So some part of me wanted to relax and savor my first post-cliff sub-20 for a while, but I don’t miss Cold Winters Day. Although my first 3 5ks in my life were in Charleston in 2007, I ended up overdoing the training thing (Hard to believe, I know), got shin splints, and didnt race for more than a year in 2008. I finally decided to get back into running late in 2008 after I had moved back to Columbia . I got fitted for some stability shoes at Strictly Running and signed up for their Cold Winter’s Day race, which would be my first in my hometown. It was billed as “flat and fast” and I threw myself into training, starting with an angry run after a loss in the Carolina-Clemson game. Yes, its hard to believe we actually used to lose to Clemson.
In keeping with my overwhelming grandiosity, I thought I would go out and try to break 23 minutes in this “flat” race, since I had gotten down to high 24’s over a year earlier. Yeah..that sounds logical. This was before I had heard of Garmins, but I knew there was a yellow arrow sign right before the downhill to the finish. I went all out in that race and when I saw the yellow arrow sign in the distance I redlined it with an epic pre-blue shoes kick…right to about the 2.5 mile mark. Turns out it was the wrong sign and it left me over a half mile to go, during which I almost had to walk. I think I basically collapsed in a heap at the finish but I did PR in 23:59.
Note Steve Rudnicki, Ted Hewitt, John Richards and Lynn Grimes. Little did they know the Blue shoe kick was being born. That and the hideous race face.
So this is the race I use as a benchmark for the year. In 2009 I donned the same “magical” blue under armour shirt and tried to break 20 for the first time. Yeah…not so much:
I had steady improvement over the last couple years. Ran a 19:20 something in 2010 when it was 34 degrees and sleet/snowing,
and 19 teens in 2011 when it was almost 70 degrees. Last year was one of my best races of all time, blasting out a sub 6 last mile and ruining Kenzie’s winning pic in the classic “beauty and the beast” photo:
I usually get the official finish pic from Strictly in this race, but it turns out the female overall winner takes priority over some lumbering sasquatch. Luckily Angel was on hand to capture the moment.
Which brings us to the 2013 edition. I was decidedly less than motivated to crush it out in this race, given Bayler’s 4 days prior, but once I pin on a bib I find it physically impossible not to try really, really hard. Especially in this race. So I was going to give the sub 20 another shot. Perhaps more important to my fragile ego was trying to return the favor for the ruthless beatings I’ve received from Trophy, Sydney and Ken Vowles in the past few months. All three showed up, though Syd didn’t make an appearance until the last second. Thankfully Justin showed up, since I had noticed right before the race that my serial racing had led to me overtaking his 2nd place in the Tour de Columbia overall standings. Since he could literally finish this race and then go order lunch at Zoe’s kitchen before I crossed the line, that would just be wrong.
Tons of familiar faces were at the start, really too many to name. Geary and some of the Strictly running elite women (MC, Shannon and Linn) were there to at least give me an idea where 19 something should be. I lined up a couple of rows back with Trophy, Ken and Kenneth. Teams Howell, Roof, Naylor, Diesel, Lowden and McGrievy are on board. Mitch Prosser, Brian Talkington, Jeffrey Godby, Jen Lybrand, Hunter McGahee, Naomi Rabon, Eric McMichael, Rob Weber, George Smith, Meme Spurgeon, Jason Dimery, Arnold Floyd, Randy Hrechko, Rocky, Henry, John Gasque , Michele Parnell, Andrew Touzel, Jeff Smith, Lucia Velicu, Omar Sharif, Jennifer Hill, Ashley Horton and sister Lauren, Laurie Royson, Mike Compton , Crystal Cordoba, Lois Leaburn, Teresa Harrington and Hou Yin Chang were some of the frequent racers who have appeared in the blog this year. Trophy has recently identified David Pappas as yet another fast 35-39er who would be in the mix.
The start is straight up a hill. Have I mentioned how much I hate hills at the start? Allow me to note it here. Its really not too bad – nothing like the MLK start, but you will run this too fast because – 1) 5k starts are always, always way too fast and 2) there are so many fast people at this race that its tough not to get caught up in it. I hold back as much as I can and try to dodge the inevitable kid who toes the line and runs 100 meters before stopping. After the trenholm road hill start is a long plunge into a valley. I try my best not to get passed since I suck at downhills and gimp knee and toe prefer not to accelerate in a downward direction. Syd and Jen Lybrand are kicking my ass already and Geary/SR ladies are even further ahead. After the valley is another nasty incline but I feel OK, and start mentally patting myself on the back for running a smart race, and this training is really paying off and….WTF? Is that the clock??? 20 minutes is 6:27 pace and its already passed when I see the clock, which is a long way before I actually reach the clock, and its about 6:43 on my Garmin. Nice pacing, smart guy. Turns out you feel better when you go too slow. Go figure.
In my mind I’ve already blown my chance at sub 20, so I try and focus on keeping the pale beasts (Vowles and McGaha) behind me and catching up with Syd. Turns out Syd is having a less than stellar race and lets me know with various breathless expletives when I pass her at the next bridge. OK, surely I’ve picked up the pace back into sub 20 range now. Unfortunately the red singlets and Geary’s industrial machine is still looking very far away. Mile 2 has a lot of flat and downhill save for one soul crushing long hill in the middle. I try to push it up the hill a bit and manage to pass some people. I reach the top and I feel OK – sucking some wind for sure but not wanting to die. I feel good until I see the clock for mile 2 and its like 13:17 or something. The math is a little hazy in my oxygen deprived brain but my general feeling is that this is not good. Garmin confirms it with a 6:33 split. DAMN IT.
I thought I was earning back time towards the sub 20 goal the whole time and I was actually LOSING more seconds. I figure I’ve completely blown my chances of a 19:59 by now, but the specter of getting Vowlesed or Trophied still hangs over my head. I catch up with Pappas who announces my arrival with a “Blue Shoes!” I know I’m in trouble because I can barely say anything in return. You know, the whole needing oxygen to speak thing. Regardless of starting to die, I know I need to blast it out lest Vowles tries to kick it in like he did at Turkey Day. Pappas is not going to let me go that easily and he surges right with me. I finally get a few steps on him as we take a right turn towards the finish (aka the faux finish yellow arrow sign from 2008). The last half mile plays well to my strengths with a couple of nasty inclines before the freefall to the finish. Though my sense of pace apparently sucks now, I can tell I may be picking it up some since I am gasping and flailing like a dying elephant. But damn it, I am not getting passed. I see Jeffrey Godby, who I mistakenly think is in my age group (actually 40) and really push it to catch him. I try to offer some encouragement (he’s had a rough year with the death of his friend Jake at Savannah) but all that breathing is getting in the way. I actually see Geary and the SR girls make the last turn, so at least I’ve made up some ground. Tigs is at the last turn and starts screaming at me, and in my delirium I just know Vowles is getting ready to track me down. I go into full on headless chicken mode and then I see the clock still in the 19’s. But I can also see that its just not going to happen. I watch the numbers click over to 20 and finish in 20:09. Chip time was 20:07, 32nd overall, 6th in AG.
So definitely disappointed in not getting my goal, but happy to even be close to 20 after those first 2 miles. So much for trying to be comfortable in a 5k – those 2 things just don’t go together. Especially for me. This guy gives it a thumbs up though.
In the overall, Omar crushed a 15:59 en route to the win, followed by Justin in 16:40 and Avery Dominick in 17:06. Jason Dimery and Hunter Mcgahee both broke 18 and finished in the top 10.
In the women’s overall, Dutch Fork high’s Anna Johnson won in an impressive 18:28 followed by Heather Costello and Lauren Jaynes.
Age groupers included Brady Ward taking second in the 2-10, finishing with Diesel and Jennifer. Interestingly, Jen beat them both by chip time. 22 seconds Jen? Were you in the portapotty when the gun went off? The O’Toole girls finished 1st and 3rd in the 11-13, while Luke Naylor took home a trophy on the boys side. Hunter Jarvis finished 3rd in a tough 14-16. Wells Thomas, who won Baylers, finished 3rd in AG here. Syd ran 21:08, which I think was still her 2nd best, and took home 1st in the 20-24. Jen Lybrand was just one second behind Syd and won 2nd in 25-29. Mark Tibshrany finished 3rd in the brutal 30-34 (behind Justin and Dimery). Brian Talkington PR’d in 19:19 , good enogh for third in the 35-39. Heather Costello, Heather Hunt and MC Cox completed a female 35-39 which was almost as fast as the guys division. Jeffrey Godby won 2nd in the 40-44. Shannon Iriel broke 20 with a 19:51 and won the 40-44 over Meme Spurgeon in 23:24. Randy Hrechko also got his sub 20 and finished 2nd in the 45-49. Sue Porter won third in the female division. The 55-59 was a trio of beasts with Geary McAlister, Pete O’Boyle and Larry Bates. Lynn Grimes and Patti Lowden went 1-2 in the 60-64 women, whil Mike Compton and Alex Ponamarev did the same among the men. Peter Mugglestone won 3rd in the 65-69, while the usual trio of Arnold Floyd, Rocky and Henry swept the 70-79.
Oh, and lest it go unnoticed, this has to be published. Even I bow to the awesomeness of Ken’s race face.