So its been a couple years since I’ve done the Crawdaddy – I was sick last year and I think it conflicted with Get in the Pink in 2012. I figured I’d go back this year, since I was all jacked to see Everclear at the Crawfish fest (with which the race is associated) and you get free admission with registration. It depresses me to see all my college era bands relegated to nostalgia tours these days, but when you get old, what are you going to do?
I felt a little guilt about not defending my epic 2013 double down victory at the Rose Fest in Orangeburg, but when some chump like me takes a win, you can bet the race will be loaded with elites the next year. Sure enough, Justin was going down there with Spence and Syd, so that left me third if no body else showed up. Turns out Michael Banks came out, ran a 4:59 pace 12k and set a new state record. Kenzie Riddle also won the women’s race and would have smoked me too. Good call. Sorry Erin, I’ll be back at Run Red Bank.
Still, Crawdaddy was definitely not the trophy hunt pick of the week. I had that pegged for either the Empower 5k or the Firebreak 10k, but I knew the Empower was a holy terror of hills and Firebreak is at Harbison, for which I still have nightmares about my shirtless delirium at the 2012 Xterra half.
So Rosewood it was. I had no idea about the competition at this one, but historically its been a pretty big race and fairly competitive. They usually have some elite types doing sub 17ish, and over 500 people total. I figured I’d be good with 3rd in AG. I had no idea what my archnemeses were doing. Trophy was being his usual mute self when it came to declaring his weekend race, and Vowles was being all cryptic in his texts. Code was staying off the grid.
I get there an hour ahead and there’s a decent crowd there, though not a whole lot I recognize. Looks like a large bunch of newbies and a bunch of crossfit types doing the Crawdaddy challenge (race + weight lifting/crossfit stuff) . One day I’ll look into crossfit, since it looks like something good for speedy sasquatches. Charley turns up for a rare race appearance with canine pacer Winston. Julie “Flashbang” Bitzel is high on the crack of 2 overall placements in her first two races, and was back for another fix. My age group looked pretty good, but with all the randoms, who knew. No trace of a surprise Trophy or Pale Beast sighting.
I did a mile-ish warmup with Charley and Julie, because the Bitz is deathly afraid that she’ll get tired out by our brutal 10 minute pace jog on a flat road. Speaking of flatness, most of Crawdaddy is pretty level. The start/finish has been changed since I last ran it, but its the same loop. Starts and ends at City Roots near Owens Field. Unfortunately the one nasty incline has been moved to the beginning, and for whatever reason, an early hill has always sucked for me. I get back from the warmup and decide I gotta hit the portapotty, but the line is like 50 people long. Apparently 6 isnt enough for like 800 people. I decided the bushes at City Roots looked a little dry and proceeded to water them.
By the time everyone lines up, this race is looking huge. I cant even see the back of the pack. Lisa Smarr, Sheila Subbarao, Alex Wilcox, Mickie Ishizue, Teresa Harrington are a few of the CRCers on hand. Linn Hall showed up for Strictly, which I told Julie would probably prevent her from playing DJ Khaled today. Eric Ashton and Jud Brooker were on hand, presumably to face off for the win. Even Merritt decided to show up a week after going suspiciously MIA at the quarry. Mike Wainscott showed up to spectate and Ashley Horton graciously agreed to man my iphone to take pics. She said that she, Sheila, Laurie and the Trophy had just done a longish run. So weak, Trophy.
The start went off OK despite my worries about a huge bottleneck – the start area was super narrow. Luckily no one was being a hero about their running ability except for possibly the large headed beast on the first row. Of course, the oh so useful power save function on my Garmin has decided to silently shut down my watch. It takes a good quarter mile for the thing to sync up to a satelite, so I’m basically running on feel from then on. Linn is crushing it but I try to keep her in range, since she’s consistently around 20 minutes. I fight the urge to slack on the opening hill and charge up the long incline followed by a short steep turn to the left. Im so hating those early hills because its like a punch to the stomach right off the bat. I slow a little at the top to catch my breath and Wilcox, i.e. the fitter/younger/blonder Alex, blows by me. Once I catch my breath I notice the field is actually pretty sparse on the top end. I see a shorter, kind of muscley dude not too far ahead, and somewhere my evil age group mind recognizes this as the enigmatic Micah Simonsen. I’ve never met this guy, but he has a way of weasling into my trophy hunts and stealing my precious trinkets. He must go down. But damned if he and Linn aren’t kicking my ass. We turn onto Rosewood and they are both several meters ahead. I swear I still havent recovered from the early hill action because I’m pretty winded for mile one. At least now the course has pretty much flattened out. Once we pass Rosewood Elementary and turn on Ott there’s a very long flat to downhill stretch that goes on forever. It’s nice and shady, and I figure this is the best time to pick up some speed, because I know the last stretch at Owens Field is out on the open and slightly uphill. It may be slightly downhill, but it still sucks since I’ve decided to suck wind a half mile into this race. Just before the two mile mark I pass Simonsen and I realize I’ve just pushed my chips into the table. Oh Dear God this is going to hurt. I’m scared of Simonsen passing me back, and some paranoid part of my oversized melon starts wondering if Vowles hasnt stealthed this race and is right on my heels. Its bad enough running against your actual competition , not to mention being haunted by the ghost of the Pale Beast. Linn has started to fade just a bit and I finally catch her just before the owens field stretch. I think she offered some words of encouragement, but all I could utter were the breathless sounds of my will to live leaving my body. The turn on to Jim Hamilton blvd is just torture. Slightly uphill and three quarters of a mile long, it just never seems to end.The sun has come out, its way hotter, and I feel like death. Does that mean slow down? Hell no – if I do Linn will chick me and then that Micah character might get away with another trophy theft. My form is going to complete crap – I’ve got T-rex arms, all tight and drawn in, my giant melon is tipped back and gasping for breath, listing over to one side. This is going to be one ugly finish face. I’m trying to chase down Wilcox but he’s just out of reach. I finally, mercifully, hit the last turn and make out about 19:30 on the clock. I take a few more steps into the pain cave and cross the line in 19:43. I stagger a few more steps and then make sweet, sweet love to the asphalt. Takes me about 30 seconds to stand up again and I see Linn and Simonsen finish. I swear I thought they were right behind me. And Pale Beast’s ghost is just that – he’s not there. I’m pretty jacked about the time – good to see the 19’s on a regular basis again. Though I’m still a long way from pre-cliff, the Team Utopia South Monday nights at the track are paying their dividends.
Linn took overall female in 20:07, and Julie flashbanged to the finish with an awesome kick to break 21 and take second (20:58). The men’s race was super fast, with Jud Brooker breaking 16 minutes and taking down Ashton, who looked to be limping a bit afterward but still clocked a 16:15.
Not a whole lot of familiar names in the age groups – Wilcox took 1st in the 25-29. Thankfully there were no superfit soccer dads in front of myself and Simonsen, who went 1-2 in the 35-39. Charley finished 2nd in the 40-44, while Shenequa Coles placed second among the women in the same group. Katherine Harris took second in the 45-49. Lisa Smarr won 2nd in the 50-54.Barroll Leeds, who is turning into a blue shoes style racer, placed 2nd in the 60-64. Peter Mugglestone placed third in a brutal 65-69.
Oh, and apparently the Pale Beast pulled a stealth trophy hunt in Irmo at the Empower (previously Going the Extra Mile) 5k. His reward – another second place finish…to a 64 year old guy. Norm Ferris, you are my hero.