The Healthy Capital is a 5k held at Columbia High School (mascot is the Capitals) that is put on to benefit the school. Its been a favorite of mine, as I set a PR there back in 2010 and the race is always well done. They typically have the high school band out there, lots of enthusiastic volunteers, and a hot dog cookout after the race. Ive missed the race the last two years though due to conflicts with the Palmetto 200 and the Rosewood Eagles 5k.
As it turns out every start up 5k in the city decided to hold their event on March 23, which didnt help registration for this race (or any of the others for that matter). There were literally five 5ks in the Columbia area yesterday. A couple of them I wasnt even aware of until after the fact. I’m someone constantly scanning the internet, my gym, running stores, etc. for races, so if I havent heard of your race in my hometown, clearly the advertising is less then optimal.
Of course, the dark side of the Blue Shoes sees this scenario as a perfect storm for trophy hunting. Healthy Cap was the only Tour de Columbia race, and a known quality event, so I had already signed up a couple of weeks ago. Shenequa Coles is the race director and an active runner in the community, so that always assures someone actually knows what they’re doing. Plus, at 15 bucks for early registration, this is the cheapest race on tour.
Given that this is an established race, on the TDC and offering prize money, it was definitely not the trophy hunt pick of the day. I saw that Trophy was racing somewhere, but he knows better than to let me in as to where.
When I got to the race site, it was absolutely miserable. Temp was 40 degrees and just a total downpour. Couldn’t believe it was late March and the weather was still sucking this bad. The only worse race for weather was the Make my Day 12k. At least this race was on roads and not the trails.
Turnout looked pretty light with all the other races going on and virtually zero race day registration. I don’t think too many people woke up and thought it would be a great day to race. I had a minimal warmup, basically doing a few laps around the parking lot and a couple of strides. Scouting the competition, I didn’t see any known male elites. There was one fast looking dude I’d never seen before, but no one else. This is a high school race , so I thought there was always the chance at some random cross country dude coming out. Among the women, Kenzie Riddle was there with Erin Miller, so at least the female side had some competition. I figured Kenzie would probably win this thing. Of course, that also meant that maybe, just maybe I could get some overall glory for myself. Kenzie would usually kick my ass, but we virtually tied at Cold Winters Day, and I beat her At Race for the Place when she had an off day. Unfortunately I’ve been a wreck most of last week. Followed up the Get to the Green with 15 more miles on Sunday, and my back didnt like it one bit. Had to recover the rest of the week, though I did get in 7 miles on Thursday without any problems.
With the weather, only the diehards turned out for this one. J-Reeves was coming back from a month off due to illness and moving. There’s about a 99 percent chance of Ponamarev, Gasque , Pete Poore and Rocky showing up, and sure enough all were there to score some easy age group points. Valerie Selby and James Hicks were also on board. Sheila was also on the comeback trail after being in a boot most of the last few months. Andy Mikula and Paul Drohomirecky were some other familiar faces. I had a chance to meet new CRC member Dana Burgess and Pam Inman as well.
The start of this race is always nuts, but it was made more comical by all of us running from the high school out to the start because of the downpour. You start at the top of a hill and every time a pack of high schoolers fly down at sprint speed before basically stopping at the bottom. After all the high schoolers cashed out, fast dude and Kenzie were ahead about 20 meters and I was all alone. I tried to keep the two leaders in sight. I was going back and forth a bit. I started reeling them in at one point but then either I faded or they kicked it up a notch. First mile was in 5:57, which is inflated on the speedy side because of the freefall for the first quarter mile. The second mile is mostly flat but I was getting lost. I used to know the course like the back of my hand, but we were taking a turn away from what I remember. I was worried at this point because I was afraid it was going to make the course way short. I was also finding it really, really hard to give a damn at this point. Shoes were getting waterlogged, the rain was beating down, I wasn’t making much headway on the top two. Running completely by yourself also doesnt help either. I was losing my sense of pace and motivation was super low. I had a decent lead on number 4 judging by the volunteer cheers, so phoning it in seemed like a pretty good idea. I hit mile two at 6:30, which is about my 10k pace, though I actually never checked my Garmin because my long sleeves had completely plastered themselves to my arms. We finally took a turn that I recognized and I realized we had gone around the original course for some reason. The whole last mile just sucked. Legs felt ok but had zero motivation to ramp it up. Plus I knew the end was a long slog up the hill we ran down to start. Finally I turned right to start the mountain climb, and I hear my Garmin beep at mile 3 WAY too far from the finish. Ruh roh. I can still see Kenzie and fast guy, who had been running like they were joined at the hip the whole race. I think fast guy was tucked in behind her some, letting her set the pace, which he then used to unleash a wicked kick to pass her at the end. I saw this happen pretty far away, because I was locked into a debbie downer mindset trying to scale Mt. Capital going pretty slow and wishing for death. I looked up at the clock and saw what I thought was 18:30 so I thought I was still going to race a decent time. WRONG. I turn into the parking lot and realize I’m already over 20 minutes. WTF?? Finished in 20:16, 3rd overall, 1st in AG. I was stunned by the time initially until I checked the Garmin and realized a 3.2 mile course and I had just run two 10k pace miles to finish. Nice.
After taking some pics, I went back and checked the course. It turns out they had to divert part of the race because the regular course was a total lake. Completely flooded. I would have had to swim across this thing, and anyone who knows my swimming knows thats not a good thing.
Fast guy turned out to be pretty nice, for a trophy thief. He (Renato Cortez) lives in Whittier, California and was just running on a whim. Damn him for being fast and taking my hundred bucks. Kenzie of course won the female race in 19:25 and 2nd place overall. Erin finished abut 30 seconds behind me and took 2nd female, followed by Andy Mikula and Paul Drohomirecky. James Hicks also scored himself an open point by finishing 10th , first in 30-34. Sheila won second in the female 30-34. Dana Burgess and Shenequa Coles went 1-2 in the 40-44. Shannon Mosely finished first in the 45-49, and Gasque won the 50-54. Valerie crushed her rival in the 55-59 by 12 minutes, while Alex Ponamarev and Pete Poore filled out the 60-64. Rocky Soderberg won the 70+ by showing up. When its 40 degrees and raining, and 4 other races are going on, sometimes thats all you have to do.
Trophy’s trophy. Yep, he ran his previous trophy race, the Special Olympics 5k in Swansea, and won it again. By like 5 minutes. A two time champion. Well played, Trophy, well played.