood. And….there was also a minor degree of Trophy Hunting involved.

OK, so one thing I noticed about this race’s website is that it is vague about the course. It makes reference to running down in the quarry and then a steep rise out at the end. They mention things like a few hundred feet in elevation change, but its hard to truly envision the course from the description. They actually have a video of this girl Merritt running in the quarry, and basically it looks like a piece of cake.  Somehow I got it into my head that it was basically a long gradual decline and then a short but steep rise right before the end.

I got there about an hour early and immediately saw Mike Hedgecock, so there went the trophy. Ran about 2 miles in warmup with him and Thunder Dan Bliesner. We ran up to the quarry entrance which was being blocked by 2 Vulcan Materials workers.  I began wondering what was so ridiculously secret about a big hole in the ground. Pretty good crowd at the start line, though they put a strict 200 person limit on the race. In addition to Dan and Hedgecock, Greta Dobe was there to double up, having just finished the Heart and Sole. Scott Hodukavich, Fred Mullen and Adam Beam were also in attendance.  Oddly enough, one of the guys from the Island Liqours team from the Palmetto 200 drove up from Charleston to run this. Dan and I can’t get away from these guys.

With the starting gun, I blast out of the gate like a regular 5k and find myself all alone in first for the initial quarter mile. I decide eventually this is probably not the best strategy and ease up a bit. Dan, Hedgecock and Island Liquors run up beside me and I let them form a small pack right in front of me. The first half mile is nice flat roads, and I’m feeling pretty good. But the quarry looms ominously ahead. We blast through the gate area and head down a short decline, then another steeper one. Not too bad.  Knowing the start line is also the finish line has me a little worried though…I wonder if I’ll have to run up this again…HOLY ^&^$!!

Suddenly we make the turn and see the above. And now I’m flopping around and trying not to destroy my knees and quads. Total freefall. I’m actually more concerned with keeping my footing then trying to maintain my speed. Apparently Bliesner and Hedgecock are better than me at downhills, and are gapping me pretty badly despite I weigh as much as both of them combined. Some other jokers pass me as well, but I’m already in panic mode about this course. As far as I can tell there is no way out but right back up. I hit mile 1 at about 5:57, though I actually spent the second half of the mile trying to slow down some to save myself. But there’s none of that to be had. My legs are taking a beating, like a couple of sledgehammers to my quads. After slowing down the pace a bit I feel a little better, and figure this may set up perfectly for me, since I’m good at powering up the hills and maybe the guys in front of me went out too fast. Completely delusional. After a mile of plummeting to the center of the earth, we finally see a cone as the turnaround point. For the love of all that is holy, do we really have to run straight back up this thing? Yep. I’m barely up the first curve upward and my legs are starting to protest. Sub 6 pace turns into 8+ really quick. And pretty soon 8 min pace is blazing because I am crawling. The momentum of every step is sucked up by gravel and sand, and if you dare look up you see this:

Not exactly a sight that gives you hope. Meanwhile I see Dan WALKING ahead. Oh, I’ve got him now…wait….I’m not gaining on him.  What was a crawl now feels like I’m jogging in place.  I keep trying to stand up tall but I keep hunching over like a 90 year old man. Finally I let out the first of many F bombs and just start power walking too, which seems unbelievable to me, but is actually more efficient than that death-jog I was attempting earlier. Usually when you walk you can expect to get passed, but soon I realize just about everyone is doing the same. Bunch of dudes pulling 5 something pace now look like a pack of soccer moms in the mall.  And the collective shame is palpable. Lots of ridiculous waddling to pass other guys going on. Really were all lucky the Heart and Sole women’s race was this morning, because I’m sure there would be a lot of chicking going on to otherwise add to our misery.  I’m doing short intervals of run/walking now.  The quarry run makes everyone a jeff galloway disciple, apparently. I cant even muster a jog for the picture area about 3/4 the way up.  Merritt, the girl from the preview video, flies by me in a golf cart in the middle of one of my walks of shame and gives me a “go blue shoes”. Damn her! That video is a fraud! Finally after a 10+ min mile and a seeming eternity, I reach the top. I can hear someone behind me but decide there’s no way in hell he’s going to pass me. Have I not had enough suffering for one day? Hitting the flat pavement is like heaven. I blast out a meager blue shoes kick and finish in 28:11 or so.  Not sure where I finished, probably around 10th.

Island Liqours ended up winning and apparently didnt even walk. Hedgecock ended up 2nd and won fifty bucks to boot. Thunder Dan finished 5th. Greta Dobe won her age group even with the double dip. They only went one deep in age groups and had certificates as awards, which is kind of lame.  I was hoping for some kind of rock as the award. Not like it mattered anyway, because I didnt win my age group – maybe second though? Hopefully they’ll have results up soon. This was a unique race and pretty cool, despite the painful slog back up out of the hole. It will apparently be back next year, where it will be even longer as they continue to dig in the ground. Bonus!




RESULTS: http://quarrycrusherrun.com/results2012.txt

Quarry pics with timestamp are Scott Hodukovich’s. Also included are a few from The State.

Clinic Classic 5k/10k – Guest blogger Trophy – Camden,SC – 4/21/12

Trophy and Diesel pulled a fast one on me this weekend and went stealth trophy hunting in Camden. Damn you Sweet T. At least they both know what color shoes to wear. Here is his report.

Trophy hunting…..we’ve all heard it, but what does it mean?  It means us slower runners try to find a small race where the faster runners aren’t going to show up, hence giving us a chance to take home trophies!  For those of you who don’t know, one of my many names is Trophy.  I won’t even go into the others. But I fear McGoho is now going to be one of them.

FYI, Trophy’s favorite nickname is “Lady McGaha”. Joe Pinner called him this at the 2010 Red Nose Run 5k. Nothing like getting burned by Mr. Knozit. 

A few years ago I wandered out into the country to do a small race.  I would give the race name, but it’s still on the “trophy hunting” list and I don’t want the fast people to know about it!  Anyways, I showed up to this 5K and found myself leading the pack.  Actually, there was no pack.  It was just Schmitz and I and we were ecstatic to be following the cop car. I still remember that moment fondly. I eventually pulled away from him and got myself a first overall finish.  For winning I got a 9 foot trophy.  Ok….it’s only maybe one foot, but in my mind it’s 9 feet!  Since then, I have been known as Trophy.  That was my ultimate trophy hunting moment.

This event led to my extensive study into trophy hunting. As a case study it depicts the key Blue Shoes TH criteria of : first time race, limited publicity, rural setting, multiple race competition on the same day. This trophy is truly amazing…you’d think he’d won the freaking Boston Marathon.

The 5th annual Camden Clinic Classic was another such opportunity. I had quietly researched the results from previous years and determined I might could have another trophy moment.  I conferred with my partner in crime, Diesel, and we decided to go for it.  There were a couple other races on this day as well as the very popular Mud Run.  Could this be our chance???

Ah yes, research. Another critical component. The problem is, other trophy hunters see the slow winning times from last year and all show up at the next one.

The Clinic Classic is a 5K/10K held in Camden to benefit the Community Medical Clinic.  The course is actually a very good one.  It starts right on Hwy 1 in Camden and then runs through a nice older neighborhood in the heart of town.  Fairly scenic and shaded in most areas. The race is not the most organized I have ever seen, but what they lack in race knowledge they make up for with enthusiasm and the desire to actually make everyone happy.  I spoke with the director a few times and she was very helpful and was looking for feedback and ways to make the race bigger and better.

I see a conflict of interest here.

I got there pretty early to sign up and to scope out the competition.  After 30 minutes or so, things were looking good. Diesel eventually showed up to sign up as well and we sized things up.  We had decided that I would do the 10K and he would do the 5K, giving us both the opportunity for a trophy.  Things were looking pretty good.  We walked back to his truck to drop his stuff off and the most devastating moment of the day happened.  Ryan Plexico.  Son of a monkey!  Being the elite runner he is, no way he was doing the 5K.  My plan was foiled.  Diesel on the other hand…was still in good shape.  We conversed with Ryan for a little bit then did a one mile warm up. After returning I thought I saw a glimpse of Mike Hedgecock.  He was the winner of the 5K the previous year, and a definite threat.

Runners with actual talent are the bane to the trophy hunter’s existence. Nothing like lining up with soccer moms, kids and granddads only to see a last second dude in a sponsored singlet show up. DOH!

We lined up and I scanned the crowd.  At this point in time it looked to be me vs Plex.  Pshhh…piece of cake. I told him go slow so I could keep him in sight and not make a wrong turn.  Apparently he didn’t understand my idea of slow. Diesel was right there with us and his 5K chances were looking pretty good at this point, as no Hedgecock in sight.  We started and it was as expected….Ryan way in front…then me…then some others.  Some guy came up and got in front of me about a half mile in and I saw he had a 10K bib on. Uh oh.  At this point I couldn’t tell if he was for real or not.  Regardless, I passed him before we got to a mile.  During this stretch I heard someone coming up behind me….running pretty fast. Right at a mile they caught me….it was Hedgecock. Apparently he started a little late and was catching up!  He blew by me at the 1 mile mark and all I was hoping is he would turn off for the 5K.  Whew…he did.  Good for me…bad for Diesel. I made a turn between mile 1 and 2 and looked back and saw a few guys….unsure at that point if any of them could catch me.  I tried to push it a little and open up some space.  Around mile 3 or so the ugly sun reared its face.  I am not a fan of heat or the sun when it comes to running, as most know.  My pace slipped a bit but I was still securely in 2nd place.  After about half a mile…I never saw Ryan again, until I crossed the finish line.   Around mile 4 I got confused as to which way to turn.  One of the few places it was not well marked.  Luckily the closest guy behind me yelled to me and I then got back on course.  Good that he helped, bad that he was close enough to see which way I was going.  At this point in time I was struggling trying to keep pace.  The heat was taking a toll and I was trying my best to stay ahead of the guy in 3rd.  He seemed to get pretty close to me by mile 5.  I had almost given up that I was going to stay in front of him.  But then mile 5 or so hit and we had some shade and were going a little downhill and heading back towards the start/finish area. I found the boost I needed.  We were also catching up with some of the 5K walkers and it was nice to be able to pass them.  I kept my pace at a sub 7 at this point and was feeling pretty good. We made the last turn to go back down Hwy 1 to the finish and I took a quick glimpse back and knew I had secured 2nd place.  I crossed the finish line and caught my breath.  Saw Plex….who looked like he had already rested, eaten,  and taken a shower and come back to see the rest of us.  Decent time for me, but a little too hot for me to PR.  Diesel ran a good time and managed a 3rd overall in the 5K.  A teenager beat him out for 2nd place.  Diesel apparently had a “Diesel” moment and bonked in the first mile because he believed he may actually be in line for a trophy. That was because Hedgecock was so far ahead of him he had no idea if he was running the 5K or 10K.

Hedgecock apparently won the race while starting from the front seat of his car. Diesel is the ultimate race underperformer. Dude runs PRs in training when he’s not even thinking about it. Put a bib on him though…its like kryptonite. I’m  surprised Trophy was able to hold off Whitney Keen – he has been running right at 20 minutes for 5ks.

Awards were nice and unique. Unfortunately they only went one deep in the overall, so Diesel and I were pushed into age groups, which in this race were 10 year increments. We received a nice horseshoe for our efforts.  Something I can definitely say I have never seen.  Only other racer there was Henry Holt….who obviously managed an age group win as well.  We can only hope to be running like him when we are that age.

The ultimate insult to injury – taking 2nd place, getting demoted to age groups and spelling your name MCGOHO. The 10k had all of 27 entrants, so you cant blame them for 10 year groups and 1 deep overalls. The Lexington Kiwanis Funfest 5k had a similar turnout in 2010 and I think EVERYBODY won medals. The last place finisher won overall 1st masters female. Awesome.

We learned our lesson and will never go trophy hunting again.  Riiiiiiight.   This course is actually very PR friendly and is for a good cause, so if you get a chance I would recommend you run it.  Unless you are one of the thousands of runners that are faster than me! If you are one of those, go somewhere else.

Strong work, Trophy. Sorry Plex rained on your parade. How dare he decide to ruin your trophy hunt?!

Earth Fair 8k – Saluda Shoals Park/Irmo, SC – 4/21/12

The Earth Fair 8k has actually been around for several years but this is one of the last races in Columbia I’ve never done. Its always conflicted with another race in the past, but this year it is the only TDC event this weekend. I had considered trophy hunting in Camden since the Clinic Classic is usually small and has little competition, but apparently Trophy himself had the same idea and beat me to it. Alas, Ryan Plexico showed up and stole his golden opportunity for an overall win. And for that, we thank you Ryan. The last thing I want to hear is Trophy blabbing about his second win. To add insult to injury, they only went one deep in the overall (there were only 20 some odd people in the 10k) and gave him an age group award instead…to Tyler MCGOHO. Be sure to remind him of that next time you see him. The Moe’s burrito dash probably took some people away from Earth Fair, so it was still a small race this year. People kept telling me to go run Moe’s given my ability to wolf down food even faster than my 5k running, but when you offer 7000 total dollars in prize money to the overall winners, youll probably get more than soccer moms as competition.

The Earth Fair is held at Saluda Shoals Park, home of the Silver Fox trot, Sleigh Bell Trot and the Dam Run 10k finish. As I was told, the 8k shares basically the entire silver fox 5k course and  then adds an extra 3k. Rick Gibbons, who had done the race before, guided myself, Code, and Geary on a tour of the last mile, which later proved to be critical. The course is one of the coolest trail races I’ve seen – a total mix of hills, flats, bridges, paved areas, and ditches. Course was very well marked and even had all the roots painted in neon orange. Very nice. Of note, the course has the silver fox hill just after mile 1 – a muddy mountain that is difficult not to walk at times. Just brutal. The rest of the course is rolling, never gets too bad, but has lots of twists and turns.

Humid but still fairly cool at race time. Crowd is pretty small, with only a few familiar faces. Rocky, Rick, Barefoot John, Geary,  Code, Ken Sekley, Team Outlaw + Gizmo, and David He are the only ones I know.  I honestly never gave a thought about placing in the overall, but there’s a slim possibility with this group. I’d give myself a chance with a road race, but I generally suck pretty bad on trails. Like really bad. Usually the best trail runners are these small, rail thin people that can dart back and forth on tight switchbacks. Gorillas like myself require some momentum to get going.

With the gun start, no one jumps out ahead so I find myself leading in the first quarter mile. Finally David He catches up and passes me, and I fully expect him to take this race. After the 5:25 mile the night before, the 640ish pace seems pretty nice. Code catches up at about a half mile in a  clearing and I run with him for a little bit. We are both wondering when the muddy mountain is coming.  Code then complains about going so slow and breaks ahead. Soon another guy comes up and passes me and is really laying on the gas. Sekley also pulls up just ahead of me. Mile 1 in 6:47. Finally I see it. The mountain – mercifully short but its got to be close to 10 percent grade. Mr. Surge is slowed to a near walk. I power up the hill and it takes me most of the next quarter to stop gasping. David has gapped the field by about 10-20 meters and Code, Sekley and I are running in single file. Suddenly David just blows right through a turn and keeps going down a hill. I scream at him to turn around and Code yells at him too, but he’s got earbuds in and cant hear a thing. As the three of us pull into the forest again, David is WAY off in the distance off course. Here Code realizes he’s now in first and starts pushing the pace. I have no confidence in my trail endurance, so I let him go a little, but Sekley follows him. The next mile I fall off the back of their two person pack, and I start to worry about Geary lurking behind me, but I dont look back. Geary breathes like an industrial machine, so I figure I’ll hear him coming. Sekley is probably having the same thought about me, except you can replace the machine with a rabid grizzly. I’m not exactly stealth with me blasting through every turn like a slalom course. At about the 4k point I’ve reeled Sekley back in and he’s now just a few paces ahead. I can see Code but only in the clearings and some of the longer straightaways. A few times I consider passing Ken but he’s holding a pretty good pace. I decide to lurk just behind him. He’s probably going to have nightmares about being chased through the woods tonight, because the next 2.5  miles I’m right behind him. Code starts fading a bit in the last 2 miles but we’ve let him gap us too much. Finally Sekley and I reach the course that’s familiar to me from Rick’s warmup. I’m sucking a lot of wind by now, but Ken has backed off a little on the pace. I suddenly recognize the last woods segment before the open field to the finish, and I kick it in hard. I pass Ken and can feel him just behind me. I then enter a whole new world of pain as I blast it way past the redline.  Form starts going into headless chicken mode, but apparently I’m willing to risk cardiac arrest not to get passed back.  I hit the line at just over 34 minutes. 2nd overall. I hand over my bib strip and basically sprawl out on the ground like a 200 pound baby. Apparently restraint is not one of my personal strengths. I’m happy with the time and placement, and I always love a good battle with a blue shoe kick.

I dont know when or where the results will be – this race is old school with snail mail entry, no chips and using the old Columbia Running Club clock.  All of the regulars scored age group wins. Code scored his second overall win. David even came back and beat most of the field, even if he did practically run a 10k. Although I am biased given my performance, this was one of my favorite trail races. Course was really cool and well marked, despite David’s zone out. Nice volunteers and timely awards, despite the old bib tag and ring method.


Run for Her Life Downhill Mile – Five Points/Columbia,SC – 4/20/12

This is the second running of the Run for Her Life Downhill Mile, which I really wanted to do last year but was out of town. I love the mile. I’ve only actually run a mile race once before – actually a 1600 m in Strictly Running’s summer track series last year. Ran a 5:34 there, though it was crazy hot and I had already sprinted a 200 a few minutes earlier.  However, my dad used to watch the millrose games and the wannamaker mile when I was growing up, and there’s just something cool about this most basic of distances. This race is crazy fast – starts just off the intersection on rosewood and harden, and follows harden straight into 5 points. Its basically a slight roll over the first 0.75 then a very sharp downhill and flat sprint to the finish.

I was kind of nervous before the race. I really wanted a good time in this race, as I feel like it should be right up my alley. Basically 5+ minutes of pure blue shoe kick. My goal is to at least sub 5:30, maybe get 5:20.  I was feeling like crap most of the day though, as I’ve been nursing a cold. Between 24 hours of riding in a van with 5 others last weekend, using a million port-a-potties, having 3 cute little disease vectors in my home and starting a new job at the forensic psych hospital, I dont know where I might have picked up a stray virus. Got to the race about an hour early and ran the whole course forwards and backwards. Wasn’t really feeling it, and I was starting to dread the pain I was about to put myself through. Pretty small crowd at this race. Its put on by USC medical school, and apparently my students need to learn something about advertising. Strictly did help them out in the last two weeks, but I wasnt aware of the race until about then, and I am actively searching for races all the time.

Team Allers, Amanda, Jen Lybrand, and Eric McMichael are the only ones I know from the crowd. The start makes 5k starts seem tame. People are just hauling from the get go. Which is basically what you need to do in a mile, but I’m pretty sure there arent 20 sub 5 milers in this group. Eric Allers pulls ahead then is passed by a kid in an orange shirt. McMichael is showing his “King of the Quarter” speed and burns by me like I’m standing still. A quarter mile in and the field has settled down to orange kid, Allers, Kenzie Riddle, McMichael and myself. Pace feels crazy, but I start to settle in a little by the half, and I begin making up some ground on Eric M. The middle of the race has a little incline and it just hurts, but right at 0.75 is that freefall into 5 Points. Which kind of sucks for me, because I’m no good at downhills. I had gotten right behind McMichael but he’s gapped me by the bottom of the hill and just blasts out that 54 second quarter speed. He passes Kenzie with about 50 meters to go . I can make out the clock at 5:07 or so, and I’m in a full out sprint at this point. Hit the mat at 5:25, which I’m not disappointed about, if not overjoyed. I feel like I could have gone faster if I had felt better, but it was the best I could do on that night.

Orange shirt guy (Bryan Brooks) won the overall at 5:03 with Allers at 5:12 and McMichael at 5:20. Kenzie wins overall female at 5:20 and gets a 100 dollar bonus for breaking 5:30. Men’s 100 bucks was for 4:30, which was actually won last year by Tim Jeffreys (4:29). No one close this year of course. Amanda and Tigs take the 2-3 at 5:43 and 5:47 respectively. I finished 5th in the 62 person field.  I’ll be back at the Strictly track series in the summer – would like to be in the 5:15 range by then. I dont think they had age group medals in this race. There was an afterparty at Jake’s but I had to take off.



Palmetto Half Marathon – Guest Blogger Trophy – Columbia, SC – April 14, 2012

Obviously I couldn’t run the Palmetto Half and do the Palmetto 200 at the same time. I finished leg 3 at 6:50 am, which would have given me 10 minutes to get to Northeast Columbia from Mount Pleasant. So Trophy said he’d write a guest blog entry for me. Here it is:

The Palmetto Half is a half marathon running out of Sandhills on the Northeast side of town.  This is only the 3rd year for this race, but it has grown in popularity and this year had 933 finishers.  There is also a 5K the same morning that managed 401 finishers.  400 finishers is a good race when there is only a 5K, much less when a accompanying a half.  The race director is Ken Calcutt , a good friend, running companion, and an honorary captain of our weekend running group.  He and his staff have done a wonderful job with this race, which is probably why it is so popular. It falls on a busy time of the year, with some of the faster people going to Boston , and some of the more hardcore and crazy people running the Palmetto 200 relay.  I have nothing but rave reviews for this race. It is very well organized and I have no complaints. The awards this year were quite unique. Maybe someone that reads this who actually got one could send a photo to Alex?!?  Obviously, I did not! 

3rd place in our age group was 1:29:26 , and about a minute south of my PR, so I doubt I would have gotten any glory either.

The race starts at the Plex and runs out along Clemson road to Two Notch, then back behind Target and into Wildewood. There are a few hills scattered throughout, but overall not a bad course.  As many people know, I hate the heat, and due to the recent hot temps….I was praying for some cool numbers on race day.  Thankfully, we had it perfect.  I believe it was high 40’s at race time.  Hard to ask for better.  I got there pretty early and did some socializing as usual.  Right away I saw some of the faster people…..Plexico…Frank.  Heard rumors of a coach from CIU trying to go 1:12 I think.  Hmmm….too fast for me!  Amy showed up and figured she was a good bet to win overall female, as she has been smoking it lately and running wonderful!  We had a good turn out from our weekend running group, all showing up for a nice race and to support our leader Ken.  Charley, Jon, Nathan, Mark, Heath, and Buckle Up….who provided support with the cones.  He did a fine job with those!

Except for that traitor Blue Shoes.  At least Buckle Up didnt go rogue at Ken’s race – he’s setting TDC world records in banditing.

 Race started and I settled in with Burgess to try to pace a 1:33 or so….a goal for both of us.  I have run 3 of my last 4 half marathons in 1:34….surprising consistency from me. We got to the top of Clemson and could see below that Jud and Ryan were already quite a ways ahead of us. Machines.  The race for us was rather uneventful.  We maintained a pace right on target for most of the race…attacking the downhills and resting on uphills.  Jeff and I caught up to Karen Manning and she joined our jolly group for the majority of the race. We ran and Jeff provided very entertaining thoughts and commentary the majority of the time.  You would think this would wear him out, but him and Karen still managed to drop me on the nasty hill on Valhalla .

What’s all this talking? Burgess needs to lay off his blabbing and go for the glory. At least he didn’t get Trophied. 

I have checked quite a few times with our race director, and he has not been successful with removing this hill from the course. Sorry guys…I tried.  I finally got back on Two Notch and this is a good stretch to make up some ground. I found some more in me and started hitting some sub 7’s down this mile or so.  Good pace for me at this point, and was able to pass Karen again. 

Trophy cant push the pace unless he’s about to get masters chicked.

Unfortunately Burgess apparently had the same idea as me, and I was unable to make up any ground.  I struggled up the overpass (again, unable to get this part off the race) and started speeding up towards the end. The finish in my opinion is a good one. A little downhill into the middle of Sandhills.  The finish is lined with people cheering you on….a good feeling at the end of 13 miles.  I caught up to someone with about .1 to go and we raced to the finish!  I was just able to edge him out.  Burgess had remained strong and managed to best me by about 20 or so seconds. After they posted the chip time I did some research and I bested Governors Cup, my previous PR, by .15 seconds. Yes…..that is .15.  Can’t say I’m not consistent! 

Trophy’s birthday present


Jud managed to win in a time of 1:14.  Plexico got 2nd overall with a 1:15.  Frank ran a PR and a time of 1:21, good enough for 6th overall. Anton got 2nd Masters overall with a 1:23.  Larry Jourdain ran a good race with a 1:27.  Amy did manage to win overall female with a time of 1:23.  Megan had a good race…2nd overall female with a 1:29.  Heath “Diesel” Ward managed a PR as well. Kudos to all the runners of this wonderful race. Can’t wait to do it again next year! 

Insanely fast times in this race

Shout out to those who endured the high temps in Boston .  Any finish at all was a good one. Also a shout out to the Palmetto 200 team “Van on the Run”.  Great job to all of you!

I’m hoping the 200 won’t interfere with this race next year.

As my races have been limited, and my times pathetic, I welcome the chance to at least make a guest appearance on what is definitely the best blog I have ever read (don’t read any others) J.  I, like most of you I am sure, look forward to what our friend the race freak/CRC President has to say each week.  He is nothing if not entertaining and informative!   Trophy signing out.  Run happy my friends.

I paid him to say that. Excellent post, if lacking in my usual flagrant grandiosity and ridiculous detail.


Palmetto 200 – Columbia Motor Speedway to James Island County Park – April 13-14, 2012

The Palmetto 200 is in its third year this year, and this is also the third year I’ve done this event. I first saw this race on the web back in 2009 when it was just getting organized. In a strange twist of fate, one of my forum friends from Runners World ended up being Brian Clyburn, who then recruited me to be a part of a team he was putting together for the 200. At the time, I had just done my first half marathon, and was a little scared of the mileage requirements, but I signed on anyway.  I went on to a big PR at the Palmetto Half that year  (a couple of weeks before the inaugural Palmetto 200) and that was enough to delude me into thinking I could handle big time miles. I went out like a bat out of hell on my first 8.8 miler that year in the 80+ degree heat and about ended up a medical casualty. I recovered enough to run a decent 7 miler in leg two, but had a total meltdown on my third leg, 7.5 miles at 4 something am. This bonk made my Richmond marathon disaster seem triumphant. I had a walk of shame and was seeing spots/hallucinations. I have no idea how I finished that particular leg other than a sheer determination to end the suffering. I swore I’d never this relay again many times during that 7.5 miles. However, a sausage biscuit at the Seewee outpost and a nap was apparently enough to have me ready to go in 2011 by the end of the day.  I was much better prepared the second time around, and Brian gave me less miles, knowing I have absolutely no sense of pacing. We had a great race as a team that year, finishing 2+ hours better than the year before and ended up being the first team to cross the finish, though not the overall winner. My 4th leg that year was laying waste to the free beer and mexican buffet at the finish, nearly resulting in a post race reversal.

For those unfamiliar, the Palmetto 200 is a relay based on the Hood to Coast relay in Oregon. The course is just over 200 miles divided into 36 parts or “legs” that range anywhere from 1.7 to 10 miles. Course runs from Columbia Motor Speedway in Cayce, SC to James Island County Park just south of Charleston.  Twelve people make up a standard full team, with each member running 3 legs.  Runners 1-6 are in one van, and 7-12 in the other. Each runner runs in order over the course of the next 24+ hours or so to complete the course.  Before the relay, every team captain submits a projected average pace of the entire team, and this determines your start time. The idea of the staggered start is to try and get everybody to finish at about the same time.  The slowest teams start at Friday 6 am, and the fastest at 1:30 pm. Finish times are supposed to be on Saturday afternoon.

As mentioned, Brian is our captain, and if there is anyone born to be a relay captain, it is him. Starting about 3 months out, we start getting emails about the relay, with pre-event runs and a team lunch. Utlimately this culminates in “THE SPREADSHEET”. This thing is color coded with projected start/end times, maps and your projected (expected?) pace.  Mine was 7 minutes flat this year, for 16 miles. El Capitan does not mess around.

This year Brian made some new recruits and divided us into “fast” (Van 1) and “older and extremely good looking” (Van 2).  Though I fit none of these criteria he put me in Van 1, where I was probably 4th or 5th in speed out of the group. Van 1 was Dan “Thunder Dan”, Andy “Nard Dog”, David “D-Mac”, Darrell “Code Brown”, Brandon “Mayfire” and myself. Van 2 included Brian “El Capitan”, Kori “Nrv-Flo”, Joel “Honey Badger”, Amanda “Cobra Kai” , Whitney “Soap Distant” and Ellen “A Pos”. Yes we were instructed to have nicknames and we all had team relay shirts with the names. Team “Van on the Run” does not do things halfway.

We got to Columbia Speedway about 11:15 in prep for our 12 noon start. The weather was inexplicably cool. All this past month I kept thinking how miserable this relay was going to be with the record heat we had been having, but you cant beat a high of 72 and sunny in April in SC.  We had two main competitors that were in our start wave by Brian’s calculations: Team Island Liquors and the Clemson Thundercats. The Thundercats  were the most evil given we were a group of mostly USC grads. Someone suggested we rename ourselves the Thundercocks, but that was deemed a bit too graphic.  We got a briefing from the race director and we were told we would be running 6 hours behind the main clock, which started at 6 am that morning with the first wave. There were actually a few even faster teams starting at 1:30. Our stated time was 7:45 pace that would have us finishing at 2 pm, but us relay vets knew el capitan would hold us to a higher standard.

The Code was our first runner and our 4 team wave started right at noon with a lap around the speedway. I already had to start trash talking Code in the first lap because he let some dude pass him right before the photo op as they left the speedway. We then jumped in the van and headed to the next exchange zone, where Brandon waited to run. We were excited to see Darrell rounding the finish  at the end of his 5.7 miles, pushing it at 6:30ish pace the whole way, though not too far ahead of a trailing group of two. Brandon took off and blasted his way through leg 2, a stretch mostly on dusty country roads. I don’t know his pace but he left the two behind him at least a couple of minutes back. Andy was our third runner and is a complete beast. His was 9.26 miles and almost completely out in the sun. This was the same leg (slightly different course) that completely wrecked me in 2010, but he just destroyed it in just over 6 flat pace.

Which led to my first leg, a very short 2.6 miler that i was set to tear up. The problem with relays is that you do a lot of waiting around stewing in your own pre-race anxiety before you run. On top of this, the pressure to do well for your team is definitely more intense than the individual pressure for a regular race. This was also put up or shut up time for me dating back to last year. Last year Trophy ran this leg and looked like he might need a medical tent afterwards. He then went on an on about his 2.6 miles, that I have dogged him about it every time the relay has come up since. Ask Tyler how he’s feeling so fly..like a two six. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvgJEznqtms.

Pic is me mocking Trophy after his 2.6 in 2011. So I’d better not blow it on this leg, right? As soon as I got the bracelet baton, I blasted out like a banshee, but then told myself to rein it in. I was supposed to hit an average of 7 minutes throughout, so I figured maybe I could go a little faster, say 6:45 for this little jaunt. I was feeling pretty good, especially since a lot of the first mile was a slight decline. I looked down when my Garmin beeped my one miles split…6:09. Way to pace yourself hero. Relay organizers say the best way to pace is 10 seconds slower per mile than your 10k…here I was doing a fast 5k split. Here is when I saw a hill, which is why Trophy said he was so gassed. I started to suck some wind on this thing, but was able to power up it pretty fast. Just as I was thinking Trophy was a complete wuss, I saw it. Turns out the reason for this only being 2.6 miles is the small mountain that arises out of nowhere for the last three quarters of a mile. I had already told myself to slow down, but Mt. Charleston highway was doing a good job for me. I kept having hallucinations that the other 2 teams were hunting me down, but it was just my flailing limbs and the rocks on the road. Second mile was at 6:45 and hurt a hundred times worse. To add insult to injury, the crest of the hill is the finish, so instead of my teammates seeing me rock out the first mile, they see me heaving like I’m on death’s door. I hit the last 0.6 at just over 7 minute pace and collapse on the grass.  17:02, 6:36 pace. OK Trophy…no more teasing.

David took the baton from here and despite stating he was in terrible shape still managed low 7 pace through some more seriously hilly exposed areas. Dan brought the thunder on leg 6 and had to face what had been David’s nemesis for the last two years. On leg 6, there is a half mile of a hill that looks like its straight out of the blue ridge. This is in the middle of an 8 miler, the majority of which is in the direct broiling sun. Ive seen most people walk most of it (yes we park on the side of the road in the middle just to watch the carnage). Dan was powering up it this year. Unfortunately, there was a 40ish woman behind him who had been tracking him down and blasting what was likely low 6 pace. Dan said he finally heard her at the top of the hill. I really expected her to pass Dan, but give him a challenge and he is going to pick it up a level. We saw both of them round the last turn a half mile from the finish of leg 6, with masters chick right on his tail. Dan brought the thunder though, and was able to hold her off.

We then handed off to van 2 and crashed out at Santee state park after refueling at the Cracker Barrel. We used to eat conservatively, fearing GI disasters with all the running, but it seems the best way to keep going is just to eat and eat a lot. No problem with that here. I tried to sleep some at Santee, but inevitably there will always be that someone that talks like the whole world needs to hear. Of course one of those dudes pulled up to the field with all the people crashed out in sleeping bags. I brought earplugs for this purpose, but I wasnt tired enough after my mini 5k to sleep anyway.

Van 2 finished at about 8 something at night and Darrell started us off from Santee State Park to Lone Star BBQ, blasting off 4 miles in low 6 pace. Island Liquors and the Thundercats had opened up a big lead over the afternoon but they were still on the same legs as us. Brandon then had the unenviable task of running right through the center of Santee on a Friday night. I had this leg last year. For the night parts of the relay they make us wear a headlamp , with a reflective vest and at least 2 blinking lights front and back.  Lets just say this attracts a lot of attention from the locals, who may or may not like this invasion by alien coal miners in white vans. It also gets dogs going, and apparently Brandon survived a near attack by Santee’s version of Cujo.  Luckily this year the race had a ton of police supervision, apparently with a cruiser every 5 miles during the night, which was awesome. Brandon finished his leg and got to push “the easy button” that one of the volunteer’s kids had. From the pace he was doing, it looked anything but easy. Andy then tore up the next leg, again at six flat pace, bringing us within a couple of minutes of the Liqours and Cats.

I then headed out into the pitch dark for a 5.6 mile romp straight through Holly Hill. It was a little after 11 pm. I was a little gimpy from my mini 5k up the mountain, but it was the coolest weather I’ve run in since February and flatter then anything in Columbia. I hit mile 1 at 6:49 and decided I could probably maintain this pace. It was a little scary at times – traffic was light but 55 mph cars coming at you keeps you on your toes. Luckily most gave me a wide berth with my crazy ass outfit. I went right through Holly Hill, which was pretty much deserted except for a Subway, where I got some interesting looks. Its not everyday Holly Hill sees an albino Sasquatch on the loose. As I reached the other side of Holly Hill, which is only a few blocks, I saw a glimmer of red. My first chance at ROADKILL. This is the term relayers use to describe passing other teams. Late in the relay you catch up with the slower teams and pass a lot of people, but I figured this was probably still someone in our start wave. I figured that based on being less than halfway done, but also by the fact this guy was proving tough to catch. I had thrown down 3 consecutive 6:47ish miles and I hadnt out much of a dent in his lead. At some point I figured less than a 5k to the finish and started to pick it up. As I started to near him, I think he sensed my presence and fought me off , but finally I caught up with him. He actually was very nice, was encouraging and even told me he was from the Liquors. I almost felt bad passing him. Almost.  I still had to burn it to keep him off my tail, when I saw dimly ANOTHER LIGHT.  The possibility of a double roadkill was too good to pass up, and I started to ramp it up past 10k pace. I think this girl might have been doing a brief walk of shame, but once she saw my light she started booking it. She was wearing a loose reflective vest and was carrying a flashlight, creating a dizzying strobe effect that was really disorienting on top of my own headlamp. I blasted into low 6 territory, knowing I had less than a mile to go. Finally passed her with about a half mile to go, and saw she was a Thundercat.  I continued 5k pace and even threw a mini blue shoes kick to end the leg in style. Last two splits were 6:30 (mile 5) and 6:16 (last 0.6).  So much for restraint. On the upside the weather and flatness made everything so much easier, so I figured I would be OK.  Nice for my teammates to do most of the work to set up the double pass on my leg. David then had his short 2.6er and held the lead. Dan then extended the lead by rocking out a 9.67 miler and started catching some of the slower teams from the earlier start waves.  St Paul Methodist (all the exchange zones are schools or churches) had a late night ham sandwich and chips sale at the end of Dan’s leg. I wolfed that thing down like it was nothing.  I think I may actually gain weight on relays.

I then drove the van down to the last van turnover site, Cordesville baptist church. I’ve driven the last two relays as my own personal penance for being a complete sloth in the 2010 relay, lying down in the wayback and basically just eating and sleeping. Cordesville has a huge field which is prime for sleeping. A bunch of sleeping bags and tents were laid out close, but I have to be far off from the parking lot to avoid homicidal rage toward loud talking ass clowns. My teammates actually all slept in the van, but beasts like myself just cant get comfortable. One thing about this night, it was FREAKING COLD. Low 40’s I think, but with a slight wind it felt way worse. Luckily the Strictly Running hoodie I have has supernatural heating properties and kept me pretty warm, as long as I formed a sleeping bag cocoon and pulled the hoodie over my face.  I positioned myself in view of the van and partially in the glow of a security light, as to avoid getting my internal organs crushed by a 15 passenger van. That wouldnt be a very dignified way to go. I initially had a hard time sleeping even with it being pretty quiet. I was near a shed with some empty barrels with possible shotgun holes, which I feared may be a good snake lair even if target practice wasnt currently in session. Whats worse, there were wolves. Wolves howling. Like right out of a movie. We were in the middle of Francis Marion forest, I guess. All these concerns apparently succumbed to overwhelming fatigue because the next thing I know Code is waking me up.

Code apparently snorted a line of coke because he is jacked up about this 330 am run, which is his last.  I am considerably less than enthusiastic and freezing my ass off to boot. My time out of the cocoon about killed me. After shivering in the van for awhile and cursing my recurrent bad judgement for entering these relays, I was able to defrost and take down a couple starbucks doubleshots.  Drove to the scariest exchange zone, a pitch dark Huger recreation area. Except this time apparently every van in the relay is parked there. They have one scary outhouse there that has become legendary. There’s no light in it, and when you turn on your headlamp, you are glad you cant really see anything. I call it the House of Horrors. With that as the only option, lets just say the surrounding pines are well fertilized.  Code finally finishes his 10 miler and I’m quite sure he’s done another line of coke, because dude is amped to be finished.  The rest of the van, who are still facing the roughest and worst leg, are not quite sharing his enthusiasm. I myself am facing a 7.5 miler on an hour and a half sleep, stomach churning with a melange of espresso, gatorade and nilla wafers. Brandon is lucky to have gotten his worst legs over and goes out and crushes his remaining 5k. Andy had the 7.5 miler that brought me to near death in 2010 and knocks it out in like 6:02 pace. Dude is a monster.

I pick up a roadkill in the first 10 yards of my 3rd and last leg. The slower groups have a lot of recreational runners, a lot of whom are hating life by this time.  They are out in force by this point, and I have to admire the 10 min + pace teams because these guys may be out here as much as 36 hours. I am fortunate to get to run at 6 am, so the sun is beginning to come up. This is spirit lifting, and with it still being cold with a flat course, the running is a little bit easier. I target 7 min pace, but end up doing mile 1 in 6:44. It doesnt feel that bad, so I just try and hold it. Gradually the sleepiness wears off and I’m able to feel a little better.  Liqours and Thundercats are back ahead again by a long shot, so I dont focus on trying to catch them. This leg has a lot of turns which help break it up. Some patches open up to the sun beginning to come up over the marsh, so its really beautiful, if only I wasnt dead tired. But I’m on a mission, and as Dan says about leg 3, the faster you go, the quicker its over. There are a few slower teams scattered on the course, so they also help give me something to run towards. I basically lock into a 6:40ish pace and zone out…taking one mile at a time and trying to think about anything than walking or sleep. After what seems like forever, I hear the roar of  highway 17 and this jolts me out of my daydream. Luckily I draw a break in the cars and can cross without stopping. I know I’m only a half mile to the finish after the mile 7 split (7th mile 6:43,  every mile had been 6:40-6:49, total metronome)  so I blast as much a blue shoes kick as I can, knowing its the end of the whole thing. Finish in 50:02 for 7.48 miles,  6:41 pace, very close to my 12k PR at Ray Tanner actually.

So glad to be done at this point.  The run actually energizes me and its good to see David and Dan tear up the last two legs in similar fashion, crushing it out. We pass the baton on to van 2 and have a celebratory breakfast at IHOP. Afterwards we go to James Island County Park and wait for our other van to finish.  Brian has kept us updated throughout the relay, and Van 2 has been faster than projected as well. Kori is our ringer, flown in from Minnesota and out there nailing sub 6 pace on every leg.  He even took one of Ellen’s night legs to save her from dodging the cars and local wildlife. We know Liqours and Wildcats are too consistently strong, but we continue to be on Van on the Run PR pace, with a chance at a sub 24 hour time. At the finish they have free draft beer which tastes so good..even if I’m dead tired and just finished off some french toast within the past 2 hours. We sit at the finish line with the clock nearing 30 hours (which minus 6 hours is our time). Finally, with the clock at 29:55, Brian comes sprinting onto the finish area field, and we all run across together – 23:55 and a huge team PR.

We’ll know the official results in the upcoming week, but we are probably top 10, most likely closer to top 5.  I’ll certainly be back again next year.  Next up: Blue Ridge Relay Part II??





Fallen Heroes 5k – USC / Columbia, SC — 4/7/12

The Fallen Heroes 5k is in its third year, with proceeds to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. Somehow I had never done the race before, so I decided to run it, despite that my trophy hunting instincts felt the Resurrection Run might be a better opportunity for glory. Turns out this race had almost 500 runners, which is huge for a relatively new race.

Something unique about this race is the course – starts at the USC ROTC building at the corner of Pickens and Wheat, immediately climbs up the side of Mt. Saluda from the Columbia Marathon, does a loop through some area of Shandon that I’ve never seen before, then heads back down the mountain all the way to the finish. I thought this might be a good course for me since I’m a decent hill climber, and the screaming downhill at the end would only add some punch to the blue shoes kick.

I got there about 45 minutes early and did a mile out and back on the shared beginning and end of the course with the Code. The Code was already in depressive mode, having been dealt the ultimate shame of a blue shoes beatdown the week before. He said the shin splints were still acting up and “I might have to walk the downhills”. Right. Code’s grumblings aside, the first part of this course is brutal with a capital B. Unrelenting hill for three quarters of mile. To make things worse..something was going on with my shorts…

Which I finally figured out after 15+ minutes of some not so polite adjusting. Backwards. Nice. The time I made this discovery was exactly 2 minutes from the start, with nowhere to go to do a quick change. Fantastic. That’s what I get from getting up before the crack of dawn and dressing in the dark.

Start was pretty impressive – tons of people came out for this event – though relatively few regular racers, who were split between here, Resurrection and the Newberry race. Angel, Meg, Team Schmitz, Ted, Spence, J-Reeves, Team Lybrand, Barefoot John, Karen, and Eric M were all in attendance. Meg was trying to find a reason not to race – perhaps the fear of the blue shoes??

The start of 5ks are usually insane with everybody sprinting, but this one was actually more controlled, because the view from the bottom of Mt Saluda is pretty sobering.  Trying to power up this hill at 5k pace was as much fun as getting punched in the face. At least everybody else seemed to be feeling the pain too. I managed to pass Meg, but I kept noticing this woman ahead of me that was giving me the beatdown despite being dressed in a very casual outfit, like she might fit in with the 35 minute plus crowd. Either way she was leaving me for dead because I was sucking some serious wind by the time I reached the top. Luckily the Code wasnt too far ahead. I could even see Angel and a college kid in some battle royale right behind the pace car.  By the time I reached the mile mark, I didnt even look down at my split, because I knew it would be slow.

The next mile I tried to pick up the pace, though I really didnt do so until a quarter mile in with all the hill recovery. I finally started to make some headway on the field, passing a few guys in the loop in Shandon. I got completely turned around and realized I had absolutely no idea where I was going.   At one point I thought I was nearing the finishing hill when I made the painful realization I hadnt even got to the mile 2 mark. I guess I got distracted at this time, because all of a sudden I looked up and we were merging back into the oncoming stream of middle and back of the pack runners. I also realized that there appeared to be no one ahead of me anymore.  I had a moment of sheer panic but then turned around and saw others following me. My paranoia was heightened by some woman saying I was going the wrong way, which I think she meant as a joke since she was still heading out on the course, but really freaked me out.  I figured either I was on the right track or singlehandedly turning the rest of the race into chaos. To make things crazier, the field was so spread out toward the back that I was doing some Marcus Lattimore maneuvers to avoid strollers and walkers. I eventually just ran almost on the curb. I finally found volunteers directing me at a turn, so I guess I was on the right path after all. I had no idea what happened to the Code and the pack ahead of me, but they were nowhere in sight. Hit mile 2 in 6:20 despite all the slowdowns. I didnt know my mile 1 split, but I figured it was time to kick it hard to make up for that initial mountain climb. I finally hit the beginning of the long Saluda downslope, and tried to really blast it. This usually involves a lot of flopping arms and head in my case, since I apparently have limited control of my body on downhills. As I was flying down the hill I heard it…

Either a rogue tornado was approaching in the middle of a sunny spring morning or there was a train coming. Immediately I flashed back to the Fidler 5k , which uses a similar course, and how that race had been plagued by train stops. I knew I was close to the tracks though…maybe it was another railroad, or maybe I could blue shoe it and make it through. A volunteer was at the last turn before the straightaway to the finish. He saw me in full blue shoes kick blasting away and told me “Uh, you dont need to worry about it, there’s a freight in the way”. As I make the turn I see Angel and a few others standing around like its social hour and big tanker cars going by. After dropping some random obscenity I started to sprint, thinking it might be through by the time I get there, but then I realize the train is actually slowing down. So I stride up to the intersection and figure the race is over. After waiting around what seems like forever, the train is almost at a stop when Angel or somebody jumps up and starts climbing through the train. Suddenly the rest of us are up on the tanker cars and jumping off the other side. As soon as I hit the ground I’m sprinting like a freaking maniac, as though I’m still going to have a good time despite sitting around for 45 seconds. I see the clock change over to 20 minutes, and then we all slow down and basically line up in the order we reached the train.  Crossed in 20:15, 7th overall.

Then I realize Code isnt even at the finish. WTF? I look back and it looks like a scene from a disaster movie. Streams of people are coming out of every space in the train, which is now stopped. Some people, ahem… Karen, were even going UNDER the train – taking the phrase PR or ER quite literally. Finally someone starts directing runners around the train in some ditch up the road. Code shows up a few minutes later looking like he’s ready to kill someone. Apparently he and a few others got misdirected and ended up almost at Rosewood before turning around. I comforted him by taking a photo of his 22 minute finish and asking him how he could get blue shoed again.

One guy, a club runner at USC, apparently beat the train and finished in 18:02. The rest of the top 10 got held up but basically maintained our finish positions, minus Code and his expedition party. The woman on the hill, who is from Georgia, would have probably crushed a sub 19 and would be a great ringer for any wagering going on. Meg finished 2nd and Jennifer Lybrand finished 3rd overall in the women. Angel finished 3rd in the men. All the overall winners took home giant trophies, so I was extremely jealous. I may keep Angel’s since he had to leave before the awards ceremony.  Spence just missed out on the trophy action, finishing 4th. Crazy Legs won his first Masters age group, with Ted taking 2nd. I ended up in 2nd behind a guy I’ve never seen before. Team Holt also both won their age group.



Velocity Distance Project 5k – Lake Carolina – 3/31/12

The Velocity Distance Project Get Your Speed On 5k is a first time race at Lake Carolina that looks like the 2nd event in a number of running/bike races set up by Dave Hale of the VDP. This race popped up on my radar about a month ago – it met Blue Shoes trophy hunting criteria with its first year status, competition from another major race, and being well outside of Columbia.  Of course, with the CRC presidential duties I promote the Tour de Columbia races, so I’m no longer able to stealth my way into these smaller events. I also knew the Code would be here anyway, so my chances at the overall win were slim. Slim to none as it turned out, because as you see above,  Plexico and Joe Tomlin showed up right away, followed by a stealth Brandenburg sighting. I’m thinking JB was headed out to take this race from me and the Code, but even his trophy hunting got foiled.

As expected, this was a small event, though 50 people ended up showing up. This was actually more than I had thought with the Bridge Run going on. Conditions were pretty nasty – warm and very humid, and the rain started well before the race. I got pretty soaked on a two mile warmup with the Code. Felt like crap on the warmup  – I’m thinking my body has become allergic to water after the extreme trauma suffered in the Blatt pool last Sunday.

I didnt get a chance to preview the whole course before the race, but I know Lake Carolina to be a veritable roller coaster of hills. My only hope was that this race managed to avoid some of the worst inclines that were on the other side of the neighborhood.  The course was mostly out and back, with a small loop in the Harborside subdivision. The website does note the course to be “fast” but I’m thinking Selwyn must of put that part in there. Its fast if a brutal half mile hill just before the finish makes you all speedy. This is the same course as last years Poochalooza 5k, Greg Howell’s shining trophy moment.

The start felt like a group run with the small crowd, and the immediate thing  I noticed after the gun was that this course was anything but closed. You’d think early Saturday morning would not be a big time for traffic, but suddenly everybody and their mom was out for a freaking joyride. Not more than a half mile in and some lady is drafting on me with her volvo and giving me little toots on her horn. WTF. Sorry to delay your Starbucks run. The rain starts really coming down soon after this, and I’m starting to wonder why I do this to myself every Saturday. The newest Blue Shoes (adizero Feathers) are amazingly light when dry. Not so much supersaturated with rain water.  Feet feel ridiculously heavy. On a good note, I’m able to separate from my small pack of guys who are obviously pacing themselves and calling out Garmin times.  The Code is not that far ahead,  and Brandenburg is about the same distance ahead of him. Plex and Tomlin are already in another zip code. Hit mile one in 6:21, and I’m already pretty gassed.

Right after the mile mark is a climb up to the main roundabout of Lake Carolina with the fountain. Some landscaping truck appears suddenly, as if its hellbent on getting that mulching done today. One of the volunteers luckily stops the truck, but soon its bearing down on me in the circle. I’m glad this means no one is near behind me, but also not so glad that I might become roadkill at any moment. I strike a Heisman pose as means of warning I’m going to throw myself across this truck’s path, and luckily he yields. As I barrel into Harborside, I notice myself inching closer to the Code, though JB is leaving us both for dead.  The Harborside loop is pretty short and mercifully flat, and by the time the course is headed back home I’m right behind the Code. The end of the loop is right at 2 miles, and its 6:34 or something. All that slogging in the rain is definitely slowing me down.  There’s a sharp decline right after the 2 mile mark and the Code suddenly stops at the bottom of the hill. I ask if he’s OK, but it appears either his shin splints are acting up or he’s suffered a severe pride injury from getting blue shoed. Perhaps both. Either way, I have no way of telling if he’s going to rest up and blast up the ensuing hill, so I’m trying to push it. There’s about zero motivation though, because I soon realize he’s stopped and possibly dropped out, and JB is too far away to catch. I’m running completely alone by this time. Alone, if you dont count the suburban moms texting in their SUV’s ready to take my life. The long hill is also doing a wonderful job of sucking any life spirit completely out of my body. I keep having finish line hallucinations, but Lake Carolina drive has so many turns, and another roundabout I completely forgot. Finally I hit the last straightaway and I’m already seeing 19:30’s. I try to kick it in, but I’m sucking wind like its the third lap of my swim at Blatt. I see my first 20 minute mark in months and cross in 20:04. 4th overall and first in age group. I’d normally be thrilled at the placement, but the over 20 min time and feeling like complete death kind of ruin the moment.  No one is in view for quite a while until I finally see Code, who crosses in 21:18, which is about his slowest time ever – but did include a brief walk in the park. He was real happy about that.

Plexico won easily in 17:14, followed by Tomlin in 17:57. JB was all alone in 3rd at 19:19. I dont know many of the other people in this race, but I believe Carolina Crossfit had a a team that did pretty well overall. Ted Hewitt did a successful trophy hunt, taking the overall masters, and Alex Ponamarev finished 3rd in masters at 62 years old!