See Spot Run 5k – Earlewood Park – Columbia,SC – 5/19/12

See Spot Run is a 5k put on by the Humane Society, now in its third year. It is a race close to my heart, given it was my first overall placement. It was originally held at Riverfront Park in its first year, in June. All I remember was it was hot…brutal.  It was run on a cool double bridge course, which was scenic but unfortunately took you right by the chicken plant in 378 – not the best smelling area of Columbia. I was trying to chase down Amy McDonaugh in that race and was failing miserably, but somehow managed to pass a then unknown Ken Sekley in the final half mile to take 3rd overall male in 19:47.  For my efforts I won free entry into the next years race. I managed to unearth this photo from 2010, in which I appear to outweigh the other overall winners combined:

The next year it was moved to Earlewood Park,   in June again and again famously blazing hot.  The course was completely new, and a total hillfest. I showed up early that year to jog the course and it probably would have been better to be blissfully ignorant.  It sucks you in with a flat to screaming downhill first mile, then wipes you out with a slog up a big hill, turn around, go down that hill again, then kills you with a trip right back up that downhill first mile. I finished in 20:09 and felt good about it – most people were at least 30-45 seconds off their usual times. The Blue Shoe kick claimed another victim in Will Brumbach but Sekley exacted revenge and crushed me by nearly a minute. Code and Amy also destroyed me. That year also featured “THE DOG” – a mascot costumed runner thats doing the race for charity. What most of the crowd doesnt know is the dog is also Randy Finn, a 17 minute 5ker. It must of been about 200 degrees in that suit last year and it still took every ounce of my effort not to get mascotted. Poor Rick Gibbons was the lucky one to get outkicked by the dog at the finish and thus appear in all the promotional flyers for the race, even though they didnt explain Rick finished 11th overall in the race.

This year they mercifully moved the race date up a few weeks, which made a huge difference in the weather. Basically as close to perfect as you can get in May – cool, slight breeze, 60ish. I was worried the turnout would be a lot worse with both the Red bank 5k and Going the Extra Mile 5k on the same day, but it looked like a decent crowd.  Oh, and dont forget the John Petrey 5k in West Columbia, which had my trophy hunting sense tingling. Trophy claimed he wasnt racing, but I figured about even chances he would show up at that one.

I had already stalked my age group on the Strictly Running site (advanced trophy hunting technique and completely ridiculous), so I knew Angel Manuel and Steven Johnson were going to be there to make my chances at even age group placing difficult. My only hope was to finish 3rd in AG or hope one or more of those guys placed in the overall. Rick , the Diesels, Karen, Brad Steele, Rocky, Alex Ponamarev, Meg Weis, Will Brumbach, Sekley, Joe Tomlin, Teo, Charley, Crazy Legs, and Sarah Blackwell were a few of the familiar faces.  My goal in the race was to break 20 minutes, no easy task on this course. And did I mention I was doubling up with a second 5k in Charleston that afternoon? Yeah I’m an idiot.

Typical banshee start to a 5k. Brumbach told me in the first 100 meters he was going to lurk behind me this year and not get blue shoed again. Meg was right at my side in the first half mile and started surging here and there, so I made a point to hang with her and not give in to my typical “this sucks why do i do this every weekend” self talk in the first mile.  Although it helped I was able to keep pace with her, it didnt do wonders for my self esteem that the freaking DOG was kicking my ass.  The course drops off a cliff just before the mile mark and Meg flies ahead of me along with Mr buff younger guy. Man I suck on downhills. Luckily I was able to draw even with Meg and mr buff just before the mile mark. Burgess is calling out splits and gives us a 6:05. Way to save up for the hills. I manage to surge ahead during the flat part in the middle of mile 2, but Buff apparently cant take the shame of getting passed by an albino 37 year old sasquatch so he passes me back just before the first brutal hill.  The go go gadget quads of steel kick into high gear and I power past him again on the hill. I’m sucking a fair amount of wind but definitely feel a lot stronger than last year. At the top of the hill is the turn around, and I’m actually not too far off the overall lead (by position at least, if not absolute time).  At the turn I can hear what I correctly assume to be Sekley chasing me down hardcore. I surge after the turn and set my sights on DOG, who is finally starting to fade. I didnt catch my mile 2 split..which is around 6:30. Finally at the bottom of the hill I am able to overtake the seven foot giant yellow mascot, though from the reaction of the bystanders I know his furry ass is right behind me. My race paranoia sets in and I’m starting to regret shaming Rick in the last CRC newsletter. I begin to worry of a brutal karma payback with my face on the 2013 See Spot flyer. So I go ahead and empty the tank – blasting up the final quarter mile beast of a hill as hard as I can go. I know the whole time there are people not too far behind me. I figure Sekley, Meg, Will , Mr Buff, DOG…all are ready to take me down. So I decide to redline it some more at the top, and I am about toast, but too afraid to slow up.  apparently I’m willing to go into cardiac arrest to avoid the shame of getting mascotted. Luckily the last tenth is all downhill again, and I sprint it out at about 500 beats per minute and finish in 19:39. Turns out Angel placed 3rd, so I got 2nd in AG behind Steven, which I’m pretty jacked about. Even more happy about the 30 second improvement from last year, though the heat certainly played a role in 2011.

I did beat the mascot, but I still got dogged…Alejandro Arreola and his dog placed 5th human/1st canine in 19:06.  A teenager Hardie Cate won overall, followed by Joe Tomlin and Angel. Steven placed 4th.  Sekley and Will finished just behind me, but Meg was the lucky winner of the DOG finish photo this year:

She did win the female overall, so cant argue with that though. Schmitz won his new 40-44 age group, and Rocky won his for the 1000th time. Sarah, Teo and Rick also placed in their age groups.


Thanks to John Richards for providing the on-course photos!

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