Lexington Race Against Hunger 10k – Lexington, SC – 2/23/13


The Lexington Race Against Hunger is now in its 13th year and has grown to be one of the largest 10ks in the Columbia area. Proceeds go to benefit five different charities that serve the homeless and the needy. Last years  event drew over 1300 people, 400+  in the 0k and 700+ in the 5k. The 10k has really nice awards, so the race usually attracts a pretty competitive field. The 5k is actually an timed fun run/walk and not a real race, per se.

I have a confession to make.

I hate 10ks.

With a passion, really. I have no sense of pace running the 6.2. I’ve gone out too fast and suffered death marches to the finish, and I’ve also phoned in the first few miles only to find out I can’t  sprint fast enough to make up the lost time. But I’ve never hit that sweet spot where I’ve actually run the race as fast as possible.  The McMillan calculator, using my most recent 5k (19:00)  says I can do a 39:23. My PR is exactly two minutes slower than that. I’ve wanted to break 40 forever in the 10k but I’ve wound up breaking 19 in the 5k first.  Funny thing is, this race is actually where my PR was set a year ago.

And its hardly a PR course. I’m sure Lexingtonians are great people, and most I’ve met are nice (except maybe for that Jen Hill character). But I hate running in that God forsaken town.  It may call itself part of the Midlands, but there are mountains there.  Case in point: Main Street. The LRAH course runs right up the thing, and man, does it suck.  Could be part of the Blue Ridge Relay. Brutal.

What’s even more fun than running up mountains in Lexington is if it was also really cold…and raining…hard….for the second weekend in a row.  41 degrees and a downpour. Needless to say, when I got to the race this morning the “Race Day Registration” desk was a ghost town. No one was getting out of their nice, warm, dry bed to run this thing unless they had already plunked down the cash to do so.  From the looks of it, a lot of people woke up, said “F#%  it” and went back to bed. One of those people was almost me. But if I dont get my weekly racing fix I’m one grumpy bastard – just ask my wife.

After waiting inside until the last second, the Code , Trophy and I did a “warmup”,  aka freezing our collective asses off for about 10 minutes and making sure there was no part of ourselves that wasn’t completely and utterly soaked. Luckily the rain let up just before the start, and hey – no portapotty line!

There were a lot of fast people at the start.  Returning champ Justin Bishop and the Plex were on hand to compete for the win. Amy was there with practically no competition for the women’s race. Drew Williams was helping guide her and unfortunately (for me) was also wearing a bib.  That left me, Flicker, Code and Trophy to pick up the rest of the 35-39 scraps.  Paul Reardon semed prime to pick up the masters win. Geary and Billy were there, which I hoped would help me pace. James Hicks was back from a prolonged work and newborn baby induced sabbatical. Ponamarev, Gasque, Valerie,  Henry Holt and Cheryl Outlaw probably run as many races as me and of course were on hand for this one.  CRC presidential alumnus Steve Rudnicki continued his comeback.  Blue Ridge Relay teammate Winston Holliday was back again after crushing the Make my Day a week ago. Kristin Schmitz was there to test the bikram yoga as training for running theory. Both Diesels were hiding behind their children instead of racing.

With the start, my goal was to hit mile 1 in 6:30 and see if I could hold this for the first few miles. The first mile is pretty flat on highway 378. The wind and cold definitely sucked but I felt pretty good at the mile marker, which was unfortunately 6:39. OK, not too bad. The Code was running slow apparently, because I stuck right behind him. Billy was pretty far ahead already. Mile 2 is pretty rolling but probably more downhill than up until…right turn into hell. Just before the mile 2 marker comes Mt. Main street. I try and power up it hard, but when youre carrying a liter of water in your shoes, this tends to slow you down a bit. I feel like a champ because I’m catching up with Code…then he pulls off to the side and starts trying to stretch or something.  I thought I picked up the pace in the second mile but apparently the 200 meters rapelling up the main street monster leaves me over pace again at 6:35.  I was under the impression the worst is over by the time you reach the top of Main. Comlpetely delusional.  The next mile is actually more rollercoaster-esque. It gives you a tour of roads haunted by Lexington races  like Jailbreak and the now defunct Kiwanis 5k , reminding you of how much misery they’ve brought.  Speaking of delusional, I’m under the distinct impression I’m holding this 6:30ish pace pretty well. Mile 3: 6:54. WTF? Apparently I’m just destined to suck today. (Remember this is relative suck. I’ve heard Bishop and Plex complain about how bad 5:40 pace sucks. ..Cry me a river dudes.) Anyway, running a 6:54 pretty much crashes any grandiose thoughts I had about sub 40’s and PRs. Add that to my numb, freezing feet and having no one to pace off , and my motivation is crap. I do hear someone tracking me down, and I’m pretty sure its Geary. Turns out it was Travis Moran, who I met after the race. He was using ME to pace off. Sorry I let you down, man.

I’m nearing the mile 4 mark and I figure I need to start kicking it in to save some pride and to make absolutely, positively sure I don’t get Trophied. That shame would be too much for my fragile ego to bear. Just as I pick up the pace, I realize all my debbie downer self talk has given me a 6:57 fourth mile. Nice half marathon pace, bro. You do realize this is a 10K, right? I look ahead and I can still see Flicker and Billy, so I try to use them as motivation to go faster. I am picking it up some, but damned if I just can’t kick it into another gear.  And I’m actually making up ground…but apparently I’m not willing to suffer like I usually do. Last year Code and then Flicker were in the crosshairs in mile 6  which led me to a 6:09 last mile. Not this time. I do hit mile 5 in 6:35, but I had planned to have dropped it down to 6:20 by now.  The last mile is the same pretty flat stretch on 378. I’m tracking down Flicker as best I can, and I’m slowly reeling him in, but not before he kicks it in himself. Somehow I know thats my precious age group placement going down the toilet too.  Finally after the mile 6 mark I do break into something resembling a kick. I make out the clock in the 41’s and throw in enough of a burst to make sure I’m under 42 minutes. Finish is 41:51. 16th overall, and sure enough 4TH IN AGE GROUP.  Damn that Flicker.

Justin set the “A”  Standard again, winning the race in 34:56. A guy from Boiling Springs , Matt Henderson, finished a surprising second ahead of the Plex , who had an “off day” with 36:02. I hate when I have off days and run 5:40 pace.   Drew Williams finished 4th overall  (1st in 35-39). Amy finished first in the women’s race by over 4 minutes, rocking a 39:23. Where are all the other elite women these days? Paul Reardon finished 6th overall in a really close masters race..just edging a Charlotte Running Club guy (the other, less cool  CRC)   Jonathan Halter,  by six seconds.  Winston Holliday continued to run strong and finished in tenth place at 40:49, second in AG. Billy Tisdale and Geary McAlister finished 1-2 in the grandmaster division on either side of me. I saw Tim Reese and Scott Brewer challenge Billy with a sprint to the end, and both got a taste of the brutal Tisdale kick, though Tim did edge him out. To Billy’s credit, he’s got 25 years on him.  Sadly I was just a little too far back to give them all a blue shoes blast.  I don’t know Kenneth Ebener, but I saw the dude ran like a 3:07 marathon last week and comes right back and does 42 minutes at this race. Impressive. Travis Moran, who was pacing off me, won second in AG behind Tim. Just wait to these guys age up to the real competition!  Trophy ran a strong race in 43:33, and then announces he’s going to run the 3rd race of my triple dip next week in an effort to break the 4 year Blue Shoes 5k losing streak. Bring it, dude. The shame will be all yours.  Kristin Schmitz ran an easy 48 minutes and still placed 2nd in AG. Brady Ward continued his under 14 world domination tour by winning 1st, even his dad tried to outkick him in the end.   Rudnicki made the real CRC proud with a 3rd in AG, as Larry Bates did as well with 1st in his. Cheryl Outlaw and Valerie Selby rocked the 55 -59. And Henry Holt, 77,  not only won his age group but was the only person over age 63 to brave the brutal conditions. Take that all you youngster slackers.  Speaking of youngster non-slackers,  Brooke Ward , age 10, completed her first 10k in 1:26 , outkicking Jennifer and taking the AG win after an official coaches challenge by the Diesel.



Make My Day 12k – Harbison State Forest – Columbia, Sc – 2/16/13

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The Make my Day 12k is now in its 4th year, put on by Half Moon Outfitters and going to benefit Friends of Harbison State Forest.  The race has grown a lot by word of mouth because of the cool shirts, socks and other swag you get with registration. Plus, its still just 25 bucks. Its competed with other races before, so somehow I never made it out to the MMD previously.

I should preface this race with the fact that I exceedingly suck at trail races. They favor the small and the agile, and I am decidedly neither. You get nearly 200 pounds of albino sasquatch moving and it tends to keep moving, so all the stops, starts and dodging on trails is a hell a lot of extra work. And then there’s Harbison State Forest. She and I have all the close, loving relationship of a vindictivel ex-girlfriend. Read: not good.  My last tango with Ms. Harbison came last year in the Xterra half marathon, which was as much fun as a waterboarding session. Somewhere there are some ungodly awful finish pics of me –  pale, shirtless and delirious – crossing the line at 2:15 plus.  Lots of walksies and dehydration going on.

One of the most difficult aspects of trail running for me is wondering where the hell I am. I have no sense of direction, which generally isn’t aided by staring at the ground at high speed desperately trying not to fall.  So I will get lost if the trail isnt well marked, but just as important is not knowing how far it is to the finish. I can gauge my pace down to within 10 seconds on the roads, but I’m completely useless on the trails. Plus, even knowing how much distance is left doesnt tell you if its a soft straight downhill to the finish or some arduous nightmare of switchbacks and mountain climbing.

OK, enough bitching and moaning.. Oh wait, did I mention it was in the mid 30’s and raining at race time?  I’d like to voice a complaint about that. OK, done.

I got to the race 45 minutes early and there was already a big crowd. This race has continued to grow. Sure enough the shirts and socks were really nice. No Clint Eastwood this year, but  a high quality tech shirt just the same. Did I mention it was blue? Awesome.  They kept up the best AG awards ever – plastic guns you can wear as a medal. Not that I had any chance at getting one.  They have had 10 year age groups, and I knew Drew Soltau, Drew Williams, Rob Yerger and Ken Cobb were already signed up in the 30-39. Trophy and Charley from our sunday long run group were also there to represent in the thirties.  If that wasn’t competitive enough, a few bearded , scrawny, Anton Krupicka types were roaming around and looking pretty thirtiesh too.

Bri Hartley, Birgit Spann, the Diesels, the Howells, Ted, Dean , Rick , the Clyburns, Geary, Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt, Valerie, Sarah Blackwell, Winston Holliday, Ramsey,  Sekley,  Mike Wainscott, Frank Eichstaedt, Jason Thompson and Jim Lichty were some of the familiar faces.

With the start, Drew Soltau takes off like a maniac, though the rest of us maintained a more leisurely pace. I had major PTSD from Xterra, so I made sure I was going plenty slow in the beginning. I planned on using Geary as a pacer, since he’s a good trail runner and knew the course. My Garmin apparently never got started so I was flying completely blind. I ran with a pack that included Geary, Rob Yerger and Bri Hartley for the first few miles. Greg Howell and Dean took off from the front, but I figured I might be able to catch them later. I’ll save you the suspense: NOPE.  Speaking of going out fast, Charley and his dog Winston were already way ahead just a mile or so in. Charley took a brutal fall but popped right up seemingly not losing a step. I didn’t see him for a long time. A few miles in and the pack has thinned some. I passed Bri and was praying that I wouldn’t get chicked by an 11 year old girl. An incredibly talented 11 year old girl, but you don’t want to get beat by someone born in the 2000’s.  And, I knew Trophy had to be back there somewhere. That would be an even worse shame. I focused on keeping Geary and the Yerg in sight. We went on for what seemed like forever in this formation.

Did I mention it was cold? It was. VERY.  I was actually wearing my old school CRC jacket and it was soaked through.  There were bits of sleet and an occasional wet snowflake or two falling, but mostly just soaking, bone-chilling rain. Several areas on the trail were just complete mud pits. I was trying my best to avoid the worst, slowing to basically a walk at times, but I think I was witnessing the death of my latest blue racing flats. Why I couldn’t just break down and wear my heavier trail shoes is beyond me.  Oh wait – overwhelming maniacal competitiveness… that’s it. Some nasty hills in the middle.  The Midlands Mountain trail is no joke. I was exceedingly thankful we turned away from the Spider Woman trail – many horrible memories from Xterra lie there.

Luckily the trail was marked very well, because I had no clue where I was, or how far I had to go. At some point there was actually a five on the trail, so I assumed this to be 5 miles. Of course, trail courses are anything but accurate in distance. I had heard the 12k (7.4 miles) was more like eight.  At some point I passed Geary on one of the hills, though I know he was close behind with his industrial machine breathing.  Then I saw Charley and Winston up ahead.  I was thinking total roadkill, but I’ll be damned if Winston isnt dragging Charley up these hills. Every time I got close on the inclines they would pull away a little on the downslopes. I started ratcheting up the pace a bit so I would be sure to catch them by the finish. But apparently Charley was doing the same thing.  I got real close on a particularly steep hill, but he pulled away again on the straightaway. At the top of the hill we passed a field that I recognized and I started to realize we were getting close. I ramped up the pace a little harder but wasnt making much headway on the Charley gap. And then suddenly, there’s the finish. I crossed in 59:20 something, 20th place.  As mentioned , my Garmin was never started, but informal survey of others had the course around 7.8 to 7.9 miles.  I wasnt thrilled with the result, but not too bad considering the trail and conditions.  And at least I didnt get Trophied. Charley, Clyburn , Rob and Greg all kicked my butt though.

Drew Soltau ended up in 3rd behind two guys from the upstate. Bri won overall female in a close battle with Birgit. I dont know all the age groupers since I missed a little of the award ceremony desperately trying to stay warm in my car. Dean, Brady Ward, Sarah Blackwell, Henry Holt, Arnold Floyd, and Winston Holliday all took home some glory. I’ll have to check for the complete results when they get posted.

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Race for the Place 5k – Shandon – Columbia, SC – 2/9/13

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The Race for the Place is a relatively new 5k  (I think in its 4th year) that starts and finishes near St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Shandon. It benefits St Lawrence Place (the “place” in the name), a shelter for homeless families.

For whatever reason, this race has become super competitive. I think they offer prize money for the top overall winners, but I’m not sure why all the other big dawgs come out for this one.  Its on one of the many rectangle Shandon courses that’s pretty flat, so I think a lot of people do this race to try and PR.  Last year was particularly nuts, especially for my age group.  I ran a 19:19, one of my fastest times at that point, and ended up 15th overall and SEVENTH in age group. Code ran an 18:50 and didnt even place. Derek Gomez ran an 18:35 …and ended up third. And thats just because Becraft took an overall place.

They have cool painted ceramic tiles as age group awards in this race, so I really wanted to place this year, but if 2012 was any indication, I had about zero chance. I did actually cut way back in my miles in the week before the race in an attempt to win back some of the mojo lost at the Red Nose Run.  That race sucked for me – just no energy or motivation.

I showed up ridiculously early as I always do. Already, there were plenty of elite types roaming around. Ashton was there to try and repeat his win here last year. OJ Striggles and Justin Bishop were there, though I later learned he was guiding Amy. I was hoping he and Eric might battle it out and push each other to some fast times. Amy and Kenzie showed up to what I thought would be a close battle for the overall female. Team Allers were there fresh off their domination of the 5k and mile at Tybee. The Diesels,  Drew Williams,  621 ninjas Shufy Rowe, Mike Hedgecock , Erin Miller and Pete O’Boyle; Hal Ray, Shannon Iriel, Whitney Keen, Eric McMichael,  Kristin Schmitz, the Griffins, Gasque, Lisa Smarr, Del Soule, Henry Holt, Mickie Ishizue, Pete Poore, Valerie Selby, Rocky, Patti Lowden,  and the Robertsons were some of the familiar faces.

Oh, and don’ t forget Trophy.  Trophy reached his peak in 2011 when he broke 20 minutes for the first time…and then he never did it again.  Having fallen into Blackjack 5ks in the past few months, the plan for 2013 was to bring back the Mcgaha Magic. I’ve been dragging him through hellish Blue Shoes style workouts like Mt Sesqui/sand hell repeats and hilly 16 milers at 7:30ish pace. Good fun.  I give him credit, though. He has definitely put in some work. His goal was to go low 20 in this race, and maybe..just maybe ..reach the beautiful land of the 19’s.

In the past few months I had found an even more wonderful world, that of the 18’s, and I really wanted to get back there. This course was flat and my legs were fresh, so I figured I had a chance. Still, I’ve been fighting off the plague all week, so I was less than 100 percent.

With the start, I tried to hold back some. This worked for about 5 seconds, and I latched on the back of a pack with Drew, Amy, Hedge and Kenzie. In other words, I was already trying to be a hero. Half mile in and it seemed a bit brisk. I could still see the lead car and Ashton hauling ass down Heyward St on the first turn, so I knew this was probably a little too speedy, but sometimes my figurative head is as big as my actual enormous melon.  Oh, and apparently the contour of the earth changed from last year, because I’ll be damned if there arent actual hills on this course. No monsters, but enough to subtly beat you down. First mile : 5:54. Apparently my 4 year old and I share the same level of self restraint.

I’m sucking wind already, so I try to step off the throttle just a bit.  When I do that, though, I fall off the back of the pack just in front. Kenzie has also fallen off the back so I try and keep up with her. Theyre letting cars behind us already, so at least I feel confident no one is going to come up and Blue Shoe me. Finally we hit the turnaround of the rectangle, and this always gives me a little psychological boost. I round the turn at Hand middle school and actually pass Kenzie. This briefly makes me think I must be throwing down some killer pace, but then the mile comes back only at 6:15.  Damn. I know 19 minutes is 6:07 pace,  but I cant do the math when my brain is fighting for oxygen to survive. I know I’m almost right on it.  I try and kick it in basically the whole last mile. And it hurts..bad. I have got to find a way to run more relaxed, because the main pain seems to be in my arms, probably from holding them like an uptight T-rex for the past 15 minutes.  I can see Hedge reeling back in a bit, but he’s holding his pace pretty well.  I’m half delirious by the time we hit the home stretch, but they hide the finish behind one last little corner, so I can’t see the clock. Finally I hit that turn and its like 18:48. I blast forth in full ugly race face mode, letting behind all dignity in a desperate lunge for sub 19. I cross the line and collapse in a heap.  And Jess tells me I made it,  18:59.3 or something is what I thought I heard.

I’m just wobbling to stand when all of a sudden here comes trophy blasting around the corner with the clock in the 19:50’s. He’s killing it and sure enough…19:57.  The sub 20 Trophy is back!  Pretty awesome.  He was hoping to get there by April but apparently he’s been on a mission. I’m just a little afraid I might be part of that mission.

I ‘m all euphoric until I check the results..19:00???. WTF!  Crushed by a fraction of a second. Still, I get 2nd in AG because all of last years 35-39 studs stayed home, except for Drew who took 1st.  Since OJ took an overall spot, Trophy not only gets a sub 20 but an age group award too by winning 3rd.

Eric Ashton crushed the field by a minute in a half to take the win. 16 minutes for him is like a stroll. OJ took second in 17:30 and Josh Horn third  Amy won the female overall, with Kenzie finishing 2nd on a less than great day for her.  Mary Claire Cox finished third to chick Trophy by 2 seconds.

Age groupers included Andy Mikula (1st 25-29),  Kristin Schmitz and Jennifer Ward in the 30-34,  Erin Miller 1st in the 35-39,  Eric Allers and Hedge in the 40-44, Hal Ray , Mike Grffin and Tigs in the 50-54,  Pete O’Boyle , Shufy Rowe  and Valerie Selby in the 55-59, Alex Ponamarev in the 60-64, Patti Lowden and Sharon Sherbourne in the 60-64,  Del Soule and Margaret Holt in the 65-59, and Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg  in the 70+.



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