Cold Winter’s Day 5k – Columbia, SC – 12/28/13

Cold Winters Day 2013 125

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:

coldwintersday2009a

Back off ladies…I know you cant resist yourselves.

I had steady improvement over the last couple years. Ran a 19:20 something in 2010 when it was 34 degrees and sleet/snowing,

I didnt choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.

I didnt choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.

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:

coldwintersday2012a

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.

coldwintersday2013a

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.

kauaitrauma

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.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/13cwd.txt

Oh, and lest it go unnoticed, this has to be published. Even I bow to the awesomeness of Ken’s race face.

vowlesfinish

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Bayler’s Bash 5k – Bishopville, SC – 12/24/13

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Bayler’s Bash is a 5k in Bishopville, run on Christmas Eve morning to celebrate the life of Bayler Teal – an 8 year old who lost his life to neuroblastoma in 2010, and who became a rallying point of the USC baseball team on their run to the College World Series title. Proceeds go to the Children’s cancer center at Palmetto Richland, so hard to find a better cause. I’ve run the race since its inception in 2010 and have come back every year since.

What else is there to like? Definitely the course. Its a total pancake. Probably the flattest I’ve come across in the midlands, with only the Camden colonial cup 5k coming close.  Bishopville is also a cool small town with a classic main street right out of the 1950’s.

Lots of personal triumph here for me as well – I got third overall at the ’10 race and won an awesome trophy. You know how I covet the fake golden plastic. That was also the same year Robbie “O.G” McClendon won and I got to see what a celebrity he is in Lee County. Dude is a legend! He missed this year, and I actually got asked by a random kid “Where’s Mr. Robbie?”. Sorry for the guilt trip, OG.

OG

Robbie in 2012

The 2012 race was also the pinnacle of the hundred-odd 5ks I’ve run in the last 5 years. A perfect storm of peaked fitness, ideal weather , the aforementioned pancake course and a touch of reckless abandon produced the 18:46 PR, even with a course that is slightly long (certified though).

This year would be decidedly different. The control-alt-delete (on running, and just about everything) that Kauai inflicted on July 15 has led to a long, difficult comeback that has been painful physically at times but perhaps more so on my inflated ego. But things have slowly come around. I had to start back at 26 minutes in September and gradually try to balance my training with needed rest and recovery for my toe and knee. I got epically chicked in my showdown with Syd at Safe in the City in October but my 20:38 at that race gave me some hope nonetheless. Most of the 5ks since have been high 20:xx since I’ve struggled with getting power off the gimp leg , in addition to my cardio going to the crapper. I haven’t sucked wind like this since I first started running.

My goal in this race – get back to the sub 20. The original sub 20 quest took me 2 years and happened with my first race on my first pair of blue racers. The rest is history. To get back there would be a huge symbolic part of my comeback and a good step towards getting back to my pre cliff form.

I somehow got Code to come to this race with me even though he wasn’t racing. Its always good to get a non-racer to help with picture duty. He was probably really regretting his decision when I pulled into Bishopville at 6:30. For one, I was thinking about the 55 minute Hartsville travel time when I left the house. When we got there it was a ghost town – hardly any sign there was a race aside from a few cones and a couple cars. After hanging out in the car for awhile, I checked the website and realized the race was at 9 instead of eight. Doh! I was all tight and kind of sleepy once I finally emerged from the car around 8. I did manage to christen the brand new porta potty. Fellow Bayler’s racers – for that I am truly sorry.

Nice crowd for this race. It’s steadily grown since its first year. We had a couple of CRC people make the trip (30 minutes, not 55) including Angel, the McGrievys, Rocky and Team Allers. Tigs was also in search of a 2013 sub 20 and was hoping to do it here. We agreed to help each other pace, which was nice. I think we both knew he gloves would be off in the final mile, though!  Paul Reardon, Lorand Batten and the whole Fitness World Run Club crew were on hand, led by Curtis Boyd. These guys really represent with their blue shirts. I’m used to them being mostly mid packers but they brought a few really fast dudes this time around.  Paul won 3rd in this race ahead of me last year, but he’s been injured for 8+ weeks, so this is his first race back. He planned to take it easy this time around.

After a prayer we were off. The start is always a little crazy at this race because of the narrow street and the very abrupt left turn about 20 meters from the line. Some joker parked right at the turn which made this bottleneck a little treacherous, so I tried to warn everyone on the front line to watch out. Also self-serving to protect my gimp toe. A quick completely flat loop to start, less than a half mile. The flatness was awesome but there was definitely a nasty little headwind as we turned back toward Main street. A half mile in and I’m surprised by how many people are out in front. I’m not used to there being more than a handful of sub 20 racers here. Tigs is firmly attached to my shoulder. I told her I would try and rein in her fast start, and hopefully she would light a fire to my slow starting self. We made the turn off Main and hit mile 1 at 6:14. Oops. Guess I was a little excitable (6:26 gives you a 19:59) . I could hardly shout out the split to Tigs since I was already commencing wind suckage. Mile 2 was no fun. Still flat but not much to look at through a residential area.  We hit the headwind again on a loop and I would have loved to have dropped out right there. Going a little slower now, but it helped with the whole oxygen problem. Tigs was still at my side. Once we hit a country road I started to pull away just a little. For whatever reason I started to feel better. Not great, mind you, but at least not begging for death like before. Mile 2 fell off to 6:34. And I knew the course was slightly long. 

As soon as I saw that split I just went all in. Pushed the chips on the table and tried to harness 5 months of frustration, pain and angst into something useful. Arms started pumping , legs started kicking, and it almost, almost began to feel like my old self. I started reeling in a few people and I no longer heard Tigs right behind. Luckily I had a couple of Fitness World guys (later identified as Gene Grimsley and Jimmy Gardner) to help pace and they were proving hard to catch. Mile 3 is a long loop which initially brings you close to the finish but then takes you out for a half mile. The return half mile is a block turn and a long straightaway down main street. I saw Code at an intersection taking pics and I was finally able to break free from the pack I was in. Once I rounded the turn I was surging with adrenaline and completely redlining it.Pace was ramping up, and was able to find even another gear as I heard the Garmin beep 3 miles pretty far from the finish. Carolina running company uses a large TV set for their clock, which is tough to read from a distance, but once I made out the 19:40’s I completely headless chickened it. Hit the line at 19:55.  Woooooooooooooooooo! 3.17 miles by Garmin. 6:13 mile 3 and a 5:12 pace last 0.17. Totally psyched. 8th overall, 3rd in AG.

Yeaaaaahhhh!

Yeaaaaahhhh!

Tigs missed her sub 20 but she was still 2 minutes clear of the women’s field to take the win. Husband Eric got passed by a kid (Wells Thomas) but still had a blazing second place in 18:13. Pretty strong for their first race for the Reckless Running team. Angel finished 4th in 18:37 and took 1st in age group. Jimmy Gardner and Gene Grimsley ended up 1-2 in the 40-44 and 9-10 overall. Lorand Batten finished in 21:30, good for third in the “50-98”. 50 to 98? C’mon guys – way too many fast grandmaster runners to be lumped into one category. Hopefully this can be fixed for next year. Paul Reardon finished in 22 minutes and was grateful just to be pain free. Matt McGrievy finished 4th in AG in 22:24. Curtis Boyd finished in 22:37 and somehow only placed 8th in a brutally competitive 40-49. Rocky Soderberg finished in 28 minutes, surely good for first in the 70-74 but 17th in this age group system. Other familiar finishers included Brie McGrievy, Gaye McClam,  Stacy and Eddie Legg and USC baseball head coach Chad Holbrook.

http://www.carolinarunningcompany.com/uploads/8/4/1/1/8411045/baylors_bash_5k.pdf

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/419199215

Harborside 5k – Lake Carolina – Columbia,SC – 12/13/13

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The Harborside 5k is a nighttime race held in Lake Carolina that features a course through the Christmas lights of the neighborhood. This is apparently its 10th year, though I’ve only been aware of it for the last two. It’s a part of the YMCA of Columbia series organized by Erin Roof so I knew it would be well organized, in addition to possibly adding to my YMCA pint glass collection.  The race is associated with the Harborside Christmas festival. I waited around last year to see if the Santa line thinned out, but it never did. I was so hoping for a pic with a sweaty pale sasquatch in racing shorts crushing poor St. Nick’s lap. Oh well.

One thing nice about the dark and all the Christmas lights and cheer is that it distracts you from how brutal this course is. Just thinking of last year’s race started me breathing heavily, since I about exploded my lungs in 2012. I remember trying to chase down the Yerger and Brandenburg, almost getting chicked by Claudia Cannon, who is literally like half my size. I ran the last quarter like a maniac and just missed catching JB and narrowly avoided getting beat by a middle school girl. Nice.

The course kind of sets you up to fail if you’re unfamiliar with it. You get all worked up crushing a largely flat then long downhill in the first mile, only to turn around and hike back up that hill, bringing you close to the finish line. You then head back out by plunging down another steep downhill and then climb for what seems like forever. You turn into another subdivision but the pain keeps coming. Finally you loop back around and fly down the mountain you just climbed, only to face that same steep quad blasting hill before the turn to the finish. Flat and fast, right?

Night races are fun, but this one has the added challenge of being out in Lake Carolina, near rush hour, in the middle of the holiday shopping season. Read: you’d better leave early. With my native northeast Cola knowledge though, I was able to back road it and get there pretty quickly. Find Bookman road. That’s all I’m saying.

I got there about an hour early and luckily found some parking, which is always dicey in the LC. Not a whole lot of familiar faces, but a few of the CRC regulars were there. John Gasque was on hand to bring his race total over 50 for the year. Meme Spurgeon and Brian Talkington have both caught a bad case of race addiction and were there to trophy hunt. I did a mile or so with Meme to show her the monster hill in mile 2, lest she go all out like I did last year. Tenacious J and Jeff were there with daughter Sophie and Ted Hewitt made an appearance after being MIA for a while. Eric and Angel showed up but the traffic held them up too late to register.

Mile 1: Between the crowd and the flat around town square I managed to throw out my planned restraint in about 30 seconds. I paced with Eric for awhile and we both went way too fast down the ensuing long downhill into the Harborside subdivision. I think there were pretty lights around, but my maniacal competitiveness was focused on not letting McMichael kick my ass. I finally separated from him at the bottom and caught up with two guys in red shirts, one tall (taller than me even, though less Sasquatchesque)  and one short. I swear both are wearing the race t-shirt, which among the middle school like clique of frequent road racers, makes you a total noob. These guys were hardly out for a jog though, because we hit the mile mark in 6:15.

Mile 2: Pure misery. Long climb out of the Harborside subdivivion – the same mountainside you just flew down way too fast. Had to dodge a couple of people who were parking for the festival and seemed surprised to see a bunch of people out for a very brisk jog in the dark. Not too brisk though, because it felt like we were barely moving. Our little mini pack finally reaches Lake Carolina Drive, which is right near the finish and the top of the Harborside hill. We make a sharp turn and go careening down a steep hill that I know we will have to climb back up right at the finish. After bottoming out over a bridge, there’s a solid half mile of climb. If I thought Mt Harborside was bad, this was much worse. I try to remember my trophy hunt overall win  for 2013 took place on this course and this hill, but that was in January and obviously pre Kauai. Short guy starts dying and falls back, but the two biggest dudes in the field are now running in tandem. Mile 2 in like 7:05, almost all of it uphill.

Mile 3: Finally we make the turn in another subdivision and crest the hill and start flying back down. Flying is probably an overstatement because it takes a few hundred meters before I can start breathing again from my mountain trek. My beastly twin and I actually exchange a few words because we are running like a few inches apart. Just before the turn back onto Lake Carolina drive I switch into kick mode, or whatever you’d call it in this Gimp era. I’m trying to crush it down the hill, but its hard not to be tentative with my Hawaiian knee and toe. Rapid downhill acceleration brings back some bad, bad memories. I start to hear footsteps and I know tall guy must be tracking down. as he draws by my side I turn towards him and its freaking Ted Hewitt. WTF?? Ted is a fast dude but usually clocks about 22 minutes in a 5k. I figured maybe I slowed down hardcore on that hill, since I didnt check my Garmin at the 2 mile mark. And then he passes me. My oxygen starved brain is begging me to let him go and have his glory, because im about toast. But the dark passenger inside was not having it. Somewhere , somehow, I took a few more steps in the pain cave and totally redlined it up the finishing hill. I caught Ted but he was getting it too. I cranked my heart rate to about 300 and was pushing so hard up the hill it was more like leaping than running. Finally it flattened out and I saw a 20:15 just as I turned the corner and sprinted it out in total headless chicken mode. Finished in 20:28, just 5 seconds ahead of Ted, who PR’d by like a minute. Pretty happy with the time – this is a brutal course and I did a 19:36 last year, so I think this is the first time in the comeback that I’ve been within a minute of my 2012 times. The course was 3.09 by my garmin this year, having been altered slightly, so maybe not completely legit, but I’ll take it. Fun to see Ted crush it like that and help me blue shoe it at the end.

Results from the CRC newsletter:

Among a lead pack of three, Velocity Distance Project’s James Palmer kicked it in to take the win in 17:38, with Matthew Egbert and Justin Jones also going sub 18 for 2nd and 3rd. The women’s race was won by ultra-specialist Pam Rodriguez, who went on to run and win age group glory in the Columbia Half Marathon and Rudolph’s Rampage half. Jenna Dent and Kathryn Ryan completed the overall female winners.

Erin’s son Parker Roof continues to get faster, cruising to a 19:52 for fourth now that cross country is over. Brian Talkington is a new race addict and finished 5th despite cramping late in the race. Ted Hewitt had an incredible race, crushing his old PR by about a minute and very nearly blue shoed the Blue Shoes. He passed me about a quarter mile from the finish but between the final hill and my best ugly race face finish, I was just able to edge him out. Ted won his age group as well in a smokin’ 20:33.

In the age groups, Jennifer Hill and Jeff Curran paced daughter Sophie Curran to a big PR and 2nd in age group. Congrats Sophie!  Meme Spurgeon  has been unstoppable this year and PR’s once again in 23:14, winning the 40-44 age group. John Gasque easily took the 50-54 in 25:29, while Henry Holt passed 450 TDC points with another age group win in 28:33

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/417532758

 

 

Fitness Zone Jingle Bell 5k – Lugoff, SC – 12/7/2013

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Billy with the thumbs up…and Shannon typing?

The Jingle Bell 5k is in its sixth year and is put on by a small local gym called the Fitness Zone out in Lugoff, SC. I’ve done this race every year since 2009, so I guess I’ve done it every year except its first. It started out for me as a trophy hunt and a rumor that it had a flat course, but since that time I’ve come back just because I love  small-town races. However, between us putting this race on the Tour de Columbia and Strictly putting it on their Palmetto Grand Prix, its become one of the fastest small races in the state.

There were actually 4 other races on this weekend, so had I been the sub 19, pre-Kauai Blue Shoes I might have been tempted to go looking for an overall win. My bet was on the under-the-radar Spring Valley “Vikings for Educaion” race, but the Friends of Sesqui trail race also beckoned for a trophy hunt. Sadly though, my current McGimp fitness requires a minor miracle for a top 3 finish, so I just settled on the race I knew I liked. The two other races were the Jingle All the Way5k and Warm a Heart Patty Packs 5k/10k.  JATW was at 9:45, allowing for a potential double, but I just wasnt up to driving a half hour just to face that Turkey Day hill once again. Brian Talkington, who has turned into a Blue Shoe style racing freak, did say he was going to try it though.

As I mentioned this course is known for its flatness, which is mostly true. There is a slight incline most of the first mile, like half a percent on the treadmill, and just one nasty bump just past 1.5 miles. The last mile is slightly downhill and has produced some of my fastest mile splits in a 5k, a couple of sub 6 ers the last two years. The only bummer to this course is that it has been consistently long by Garmin – in the 3.15-3.17 range. Say what you will about the accuracy of a certified course (it is certified) versus a GPS but the times here are always a touch slow, and its not due to hills.

I got to the race my customary hour in advance and there’s one glaring difference between this year and last. It’s warm. And humid. Like high 60’s. This is the same race I’ve raced in long sleeves and had to stay warm in the gym in previous years, so at least 30 degrees warmer than 2012. Trophy didnt bother to show up, but I can only imagine the complaining from him that would have ensued.

Since this race is also Grand Prix, there’s some masters all stars in attendance. Billy Tisdale, Geary McAlister, Birgit Spann, John and Nancee Sneed, Arnold Floyd, Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg are all people who inspire me for my next 30 years. Newly minted master Shannon Iriel is there, though 2008 inaugural champ Coach B is taking the day off. Justin “A Standard” Bishop is there to apparently easily take the win, because I dont see Plex or any other people that might challenge him. The kid Jaz Greene, who has won this race twice, didn’t show up. The Code, who I think may have run this race every year, was on board. J-Reeves was getting back in the saddle after an extended time away. Joyce was there to try and take down her 5k PR, though I warned her about the extra distance.  This is Diesel country so the Diesel, Brady, and Jen were there with Brooke pulling water station duty. Other Lugoff-Elgin locals like Mitch Prosser, Chad Teal, Chad and Betsy Long and Sharon Cole were in attendance as well. Tri beasts Wes Spratt and Lorand Batten were back for another running only event. As mentioned, Brian Talkington was ready for his double dip, with car strategically parked for the quick getaway.

After a two mile warmup which felt like jogging with a warm wet blanket on my head, we were ready to start. First 50 meters had a bunch of puddles from last nights rain and of course I managed to find most of them. Because thats what my out of shape ass needs – some extra weight in my shoes. We turn out of the shopping center and begin a long straight on hwy 378 that makes up the whole first mile. And it sucks. The cold breeze im used to in this race has been replaced with oppressive humidity. Feels like I’m breathing with a surgical mask on. And I’m getting passed already. People I dont know. One guy behind me is literally shouting out random groans and various mild expletives. He scared the crap out of me when he goes “DAMN IT” right next to me. I feel your pain, dude. I’m not one for primal screams but my internal dialogue is decidedly less family friendly.  I feel like total death at mile 1 and the garmin spits back like 6:30ish. Not too bad, because I remember mile 1 to be on the slow side because of the slight incline. Way up ahead I see Billy and it kills me how bad he, Geary,  Shannon and Code are kicking my ass. Like chasing the ghost of your former self. We make the turn at 1.25 and “DAMN IT” surges ahead of me and Chad Long. Oh hell no. I keep up with him regardless of how bad I feel, which is pretty damn bad. The turnaround segment is about a half mile and has the one nasty bump of a hill, short and steep. I drop mr primal scream and immediately cross the street to the left side as we begin the trip back home. Someone yells at me (probably screamer..go figure) to go on the right side of the road, presumably so I can get run over from behind by the very 5k savvy Lugoff traffic. As I approach the 2 mile mark Birgit passes me. I cant tell whether I’m dying or she’s surging, or both. Just after the 2 mile there’s a slight rise and then begins the descent all the way home. But wait..who’s that loping along with the Team Utopia singlet? It’s the CODE. Now, I know the Code is either injured or having a very bad day, but nothing inspires a blue shoe kick like a weakened Code. See:

codedrop

Granted our head-to-head is like 5-75, but Code doesn’t have a blog to publicly shame me. Code must be doing like 7:30 pace because we catch up pretty quickly. I briefly think I’m leading my age group but then I realize Talkington is in another zip code up ahead. He’s exacting major vengeance on the 2012 runway blue shoe. I’ve passed a few people in the last mile, including Lorand, so I know the pace has piicked up some. That plus my breathing and form now mimic a wounded elephant. Less than a half mile to go and I finally retake Birgit, who has had the most unpleasant experience of that elephant breathing down her neck for the past 5 minutes. I round the turn and see David “Buckleup” directing us towards the finish line. One more unknown guy in front that I can take down if I really try hard. Nobody can accuse me of not trying hard, especially in the home stretch of a 5k, so I empty the tank and go after him. We make the last turn  and I manage to pass him, but since I’m on fumes I’m deathly afraid of him returning the favor. I can make out low 20 on the clock and flop across the finish in 20:52. Garmin had 3.19 miles. Man, it keeps getting longer. Ended up 8th overall, 2nd in AG. I’ll take it. Garmin had 6:32 pace so probably sub 20:30 through 3.11.

As expected Justin won easily, though he was quite disappointed with the 16:52. I hate when I almost slip into the 17’s. The horror!  Heather Costello was the women’s winner in 19:30. Shannon and Birgit took 2nd and 3rd. The 2nd male was a guy I havent seen race before, John Adams, who pulled an 18:41. And he’s 34, so I guess I’ll have to face him in the AG next year. Talkington actually took 3rd male, though they only went one deep with the snowglobe trophies.

In the age groups, Nancee Sneed took first in the 70+ , so she must have had a birthday recently. John is coming off an injury so he ran the race with her instead of giving Arnold Floyd a run for his money. Arnold took 1st in the 70+ men ahead of Rocky and Henry in 24:04. Brigitte Smith won the 60-64. The 55-59 men were a bunch of beasts with Geary taking the win over Lorand and Spratt. Birgit took the 50-54 women by only 11 minutes (21:14) . Slacker. Billy won the 50-54 men with Donald Prosser (Mitch’s dad) finishing 2nd and the victim of the blue shoes flop to the finish. Sharon Cole took the 45-49 just 2 seconds behind Birgit. Shannon finished agonizingly close to a sub 20 (20:01) but still got first in the 40-44 over Joyce (23:18). Chad Long has aged up to the 40-44 and won 2nd in 21:59. Jen Ward crushed a sub 24 and won the 35-39 women. Brian, myself and the Code in the 35-39 guys. Brady Ward, guided by the Diesel, ran a 24:39 and almost tracked down mom. Better watch your back, Jen.

Scanning the trophy hunt scene, I see Drew Williams won the overall at Jingle All the Way by over a minute in what may be one of his last SC races for a while.  New wife Tracy took home a first in AG as well. Way to end on a high note!  Talkington completed his double dip with a 2nd place. The Golbus twins, who double chicked me at the Turkey Day, finished 1st and 2nd female, with CRC rookie of the year Meme Spurgeon winning third.  Eric McMichael, Gasque, Ponamarev and Pete all won some AG glory. A ten year old named Garrison Budic won third overall make in 22 minutes. Impressive.

In the Patty Packs, Derek Gomez showed his River Bluff team who’s boss with a  39:33 win in the 10k on an ungodly brutal course. Kenzie Riddle took the female win, with Winston Holliday and Hunter Janus in the top 10. The 5k looks to have been a misdirected disaster, though Dutch Fork beast Anna Johnson took the win in one of two people who apparently ran the right course. Ted Hewitt did take an age group in like 30 minutes.  Nice 7k, Ted!

Friends of Sesqui winner Robert Rogers won in 22:12. Difficult to say whether this was a missed trophy chance since it was done on trails. Garris Haynes (7th) and Marie Queen are the only names I recognize. And then there’s Viking 5k for Education. Winning time of 20:35 by Trevor Drummond. Would have been an easy win for old Blue Shoes, close battle for the McGimp. Oh well. Hopefully back to trophy hunting shape soon!

Next races are Harborside Lights on 12/13,  Bayler’s Bash on 12/24 and Cold Winters Day 12/28.