The Eagle 5k is a race put on by fellow runner and age groupers Eric McMichael and Angel Manuel of the Palmetto Runners, now in its third year. Its held in Eric’s hometown of North, SC, where I had previously never been until last year’s race. They decided to move it to an evening start in 2012, so I had a chance to double dip with the Silver Fox Trot 5k in Irmo in the morning.
Double dipping is always tough, but this one was going to be particularly brutal, given the abuse the Silver Fox inflicts on your legs. Not to mention its August in South Carolina, and I had that nasty 16 miler scheduled on Sunday morning with the Longcreek training group (target: Richmond marathon, part II) . Thankfully, it was downright chilly for Columbia, with the high topping out around 85.
I carpooled the 50 minute or so drive with the Code, who had also done the Silver Fox. Dude runs one race the last four months and then decides to do two in one day. Such is the enigma of the Code. Actually, Geary and “Lightning” Plexico also doubled up – proving I am not alone in being obsessive.
It was drizzling when we got to the race site and my legs felt like complete crap. Did a mile warmup, but not really feeling it. North is a tiny town, not much there outside of a few stores and a railroad stop. But one thing for sure, it is beautifully, gloriously flat. No hills to be found anywhere, which is just what I needed after slogging through the mountain of mud in Saluda Shoals.
The Eagle got on the Palmetto Grand Prix, so although the race turnout was small, it was heavily weighted towards some pretty competitive runners. Unlike my Tour de Columbia, which definitely gives the edge toward quantity over quality, you actually have to be fast to win the PGP. No age groups, just open, masters and grand masters. I”m 37, so still competing against all the young bucks. My 2nd in AG on the Tour last year earned me all of 81st place on the PGP in 2011. Stellar.
Anyway, masters/grandmasters all stars like Billy Tisdale , Howie Phan, Geary, Lynn Grimes, John and Nancee Sneed, Arnold Floyd and Lorikay Kienzle were in attendance. There was a rare Jordan Lybrand appearance, along with Jennifer. OJ Striggles showed up to avoid Plex running away with the win, while Eddie Vergara and Jim Coombes combined to make sure I’d have a hard time cracking the top 10 in this field, despite there only being about 40 people.
After Angel said a prayer we were led to the start, where I was already cursing my decision to race again. Legs still felt dead. The start felt quick, and I felt like I was getting left behind immediately. Somehow though, my legs remembered the race pace from the morning and actually felt better than the 10 min pace jog I had been doing beforehand. A quarter mile in and the Code is MIA, kept wondering when he would make an appearance. I did see Billy and Howie up ahead, so I focused in on them, knowing their 5k times to be very similar to mine. Jordan was also running with them just a few steps ahead. I slowly joined up with them at about the mile mark, which I remember was right past the most vocal race supporter in North, who was out there again in her yard. 6:09 split, which was surprisingly fast given the first quarter was like breaking my legs out of cinder blocks.
Starting to hurt a little, but not too bad. Focused on staying with the mini pack we had going . Jordan started gapping us, but I was afraid to go after him too much, given I had no idea what he’s capable of running or of what I was able to do on the beat up legs. We turned a corner and all of a sudden Howie and Billy faded behind me and it was just me trying to keep up with Jordan, who had put a good 20 meters on us. With all the tactical running, I realized at mile 2 that the pace had slowed quite a bit to 6:27. And where was Code? I started trying to push it, but it was around this time the legs started to protest in earnest. Still, the adrenaline was flowing, so I tried my best to pick it up. I feel like I’m slowly making some headway on Jordan, but then at about 2.5 miles, this car pulls out from a side street and slowly turns literally right into me. I somehow manage to sidestep actually getting hit, and feel obligated to divert some precious oxygen to uttering a few breathless F-bombs in her general direction. Perhaps a middle finger, I was half delirious. Luckily the jolt of adrenaline of nearly getting run over is roughly equivalent to the energy spent in getting out of the way, so we’ll call it a wash. I made a few more turns and finally found the last straightaway, which felt like forever. I thought I saw 18’s but wasnt sure. I could tell that Jordan wasnt going to get caught, despite the desperate, weak blue shoe kick I was trying to throw down. Finally made out the low 19’s as I neared the last block and finished in 19:35, 7th overall, 1st in 30-39. Last mile ended up being almost identical to the first, around 6:09. Garmin had the course a little over, though it is certified. I’m pretty happy with the result on tired legs. A victory over Code is always sweet as well. He basically bailed into a tempo after he couldnt deal with the overwhelming shame of getting blue shoed, finished in 22 something. I finally met my brother’s friend James Hicks, who ended up taking third in our AG. He also did Silver Fox, so lots of double dipping going on.
Awesome trophies for first in AG, and eagle dog tags for 2nd and 3rd. Small crowd of 40 for the race (probably not helped by the rain all day), but it meant almost everyone got some age group glory and PGP points. Nicely organized by Angel and Eric, and hopefully this race will continue to grow.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/211190120 (accidently hit the start on the walk back to the awards area)