Boys and Girls Club Turkey Day 5k – Columbia, SC – 11/28/13


The BGCM Turkey Day 5k has been around since 2005 and was run as an 8k up until about 3 years ago, when I started running the race. Its become the most prominent Thanksgiving race in the area and usually draws 500+ people. I’ve had the chance to run this race with my brother Ben the last two years. I paced him to a 21:23 as he was just starting back running and then barely held him off in a brother battle royale last year 19:40 – 19:56. He used to run 17’s in high school and owns a 16:45 PR , so I never know if he’s going to train back into that kind of shape. We had planned to renew the rivalry this year but he didn’t make it up to Columbia until after the race. He said he hasn’t been running much so between that and my gimp recovery it probably would have been close. My cousin’s husband Jason ran it with us last year and was actually in town that morning but opted out because it was “too cold”.  Sounds like Trophy!

Although this is a well done race, I can’t help but dread running it because of the course. If there’s anything that kills me its a race course with a hill right away. And oh, does this one have a hill. Basically a mile slog from the Colonial Center all the way to the middle of the Horseshoe on the USC campus before this thing levels out. Like a punch to the gut right off the starting blocks. The rest of the course isnt too bad, except for another short nasty incline at the 1.5 point. And you do get to plunge back down that hill at the end, if you have any strength and oxygen by that point. Its a certified course but also on the long side, about 3.16 by my Garmin history. Oops, sorry for that obscene level of running nerdery.

I get there about an hour early and it is damn cold. Mid 20’s by my car thermometer. I did a couple of miles with the Yerg and Geary. The toe felt like  freaking ice block but it got a little looser with the warmup.

We line up for the start and its a big crowd. Brian Talkington is back after his sub 20 from last week. Strictly Running ladies Shannon Iriel, Kenzie Riddle and Linn Hall are representing. Birgit Spann is back after a brutal runway run where it looked like she was going to collapse. And I thought my finishes were intense. Bill Haselden and family, the Diesels, Jason Dimery, the Roofs, Fadels, Mikulas and Golbuses were all on hand. Shiela Subbarao and Ken and Kenneth Vowles were representing TUS, in addition to the Yerg. Meg Weis was there on the road back from being a new mom. Ponamarev, Henry Holt, Hou Yin Chang, and Missy Caughman were also in the crowd.

I lined up first row to avoid the bottleneck of a big race and there’s a woman next to me, race day t shirt on, with a stroller. I was about to tell her she and her child are going to get trampled when Selwyn shouts go and we were off. I do a short sprint to avoid the stampede and what im sure is a pile up behind the stroller and then try to hold back because I know what misery is about to occur. Meg  and Ken catch up to me in a mini pack in the early going. Ken had told Kenneth to take it easy at the start because of the hill, but we both notice him leading the race up ahead. Typical teenager. After a quarter mile of flat and we start ascending the Pendleton street monster. Its not crazy steep but it slowly sucks your life away until youre pleading for death by the top. Meg apparently is back training hard because she kicks my ass on this mountain. I can’t see Ken but some beast is breathing down my neck so I assume its him. My the mile mark Meg has already gapped me pretty bad. First split was like 7:02. Thats not too bad considering the mountain climbing. I try to get my wind back on the ensuing straight but damned if the post cliff couch surf is rearing its ugly head again. Ive picked up a shadow too and finally I look over and its that damn Vowles again. We just battled at Shandon Turkey Trot and now its pale late thirties gimp battle royale part II (he’s also coming back from injury). We hit the turnaround hill side by side and I try and surge up the hill. Probably not a good idea because now I’m really dying. Ken repasses me and is a couple of steps ahead. Some rolling hills past the turnaround and we finally hit the mile 2 mark virtually together with the Golbus twins.  I think this sets up nicely for me, but damned if Vowles finds some other gear and just drops me. WTH? I try and stay with for a while but I sound like an elephant in heat so I cant push it any harder. The poor Golbus twins are going to have nightmares tonight, no doubt. The last mile is flat to screaming downhill and I just cant make any headway on Ken. In fact, he’s passing other people and even takes down Meg near the Colonial Center. I hear someone trying to blue shoe me but I give it all I have and avoid it, hit the finish at 20:51.

I would be disappointed with the time, but this the same race I did in 19:40 last year at 100 percent, so probably a better performance than the 20:41 at the completely flat Crit. Still sucks to get smoked by Ken, especially since, as I figured, he took the 3rd in AG. We will battle again Vowles! Graham Tribble, who won the CWD a few years back in low 15’s easily took the race in 16:13, followed by Hunter McGahee and Jason Dimery.  Leading the way for the women was Holly Ortund of Decatur, GA (always lots of out of towners for a Thanksgiving race) with Kenzie  taking second and Cheryl bell of NC third.  In the age groups, Parker Roof smoked a 19:49 to finish 2nd in the 2-14. Kenneth didnt listen to dad’s advice and finished with a 20:14 and 2nd in 15-19, with Evan Mikula 3rd. Golbus twins went 1-2 in the F15-19 and chicked me too. Anna Johnson placed third, which I assume was a stroll for her since I believe she’s Dutch Fork’s #1 varsity. Andy Mikula, coming off his SVPC 5 miler win, took 3rd in the 25-29. Brian Talkington took my 35-39 group ahead of the Yerg and Ken. Linn Hall won the women’s 35-39 just ahead of Meg. Shannon barely squeaked out a 4 minute win in the 40-44. Jim Fadel and Joe Roof had a close battle for 1-2 in the 45-49. Barabara Brandenburg and Sherry Fadel took the top two in the women’s 45-49. Birgit Spann eaily won the 50-54 while Bill Haselden took 2nd among the men. Geary destroyed the 55-59 competition by five minutes, just as Patti Lowden easily crushed the 60-64. John Hancock managed third in the 65-69 with coach Spurrier’s wife Jerri winning the female division. Rocky Soderberg had an awesome finishing kick to take the 70+.

Main Street Crit – Downtown Columbia, SC – 11/23/13



Contrary to popular belief, I actually skipped the Runway Run and did a delayed double dip (Shandon Turkey Trot in the am) instead of the triple. I did show up at Runway and take pictures, but I guess people who know me assume that there’s no way I miss out on a chance at racing. I was actually trying a new thing for me: self restraint. Not my forte.

But there was no way I was missing the Crit. The race is tailor-made for me. Its at night, my favorite time to race. It involves multiple loops, which kind of sucks in theory, but also provides multiple opportunitites to act like an idiot in front of a crowd. They have craft beer available afterward, which is awesome in any circumstance, but particularly in the thirsty euphoria after a blue shoe kick. And then there’s an elite race you get to watch after the main race, with said beer in hand. Perfect. Especially for beer loving runner nerds who lurk on Flotrack and have  runner crushes on girls like Abbey D’Agostino and Kara Goucher. Not that I know anyone like that.

I felt pretty good after the Trot, if you ignore the soul-crushing depression brought on by getting Trophied , Tigsed and Vowlesed. But physically OK. The wreckage of sesamoids under my left toe is less a problem these days than the destruction wrought by couch surfing for 3 months. Damn you, Kauai.

I carpooled with the Code who had done 18 Justin Bishop enforced miles that morning and said he was not allowed to race. I was glad to have him drive because last years Crit left me in a non-drivable state for quite some time. We got caught parking in the Baptist hospital garage by an overzealous security guard who didnt believe I was there to visit someone in the hospital. Apaprently my runner shorts and Team Utopia South singlet may have given me away.

Got there about 45 minutes early and did a couple of warm up laps with Geary, who was also doubling with Runway earlier. A nice crowd was already on the 0.54 mile 2-block “track”, which you had to do 5 1/2 laps. They had some problems with accurate distance last year, but the course was sworn to be legit this time around. The open race had been changed to a 5k from an 8k  presumably to wrap things up earlier and simplify the open race (elites still did 8k). I knew Steven Johnson was  involved on the planning committee so I figured he had it sorted out. He and Shufy Rowe had recruited all the 621 ninjas out, so Adam Beam, Mike Hedgecock, Mary Claire Cox, Barrett Boozer, Kelly Foster, Allison Colberg and Randy Finn were there. Randy was dressed as Mr Mainstreet in full suit and tie, sure to shame a lot of people who dont realize he’s a 17 minute 5ker in normal clothing (he was also the dog at See Spot Run). John Gasque, Crystal Cordoba, Henry Holt, James Hicks and Marie Demetriades were there to complete their triple dips. Michael Ferlauto, Anita Recchio, Ted and Maryann Riley, Brady “Diesel Jr.” Ward,  Jonathan and Lisa King, Meme Spurgeon, Andrew Touzel, Pete Poore, Hou-Yin Chang, Travis Moran and Jason Dimery were all on hand. Lots of local runners in the spectators too, so felt like a big party.

First lap was the short one , followed by 5 full laps. We started away from the crowd near the corner of Taylor and Sumter. People  were flying out of the gates , and it felt even faster since it was at night. The course could hardly be more flat, just a little rise on one of the short sides of the rectangle. The key thing I was focused on was not losing track of the number of laps. A quarter mile in and the pack is already thinning out.  I see Adam  and Barrett up ahead, who I ran the whole 8k last year with. They dont race much so I dont know what shape they are in now. The first pass on Main street is nuts. Music blasting and tons of screaming. Awesome. Shannon and Jen Lybrand are at the corner and Angel, Brian Talkington and Wes Spratt are near the finish line. After the finish is the TUS corner with Sheila, Syd and Joyce. First lap feels surprisingly good despite the morning 8k.  By the second pass on Main Street and were already catching the back of the pack, requiring some tailback maneuvers to avoid collisions. I also have the sense I’m getting tracked down. Suddenly I get violently double chicked as ninjas Allison and Kelly blow by me at once. I recognize them from a couple of ninja runs but I think Ive only met Kelly.  I decide to latch on since I need a pacer anyway. Still feeling good. Three laps in and some wind sucking commences but the pace feels steady. We pass Adam around this time, but its getting hard to tell your position with so many people on different laps. We also finally take down Randy/Mr Mainstreet so there’s some relief there. No one wants to get “costumed”. I hit the final lap in 17 something and I know its only a half mile to the finish. My kick is not what it used to be but if there’s a finish line near I will throw down. I pass Kelly on the first straight and  try to track down Allison.  But Allison can either hear the grizzly bear stampede behind her or she’s on her own blue shoe blast – just couldn’t catch her. I hit the home stretch and I’m a little disappointed to see the time in the low 20’s since I thought I was really killing it. Hit the line in 20:43.  11th overall, 1st in AG. Not as fast as I’d hoped but I’ll definitely take it. Toe gave me no trouble and the only thing holding me back was my own lack of fitness. Hopefully i can reclaim some of that now that I can get my weekly miles back up.

Jason Dimery killed it to take the overall win in 17:09, lapping me there at the end. Oh the shame!  Travis Moran, who used to be right with me in 5ks, crushed a 17:57 and just keeps getting faster. Incredible – must be all that TUS training! Ninjas Hedgecock, Mary Claire and Barrett went 6-7-8, followed by Geary (2nd masters) and Allison (2nd overall female) . Mary Claire won the overall female by a minute, while Hedge took 1st masters. Kelly won third overall female. Anita Recchio and Meme Spurgeon went 2-3 in female masters. In the age groups Hedge part II, Myles, took a photo finish 2nd in the 11-14 .  Brady “Diesel Jr” Ward  won 2nd in the 2-10 with a 23:47 PR. Marie Demetriades had no competition in the 11-14 girls but finished off her triple dip in style in 23:10. Mary Ann Riley won the 15-19 AG.  Barrett and Adam went 2-3 in the 30-34, while Randy “Gen Honeybadger” Finn took 3rd in the 35-39. Ted Riley won the 45-49 while Jonathan King took the 50-54. John Gasque finished third in the same category to cap a productive triple dip as well. Lisa King won the 50-54 while Talley Lattimore took the 55-59. Pete Poore was all alone in the 60-64 but ran a strong 27:10.  Margaret Holt won the 65-69 females and Rocky and Henry battled it out for 1-2 in the 70+. Henry may be 77 but he shamed all the youngsters with a triple dip of his own. Awesome.

Speaking of awesome, the elite race was crazy fast. The winner, Emmanuel Bor, ran a 22:39 state 8k record. That’s 4:34 pace – dude looked effortless doing it too. You know this race was competitive when Gov Cup half winner (in 1:06) Michael Banks took 5th. Major props to locals Kenzie Riddle, Kathryn Cavanaugh and Tim Jeffreys for toeing the line with these professional beasts.

Kudos to Steven Johnson and crew for putting on a great event!

Guest Blogger: Trophy – Shandon Turkey Trot 8k – Columbia, SC – 11/23/13


So I actually ran this race but Trophy offered to guest blog since I double dipped. Its amazing how his interest level goes up if he gets to revel equally in his own glory and in my shame.

The Shandon Turkey Trot is a 4K and 8K in its 32nd year, hosted by the Shandon Neighborhood Association. It’s a pretty flat course around Shandon, run around the same area as several other races. The 8K is a double loop, and those are never much fun.

 I’m not a double loop fan either. Nothing sucks like seeing the finish line to tell you you’re half done.

Surprisingly, I had never run this race. I had thought about running it for a couple weeks but figured I would wait until race day to sign up. I had nothing better to do so figured I might as well race right?  Ok ok…so there were other motivating factors. I won’t lie, I wanted a turkey trophy.  For those of us that have raced a lot of races over the years, we have many medals and probably a few trophies. You show up enough you are bound to get some.  But to get a unique trophy is rare. I wanted a turkey! I also might need some age group points. But other than that, I just wanted to race. I was coming off an epic bonk the second half of Savannah and figured I needed to get back on the horse. This was either going to go be really good or really bad.  With two other races on the same day, there was no telling who would or wouldn’t show up.

The best thing about the turkey trot is the age group trophies. First and second get big turkey ones, but third gets the shame of the small “running man”.  But , hey, still a trophy. 

I had been watching the weather all week long. As we got closer to race day it was getting worse and worse. I woke up Saturday morning and it was already in the 60’s and pretty humid.  As I’m sure all of you know from the countless times Alex has mentioned it, I do not like hot and humid. But I sucked it up and headed to the race anyways. I got there pretty early so I could get signed up. Walk up and there is pretty much no one there. Started thinking maybe this will be a day that no one shows up and it will make things easy on me.  I get signed up and turn around and Ken Vowles shows up. Ugh. He is coming back from injury but before he got injured he was beating me and training like a mad man. Of course, in my age group. Talk to him and turn around and who is it but the Blue Shoes himself. Of course he is shocked to see me. I could run 10 races in a row and he would still be shocked for some reason. 3 of us around the same pace and in the same age group. Awesome. I’m not feeling so good at this point. I am really not sure how I will feel racing and am certain the warm temps will not help things. Alex and Ken are both somewhat gimp right now, so I’m already imagining them both beating me and the ridicule. To make matters worse I look up and David Pappas is here. Y’all might know him as the “shirtless guy” from Hammer the Hills. Apparently he has shown up to seek revenge on me for stalking and passing him.  Not likely. He is actually a very nice guy and probably could care less. But that wouldn’t make this as dramatic now would it???

Trophy pulls an Eeyore everytime he gets ready to race. Total Debbie Downer. “Its too hot.” “Those guys are faster than me” “I’m sick”  Call the wahmbulance, Trophy.


A few other regulars show up as well. Plexico is there to make sure no one gets a lucky win. Team Allers is there. Randall Hrechko, Jennifer Lybrand, Karen Manning, Pete O’Boyle, and James Hicks.

I think the goal from the start is for Alex, Ken and I to form a pack and keep in it. Don’t think any of us want to let the others get ahead. From the start the pace is a little quick, but the three of us stick together. Unlike normal, I am actually the one setting the pace. Apparently our pace is slow since at the mile point we are lagging a good ways behind and I think we ran in the 6:30-6:40 range. Alex lets out a groan and I’m not sure why. I suspect it might be because of our pace, and indeed it was. I can hear him breathing and it feels like a large bear is right behind me. Scary, but a good sign, for me.  At this point I’m feeling pretty good and sense he might be struggling a little. Ken is tucked in behind us as well. We are still a good ways behind the others though. Work to do.

I went out in my “old” 8k pace, because I can’t accept being slower. Never mind using a walker and looking like a Party City mummy 4 months ago, in my mind I’m still my usual grandiose self.  But if we are giving out prizes for reckless first miles, I’d have to give one to Jen Lybrand. The girl must of pulled a 6:20 opening split, even though her PR is over 7 minute pace at this distance.

“Struggling a little” meant gasping for air and wanting to crawl in the fetal position.

Around a mile and a half in I start to pull away. At least I think I am. I am trying to keep my pace consistent and the bear noises seem to be fading. I dare not look back…I just keep pushing on as hard as I can. I leave them and head out in search of roadkill.  After 2 miles in there are still plenty ahead of me. After the first loop I have managed to catch a couple, and now my eyes are set on Tigs, Pete and David. I can see them not too far ahead, but I’m not sure if I can catch them. Surprisingly I feel pretty good and I seem to be gaining on them all.  I catch up with David around the 3 mile mark and can tell he is fading. I pull up next to him and he says good job or something and I continue on. I am first in age group at this point, just have to hold it.  I push on and manage to catch Tigs a little bit farther up and then Pete not long after her. I am managing to run a smart race again. This feels weird.

Trophy apparently is astounded by the fact he is having a good race. I’m watching him pull away and since I came in like a wrecking ball in mile 1, there’s nothing I can do about it. Fortunately the toe and knee are feeling fine. Its that whole oxygen exchange thing thats letting me down. He was right about never looking back – he knows thats blood in the water for a blue shoes kick.

Once I pass them there is only Randy up ahead. He is a good ways ahead but it’s just us two now. I take a quick look back on the last turn and as long as I don’t completely fade I should be good. No bear in sight. In the back of my mind the entire time was the thought of being Blue Shoe’d. That would surely do me in.  About a half mile to go and I’m getting closer to Randy. I don’t think he is catchable, but I’m gaining??  I’m hurting a little but am able to speed up some and have him in my sights. The last half mile or so is a long straightaway and you can see up ahead.  Randy is like 7 feet tall so he is easy to see. I give it all I got and come up just a little short, but at least I scared him a little bit.

I had no chance at Trophy. He dropped me like a bad habit a la Gov Cup 2009 or Richmond 2010. I chased that damn Vowles kid the whole race with his neon yellow shirt. I swear I had him with a mile to go but the legs decided to take a lactic acid bath and I couldnt do it. I was going back and forth with this one girl (later identified as Ashley Smoak) who was like 5 feet tall but was breathing like Geary McAlister on cocaine. She had her sights on chicking me but I saved an ounce of pride and “smoaked” her at the finish.

I managed 5th overall behind Plex, Eric Allers, Heather Costello, and then Randy. Very happy with that. 33:42 and a PR by a couple seconds I think.  No Blue Shoes epic comeback today. Guess that will have to wait for another day. He did have a good race considering though. He experienced a Trophy moment. Finished 10th overall but failed to get an age group award. Been there done that, many times. Tigs, David, Pete, Ken, and then Alex rounded out the top ten.  They only went one deep overall so that went to Plex and Heather. I managed to get a large turkey! So happy. All of the above managed age group glory except Alex, even though they did large age groups. Maybe there will be an epic Blue Shoe/Trophy showdown soon. Would make for a good blog wouldn’t it?  Until then, Trophy is out, and still on top.

Epic Blue Shoe/Trophy showdown? I seem to remember one from earlier this year…

Other notable age groupers are..Umm, what the hell? For a race thats been around for 32 years, there’s no excuse for this. I’m sure our over 50 crowd loves being lumped together all in one group. Looks like all the other adults were in weird nine year groups. Marie Demetriades started her triple dip with a win in the 2-14. Jen finished 2nd in her AG behind Smoak and had a big PR at 35:23. Ken took third in my AG and took my “running man”  away from me. I did win the prize as first loser not to get a trophy. Eric Allers and Randy Hrechko went 1-2 in the 41-50. Karen Manning and Barb Brandenburg finished 1st and 3rd in the female 41-50. In the “51-98” Tigs won 1st with Catherine Addison 3rd. Pete O’ Boyle and Lorand Battern took the same positions among the males. Looks like Wes Spratt, John Gasque, Mike Compton ,Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr were a few of the shafted would-be age groupers.  Marie, John, Henry and Crystal Cordoba all completed triple dips by the end of the day.

SVPC Bizarre 5 and 5 and Stay the Course 4 miler – Northeast Columbia, SC – 11/16/13



I wasn’t sure about racing this past weekend (7 days removed from the Savannah half) but it was hard to resist what was on the Tour de Columbia: Two races just a few miles apart, with my house right between them.  I literally could have warmed up by running to either one of them from the casa de blue shoes. Unfortunately the pre-race prep of going to see the Frank Turner show in Charlotte Friday night, coupled with several beers, and getting home at oh dark thirty, was decidedly less than ideal. My alarm went off at 6 am and I actually was going to blow both the races off,  since I was going to have to rally to go tailgating and attend the USC-UF game later that afternoon (a difficult life, I know).  But as soon as I hit snooze I realized I was awake…and my world is apparently destroyed if I can’t toe the line on a Saturday. So I got up , pounded a Gatorade and headed out the door for my five minute drive to the Bizarre 5 and 5..

The Bizarre 5 and 5 race has been around for over 20 years and is put on by Spring Valley Presbyterian Church.  It kind of suffers from an image problem. For one, no one really seems to know what to call the race. It’s been called the Bizarre Bazaar 5k for most of its existence, but has also been referred to as the Bizarre 5k and SVPC 5k. It has been associated with a festival/event called the Bizarre Bazaar at the church, but apparently now is separate, and no, I have no idea why it is called that. The race is also held either right before or after Gov Cup, and I hear that some people actually like to take weeks off after racing. Wusses.

The 5 miler was added to the 5k last year, thus creating the key trophy hunting concept of the undercard (i.e. the shorter, less competitive race).  Local triathlete Les Boan took full advantage last year (I was at the Richmond Marathon in 2012) and clocked a 22 minute winning time in the 5k. I was so jealous.

So I couldn’t resist signing up for the 5k undercard this year in a shameless trophy hunt maneuver. I have to be even more crafty recently given I’m still maybe 75-80 percent of pre-cliff speed.  Directly after signing up I realized I had made a mistake. Everybody was doing the 5k and the 5 miler field was tiny. Jordan Lybrand, Steve Fink,  Brian Talkington and some fast looking kid (Wesley Long) were in the shorter distance and the fastest I could find in the 5 miler was Jennifer Lybrand .   Regulars John Gasque, Pete Poore, Alex Ponamarev and the Holts were on hand.  Tri beast Wes Spratt showed up for a rare running-only event. Meme Spurgeon was out hunting more TDC points. The five mile had Andy Mikula, Barbara Brandenburg and 3 McNeices – Delacie and David plus toddler Parker in a stroller.

The start was weird – two simultaneous starts separated by about 100 meters. Five milers were behind us.  Even with a little bit of warmup it takes a little bit of time for the toe to work itself up to race pace. Brian, Wesley , Jordan and Steve are already kicking my ass a quarter mile in. A thin blonde haired girl about half my size keeps pace with me for a while until I finally pass her a half mile in.  We head into a horseshoe area of the course , first plunging down a hill then climbing back up. Hit the first mile at 6:30 – not bad post-cliff, though I’m sucking a fair amount of wind. Just after the mile mark I look up the hill and see the leaders  turning right, back towards the finish. WTF? I know this isn’t right. I scream at the volunteers to verify that I should be going straight, but they both adamantly motion me to turn right.  About a hundred meters after I make the turn I see a bunch of other volunteers sprinting past me but the leaders are still going back towards the finish. I don’t really know what to do, so I basically just mail in the rest of the race and follow the leaders. I’m pretty much alone except I can still see Fink in the distance ahead of me. I cross the line in 13:40 for 2.08 miles per my Garmin.  The girl finishes a couple of minutes behind me but then there’s a big wait, so I figured either they corrected the course or everybody is lost on a tour of Northeast Columbia.  Wesley Long was first overall followed by Heather Costello, second overall and first female.

Wes Spratt finally comes into view around 24 minutes quickly followed by a pack which includes Meme Spurgeon and Steve’s wife Charlene. Sure enough they have the correct distance. I had to take off to go “take pictures” at Stay the Course, but I later learn they essentially threw out the 2.08 milers and awarded Wes and Meme  the 5k winners.  I think almost the whole race won age group awards since only 31 finished the correct distance. Most of the 5 milers stayed on course except for Jennifer Lybrand – she was leading and got off track, and ran like an extra half mile. She was not too pleased.  Andy Mikula ended up winning his second overall trophy, having hunted well at the 2012 Hammer the Hills 10k.  David McNiece finished second with a stroller, while Barbara and Delacie went 1-2 among the women. Jesse Smarr won his age group. To the RD’s credit he did offer us refunds, though I don’t think anyone took him up on the offer, since it would probably further solidify my place in hell to take back from a church.  Certainly didn’t expect the misdirects though in a 22 year old race.  They did offer free pics, which totally rocks.

I took off for Sesqui right after with the thought I’d take some pics at the Stay the Course 4 miler. Wrong. I was already warmed up and not that tired from my 2 miler, so I decided to go ahead and race. I know…shocker.

Stay the Course is a first year event held on the trails of Sesqui, so I gave about even odds I’d get led astray in this one too.  I got there with maybe 15 minutes to spare but they were still taking registration and said the start was delayed 15 minutes. Worked out well for me, but I upped it to about 75 percent risk of disaster on the course.  John Gasque was the only other double dipper, but Sarah Blackwell, Larry Bates, Geary McAlister, Arnold Floyd, Diesel and Brady, Harry Strick, Joe and Luke Naylor and Dina Mauldin were representing the CRC well.  I had forgotten they actually had a 2 x 2 relay with this race, so I totally would have bribed Trophy or Code to do that had I thought about it.

Ive run Sesqui  probably at least once a week for most of the last 4 years so the trails are very familiar. We started on the firebreak trail and our first mile stretched past the lake, through a camping area and back to the firebreak. The start felt great since I was already good and warmed up. I shadowed Larry for a while before kicking up the pace a notch. In the camping area I almost plowed over my kids’ cubmaster. I forgot they had a camping weekend for cub scouts that weekend. My wife and I had to opt out of our kids learning experience since our college friends were coming down to tailgate and party at the USC game. Parents of the year for sure. After dodging the cub scouts and any guilty glances, we got back on the firebreak trail, which absolutely sucks at that point since its extra sandy and one long slog up a hill. I was hurting but doing well against the field. I passed two tweenish kids who actually wished me well. The race is sponsored by a home-school athletics organization (Providence athletic club) so all these kids were super nice.  I still blue shoed the little guys like a boss.  Sand, hills and more sand for another mile. We turned towards a finish line and thought I had done my second 2 mile misdirect when I realized it was the relay checkpoint. Crossed in 13:52 at the halfway.  Another ¾ of a mile of firebreak and then a sudden turn onto the twisty lakeside trail. Speed definitely slowed down as I struggled to harness the substantial inertia of 200 pounds of Sasquatchian physique through all the turns. I had been passed just after the checkpoint by some teen kid doing the relay, so I made it a point to track down this little (probably exquisitely mannered) punk. Poor dude got the Sydney Frontz treatment with me panting like a rabid bear just over his shoulder for a good mile. He probably had nightmares this weekend.  Unfortunately I was just about toast by the time we hit a clearing and we could see the finish. The blue shoe kick is just not there yet thanks to talon toe, but I did finish just a few steps behind in 28:08. Im pretty happy with the result – I’ll definitely take 7 minute pace on a course that’s 75 percent sand and 25 percent twisty trail, especially after doing a hard 2 mile warmup.  Finished 4th overall, about a minute behind Geary, who is a trail beast.  Larry Bates finished 6th in 29 and change. Sarah Blackwell won the women’s race by 7 minutes. Well played trophy hunt Sarah! Brady took 2nd in the 2-14. I totally dominated my age group, especially since I was the only one in it. Joe Naylor had some 40-44 competition but still easily won. Dina Mauldin also crushed her one person age group. Gasque and Harry finished 2nd in their age groups while Arnold Floyd also took home the one-person AG win.


Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon/Half Marathon – Savannah, GA – 11/9/13


So this was supposed to be the one. My Boston qualifying attempt, the one that I signed up for in March and figured would give me a golden chance to get my 3:10 with all its glorious flatness.  I had already ramped up my mileage by July, I was in peak fitness,  and I was going to start rocking the 16 week training plan …right after my anniversary vacation in Kauai. Hmmm. Guess that didn’t quite work out to plan.

Sad to say,  I think the words “Savannah marathon” were on my mind very briefly after my fall, probably just after “alive” and “no devastating/life-altering injury”.   If all things happen for a reason, this was certainly one to adjust my priorities.

It became quite clear after several weeks on the couch that the marathon just wasnt going to happen. I was going to have to bag the whole trip, and eat all the cash I already paid into it (I prepaid to rent a condo).  Not only was I flushing months of the training I already did, but I was going to have to throw in 500 bucks too. Awesome.  But things changed when I finally, slowly, was able to get off my (now slightly larger) ass and go out for a few lumbering slogs around the neighborhood.  Nothing blue shoes worthy, but at least I was out there.  After doing a few 20-25 mile weeks by early October, I decided I would go and actually attempt the half marathon. Just to finish, no time to be a hero. How hard could it be? (Right, Tenacious J?)

Turns out pretty damn hard. My “long” runs leading up to this was the 7.4 mile Ray Tanner 12k and a possibly ill-advised 12 miler last Saturday.  That 12 miler on the Lake Murray Dam to Lexington and back felt like hell. I was probably doing 10+ minute pace on the last couple of miles, and Jeanna Moffett said she was thinking of asking me if I needed a ride back when she saw me from her car. I might have taken her up on the offer.

I went down to Savannah the Friday before with Spence and Trophy.  The condo I rented was a exquisitely decorated immaculate loft in the upscale section of Savannah’s historic district, called “Eco-chic”. It was owned by a professor at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).  Three slightly less-than-chic dudes from SC were a little out of place, but the pad was surpisingly much cheaper than the insane 350/night hotel rooms in the same area. Professor Eli is my very fashion forward hero.

There was some disagreement about dinner, but we eventually ended up at Mellow Mushroom. Very adventurous of us to choose such a uniquely Savannah institution.  Since I was only doing the half, I figured I could eat whatever. Spence and Trophy were doing the full, but I guess we were all on the 3 beer, barbeque pizza pre-race plan.  Even I was afraid that might come back to bite me.

The next morning I felt OK though, despite the condo being located in the epicenter of party central, Savannah.  When your host gives you earplugs at check in, that should give you pause about the noise. I still slept like a rock. My duty was to pace Ashley Horton, one of my TUS teammates and fellow CRCer who was attempting her first half. She wanted to go sub 2 hours, which was about what I had planned anyway.

Pretty cold at the start but luckily not too uncomfortable. No real wind. My fairly new Garmin chose to die on the morning when I would probably most need it, since I was pacing.  Fantastic. I was alone in the middle of corral 5 for a long time until Ashley and Ilia (another TUSer doing her first full marathon) found me by the ecliptic shadow of my enormous head.  They like to live on the edge, because we started just minutes after that.

First few miles were a little rough. The toe decided to get unusually  nice and tight that morning, so it took a while to get going. Also, though I had triple knotted my shoe with my timing chip, I somehow failed to do the same with my other one. It came untied at a quarter mile, and I  ran the whole rest of the race with laces flapping. Early miles featured a most unwelcome overpass hill and a tour through Savannah’s most economically disadvantaged communities. Aka ghetto city.  After our slums 5k though, we turned into some very nice neighborhoods and then the historic section.  I felt pretty good 3-4 miles in with the toe behaving better. Ash was crushing it and we were able to leave the 4 hour marathon pace group in the dust. We lost Ilia around this time, though she had the whole 26.2 to worry about. We were doing pretty even splits – 8:50ish. I had my iphone map my run app going, but the distance was way off. This is probably because of all the Marcus Lattimore maneuvers I was pulling. I’m used to breaking free of a pack after the first mile or so, but I forgot everyone and their mom tries to break 2 hrs for the half and 4 hrs for the full. Consequently, we were running in the middle of a huge mob the whole time. Whenever we hit water stops I got caught in the logjam and then had to catch up, because I am considerably less agile than Ms. Horton. Could be my Sasquatch physique.

Mile 6 took us on a long out and back which gave us a long slight decline on the way back. Continued to do more 8:50’s. Ashley was looking strong. Mile 7-8 took us back very close to the finish before heading back out again. Although the cardio was fine, legs were starting to complain. May have been the complete and utter lack of half training coming into this race. Go figure. Around mile 10 I could sense Ashley was hurting a bit. I told her this was usually the toughest point, but at least we didnt have to climb Blossom St like the Gov Cup back home. I decided against telling her about my death march at my first half, where Trophy left me for dead at mile 10 and I hobbled down Devine St wanting to cry for my mommy. Probably not the best motivational story. I knew the half and full marathon course diverged at the 11.5 mile point, so I told her she was going to have to do a blue shoe kick from there. Unfortunately they had a chance to ring a bell at mile 11 and I couldnt pass up a chance to be ridiculous. After I rang the bell I lost Ash and thought she had decided to kick it in early. I sped up quite a bit and couldnt see her anywhere. Ramping up the pace on my cinder block legs was making me hate life quite a bit. I was trying to turn around to see if she was behind me, but my neck and upper body has the flexibility of an extra from the Walking Dead.  At mile 12 I pulled off to the side for a second then realized Ashley was only about 10 meters back. Whew. I was starting to fear she was in a med tent somewhere and I just left her. Pretty soon after I happened to see Drew Williams walking back up the course (he did like a 1:24) and he told me the finish was right around the corner. For future reference, “right around the corner” means “almost a mile” to Drew. I was trying to maintain a slightly faster pace than before and let my giant head be a beacon to the finish. Finally I turned the corner and could see the end. I resisted the urge to pull my usual headless chicken mode but I did ramp it up considerably. With about 20 meters to go I try and look back to see if I could maybe get a picture of Ashley’s finish when …BOOM she comes flying by at like mach 5 and viciously chicks me by two seconds. I’ve taught her well! She finished in 1:56:08 to my 1:56:10.

Pretty happy with the result – Ashley got her sub 2 hour PR by a long shot and I finished the half in one piece without walking.  After being a complete invalid 4 months ago, I will take it. I was pretty cashed though – no way I could handle a marathon at this point. I was brutally sore just from 13.1. We found Tigs and Eric shortly after and Tigs rocked a 1:32 and first in her age group. Eric did a 1:30 and was swearing never to do a half again. Dude does not like the long distance! LarryJpurdain finished just ahead of Drew in 1:24:22. Laurie , a fellow TUSer, did high 1:56 and didnt realize she was right behind us the whole time. Howie Phan blazed a 1:33.  Ken Vowles did 1:44 on his way back from injury. Pam Boggs and Beth McCorkle , also on TUS, ran 1:54 and 1:53 respectively. Tracy Tisdale had a 2:11, which she was less than thrilled about, but still not bad.

After running a gauntlet of chocolate milk, gatorade, water, beef jerky and pretzels (did they want us to immediately replace all those burned calories?) we headed back to the final right turn to wait for our marathoners. Rob was first in with a 3:13 , painfully close to a BQ but a nice time nonetheless. Spence blasted a 3:19 and was very happy to take down the Blue Shoes PR (3:20:44) My friend from high school, Cole Smith crushed a 3:22 in his first full. Looks like he had a rough time at the finish but that’s blazing. I’d better watch my back.  Brian Purvis was pleased with his 3:24 on less than optimal training. Jessica Workman crushed a 3:26 and will be headed to Boston. Winston Holliday was right behind her in 3:28:11 and also a BQ. Brad Marlow had a tough day but still managed a 3:30. Joyce Welch obliterated her old PR set at Lehigh in September (3:41) en route to a 3:35. Charley Clements also PR’d with a 3:36. Colleen Vowles was apparently less than thrilled with her 3:39 but still an easy BQ. Trophy and Ken Calcutt had brutal second halfs and both caught a bad case of the walksies. They crossed together in 3:44. Israel Bilbao followed them in 3:46. Ilia Owens finished her first marathon in 4:37.

Thoughts go out to the family and friends of Jake Zeman , a 35 year old runner from Columbia who tragically died near the finish at Savannah. He appeared to be a fit guy without any health problems by what I’ve heard.  I somehow didn’t know Jake, but his passing makes all of us realize how fragile life can be. Be careful out there.