The Resurrection Run is a small 5k put on by a women’s church group the day before Easter. It borrows the Cold Winter’s Day course and even borrows Strictly’s infamous “flat and fast” tagline. Historically, its been all over the map in how many people show up for the race, since the date of the event changes from year to year (i.e. whenever Easter falls). They had over a 100 people in 2012 but usually 40-60. We’ve had it on the Tour de Columbia a number of years, but you’d be hard pressed to find out any additional publicity.
Which of course, makes it an excellent trophy hunt. The trophy conditions were excellent this weekend. Cold, rainy weather and about 4 other competing area races were a good bet to drive down registration. To boot, the Boston Marathon siphoned off quite a few of Columbia’s best runners (i.e last year’s champ Justin “the A standard” Bishop) . And, in Charleston, there was a tri going on, so that took care of Brandenburg – a perennial podium finisher at this race.
Despite the favorable chances of shiny metal trinkets, I was considering blowing off this race. I had done a bunch in a row, including 2 halfs in the past month, so maybe it would be good to rest.
But then Trophy told me Vowles was running. After an epic( and losing) battle with one of the three amigos last week, I wasn’t about to let the other one come in and steal some age group glory. I was in. Apparently the Trophy let the Pale Beast know, because I start getting trash talk texts in the middle of my easter bunny shopping at CVS. Oh hell no. Bring it, Beast.
Still, I wasn’t signed up, and hearing the steady rain when my alarm went off made me second guess leaving my warm, soft bed. But then I thought about the “crap weather” trophy hunting principle, and I figured I had to give it a shot. I had put in a solid month of weekly speed sessions with Team Utopia South on the track and hadn’t had a 5k to try them out.
I get there and its a trophy hunter’s dream. Pretty much a ghost town. Cold rain. Perfect. My Palmetto 200 teammate Julie was on hand for her first race since college, and she was all nervous like the first leg of the 200. But I had indoctrinated her into the Blue Shoes race addict philosophy, and suddenly the girl who ran with a timex by herself was sporting a new garmin, enrolled in the CRC, and had 3 races on her schedule for April. I was so proud.
We did a mile warmup and by the time we gt back it was still pretty desolate in the parking lot. Stephanie Dukes was on hand, unfortunately without her husband, who takes (literally) thousands of pictures when he comes to races. She had been hitting the TUS training pretty hard too and was looking to throw down a good time. CRC regulars Pete Poore, Alex Ponamarev and Brie McGrievy showed up, along with TDC age group winner Lisa King. Vowles showed up as promised, assuring the age group showdown.
There were “opening ceremonies”, complete with a group stretches and a 50 meter jog up a hill. These small races rock.
At the last second, Jesse and Lisa Smarr showed up, along with James Hicks, so at least we had a solid CRC contingent to what was looking like a very small race – 40 -50 tops. As we all strode up to the start line I took a good look around. No singlets (except for the Pale Beast), no lean looking elite types. Oh dear God….this wasnt for age group glory. This was for the holy grail, the ultimate achievement for the trophy hunter – the overall win.
The race starts as 3,2,1..HE’S ALIVE! and we’re off. Sure enough, I take off up the hill with Vowles on my back and instantly it gets very quiet. No one is following us. Wow. The total Eric Ashton experience..if Eric was about 80 pounds heavier, 5 shades paler and hell of a lot slower. And he usually doesnt have the Pale Beast breathing his neck like a rabid bear taking down his prey. Vowles is right on my shoulder the first half mile and then wisely slips behind my sizable wake, letting me take all the wind and pacing duties.
It occurs to me that maybe I should race this tactically, as in doing just enough to beat your opponent. I consider this for a while and we hit mile 1 at 6:36, which is slower than I wanted but not too terrible considering the two decent climbs early on (one right at the start). I suddenly realize that this won’t work. Vowles has a killer finish, even besting the legen..wait for it..dary Blue Shoe kick at times. We get into a sprint at the end and its anyone’s race. I decide, like Drago from Rocky IV, I must break him.
But when and where? I have no idea. By this time I’ve kicked up the pace a notch but Vowles is still there just a few steps behind. Then we get to “the hill”, a nasty long incline at least a quarter mile long at about the 1.5 mile mark. I have no idea how Ken is on hills but its my relative strength (paradoxically, considering how much freight I have to tow). I’ve already commenced the wind suckage but I figure this is my chance. I attack the hill hard, and although it about kills me, it has given me some separation. I’m too afraid to look back. I suck on downhills but I try to power down the next one because I can still hear the Pale Beast behind me. Mile 2 then beeps but I’m too afraid to even look at the split.
Here it is – the holy grail – a mile away and symbolic retribution for that platform walker, the hours on the couch, the MRIs, the x rays, and all the frustration and pain. At the Resurrection Run no less. On the course where the race addiction started in December ’08. Time to throw down – hard.
Oh, and it sucks. I start stumbling deep into the pain cave, but I can feel the improved strength of all the speed training. As I turn the corner with a half mile to go, I am completely redlining it. striding out, headless chicken style. The taste of lung and death is now being matched by the pure euphoria of the finish line approaching. I still have a whisper of fear of Vowles coming to get me, but its not like I could give more effort anyway. The last stretch plunges you down a short hill and there’s the clock. 19:20’s?? Holy crap. I sprint it out and cross in 19:36, completely spent. 6:04 last mile, 5:19 pace last tenth. 1st overall.
Yes it may be a race of 44 people, only 25 of whom broke 40 minutes, but I’d totally be lying if I said I wasn’t giddy as a freaking schoolgirl. Overall win with a post-cliff PR? With a victory over the Pale Beast? It was poetic. Everything is awesome.
I suck wind for at least 30 seconds and I’m unfortunately too gassed to catch a photo of Vowles finishing in 20:12. This is probably his best time in the last few months, but as he put it “the most unsatisfying 2nd place ever”. I seem to have had similar feeling when he double dipped/double blue shoed me back in March.
Thrilled for Julie, who captured the women’s win in 21:45. Must be nice to race for the first time in 6 years and take the overall. I should have known since she introduced me to her theme song at the 200
Lots of trophy hunting in the small field, but some fast times nonetheless – Lisa King took women’s masters in a sub 25 performance. James Hicks placed 2nd in AG with a strong 23:47 and 5th overall. Brie McGrievy had a girl ruin her trophy hunt (Trameka Persaud – finished 4th overall in 23:40, never seen her race before) but still took home 2nd in AG, 9th overall in 25:53. Stephanie “Stevie D” Dukes crushed her age group and just 2 painful seconds short of a sub 30. Lisa Smarr took the 50-54 by 13 minutes, which is less time than she gave herself to show up and register for this race! Jim Manning took the 55-59, while Alex Ponamarev and Pete Poore went 1-2 in the 60-64. Jesse Smarr won the 70-98.