The Red Shoe Run is a 5k and 10k put on by Ronald McDonald house that was known in years past as the “Red Nose Run”. Apparently they lost the sponsorship of the circus, hence the name change. The name is referencing the shoes of Ronald McDonald, a clown who was my personal nemesis in elementary school. Him and that bastard Old McDonald and his farm.
So somehow I’ve done this race every year, despite the fact that I’ve pretty much sucked every time I’ve run it. I started in 2009, when it was held on the coldest day in Columbia since 1986. The low was 9 degrees that morning, and I ran the 5k in full sweatsuit regalia, adding another couple of pounds to my less than svelte frame at the time. I about died sprinting out the last 100 meters to finish in a blazing 25:36. I did the 10k the next year, when they had a really cool course that crossed over the blossom and gervais st bridges into Cayce. I think I ran about 45 minutes and didnt place in my age group. Oh, and it was a beautiful 34 degrees and in a frigid downpour. The next two years they modified the course to take out the scenic aspect of the 10k and made it 2 miserable loops of the 5k course. Awesome.
I had gone back and forth about which race to run this week, and finally decided on the 10k. Yes, it sucks to climb the monster hill that starts the course twice, but its still a lot better than trying to do it once at 5k pace. Also, I need to start doing more 10ks to whittle down my PR of 41:23, which is way slower than what it should be based on the 5k PR (18:46).
So I get there and have just placed the 10k registration in the volunteer’s hand when Jordan from Strictly comes over and tells me everything’s changed. They’re doing major construction at the Coliseum area, so the course had to be switched to the BGCM Turkey Day 5k course, which made the 10k uncertified, and changed the Palmetto Grand Prix race to the 5k.
Holy crap, my whole carefully planned race strategy was now completely in up in the air. I impulsively switched to the 5k when I heard “uncertified course”. But then I realized that all the big dawgs were switching to the 5k too, and I might be missing a rare reverse undercard trophy possibility in the 10k. I’m embarrassed to say how much I agonized over this ridiculous meaningless decision. I almost switched back a dozen times, but eventually I figured that there would have to be a complete “kids and old ladies” field for me to overall place in a 10k, so I just stayed put.
Sure enough Jason Dimery, Howie Phan and a few lean looking dudes in singlets lined up for the earlier 10k start, so that at least released me from my trophy fantasy. Mark Robertson, Jim Lichty , Valerie Selby and Travis Cowan also manned up for the longer distance.
5k start was loaded with all the Palmetto Grand Prix champs from 2012, since Strictly comped them all an entry into this race. Sadly, they had nothing for Mr. 13th place. John Sneed, J-Lybrand, Geary, Billy Tisdale, Amy McDonaugh (with Justin “A Standard” Bishop guiding) Birgit Spann, Sharon Cole, Lightning Plexico, Thomas Tapp, Albert Anderson, Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg were all present with the PGP champion gold racing bibs. Joining me in the ranks of mere mortals were Trophy, Jen/Diesel/Brady Ward, Gasque, Pete Poore, J-Reeves, and Palmetto 200 ringer Andy McNiece.
I was so not feeling it at the start, but I had made my bed so i’d better lie in it. One bonus was that only Amy, Justin and Plex were from the open division in the PGP. Andy was sure to beat me too, so what I saw was basically a battle between Billy and I for 5th place. The start felt rough and immediately I saw Amy and Justin leave me for dead, and Billy started gapping me right off the bat. After a flat quarter mile, the course goes straight up a mountain from the Colonial Center to the Horseshoe. Although I was able to basically draw even with Billy at the top, I had also lost my will to live somewhere just past Assembly. Or at least the will to run like a headless chicken and suck wind for the next 15 minutes. I missed the one mile split but looked down at about 1.1 and saw the watch flip over to 7 minutes, so I knew this was going to be ugly. Billy was a few paces ahead, but it was starting to get congested as we caught the tail end of the 10k, which started 7 minutes before the five. Why they couldnt have everybody go off at the same time is beyond me. So the second mile is very difficult to pace because there’s no other 5kers around me, and the back of the 10k is going at 12 minute pace, which makes me feel like I’m a total beast. It doesnt take much for me to lapse into delusional grandiosity. I just try and keep Billy in range, with our typical give and take of me catching up on the hills and him gapping me on the declines. Mile 2 feels slowish so I dont bother to look at the split. I figure I need to make up some serious ground on mile 3 or I’m going to post something really ugly, and/or get blue shoed by Geary or maybe even Trophy. So I do kick it up a notch, but there’s considerably less motivation in just trying to not suck versus striving for your best. The good thing is that the last mile is a flat to downhill loop near Longstreet Theatre, passing by such revered collegiate Blue Shoe landmarks as Hunter Gatherer and Sandy’s Hotdogs. After a turn at the back of the State House, its straight down that awful opening mountain. Blazing fast by default. By this time though I’m really phoning it in – the only glory up for grabs is sprinting to catch Billy, and between his kick and my apathy its just not happening. I make the last turn and its already 19:20 something. I do throw in a feeble effort to break 19:40 but end up right on it. 6th place overall, 1st in AG.
Certainly less than overjoyed with the time, but I was able to cross the finish and not collapse in a sweaty, heaving mess as I’m prone to do. I ran the exact same time on Thanksgiving day on the same course and about blew out a set of heart and lungs in the process trying to beat my brother. Plus, last mile was in 5:59, so a sub six mile is always nice, even if it was freefalling down a half mile of mountain. Hopefully I can ratchet it up a few notches at my next race, which is Race for the Place on Feb. 9. Last year Gomez took 3rd in AG at that race..with an 18:36.
In the 10k, Dimery crushed a sub 37 on a really tough course, so he’s definitely returning to form. Two of the singlet kids took 2nd and 3rd, while 16 year old Anna Johnson won the women’s race. I probably would have finished 7th in the 10k, so good thing I didnt switch. Mark finished 2nd in AG while Lichty finsihed 3rd in strong races for both of them. Howie Phan predictably torched his age group by 5 minutes, while Valerie Selby and Alex Ponamarev also placed.
In my race, Plex easily won in 17:20 followed by Andy. Justin placed third by guiding Amy to an 18:36, a new PR, and the women’s overall win. Very impressive. Fifth went to Billy, who finished five seconds ahead of me. Second place female went to Lache Kimana, who unmercifully chicked the Trophy, with Birgit Spann not far behind for third. Brady Ward made the Diesels proud by winnign his age group by a mere 20 minutes. Mrs. Diesel claimed first in the 30-34, while Trophy broke through the Blackjack barrier en route to a 20:45, 2nd in AG. Sharon Cole claimed first in the 45-49, while 50-54 was swept by Billy, Thomas Tapp and Gasque. Geary and Albert Anderson each crushed their age groups, while Pete Poore placed 3rd in the 60-64. John Sneed and Arnold Floyd had an epic fight to the finish, with Arnold holding off a vicious Sneed kick. Both finished first in AG. Rocky Soder berg and Henry Holt finsihed 2-3 within ten seconds of each other, while Margaret Holt also won her group.
Great pictures and report! Wish I could have run the Red Shoe, but I would have had to leave Spartanburg at 5 am in icy weather with my elderly mother!