This is the Quarry Crusher’s third time around, and it seems to be getting more and more huge each year. Year one had less than 200, 2013 had about 350 and this year, 500. Although the infamous McHaffie video has since been taken down off the interwebs, some other shameless Quarry crusher promoters still continue:
And of course word of mouth has helped. I’m sure this race would be even more huge if they didn’t schedule it up against the 2300 participant Women’s Heart and Sole 5 miler, but at least the race provided those of us with a Y chromosome something to do on a Saturday morning.
I have a tendency towards being dramatic – I know, hard to believe. But reading the last two blogs of this race made me think it can’t really be that bad. They close the quarry the other 364 days of the year, so maybe my memory of this being an all out torturefest was just hyperbole. I mean, its under 4 miles. How hard can it be? About a quarter mile of flat road, mile and change down, then a mile and change back up, then another flat quarter mile. Piece of cake.
And I was going to run it harder this year. Last year I went super easy on the way down. Sure, I met my goal of not walking, and I ran it a lot faster, but still pretty far from age group glory. I was in a lot better shape last year, and had a fully functioning left foot/leg, so maybe I could hope to get close to last year’s time if I really tried hard.
I suckered the Code into running this thing with me so we decided to carpool. Us racing a big event is like 2 kids on Christmas morning, so we showed up ridiculously early, like an hour and 15 minutes. When we got there though, newbie racing freak and 2014 resurrection 5k champion Julie was already there raring to go. Someone is jacked up. She’s already talking strategy and fantasizing about using flashbangs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashbang) to disable her competition in order to secure her trophy. Someone just earned a new nickname.
Julie doesnt warm up more than 5 minutes so the Code and I did about 2 miles and scouted the competition. There were two chances of me getting age group glory in this race: slim and none. Becraft, the Yerg, Ken Cobb and of course the Code himself stood in the way of this, not to mention my partner in paleness, Ken “Dont call me Vowels” Vowles. Fresh from his epic defeat at resurrection, he was looking for blood. There were a ton of random thirtysomething dudes hanging around too, so I was sure at least one of these guys would be a superfit soccer dad type that would also crush my trophy dreams. Damn them all.
Andrew Touzel, Winston Holliday, Barb Brandenburg (I guess she has more balls than JB), Sue Porter, Lisa Smarr, James Hicks, Ferlauto, Heather Alexander, Jason Thompson, Malechi, Hou Yin Chang , Ilia Owens, and Ken Sekley are some of the familiar faces at the start. A lot of the local running community is racing or volunteering at Heart and Sole. McHaffie was conveniently out of town. Hmmmm.
Although my plan is to lay off the gas a little on the way down, I decide the best place to line up is the middle of the first row. My melon head just cant stand not being in the spotlight. With the start, there is a big frenzied push and people are killing it right off the bat. Even Becraft is back a few in the crowd. FYI, if a 16 minute 5ker is behind you a quarter mile into the race, you may want to simma down a bit. That wasnt a problem for me, since I’m already way back from the lead heading into the quarry gates. Vowles is being a total hero up ahead and I’m already wondering when I’ll pass him when he’s walking on the way up. I start to drift back further but then find Code and Julie and decide to stay with them. I’m doing fine taking it easy on the first decline, enjoying the great weather and running my mouth when BAM!, dude in a tough mudder shirt gives me an NHL body check as he blows through me and Touzel. Tough Mudder, you are going down, my friend. Total David Banner green eyes. There’s 2 declines before you can see the whole quarry pit and I’m thinking this is really not as bad as I remember, when …holy mother of God – the pit opens up to show its full glory. One mile all downhill, corkscrewing around the sides at a 10 percent grade. At this point the jackhammers come out on my quads and start beating them into submission. I’m suddenly just trying to keep upright, but gravity is doing a pretty good job slamming me down the hill and trying to get me to full out sprint. We hit mile 1 at 6:30ish which is about what I wanted to do, but now I’m more worried about destroying my gimp toe in this freefall down the canyon. At least I’ve stopped getting passed by everybody and their mom though. After a seeming eternity we finally hit the flat stretch at what I think is the bottom. Nope – they’ve dug a little deeper and added another small decline, adding to the fun. I think there is like one cone marking the turnaround and damned if Vowles has really gapped me bad.
OK, here comes the brutal part. Almost a mile and a half, 10 percent grade, almost no breaks. Code turns into an absolute beast at this point and starts crushing it up the hill. I let him be a hero and concentrate on a slow and steady climb. Holy crap,
this is hard. I neglected to mention it was sunny and nearing 80 degrees, and you felt every bit of it when you came out of the shade of the rock face. Julie starts to slow but I’m pretty sure she’s right behind me. All of a sudden I see Tough Mudder walking. Bwa ha ha . He does a little interval of running but I eventually pass him. I’d love to have thrown him a shoulder but the impact is not as great trudging up the mountain at couch-to-5k pace. Seeing all the walking is highly contagious. The walksie voices are screaming, Clarice, but I will not listen. Must defeat the cliff! Literally and metaphorically. It turns out I was not joking in my previous blog posts. Probably the toughest mental and physical test of any of the races I’ve done. Not counting getting my ass slapped by the Schmitz and Burgess in the Richmond Marathon. Nothing can surpass that shame.
I’m awakened from my misery on the very last incline in the quarry. It’s Vowles! The Pale Beast is walking! I can take him down! But even my maniacal competitiveness can not motivate me to go any faster. I’m crushing like 11 minute pace when I see him reach the top and take off. I guess he’s taking this one. I finally reach the top and the soft incline out of the quarry feels like heaven. My legs are completely fried, but then I see Sekley, the victim of two of my most epic blue shoes (2010 See Spot run and 2012 Earth Fair 8k – yes I am a loser for knowing this off the top of my head). He’s a good 50 meters ahead with a quarter mile to go, but I launch into a full out sprint. I’m sucking wind like a banshee but the speed actually feels better than the grandma crawl I had been doing the last mile and a half. Just as we round the last corner I overtake him, looking like a complete idiot I’m sure. I don’t see the clock until I’m almost under it – finished in 26:15 .
I spend the next 60 seconds gasping for air in a post race delirium, but I see Julie finish in 2nd overall place. So 2 races in she’s got a 1st and 2nd. Not a bad trophy hunt average. After taking pics and chugging like 3 bottles of water, I get my results – 34th overall and 10th in age group. Holy crap thats a lot of fast soccer dads. Becraft took first overall , while the Yerg crushed it for second, and not too far behind him. Winston placed an equally impressive third. Ken Cobb and Jesse Hawkins also finished in the top 10. The Code ended up placing 12th, which is incredible since we were probably both at around 100th at the bottom of the pit. Vowles finished almost a full minute ahead of me in 25:25. Nice work, Pale Beast.
Other age groupers included Malechi Doren, first in 15-19. Craig Wlaschin took 2nd in the 25-29. Scott Brewer won 2nd in the 40-44, while Heather Alexander took 1st in the 40-44 women after a long racing layoff. Barb Brandenburg easily took the 45-49, while Lisa Smarr placed second in the 50-54. Sekley crushed the 55-59 by 5 minutes. Sue Porter took second in the 55-59. Shawn Chillag took the 65-69.