The Spring Valley Presbyterian Church 5 and 5 is a small race that actually has been around for 22 years – it was previously known as the Bizarre Bazaar 5k and was tied to the fall festival (“the bizarre bazaar”) put on by the church. They’ve now separated the event and added a 5 miler, hence the 5 and 5.
Last year was a bit of a nightmare, as the top 8 5kers, including myself, got sent off course and ended up running just a little over 2 miles. Even though I was still recovering from my injuries last year, I don’t think I’ll be able to touch my 13:20 “5k” PR set at this race in 2013. Jennifer Lybrand and a couple of the 5 milers also ended up taking a tour of northeast Columbia and ended up all over the place. However, this turn of events led to what has to be the most mind boggling trophy hunt of all time: Wes Spratt winning a 5k. That’s like me winning the Kona Ironman. The apocalypse is surely upon us.
But with Gov Cup just a week beforehand, and the course just 5 minutes from my house, this is a trophy hunt I couldn’t turn down. Blue Shoes trophy hunt rules dictate running the “undercard” race if there are two offered. However, since i knew the 5k to be more established, I figured I’d jump into the 5 miler and try to get an overall win. Brandenburg usually does the 5k at this race, and sadly, he can probably still whoop my tail even at his advanced age.
I get there my customary hour early and it is just balls out cold. For whatever reason, November this year has played out like January, and I’m shivering even in my warmups. I did 2 miles with the Pale Beast, who fortunately was doing the 5k. Kenneth comes with us and announces he is doing the 5 miler with me. He just ran sub 17 at the high school state CC champs last week. Trophy hunt has officially been flushed. Damn these meddling kids!
Jennifer Lybrand, John Gasque, Andy Mikula, Alex Ponamarev, Peter Mugglestone and Tommy/Cheryl/Gizmo Outlaw are some of the few familiar faces in what is a pretty small crowd. Jeff, Barb and son Clayton fill out a formidable Team Brandenburg contingent. The Spring Valley CC team fielded quite a few in the 5k, thus scuttling what I’m sure was also a trophy attempt by the Beast. When they lined people up for the start, only myself, Jen, Barb, Mikula and Kenneth knew about the different 5 miler start area, so we thought it was a 5 person race initially. Fortunately about 20 or so ended up coming back to us after the brief intro announcements at the 5k start.
With the start, Kenneth takes off like a bat out of hell and I actually try to give chase for a while. The 5k starts simultaneously about 50 meters ahead of us so we hit the back of the 5k pack almost instantly. Fortunately my tailback moves are sharp from last week’s Savannah mass start and some of the 5k walkers avoid getting run over by a crazed Albino Sasquatch. A quick turn left and Kenneth leaves me for dead. Up ahead I can see the Pale Beast locked in an epic battle with Brandenburg…and his dog. Wolfgang the weimeraner trains with JB in Sesqui all the time and does coyote and deer chasing intervals, and can apparently rock out a 5k as well.
I take a right onto Valhalla and push up a hill, where the female 5k leader is not taking too kindly to being chased down by a rabid grizzly. I pass her at the top of the hill and then plunge down into Hogans Run, which does a small loop before coming back to Valhalla. Mile 1 pops up on my Garmin a bit ahead of the mile marker at 6:23, about what I had planned. The first nasty hill is just afterward, running up across Valhalla again and onto Viking Dr (Yes, for some reason the Woodlands has a combo Nordic-Golf theme to their streets). I can still see both Vowleses, Brandenburg and Wolfgang up ahead. Kenneth has already blown past the 5k group. I track down a straggling Spring Valley kid just to inflate my already oversized ego, and suddenly the courses split in front of the country club. I’ll hand it to the race organizers – they made sure no one went off track this time. Each turn is decked out with volunteers, signage and painted arrows. That’s how its done.
Once the course splits and I realize the downside of a tiny race trophy hunt. Pale Beast, Jr. has entered another zip code and is nowhere in sight. On the other side, I must have a minute or two on Jen and Mikula. Read: I am completely alone. I come crashing down a huge hill on Wotan and my Garmin chirps back the 6:33 surprisingly loud, because there is complete silence. The split isnt too bad considering the roller coaster of hills on that mile, but I still try to ramp it up some. But between the quiet and no one to chase, I keep fading into mental lapses. It gets tough to maintain pace when I keep fading into designing my Clash of Clans base, tolerating the cub scouts camping trip or thinking about how bad that 21 miler is going to suck tomorrow. I hit a 6:27 3rd mile and take a turn from Valhalla to Valkrie. There they have a cheering outpost that is hilarious. They were just milling around until someone spots my Sasquatch ass lumbering towards them. All of a sudden Sandstorm starts blasting out of the loudspeakers and they start screaming like the girls of Wellesley at Boston. You’d think Meb was running through. I try and play to my newfound fame but the second I leave the area I hear the soundsystem cut off and complete silence again. I dont hear it again so I know I’ve got a comfortable lead on #3. Right after Sandstorm is a nasty slog up a two tiered hill. I had been running pretty smoothly but these mountains deliver a 1-2 punch to my lungs. Strangely my Palmetto 200 teammate David Mcneice is camped out on one of the turns and it takes me a couple of seconds to realize he’s not a hallucination. I hit mile 4 just over the top of the mountains in 6:27, so still on pace. I give myself a quarter mile to restore the whole oxygen exchange problem with the hill climbing and start kicking it in. Back on to Valhalla then a long stretch to Sparkleberry rd. I am going close to all out though its tough to gauge my pace since I’m now merging back in with the 30 minute 5kers, most of whom appear scared to death of the elephant stampede they hear behind them. Just as I round the last turn my Garmin spits out the mile 5 split (6:14). Wait a second… that’s supposed to happen at the finish line. I had hoped to sub 32 this race but I by the time I make out the clock its already flipped over to 32:04. One last blue shoe kick blast and I cross the mat with two 5kers who are probably fearing for their lives from this strange albino freight train coming through. 32:26. 5.08 miles. 2nd overall.
I’ll take it. I think it actually equates to my 8k and 5 mile PRs by my Garmin, and the 6:23 overall pace would get me my first sub 40 10k if I could hold it for another mile. Justin’s 55 mile Kiawah training weeks are definitely paying off.
Kenneth blazed the course in 29:30 for first place, robbing me of my trophy but at least not teasing me with any hope of beating him. Jennifer Lybrand raced smart this time and I believe captured a 5 mile PR in the process, running 35:18 and 1st overall female. Andy Mikula ran 36:09 and took 3rd male while Barbara Brandenburg took 2nd female in 39:33. Notable finishers (everyone placed in their age groups) included CRC’s Peter Mugglestone and Tommy Outlaw, Running under the Influence’s Alfred Baquiran, and USC School of Medicine fellow alum Cedric Rivers.
In the 5k, the Spring Valley team swept the overall with Ben Garrett, Jacob Malodow and JB’s son Clayton Brandenburg. Sadly the Pale Beast was taken down by an actual beast as weimeraner Wolfgang smoked him with a vicious 4 legged kick. Human companion Jeff Brandenburg also edged out Ken by 3 seconds. Oh, the shame. Sara Bonner took the women’s win in 21 minutes and change. She is still recovering from getting Sasquatched. John Gasque, Cheryl Outlaw and Alex Ponamarev all took home age group wins.