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!