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.