Ray Tanner 12k – Columbia, SC – 10/13/12

This is my fourth year doing the Ray Tanner Home Run, which is one of my favorite races of the year. Its held in the middle of October, which is usually ideal running weather, the course is cool and nearly everybody who does road races in the area does this one.  It helps that Ken Lowden and a whole army of volunteers from the running community put on the race, because these guys actually know what they’re doing. Nice crowd support and an awesome downhill finish into Carolina Stadium make this a great event.

The Home Run is actually two huge races in one, a 5k and a 12k. A nice change this year was to space out the 5k  thirty minutes after the 12k, so that the first wave of 12kers arent dodging the 5k walkers – my only complaint about the race in years past. The race sold out this year so fast that there were no spots left in any of the races, even the kids runs.

This race has tended to be a good one for me. I started off in 2009 with a 55:55 (7:30 pace) which was smoking fast for me at the time. My 2010 race featured a mid race bonk but with enough recovery to almost break my goal of 50 minutes. I finished painfully close that year with a 50:09 (6:43) . Redemption was in store in 2011 where I threw down a complete headless chicken sprint in the stadium to take down the 50 minute barrier in 49:56 (6:41). One thing I had hoped for this year, in addition to breaking my course record, was to capture an age group placement. Like I mentioned above, everybody and their mom, sometimes literally, does this race – so the competition is steep. I finished 4th last year, so I hoped this might be my  time.  Yes, I realize my doing the 12k breaks one of the primary trophy hunting rules: go with the undercard. But its marathon training time, and I figured I could get more speedwork in with the longer race.

The 12k is a really cool course. You do a mile loop at the beginning near the stadium, where they have cheerleaders and all the 5k’ers screaming for you, basically assuring you that you’re going to run it way too freaking fast. After that flat mile is a lung busting climb over a railroad bridge and into the Greek Village at USC. The course then does a hilly loop right in front of the Colonial Center (USC’s basketball arena) , and takes you back over the bridge to where you started at about the 3 mile mark. Mile 4 is over the flat Blossom St bridge, up into Cayce and brings you to the bottom of the brutal Avenue B hill. It is nice they put a big cheering station (“Inspiration Station”) at the bottom of this thing, because it is a beast. Not particularly steep, just very long, most of mile 5. As soon as you reach the top, you do a one block lap, pass the 5 mile mark and head right back down. This is kind of nice, because while you are flying down this thing, you get see everybody behind you. Mile 6 is across the Gervais St bridge and up one last nasty incline to Huger St. Once you reach the apex of the hill on Huger, its one long downhill into the stadium for the last three quarters of a mile or so. Finish in the stadium at home plate.

I got to the stadium about an hour early,  did a warmup with the Code, Billy, Trophy, Rick, and Larry. I could attempt to name everyone that I saw at the race, but it would be easier to name who I didnt see from the Columbia running community.  I have a highly developed sixth sense for seeing 35-39 people, so I could tell it was going to be tough going age group wise. Angel wasnt there…so that was one “way too fast , no way in hell you’re going to beat that guy”  out of the way.  But..Newly 35 year old Drew Williams and Steven Johnson, along with the Code, basically c-blocked me out of a trophy before I stepped to the start line.  The Yerger was also there, but had done 11 miles already, and swore a tempo pace for the race. Which is still pretty fast.  And since this race is so big, there were sure to be randoms out there to take away my precious trinkets as well. Damn them.

Despite there being a start mat I basically lined up in front, because my delusions of running grandeur are out of control. Plus, it fulfills my insatiable need to see my melon headed self in pictures. I might of yielded some space to the A Standard at the last second, and with the start we all took off way too freaking fast. It took over a half mile for things to settle down as we did the initial mile loop. J-Lybrand must of took off like a banshee because I finally caught up to her 800 meters in.  I kept listening for Trophy’s clomping Kinvaras but I didnt hear them this time. I had no idea what pace I was doing. I could sense someone latched on to my side though, and it was Howie, who would probably be a good pacer for me anyway.  Also at the half mile mark, a tall pale blondish-brown haired dude with blue shoes passed me. For a second I thought i must have had an out of body experience, but then I realized his head was way too normal sized. We looped back around and again went way too fast as the crowd started cheering. I got a chance to pose for more pictures, so of course I was happy. Mile 1 in 6:33.  Yikes, a bit speedy.  I dont know if was the hills that followed or the fast pace of the first mile, but miles 2 and 3 on the USC campus sucked big time. Felt like I was working way too hard. Howie left me for dead, but I made sure to keep him in striking distance.  The long flat road from the Colonial center helped me recover some, and by the time I reached the railroad bridge again I felt I had fought off the bonkasaurus for the time being. As I crest the bridge, I hear clomping behind me, and I’m sure its Trophy, but instead its Greg Howell, who has been on injured reserve of a long time. He’s crushing it though, and actually starts to gap me a little. This makes me speed up and stay with him. We hit the 5k mark in about 21 minutes – I hadnt looked at Garmin splits for the last 2 miles, fearing the worst. I then see Howie has caught up with the Yerger just ahead, so I make an effort to catch them. Greg then falls off as we hit a nasty hill in Cayce. By the right turn across the bridge, I’ve caught up with Yerger and Howie and run with them for awhile. With the Avenue B beast just ahead, I decide to power up the go go gadget quads and make it or break it on this hill. I start blasting away at the hill, though its a little demotivational to see Bishop, some teenager , Plex  and Anton already flying down the thing. Then I see him…its normal head Blue Shoes! Oh he”s definitely going down.  I finally catch him at the very top, and he mentions “good pace on that hill”.  Does he have eyes on the back of his normal sized head? Probably just heard the elephant stampede of the sasquatch feet. We pass mile 5 and I decide its on like Donkey Kong. Dropped my twin and started flying down the backside of the beast. Got some great crowd support from friends on the way down, which fueled the downhill kick.  Near the bottom I saw Eric Allers in a lead pack of the 5k as our courses merged.  After being completely alone for half a mile, I’m suddenly in a very fast mini pack of 5kers. I’m starting to hurt a little, but I make a point of staying with these guys. I paced for much of the next mile across the bridge with a tall lanky kid (turns out to be Kenneth Vowles, son of Colleen and Ken).  I’m not sure what pace we’re doing, but it feels pretty freaking  fast, way faster than the early miles (turns out the last 2 whole miles were high 6:20s). I finally drop the 5k group on the climb up to Huger, thanks to freak quads. At the top of Huger I basically went all in and went into full bore blue shoe kick.  But its still more than half a mile, so I enter a whole new world of pain and suffering. I havent looked at my Garmin since the 5k , so I have no idea what my time is. I blast into the stadium and make out 48’s on the clock, which amps me up into 4 minute territory as my lungs and legs want to give in. Of course, this is exactly where all the finish pics are being taken, so the race face is in full effect.  I see the clock turn over to 49 and finish in 49:12,  chip time of 49:09. A 47 second PR!

I’m thrilled at the time, and figure this must of earned me some age group glory right? Nope. 8th. 23rd overall in a 600+ person race and its completely stacked with 35-39ers. Drew Williams took 1st, but I actually have never heard of 2nd and 3rd, and theyre from Columbia. Well played , Michael Beets and Robin Shooh.  Justin took 1st overall, with the kid (Jamie Sires) 2nd and Plex 3rd. 49 year old Jim Coombes crushed 4th place with Van on the Run teammate Andy McNiece in 5th. Bodourov Method in 6th,  Eddie Vergara in 7th, Drew finished 8th and Hedgecock in 9th.

Claudia Nunez-Lopez won the women’s race by about 2 minutes behind Caroline Peyton and Birgit Spann, neither of whom I’ve seen before either. Janice Addison took female masters with Jim Coombes of course taking male masters. Larry “A team” Jourdain  and Lorikay Keinzle took grandmasters.  Age groupers I recognize include Bryn Schiele, Frank Morris, J-Lybrand, Drew Soltau, Amanda Pierstorff, Sarah Blackwell, Jeff Burgess, Greg Howell, Sharon Cole,  Billy Tisdale, Howie Phan, Geary, Jack Kuenzie, Carol Wallace, Sue Porter, Daniel Brown, Nonie Hudnall,  John and Nancy Sneed,  Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr.

5k was won by Dimery in a return to his previous form, with Eric finishing 2nd.  I must have been racing with Will Brumbach but actually didnt recognize him in my delirium – he took first in 30-34. Womens race was won by Katie Wood of Virginia, with Erin Howie and Tigs finishing 2nd and 3rd.  Age groupers include Kenneth Vowles,  Katie Hines,  Ms. Diesel, Ken and Colleen Vowles,  Jeff Curran, Sandy Smith, Pete Poore, Margaret Holt and Rocky Soderberg.




Thanks to Erika Shaw , Jennifer and Brooke Ward and Milly Hough for some of these pics:

Race for Life 5k – Finlay Park – Columbia, SC – 10/6/12

The Race for Life is a 5k and 10k associated with the Walk for Life, a huge event that goes to benefit breast cancer awareness and research. This was the second year I participated as a part of “Team Dana” which was to support a friend who is now in her second year since her breast cancer diagnosis (now in remission). My aunt is also a breast cancer survivor, so the race actually means more to me than just another trophy hunt, for once.

Speaking of trophy hunts, I didn’t think this would be a likely candidate for the golden glory. With the walk tacked on, there’s usually a few thousand people involved, so definitely not meeting the “small race, rural setting”  blue shoe TH criteria.  I was doing the undercard 5k though, so at least I had that going for me. The true trophy hunt would have been to go to the Habitat for Humanity 5k/10k/15k and go for one of the undercards there, with the competition spread thin over 3 races. I was bummed these races were on the same day, as I’m a big fan of the Habitat race too, but I wasnt able to find a wormhole in the space-time continuum to do both.

My reasoning for doing the 5k over the 10k was also because of the course. 5k is like a pancake, 10k is like a pancake…with a detour into the blue ridge mountains halfway. See Spot run course territory. Not for the faint of heart.

I got there about 45 minutes early, and saw surprisingly few familiar faces. When youve raced almost every weekend since 2009 , you expect to see people you know, and I didnt see many. I ran a couple miles with Ted for a warmup, didnt feel particularly good, but the weather was pretty nice – 60’s ish. Saw Angel and Eric Mc Michael when I was warming up, Kimi was taking pictures, and that was about it beforehand. The 10k started 15 minutes earlier than the 5k, and I saw Angel, a key barrier to my trophy chances, running that one. Eric was also doing the 10k.

A few minutes later I strolled up to the start line, and was beseiged by terror. Not terror of impending doom or imminent death, but the paralyzing fear that I might have to win this race.  None of the usual studs decided to show up, and it looked like a battle of mere mortals was afoot. It was like me, Ted and Ponamarev…and Bri Hartley.  Adding to my anxiety was that , were I to bonk or otherwise do poorly, I would most likely be chicked by an 11 year old girl.  Seriously – she finished only a few seconds back from me at Run Wild, and its only a matter of time. Just as I was working myself into a fluster, Eddie Vergara made a late entry and shot my winning chances out the window. I dont know whether I was disappointed or relieved to be honest. There was still 2nd or 3rd up for grabs though. Charley from my training group also made a last second appearance.

The start was typical 5k, except perhaps a larger number of people seemingly mistaken they were in a sprint event.  I got passed by about 20 people right out of the gate. Either I had stumbled into an alternate universe where these were the olympic trials, or some of these guys were being a bit overambitious. By a half mile I think I had passed all but 6. But still there were six, five of whom were complete mysteries to me.  Eddie had already left us in the dust. The cool weather was awesome, and after sucking some early wind I was able to hit a comfortable rhythm. I was trying not to get complacent and start off slow like I had in a few recent races. 5:36…5:37. What the hell? There was a guy at the mile marker calling out times, and apparently he was late pushing his stopwatch. I did look down and saw 5 50 something – Garmin later read out 6:10, right where I wante to be.  Of course, all of this didnt process at the time, and I was deathly worried I had just set myself up for a massive bonk.  Right after the mile I passed a guy and focused on a mini pack of three guys. Second place was probably 20 meters ahead of that pack.

The course is a simple loop, and at the apex of the loop is the one nasty hill on the whole course, a lump in the pancake. I powered up the quads of steel and by the top of the hill I was riding on the backs of the three guys.  After a quick turn, there’s a very long straightaway that takes you all the way into the third mile.  After recovering from the hill , I decide to really push it to at least go after 3rd place. As I break free from the pack, I realize I have a new friend. Dude was not taking kindly to the passage and was sticking to me like Trophy and his clomping Kinvaras. The guy, later identified as Jesse, was definitely holding his own and keeping pace.  Strangely I dont feel that bad. Its amazing how much faster you can run without the famously hot Columbia summer sitting on your chest. So I start pushing the pace, and  I dont look at the Garmin split. (actually 6:22 – hill was more of a factor than I thought).  With 3/4 of a mile to the finish I decide I need to give this guy a case of the dropsies and blast into early blue shoe mode. He does fall out of earshot but I can tell by the cheers he isnt too far behind. I’m making some serious ground on no. 2, but he’s gapped me too bad to catch him. The last quarter mile of this race is like jumping off a cliff. You crest a hill and just plunge down into Finlay park. I’m floundering down this hill, all elbows and knees..form going all to hell as I try to stop from rolling down this mountain. I slam on the brakes to make the sharp turn into the grassy area of the park, where the finish is…..OR NOT. All of a sudden I’m in the middle of an open field all alone. Sons of bitches, where’s the finish line??! As soon as I hear the yells, I glance over and see the finish line is outside the park and on the street at the bottom of the hill. I turn around and sprint like a crazed banshee, because I know I’ve lost all momentum, taken a detour, and Jesse probably sees the blood in the water.  Luckily I must have put some distance between us in the last quarter, because I dont hear him, but the adrenaline burst carries me around the turn and to the finish in 19:41. Third place overall, 1st in AG. Jesse finishes 4th in 19:56, thanks me for pushing him. I let him know I probably squeezed an extra 10 seconds or so from the fear he or Bri was going to blue shoe me at any moment in that last stretch.

I was happy with the placement, though not the time. I figured 19:20’s for sure, which probably would have been the case if I hadnt gone for my walk in the park. Eddie crushed the field in 17:40 for the win. Second place was Michael Dickson, who I think usually does tris. Bri took first female in 20:24, super fast! Ted had a nice race, finishing sub 22 , with Charley finishing just after him, both finishing 2nd in AG. Fellow CRCer’s  Alex Ponamarev and Donna Hill also place in their age group. Ted Riley and his daughter also had strong races – havent  seen them since the early days of the blue shoes. Angel easily won the 10k, with McMichael and Rick Weiner also taking home some age group glory.  Sadly, no trophies at this race. The search for the golden man continues.