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.