Run Red Bank 5k – Red Bank, SC – 5/18/13

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Run Red Bank is a 2nd year event put on by the YMCA, with a start and finish at White Knoll High School. The race had over 400 people  last year, which is pretty amazing for a first-time event.

I was pretty torn about choosing a race this weekend. I’ve done See Spot run for each of its 4 years in existence, and I’ve done Going the Extra Mile twice as well. Both are fun, well-run races, though they both have some pretty brutal courses.

Always looking for something different, and always looking to avoid hilly courses, I thought I’d give Red Bank a try. With the two competing races and registration apparently down in all three, there might of been a trophy hunt element as well. I didnt think this one offered much of a chance, since it was on Strictly Running’s Palmetto Grand Prix, but winning a YMCA race is like hitting the jackpot. Mega swag.

My first worry about the course of this race came earlier in the week, when I saw Justin Bishop (the 2012 champ) posting something about how hilly Red Bank was. Ruh roh. Then I looked at the USATF map of the course, and most of it ran through a neighborhood called LEXINGTON HILLS. Seriously?? I instantly started trembling , remembering the Lexington Jingle Bell 5k that is a proverbial mountain range. But surely it couldn’t be worse than the ungodly brutal See Spot, right?

So I was a little nervous about the course. I also had been wrecked with a GI virus last weekend that completely sidelined me for 4 days, and my “comeback” this week had been on the sluggish side. On the plus side, I was 5 pounds lighter. I most certainly do not recommend that weight loss method.

On race morning I drove out to Red Bank and decided to drive the course. I can say one thing about this race – they have no shortage of volunteers. They must have had 50 young people (man, am I old enough to use that term?) dressed in brown YMCA camp shirts out there. And they must have had a espresso maker on the volunteer bus, because these guys were JACKED. I was literally getting “good jobs” and cheers for DRIVING the course. It was probably a diversionary measure to distract from the torture that was unfolding ahead of me. I turned off highway 6 into the VERY APTLY NAMED Lexington Hills Rd.  One nasty mountain, followed by a decline and then a long  slog back to platt springs rd. But that was just a teaser for the hill d’ resistance, a quarter mile of pain right before the finish. Because there’s nothing nicer than hitting a nice long hill when you’re on fumes. Yeah, it would have been better just not to know.

I did a 2 mile warmup on the last mile of the course, which was tough at 9 minute pace. On the plus side, I was cheered throughout by caffeinated teenagers like I was winning the Boston Marathon. I picked up my packet to yet another blast of screams and cheers. I was kind of disappointed no one cheered my successful code brown in the red bank stadium restroom. Hey I was cheering.

A decent crowd was at the start, though certainly not the 400 from last year. Maybe they all got scared off.  “Trackstar” Eddie Vergara was there to ensure I didnt have any trophy delusions. Daniel Patrick, the winner of the Rose Fest 5k was also there, so maybe I could pace off him. Geary, Rocky, the Holts, Birgit and James Hicks were the CRC regulars. It being a YMCA event (Erin Roof directing) so Parker and Joe Roof were on hand. I’ve been hoping to help Parker get his sub 20, but I knew it wasnt happening at this race.

The start was about a quarter mile in the huge White Knoll High parking lot, followed by a big downhill, i.e. the same one we’d be slogging up in 20 minutes. There seemed to be a lot more people ahead of me than I had anticipated. Eddie took off in a sprint, and it looked like Parker was trying to follow him. I knew going fast early on would be a disaster given the nightmare ahead. Most of the first mile was downhill, and I wasnt pushing that hard, so the 6:14 mile split I got was OK. Unfortunately it was probably a good 10 seconds behind the actual mile marker.  I passed a few people and Parker on highway 6  right before the mile.  On my back though was the all to familiar sound of Geary’s “industrial machine” breathing. I didnt even need to turn around. A little bit after the marker was the turn on to Lexington Hills. Wow. Between the sudden headwind in my face and the 5 percent grade, I was waddling up this mid course mountain. En route went any vestige of hope I had at this being a good race. I was toast not even halfway through. Geary had surged just ahead on the hill but I managed to re-pass him on the climb. We basically went down the following incline in tandem.  You hit mile 2 right near the bottom of the decline. It suddenly dawns on me that the whole last mile is basically uphill. And you might as well stick a fork in me because I am done. I dont know whether its still being weak from last weekend or the warmth/humidity but its taking every ounce of effort to fight off the McAlister machine behind me. It doesn’t help that there’s no one to chase down. Daniel is the only guy I can see and he’s way too far to try and catch. I know I’m running fifth and the best I can do is just hold it. Left turn and I did a face plant into Mt Red Bank. Basically redlined it all the way up this monster,  desperate to be done. Mile 3 beeps on my Garmin and its pretty far from the finish, so I know its going to be long by Garmin (course is certified). Finally I flop myself into the parking lot again and I try to push it, but I realize I’m not even going to break 20. Finished in 20:08, 5th overall, 1st in AG.

I hate going over 20, but this course is just brutal. Combine it with a warm morning and its awfully tough to run a decent time. I have new respect for Amy and Flicker putting up low 19’s last year here.

Eddie smoked this race in 17:21 for the win, which I guarantee equates to a sub 17 on a flat course. Bob Sams, who finished 2nd at the Rose Fest 12k , finished 3rd behind a high school kid, John Drummond. Daniel placed 4th in 19:24.  Geary took 6th about 20 seconds back from me with Birgit winning the female race at 20:59 Parker had a rough day but still placed 1st in the 2-14. James took 2nd in the 30-34 while Joe won 2nd in the 45-49. Lynn Grimes won first in the 60-64 and laid out a wicked blue shoe kick to smoke a 36 year old at the finish. It was a thing of beauty. Henry beat Rocky for the 70-98 crown.

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