For the last four years, my family has rented a beach house for a week, the last 3 in Folly Beach. For most sane individuals, they would use the chance to relax on the beach and take it easy. All I could think of is plenty of flat roads to run on and a built in T1 and T2 in the driveway of the beach house. FYI, open water ocean swims suck way worse than Lake Carolina.
Of course one of the great tragedies of beach week was actually missing a race, the Born in the USA 4 miler , no less. I was originally devastated when I looked for a race down in Charleston and couldnt find one. Lucky for me, 2 races popped up on the Charleston Running Club site a couple of weeks ago, so I felt it my executive duty to represent the original CRC in at least one of them. I was going to do both, but sometimes I actually show an ounce of restraint…sometimes at least. The Xterra half marathon being this Sunday also may have weighed into my deicsion. My brother Ben and his wife Cindy were with us and we all agreed to do the Johns Island race on the 4th. It was cool to get to race with Ben again, as it was at beach week last year that he took his first steps back toward running. He was a cross country/track runner for Dutch Fork in the mid 90’s (PR 16:45!) but had been sidelined the last several years due to back injuries. I paced the Boys and Girls Club 5k on Thanksgiving with him in a shade over 21 minutes. A few runs with him this week though, and I was more afraid of him just outright kicking my ass.
I had no idea what to expect about this race – it was being put on by the Extra Mile and it was billed as completely flat, and on a cross country style course, at a place called “Trophy Lakes”. And there was beer afterwards. How perfect is that?
I got there about 45 minutes early, and alone, as my brother has a habit of getting an adrenaline boost from running perpetually late. Actually he showed up only 15 minutes later, so I was impressed. I did about a mile warmup with Ben and had a chance to meet fellow blogger Amy, who I had spoken to online but not actually in person. They call her the “Tiny Terror” and, true to her name, I was literally twice her size. http://proudpatriot07.wordpress.com/
Temps were of course crazy hot, being South Carolina in July. About 90 and wet blanket humid.
My first indication this race was old school was the lack of chip timing, and if that wasnt verification enough, the director drawing a start line in the trail with a stick may have been another subtle hint. There were about a hundred people , I guess, at the race. Pretty big I thought for a race that’s kind of out of the way. The director did the start and said made some joke about having the results posted sometime in the future, which didnt go over real well with me, since it takes like no time to do. After a guy had to move his car off the course, we got started.
Trails are like kryptonite to me as far as racing goes. I love to run them but usually do a lot of sucking in actual competition. I present my yearly Resolution run 10k results as convincing evidence. I had trouble with the start – trying to do 5k race pace with the wet blanket wasnt easy, and a complete lack of knowledge of the course and the other runners was disorienting. We did about a mile loop back near the start and headed out past one of the “trophy” lakes. I’ve become such a triathlon training freak I forgot to switch my Garmin over to running, so all I was getting from the watch was my speed in miles per hour. It didnt feel particularly fast. At least my shoes were tied though. Right after the mile marker an older guy in a black tank passes me. Although it hurts my fragile ego, it actually helps me pace to have someone to keep up with . A pack of young elite looking dudes and 2 girls had left us in the dust , so I was mostly alone until he brought me back to reality. As I was blindly following this guy, I hear footsteps and fear that Ben is ready to take back the family running crown. Instead its a tall guy (later found out his name is Robert) who I’m deathly afraid might be a fellow age grouper. Although I’m relieved its not Ben, I’m still struggling to find my pace. Now I’m chasing 2 guys. A girl in a black sports bra has now fallen off the front pack but is way ahead of us. After what seems like forever, I hit the 2 mile mark and can actually see where the rest of the course is going to go.
Time to throw down. I start really pushing the pace, and realize that I must of been going way too easy early on. I return the favor to Robert and black tank and then blast into some headless chicken action. My imaginary bike is going way over 10 miles an hour according to my Garmin. Black bra is way ahead but I’m starting to reel her in. The last stretch is a flat and straight quarter mile through the dirt parking lot, and I can see the finish line from way out. Like Spinal Tap, I crank it up past 11 mph and start sprinting as hard as I can. Black bra , whom I had already given up to, was now coming into striking distance. Then I hear it from her girlfriends screaming “DONT LET HIM BEAT YOU!!! Ruh roh, someone just poured lighter fluid on the Blue Shoe fire. Kicked it into yet another gear and Blue Shoed the Black Bra at about 14 mph maybe 20 meters before the finish. A most unchivalrous but glorious kick to finish in 19:49.
And its a good thing, because little did I know Ben was tracking me down until a little after mile 2 by his account. He finished in about 20:20 though started walking before the actual line since he thought the start of the chute was the end. I took some pics after the race and Amy finished not not long after us. Cindy is on the comeback after her last pregnancy and was trying to break 35 minutes. We found her at the straightaway at a surprising 29 minutes, and I seabiscuited her to a 30:30 or so finish. She Blue Shoed a girl right before the chute and outkicked her when she tried to re-pass. I was so proud!
Awards were surprisingly quick given the non-chip format. I actually had to do sub 7 pace on the last half mile of my cooldown when I heard them start. I took 1st in AG, and Ben and Amy placed as well. No trophies, but we got a nice pair of running socks, which beats medals in my opinion. They had a keg of Bud Light at the finish which was awesome, even at 9:30 am.
Oh, but still no results 4 days out. Almost perfect.