This is where it all began. In Columbia, at least. I did three 5k’s while I was in Charleston in 2007 and became so obsessed that I promptly got shin splints so bad that I couldn’t run until late 2008. Cold Winter’s Day was the first race I could find when I finally could run injury-free again. I knew it was a Strictly Running race and figured I owed them a debt of gratitude for fitting me for some “real” running shoes – I had been training in yardwork-weary asics gels that I think I might have bought in college. I showed up at that race not knowing a soul and scared of what was still a new experience for me. I bonked hard at about 2.5 miles when I misjudged the finish (these were my pre-garmin days) and about donated breakfast en route to a 23:59. The ugly race face was also born:
Since then I’ve always used CWD as a bench mark for my 5k race fitness. I managed to improve every year, culminating in one of my best races ever, an 18:52 in 2012. The cliff dive reset my expectations last year, though I did manage a 20:09 on a gimp toe and couch surfing fatness on roughly the same effort as the year before. So I wanted to crush this one to make up for it, though the chip on my shoulder about Hawaii recovery had largely been removed by the Savannah half PR and the Kiawah BQ. The marathon was only 2 weeks ago, but I had gotten some decent runs in since then. I’ve read somewhere that you need a recovery day for each mile of the race you’ve run, though for me you might switch that to hours. I lasted until Tuesday. (Still better than some – cough- Joyce – cough that had to run the next morning.)
I have to admit, the marathon took a lot out of me. Although a freak sasquatch on the outside, apparently I do actually have normal human physiology internally. Still, I was able to put in a couple of 35 mile weeks. Then my three disease vectors, I mean beautiful loving children, decided to conspire against me and throw a heinous cold virus my way. Twenty four hours before race time I started riding the snot train and I was wiped out. Thanks guys.
Still, this was CWD, and I had to keep the six year streak alive. Since doing my best was not in the cards, I figured I could at least show up and jog the course. The following near-sleepless night looking like an extra in a Vicks commercial had me second guessing that idea too.
I got there thirty minutes ahead of time and figured I would keep my running to a minimum – just cross the line and get in the results. I ran a mile with Tigs, which was nice since I haven’t seen her most of the year with her Reckless Running schedule taking her out of area. This race usually brings out everyone, and its usually one of the most competitive 5ks of the year. There was a time bounty for sub 14:30 and sub 14:00, which was disappointing since if I had been well that would’ve been easy money. Still, this year seemed a little less elite than most. I saw the SR crew with Jeff, Shannon, Kenzie, MC, Linn and Jen. CRC standbys Geary, Alex Ponamarev, Diesel/Brady/Jennifer/Brooke Ward, Brie McGrievy, Henry Holt, Lisa and Jesse Smarr, Larry Bates, John Gasque, Pam and Mike Griffin, Debbie McCauley, Sharon Sherbourne, Jim and Sandra Manning, Jim Fadel, Lisa King, Lois Leaburn, Shirley Smith, Teresa Harrington, Mike Wainscott were on hand. TUS’ Carol Wallace, Brittany Robbins, Drew Williams (w/ stepson Ian Clawson), Stephanie Dukes, Sheila Subbarao, Kana Rahman and Chris Fawver showed up, with Justin doing pacing duty. Pam Inman, Tracy Tisdale-Williams and Coleen Strasburger were doing spectating duty. Special shout out to TDBS reader Eric Stamey, who I met at the race. Notably absent was the Trophy. C’mon Lady McGaha, where are you?? At least Code and Pale Beast have injury excuses.
I lined up several rows back this time in what I hoped would be a calming influence. Anyone who knows me knows I am ridiculously, maniacally competitive when it comes to racing. I spend 99 percent of my time being very laid back, but once I get that racing bib, its on like freaking Donkey Kong. I make it about 7 steps before I cant take being in this sardine can start, so I break to the outside like Connor Shaw on an end around and about trample the Diesel in the process. OK hero…slow down – you’re supposed to take this one easy, remember? I do manage to rein it in and settle into what feels like my Kiawah marathon pace (or at least the pace before I wanted to crawl into a corner and cry for my mommy). First quarter mile is a nasty uphill on Trenholm Rd before the first turn to the right. Long downhill on Spring Lake followed by another up and down in the first mile. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the tagline for this race “flat and fast” is a total myth. Especially the first mile, which has exactly zero flat parts and is always my slowest. I’m proud of myself as I approach the first mile clock, hitting about 7:17, more than a minute slower than 100 percent. I even let myself get strollered. Strollered! Do you realize how much stress that puts on my fragile ego?? It was tough but I remained true to my goal of taking it easy. Plus, what maniac goes seven minute pace with a toddler in tow? (Actually I would.) Just as I start to enjoy the fact that I’m not sucking wind, some kid starts stomping behind me and passes me on the ensuing downhill past the mile marker. I swear my eyes start turning green like David Banner, but I let him go. I’ll just pick it up a little though.
Mile 2 actually does have a little flatness in the first part, which includes 2 bridges. I’ve settled into a slightly faster pace, a little slower than half marathon now. Jordan is manning a water stop and requests a race selfie (I’m carrying my phone since I couldnt find my dorky fanny pack spibelt). To make up for the lost dork factor I do attempt the extremely dorky race selfie but all I can see is my giant forehead eclipsing everything. I even race ugly going easy. About 1.5 miles in is the hill of death, which usually makes we want to cry. It’s not super steep, but just long. A girl in front of me catches a case of the walksies. After the death hill is a fairly steep decline which ends right around the mile 2 marker. Split was 6:49.
And then it happened. A 20 something kid pulls up alongside and gives me a pseudo-encouraging “only a mile to go” and passes me. Oh, hell no. I catch up to the kid who is probably wondering what got into this pasty ass clydesdalish old dude. We go along for awhile pretty much side by side until I finally lose self control and start launching into actual 5k pace about a half mile from the finish (the right turn which I bonked at in 2008). It turns out 5k pace is pretty easy to hold when all you have is 800 meters. Kid gets dropped big time. I can even see Jen Lybrand up ahead, so clearly I’m coming in a bit faster than my 23 minute projected time. I told Tracy at the start that I would try and throw down a good blue shoe kick for the finish line pics, so with about 200 meters left I pretty much empty the tank. With all the extra energy and the downhill finish, it turns into a scary albino runaway freight train . The Garmin shows mid 4 minute pace for the last stretch, where I unceremoniously, and completely unnecessarily, wickedly blue shoed a guy about 10 meters from the finish. And completely eclipsed him in the finish line photos. Sorry, Mr. Glenn Robinette, take solace in knowing that at least I’m aware of being a complete jackass. Crossed in 21:27. What kills me is that my age group, without Code, Angel, Steven Johnson or Gomez on board, is super weak this year and mid 20 would have scored me a trophy. Damn you, sinuses.
The top three of this race was all-beast. Spartanburg’s Adam Fruedenthal took home the win in 14:47, though missed out on the time bounties. If only I had been healthy to challenge him. Graham Tribble, who I remember won my inaugural CWD in 2008, placed second in 15:20, with Eric Ashton taking 3rd in 16 flat. New Columbian and first year CRC member Shawanna White rocked the women’s field with an 18:17, edging out Brooke Grice for the win. SR’s Kenzie Riddle placed third.
Age group honor roll: Brady “mini Diesel” Ward won 3rd in a tough 2-10 category. Dutch Fork’s Anna Jenkins, who brutally blue shoed me at Run Red Bank, won the 11-13 by a mere 7 minutes. Parker Roof placed second in the 14-16, while Brittany Robbins took 3rd in the female division. Dutch Fork claimed more glory with Anna Johnson’s 2nd in the 17-19. Eddie Lopez took 2nd in the 20-24, just missing out on a sub 17. Jen Lybrand capped off a huge 2014 for her with another 1st in AG in the 25-29 and winning the overall Palmetto Grand Prix. Calhoun Hipp has apparently turned into a total beast since moving from Columbia, winning the 30-34 in 17:45. Jason Dimery placed third. Drew Williams claimed 2nd in the 35-39. EA’s Heather Costello and SR’s MC Cox went 1-2 in the women’s 35-39. Strictly’s Shannon Iriel and Linn Hall took top two in the 40-44, while Jeff Godby and Coke Mann did the same among the men. Matt Buffum took 2nd in the 45-49, with Glenn Robinette stepping out of my shadow and claiming 3rd. Sarah Allers, Chantal Faure and Lisa King swept a very competitive 50-54. Phil Togneri placed 2nd in the men’s division. CRC swept the 55-59 men, with Geary McAlister, Pete O’Boyle and Larry Bates taking home the glory. Carol Wallace, Alsena Edwards and Lisa Smarr won among the women in another tough division. Rob Kriegshaber and Harry Strick went 1-2 in the 60-64, while Lynn Grimes easily won the women’s division. Ageless Albert Anderson and Brigitte Smith claimed the 65-69, while Arnold Floyd took the 70-74 by only 18 minutes. Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr were champs of the 75-79.