Runway Run 5k – Columbia Metropolitan Airport – Columbia, SC – 11/17/12

Runway is now in its 3rd year – its a 5k held completely on the flat concrete of one of CAE’s runways. While it was initially held to celebrate the opening of the new runway, its been turned into an annual event. I think I can safely say the race will continue – I have never seen an explosion of a race like this one. Last year there 152 participants, but this year over 600 were signed up. Nuts.  Everybody and their mom showed up, sometimes literally. They had to park most of the cars on the grass.

This was the second of my first same-morning double dip. I had just come off an 8k PR at the Shandon Turkey Trot and jumped in the car almost right after to come to this race.  I actually had plenty of time to spare, showing up about 45 minutes before race time.  Which is still plenty of time for legs to get tight.  After picking up my packet I see Ken Calcutt, my training group leader. I thought I was having a hallucination at first because the guy hardly ever pins on a bib, and if he does its for longer distance. This was his first 5k since the 2011 Jailbreak last May.  Still, he can run sub 7 pace in his sleep, so he was shooting for a sub 22 on minimal training.  Schmitz, Teo, Rocky, James Hicks,  Katie Hines,  Steven Rudnicki, the Ashtons and Michael Ferlauto were some of the familiar faces. A vast majority of this race was unknown to me, looked to be a lot of first-timers and new runners, which is cool. Need to do some CRC recruiting!

I did a few laps around the plane that was parked near the start as a warmup. Temps were a little cold but not too bad. Wind sucked though – all swirly and in no particular direction. Having raced this last year, I knew the wind is the main factor in this event. No trees or anything to block it, so it just knocks you back with any gusts. On the flipside, its nice when its at your back.

I lined up 2nd row behind the Ashtons – I figured it was safe to say I wasnt beating either one of them.  The start took me by surprise and I was getting swarmed right off the bat. I think people in front were trying to avoid the cattle stampede effect of the 600 person field.  I ran the first 400 meters conservatively, as I was still a little tight from the Shandon race. However, Teo and Crazy Legs were already gapping me, and my fragile ego couldnt let that happen. I caught up to Schmitz about a half mile in, but I’ll be damned if Teo isnt just crushing it. Just after the mile mark I start to catch him. Mile 1 was 6:28 by the Garmin. Immediately I get hit by a hurricane gust in my face, and it basically makes you just jog in place. We do a loop at the end of the runway,  and I’m hoping to get some of the wind at my back, but its just not happening. On the plus side, I’m finally warmed up again. After passing Teo and a couple of others, a huge gap opens up. The next guy is like 50 meters ahead or more. But dude is adopting blue shoe style head flopping and has looked back a couple of times.  Looks like I’ve found a target. After the loop the course folds back on itself, and I’m left by myself running all alone alongside the huge midpack . Wind is annoying but I feel my speed picking up some and I’m starting to make up ground on the straggler. Hit mile 2 around the same 6:28ish – I guess the wind is taking its toll. Mile 2 marker means time to throw down. I start blasting whatever I’ve got left, which is not a whole lot.  You can see the finish from forever away, which helped me push a little. I near the straggler and dude is hurting, but still blasting some pretty good speed. He’s looking more suspiciously 35-39,  so I ratchet it up another notch and finally pass him with about a half mile to go. At about this time we start running into the kids run, which was a very poor timing decision. I’m having to do all kind of jukes to make sure I dont flatten some poor 6 year old. This is tough because my legs and lungs are starting to complain quite a bit about all the abuse, and I’m flopping around all over the place. I blue shoe it as hard as possible in the last stretch, fearful that guy is going to come back and catch me.  Hit the line at 19:46.

They didnt post age groups but I got 2nd in AG,  9th overall. Cool pair of custom socks. Nice change from generic medals. I’m not ashamed to say I got chicked by three fast women,  because that equates to 6th overall male and more open TDC points!  I’m very pleased with the result and time given the 8k finished less than 90 minutes before this race.  Eric Ashton took the overall win once again, I believe he’s won it all 3 years. Kathryn Ashton and a high school girl battled it out the whole race, but the girl , Brooke Grice,  was able to hold her off for the win. Looks like Teo, Schmitz, Ken, Katie Hines, Thomas Tapp and Steve Rudnicki all placed in their age groups. James Hicks just missed out on an age group placement by a whole second. Ouch.

Shandon Turkey Trot 8k – Columbia, SC – 11/17/12

The Shandon Turkey Trot is a 4k  and 8k run in its 31st year, hosted by the Shandon Neighborhood Association.  Pretty flat rectangular course in Shandon, one loop for the 4k and two for the 8k.  The 4k is timed but is essentially a fun run – I dont think they award any prizes.

I”ve run the 8k in ’09 and ’11, and despite my loathing of multiple loop courses, I’ve generally done pretty well here, PR’ing both times. The first year I automatically PR’d since it was my first 8k. Last year I had my shoe come untied,  and had a lousy race, until about a half mile to go. At that point I blasted out one of the hardest kicks I’ve ever thrown down to narrowly avoid getting Tiggered. I passed her with like 10 meters to go at about mach 5 pace. Yes, I am an ass.

My main motivation for running this race is  the awards. Trophies! With all these races giving out bags and certificates and generic medals, dont  they know we all want our trophies?? They dont call it paper certificate hunting now, do they?  But be forewarned, the top 2 get awesome crazy turkey trophies, 3rd place get some meh little running man.  My cherished second place from ’11 has a special place in my awards corner.  My then two year old son broke the running man 3rd place from ’09. Oh well, I tried not to be mad at him. Tried.

I should mention my original plan was to spectate this race and take pics, since I had already signed up for the Runway Run (10 am on the same morning).  Woke up, got there, and couldnt resist the double dip opportunity (turkey trot at 8 am, runway run at 10). Ran a couple of 1k loops with Poochapalooza champion and expert trophy hunter Geary McAlister, as well as Billy Tisdale. Code was nowhere to be seen, but Drew Williams showed up to wreck any chance I had at the glorious 1st place big turkey trophy. Angel was there to watch, which worked out well since I had left my phone pouch at home. He got some great action pics at the end of this post. Plexico , Aubrey Johnson, Ponamarev, Eddie Vergara, Colleen Vowles, Sarah Blackwell, Gasque, Valerie Selby, the Outlaws , Rocky and Pete Poore were on hand. Several other fastish looking people up front but didnt recognize them.

Not much to say about the race itself.  The crowd was mostly casual runners, so the front thinned out immediately.  After a quarter mile I settled in and tried not to let Billy gap me any worse than he already had. Drew was not too far ahead of him, and I saw Eddie trying to beat Plex.  I didnt see that lasting long, though Eddie is getting faster. About a half mile in, a short Indian guy with near knee high socks comes blasting by me.  I thought this dude was either crazy or doing the 4k, but damned if he wasnt kicking my ass and seemingly holding the pace.  I passed Aubrey about .75 miles in and wondered if I had gone out in some suicidal pace, but I got back a 6:20 split at the mile. A little speedy but in the ballpark of where I wanted to be.  Beyond this point I was completely alone. Cars were being let through the intersections behind me, and the rest of the pack was way ahead. I was slowly making some headway on the guy in front of me, but he looked back a few times and picked up the pace. Didnt see the Garmin split at mile 2, but the clock after loop 1 was about 16:20. Being completely by myself, I was wondering if it was worth it to push the pace given the 5k I was going to do in less than 2 hours. However, the straggler on the pack in front seemed awfully 35-39, so I figured I should at least make him earn that damn turkey.  Second loop was pretty steady, a couple more 6:30 something miles. The straggler had now picked up the pace and caught up to another guy, who appeared to be hurting. Indian guy had not only blasted by Billy but had laid waste to Drew as well.  Mr. Supratim Das Gupta, I salute you.  I was getting closer, but at about a half mile to go, it didnt look good to catch any of them. I was starting to die a bit myself.  Maybe it was racing those silly 26.2 miles a week ago. As i neared the last block, I could make out 32:15 or so.  Normal blue shoe kicks are ridiculous, but potential PR blue shoe kicks are just ugly. Exhibit A (Feb 2010 first sub 20 5k – actually shares the same finish line as the turkey trot)

I was seized by a jolt of adrenaline, knowing that 32:34 needed to go down. I blasted into some other alternate universe,  sucking as much wind as humanly possible, and laying down a patch of sub 4 pace. Hit the finish at 32:28 – a new 8k PR!  9th overall, 2nd in age group. Turns out the two guys in front of me were 31 and 40 – whew!  I hung around about 10 minutes to watch the finish and take some pics, but then took off to the airport to run the Runway 5k.

Plex crushed the field in 27:47, followed by Eddie and Bob Sams, whom I’ve seen race before.  Gupta finished 4th in just over 31 minutes, so I guess looks can be deceiving (cotton t-shirt and knee high socks??).   Drew and Billy finished just behind him in the mid-high 31’s.  Sarah and Colleen went 1-2 in the female 35-39,  Lisa Smarr, Geary and Cheryl Outlaw all won their age groups, Tommy Outlaw finished 2nd and Valerie Selby and Alex  Ponamarev captured 3rd place trophies. Rocky won his age group of one, and then also went to double dip!

Richmond Marathon – Richmond, VA – 11/10/12

Richmond.  Just the mere mention of the name still sends shudders down my spine. Dont get me wrong…I’m sure Virginia’s capital is a fine place, and it’s very pretty in November, but I will always equate the town with pain and suffering. Two years ago I chose Richmond as my first marathon and decided to go up there with the Strictly Running group. Being scared to death of the distance, I trained pretty hard..hard enough to pretty much destroy my IT band in the process. But instead of bagging the whole trip, I went anyway. The rest lives on in my memory…10 miles of great, 3 miles of OK, then 4 miles of wheels slowly falling off. The Lee bridge was the site of my demise, where I started walking at mile 17. Trophy dropped me, then pretty much everyone I knew on that trip got to witness my death march to the finish.  I have never felt worse in a race – I got completely dehydrated and had lightning shock cramps in my quads. By the time I finished I was half delirious, nauseated and limping, swearing I’d never do this again.

Yeah right. If there’s anything that motivates me, its wanting to redeem a complete failure. I pretty much made peace with Richmond last year, running Jacksonville in almost perfect even splits en route to a 32 minute PR. My decision to come back to Richmond this year was more about it being a nice marathon  – great crowd support, nice course, etc. But there was definitely an element of revenge as well.

This time it was just Trophy, Diesel and I running the full, with Mrs. Diesel aka Jen doing the half. Brad “Major” Marlow was also there with his family. I had a hard time deciding on a goal time, but I decided eventually to shoot for 3:15 (7:29 pace) . This would give me the best shot to be able to adjust toward the end – it gave me a cushion to PR if I was hurting and it would at least give me a chance to shoot for the 3:09:59 glory of a BQ if I was going strong.  Trophy decided he would forgo pacing altogether and use my melon head as a pace beacon. Diesel was trying to break 3:50, maybe get 3:45. Jen hoped to break her 1:59 PR from Jacksonville in the half.

We all drove up the night before and gathered at the Omni hotel before the start. I could tell right off the bat that it was considerably warmer than 2010. That worried me, since the blazing sun on the Lee bridge basically stuck a fork in me last time. About 40 something, no wind. The crowds were huge at the start. Canceling the NYC marathon last week led to over a thousand last second entries into Richmond. There were a lot of NYC bibs, and one guy had a course marker flag from New York as well. After Jen went off with the half start, Trophy and I suddenly found ourselves way back in the pack and we had to squeeze through a few hundred people to get in between the 3:15 and 3:30 pacers.

Soon we were off, and it was pretty tight with the record crowd. Kept having to pull  some running back cuts and jukes just to keep from getting boxed in.  After a while Trophy and I settled into a decent rhythm and we hit mile 1 at 7:36, right with the 3:15 pacers.  The pacers then surged ahead, so I figured I was already slacking, so I made a point to keep up. The next three miles I just zone out and follow the pace pack. It starts to feel a little brisk, but I’m so locked in to keeping up with the pacers that I dont bother to look at the Garmin.  Trophy is no longer beside me, but I figure he isn’t too far back.  I’m following my Team Schmitz race fueling plan, and I then panic for two reasons. One, I realize I’ve either lost or left 2 of my favored Espresso Love GUs behind, and two, is that really a freaking 7:04 for the last mile? Ehmergerd. I just figured I was being a wuss for thinking the 7:30 pace was too hard. As I let off the gas and let a little gap build , mile 5 comes back at 7:16, so I’m thinking these “pacers” are trying to run us all over a proverbial lactic acid cliff. Probably would have had 7  minutes flat for mile 5 if I hadn’t noticed.

This is when I dropped a few internal F bombs and decided to trust myself rather than commit group suicide with these guys. I drift back a bit and log several 7 20ish miles…not too bad.  Trophy has been long gone so I wonder if Ive already dropped him. About mile 8  I hear a “paging Dr Blue Shoes” and Brad catches up with me. He apparently got stuck back in the mob scene start and  had a couple of minutes before he even made the start mat.  We run for a while together and catch back up with the 3:15ers, who must have finally come to their senses. Brad then picks it up and I let him go, not knowing what super powers Jourdain’s A team may have bestowed upon him. We cross the James River and see that they’ve altered the course away from the that we could have the pleasure of climbing a minor mountain. Nice.

Mile 10 and 11 are along the riverside and Trophy suddenly makes a reappearance. We run the next few miles together and damn it if I’m starting to feel like I may be pulling a repeat bonktastrophe. Its not for lack of hydration or electrolytes (Jen Hill plan). I carried a bottle of water with me just in case, but there seems to have been plenty of water/powerade at the aid stations. Plus, I had been double fisting the cups like a drunken sailor. I had taken 2 GUs and one salt tab. None of that seemed to make up for the beat down my neon shirted pace dudes had given me in the first 5 miles.

There is a long hill in the sun just before the half marker, and its feeling remarkably like 2010 all over again. Trophy and I hit the half at exactly 1:38 by the race clock, probably about 20-30 sec faster by our chip. Trophy made sure to surge right before the mat so “the people back home” tracking us would see he’s winning. He did beat one second.  The whole 13-16 mile stretch starts to take on a pallor of suckage. I keep trying to remember its November, because its so freaking warm. Over 60 by this time.

Finally we reach the Lee bridge, which crosses over the James river back to downtown. The beginning of the end in 2010. The sun is blazing, but mercifully the brutal headwind from 2 years ago has not materialized. I don’t know whether its the adrenaline from race PTSD or maybe my last GU kicking in, but I feel a surge of energy and pick up the pace. Trophy fades a bit and for quite a while I’m zoned out and alone, eyes locked in to the incline on the other side where I caught a wicked case of the walksies last time. When I finally reach that area, I power through it on a mission. No way thats happening again. I hit a water stop and see Brad , but then he pulls off the course suddenly and I wonder if he’s dropping. I turn the corner, both literally and metaphorically, and reach a flat area downtown, which I distinctly remember strolling down in 2010. I try to focus on not doing that and blocking out the blaring Gangnam Style I’m hearing for like the 3rd time this morning.

I give myself 2 pats on the butt at mile 18 in memory of getting ass slapped by both Schmitzes at that point 2 years prior. I’m still feeling the groove until just before the mile 19 point, where those 7:04ish miles decide to take their toll.  I choke down a vanilla accel gel because they were giving them out at one of the aid stations, and my Espresso Love is long gone. Yeah, not working so much.  Things turned south in a hurry. Just no energy.  After this it was basically just an ongoing mental struggle. I had no idea what my pace was, and I was afraid to look at the Garmin to find out. Just before mile 21 there’s an overpass to climb, and every fiber of my being was screaming for a nice walk, but I told the fibers to go F** * themselves.  Some people dedicate the last miles to family members to inspire them, but I can’t say I was coherent enough to do this.  All I looked for was those big yellow mile markers. The pack had thinned out quite a bit my this point, and though I know my pace was crap, I was still passing people. I kept on getting jarred back to reality with a “go blue shoes” , forgetting I had the ridiculous name printed on my bib.  It was a war zone out there with the sun out in full force and temps pushing 70.  I did have a couple people finishing strong give me the beatdown, and every time I heard footsteps I was deathly afraid of getting Trophied. But it never materialized. I knew at the 20 mile marker I had to run a 50 minute 10k to break my 3:20 PR, something I probably do on most training runs.  Sadly, by mile 23, I was more concerned about getting my melon head over the finish line alive.  I dont remember much about the last miles, just that they really, really sucked. I was so relieved about the last half mile, because it was all screaming downhill. Actually managed a feeble kick, driven entirely by the desire to end this suffering. I was surprised to see the 3:22 on the clock when I rounded the last turn, and crossed just a shade over 3:23 by clock time, 3:22:46 official chip time.

OK, so it wasnt the glorious 3:09:59 I may have dreamed about or even a PR, but I was so glad to be done I didnt care. In hindsight, I’m sure I would have PR’d without chasing the ridiculous pacers. Jacksonville was much colder (held in late December) and much flatter than Richmond, so that’s another factor.  Either way, still a good half hour better than 2010, and no walksies, so I’ll take it. Speaking of PR’s , Trophy nearly caught me in his best marathon of 3:24:13. Brad did not drop, and recovered enough for a respectable 3:32. Diesel  had a very similar experience to my 2010 race, complete with walksies and 13 minute miles, en route to a 4:20. I feel your pain, dude. The winner for the day was definitely Jen, who crushed her half PR by six minutes with a 1:53.

Governors Cup 8k – Columbia, SC – 11/3/12

So Richmond is next week,  and I am incapable of less than 105% with a bib on, so I signed up for the 8k instead of the half at Gov Cup. This is definitely one of Columbia’s coolest races, backed by 40 years of history, and it brings out almost every road racer in the area. I was a little sad not to run the half, but I was excited by the idea of doing the 8k for the first time. This was not a trophy hunt, but I was technically doing the undercard, one of trophy hunting’s most tried and true rules.

To be honest, I didnt even know the 8k course. I had done the half preview a couple of weeks earlier, but I recalled the 8k basically being a truncated version of that one. All I knew for sure would be the sharing of the Millwood hill and of course the infamous Blossom/Sumter mountain from hell at the finish.

I got to the start about an hour before my race, 30 minutes before the half went off. Did a couple of miles slow. Not a whole lot of people warming up with many getting set for way more mileage than me.  Pretty decent crowd, lots of familiar faces.  I had manned our expo booth for the Columbia Running Club the day before and saw almost the entire Columbia running community pass through getting their race packets.

Took a bunch of pics at the half start, which was fun but left me feeling like I had missed the party. I was basically done with the warmup I wanted to do and kind of just stewed in my own pre-race anxiety before the 8k went off.  The rest of my Richmond crew were taking it easy – Trophy was going to run the half easy, Diesel was running the 8k with his son, and the Major was taking the day off. As noted, there is no way I enter a race and do a tempo run. I pin that bib and it is freaking on like Donkey Kong. And forget cruising in to the finish. I see the clock and I start walking that fine line between strong finish and needing medical attention. Yes, I have a problem.

So needless to say, my complex and finely tuned strategy was to run very, very fast.  Well, fast by my standards at least.

The start was weird. They had us line up at the half start line and march as a group a whole city block to the Gervais/Sumter intersection.  Although the half had taken most of the super fast dudes, Jason Dimery, Angel , Kathryn Ashton, Mike Hedgecock and a couple of singlet wearing guys assured me I had zero chance of pulling off a miracle trophy.  Ty Thomas and the Ferlautos were a few of the familiar faces, though most people I knew were doing the half.

With the gun, I was surprised by the relative restraint of the field. We almost immediately separated out by ability level. I saw a couple of the singlet guys take the lead early, with Dimery giving chase, and then a pack with Angel and Kathryn and a few stragglers.  The first mile is largely downhill with a nasty incline right before the end of the mile. I passed a handful of guys on that hill and then found myself completely alone. First mile was about 6:27, right where I should be. Then came a rough stretch that probably had the worst effect on my time. Uphill on Millwood, not terribly steep, but just long. To make it worse, I was being blinded by the morning sun (forgot the sunglasses) and having nobody around me didnt help my pace.  I was desperate to have someone to pace off of, so I finally focused on tie-dye teen up ahead.  The hill seemed to be killing him worse than me, and by the time we turned onto the relatively flat Maple St, I was pretty close behind. Ironically, his shirt read “Hill yeah!” or something like that, on the back. After regaining some semblance of breathing, I caught Hills yeah right after Devine St. He didnt take too kindly to being passed by an aging melon-headed sasquatch, so he immediately surged back ahead. Oh hells no.  He got mid race blue shoed right after that, and pretty soon they were letting traffic behind me, so he must of fallen off big time. I didnt look at the mile 2 split, fearing the worst (sure enough 6:46 and a PR killer).  For most of the next two miles I might have been running by myself. The crowd support was great, so you could hear any time someone passed a spectator area. Not only was I far behind the next guy, but the next cheers were even further behind me. My biggest challenge the rest of the way out was trying to keep the 2 guys ahead of me in my line of sight and maintain my internal gauge of 6:30ish pace.  I was feeling OK leg wise, but inexplicably this cold I’ve been fighting for over a week was still trying to make itself known. Every time I tried to amp up my pace, I was hacking up all kind of nasty crud.

After a long slow descent into Five Points, I knew there was a mile left, but Blossom St had me scared to death. Climbing this monster is always a complete lung buster, but I’m used to doing it at end-of-half-marathon pace.  The second I hit the first incline,  I knew this was going to suck in all new kinds of ways. After feeling nice and in control for 4 miles, Blossom gave me a hard kick in the stomach…or maybe lower. Lungs reminded me they still had some nice mucus balls to present to me, one of which decided to deposit right back on my face. NICE. By the time I reached the final stretch, I wanted to crawl into the fetal position. And they decided to back up the finish line this year. Seriously, guys? Killing me. I manage a feeble kick on Sumter St, sucking more wind than I thought humanly possible.  As I near the finish I see mid 31’s. I get all jacked up and sprint across the line, thinking I PR’d. Turns out the clock was a minute off. Still got 32:46, 12 seconds off my 8k PR. 12th place, 2nd in age group. Not too bad, considering this brutal course. Still, 6:36 is the same pace I ran the Ray Tanner 12k three weeks earlier.

Turns out the 8k wasnt terribly competitive, though Jud Brooker turned in a nice 27 :01 to win. Dimery finished third and Angel fourth, right around 30 minutes. Kathryn placed 6th overall and took 1st female, while Hedgecock took masters and 8th overall. Diesel’s son Brady managed 3rd in the 14 and under category, despite being all of  8 years old. Bryn Schiele, Tim Tollason-Reese, Jessica Chiu, Steve Fink, Ty, former CRC prez Steven Rudnicki, Michael Ferlauto, Cheryl Outlaw, Alex Ponamarev, Del Soule all took home some age group glory. Prizes were plastic tumblers with the Gov Cup logo, which was cool instead of the medals or bags so many races give out.

In the half, a dude from Blowing Rock (Jesse Cherry) crushed an amazing 1:06 and beat multiple time champ Eric Ashton , who ran 1:11 at 44. Ashley Evens won the womens race, with Kenzie Riddle managing 3rd in 1:28. Larry Jourdain took male masters, while Birgit Spann and Robert Taylor won the grandmasters. Lynn Grimes took senior masters while Henry Holt won the Vet masters category.  Notable age groupers included Eddie Vergara, Tim “Timstrong”Jeffreys, Frank “Dr Chicago” Clark, Ryan “Lightning” Plexico, Justin “A Standard” Bishop, George Simpson, Kristin Schmitz (who also PR’d and broke 1:40) , the Code, Tracy McKinnon, Steven Johnson, Noel Schuch, Jennifer Clyburn,  Rick Weiner,  Hal Ray, Pete O’Boyle,  Carol Wallace, Shawn Chillag, Jan Hardwick and Jesse Smarr.  I did see Trophy lolly gagging to a 1:47 with Spence and Derek Gomez really slumming it behind him. Jim Lichty finished a strong 1:49 after running Baltimore just a couple weeks back. Mrs. Diesel ran a 2:02, just a couple minutes off her PR set in pancake flat Jacksonville.

Let me know of any other PR’s for next week’s CRC newsletter.