Red Shoe Run 5k/10k- Columbia, SC – 1/24/15


The Red Shoe Run is a 5k and 10k that has been around since the mid 2000’s and goes to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. It was previously known as the “Red Nose Run” but got a name change when the circus decided to bow out as a sponsor. Now its name references Ronald McDonald, a distant relative who shares my alabaster skin tone and maniacal grin.

One awesome thing about the circus dumping the race was a change in venue. We used to have to start and end at the Colonial Center, which sits at the bottom of a quad-busting, lung destroying mountain of a hill. Oh and the 10k made you do it twice. Not fun. And since the race is held in January, it has been plagued by terrible weather – it was around 10 degrees in 2009, and 34 degrees and raining the next year. 2014’s race was 17 degrees at the start. I still have this lovely gem of a photo from my 2009 5k, my second race in Columbia. I was certainly less than the model of fitness at the time, but three layers of sweatshirts and a blue shoe finish make me look like I’m 300 pounds. And that was for a 25:39. Sexxxy.


Wearing my kindergartener’s spider man gloves and clutching my wife’s sky blue hat. So stylish.


The change last year let the race move to Shandon, which, though certainly lacking in variety, is gloriously flat. The 10k is still 2 loops, but hey, no mountain.

I missed the 2014 race nursing an achilles injury but I planned to give it a shot in the 10k this year. My original thought was making a run for the sub 40 in this race, but between post marathon recovery, the holidays and getting sidelined with whatever virus Polo road elementary  decided to send my way…I was less than optimally trained. Did I mention no speedwork? Yeah, that too. Still, all that Kiawah mileage was still paying dividends, and I was pretty happy with the 19:19 at MLK 5k the week before.

I was slack getting to the race and I’m amazed how many people are at this thing when I pulled up about 30 minutes to race time. The Hand middle parking lot is completely full and there are blazing fast people everywhere. I know it had been a bit of a arm twist to get the new race director to put this on the Tour de Columbia, but there are probably 50 Columbia Running Club peeps there. That might have offset the 75 buck fee.

I already knew from facebook that TEam Utopia would be decending on this race in force. Justin, Drew, Joyce, Kris, Kana, Che, David, Michael Nance, Mrs. Beast Colleen Vowles, Ashley “Bud Light Lime” Horton, Ivanka and Eliere Tolan, Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Ian Clawson and Brittany Robbins  all turned up. There was a Red Storm front moving in as well with the SR crew more than well represented – Coach B, Lightning Plexico, Shannon, Jeff “the pose” Godby, Jennifer “6:02 first mile” Lybrand,  Jason Dimery, Steven Johnson, and Justin Jones. Palmetto Runners fielded Pam Inman, Jeff Smith, Lucia Velicu, Angel, Cait Costello and Laurin Long.  Other CRC peeps included Pam ad Mike Griffin, James Hicks, Rocky Soderbeg, Alex Ponomarev, John Gasque, Pete Poore, Lisa Smarr, Janice Addison, Arnold Floyd, Travis Cowan, Caprice Poore, Chip Lupo, Jennifer Reeves, Paul Bates, Melinda and Reese and Bob Petruzzi, Randy  “the H is silent” Hrechko, Rafael Marquez, the Robertson clan, and Brigitte Smith. Familar faces included Kristen Cattieu, Anita Recchio ,Kyle “Ghost Rider” Addy.  Oh and the Trophy. I told him he was not to slip into Blackjack (i.e. 21 minute) territory in the 5k. More on that later. Code has been an orthopedic train wreck of late but he did show up to watch. Ditto the Pale Beast.

I did a mile with trophy and Jamey. Felt kind of like crap, but what else is new. The Friday night at the Tilted Kilt didnt help with my morning hydration status.

The 10k starts 15 minutes before the 5k, so I was able to size up my age group at the start. Thankfully Angel and Drew were undercarding it in the 5k. Nance was doing the 10k and would smoke me for sure. No one else stood out, but the 35-39 is always rife with the sforementioned super fit soccer dads. I was glad to see my marathon doppelganger Shannon Iriel and track suit aficionado Jeff Godbee , as they could provide some pacing. I blasted out of the start like Jen Lybrand on crack….except she was still ahead of me. She must have done a better grade cocaine.  Iriel’s got her side to side elbow metronomes going and is already leaving me for dead.  No way, chicas. The first mile is a lot of suckage. When you’ve been cruising around at 9 minute pace for weeks, trying to drop 6:30’s feels like complete ass. I try to focus on the TUS #nipstohips form mantra and drive from my hips instead of my sasquatch mall walker mom stride. I manage to pass the female Red Storm front and get a boost from the 5k crowd at after the first loop. Mile 1 is at 6:32 so not too bad. The rest of the first 5k loop is kind of a blur. I’m completely by myself, not in an elite-kicking-ass way but more of a slightly-above-average-no-one-else-is-there way. I focus on some F3 guy who looks suspiciously 35-39. He maintains about a 20 meter lead on me through the next two miles, both at kind of a mail-it-in 6:40 pace.

It’s such a psychological struggle with two loops, I just try to zone out and bide my time until I can get to the finishing 5k. I pass by the finish line at like 20:40 , which pretty much kills my spirit for the sub 40 – though I later find out its slightly past halfway. I’m deathly afraid of Shannon or Godby catching me at this point, but im still all alone. This doesnt last long, as soon as I hit Queen street I see the sag wagon police cruiser and a mob of walkers up ahead. The back of the 5k. Suddenly its a mob scene and I’m in a sea of walkers, narrowly missing a bus-like collision with me blasting through and around packs of people walking 3 and 4 abreast. My only focus was trying to keep up with F3 guy, who now was just ahead. I finally catch him around mile 4, though I’m starting to hurt pretty bad by this point. Only a Chuck Wollery-esque 2 and 2 to go. Thankfully I get through the walkers and start progressing through the 5k crowd. Once you get to people consistently running, the juking and dodging gets a lot easier. What’s not getting easier is this whole oxygen exchange thing. I’m sucking wind pretty bad. I hit mile 5 and I’m desperate to get this thing over. Man, I hate 10ks. Time to throw down, except my lungs doth protest too much. I finally make the last turn, except its almost a half mile to the finsih from there. Just painful to see the distant clock for so long. I catch up with Ms. Bud Light Lime and the Code pacing her, and I’m sure I look like death. All that form stuff has gone out the window, and I can feel an attack of headless chicken coming on. But there’s Justin running back towards the field, so I try to do #nipstohips for like three strides before relapsing into sasquatch mall walker. By the time I can see the clock , all I see is the 5k one, so I’m not sure where I stand. Finally I see the 10k at about 40:30.  I sprint it out and hit the line in 40:47. Good enough for 12th overall (out of 186) and 2nd in AG. Not my sub 40, but not too bad. My 10k PR is a 40:38 so this is actually my 2nd fastest. I’ll take it.

No surprise that Justin “A Standard” Bishop crushed this race for first in under 35 minutes. High schooler Hunter Janus took 2nd in 37:41 and Ryan Strickler 3rd.  SR swept the top 2 in the women’s race with Shannon taking 1st in 42:11 and Jen Lybrand scoring a PR 43:27 for 2nd. Cheri Lee from Fort Bragg took 3rd.

10K Age Group honor roll: Brittany Robbins (TUS) took 2nd in the 15-19, David Russell (TUS) won the 25-29. In the 30-34, Jason Dimery (SR) placed 1st with Kris Litman-Koon (TUS) taking 3rd. Jamey Wilson won the women’s 30-34. Nance easily won my age group, and frequent racer Mark Tibshrany placed 3rd. “She Hulk” Jen Clyburn won the 35-39. Godby  (SR) won the 40-44 men while Colleen Vowles (TUS) and Kana Rahman (TUS) placed among the women. Matt Buffum and Randy Hrechko went 1-2 in the 45-49.  Joyce and Pam Griffin did the same for the ladies. Janice Addison (TUS) and Anita Recchio destroyed the 50-54 competition. Some familiar faces int he 55-59 with Geary McAlister, Kyle Addy and Mike Griffin cleaning up the 55-59. Alsena Edwards and Lisa Smarr won the ladies 55-59. Harry Strick took 2nd int he 60-64, while Brigitte Smith won the 65-69.

In the 5k, Lightning struck and the Plex (SR) took the win in sub 17 (16:59). Justin Jones placed 3rd.  Kristen Cattieu took a break from the yoga and won the women’s race in 21:23. Ivanka Tolan (TUS) took an impressive 3rd.

Age group honor roll: Ian Clawson and Alex Robertson took 1st and 3rd in the 11-14.  The Budlight lime will flow tonight with Ashley Horton (TUS) winning 2nd in the 25-29, and Cait Costello (Palm) 3rd. TDC award winner Kathryn Ryan won the 30-34.  Angel Manuel (Palm), Drew Williams(TUS) and yes, even Trophy swept the 35-39. Trophy had the shame of his 21:41 amplified by Joe Pinner yet again mangling his last name “Mc-GAY-ha”. Awesome. Steven Johnson won the 40-44 – better get ready for some Blue Shoes in 37 days, Steven.  Tracy took 2nd in the 45-49 despite fighting off a GI bug this week.  Coach B (SR) easily took the 50-54 with Eliere Tolan (TUS) and Travis Cowan behind him. Gregory Jones won the 55-59, still getting sub 20’s. Melinda Petruzzi continues to rack up TDC points with a 3rd in the  55-59.  Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll are 3 for 3 in TDC events this year with a 1-2 in the 60-64. Albert Andersona nd Alex Ponomarev did the smae in a competitive 65-69. No surprise to see Arnold Floyd and Rocky Soderberg sweeping the 70+.











Martin Luther King 5k – Columbia, SC – 1/17/15


The MLK 5k is a fairly small race that actually one of Columbia’s oldest, now in its 25th year. While small, the race has often been the first Columbia area race of the Palmetto Grand Prix, which typically brings out all the big dawgs looking for points. Its put on by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, with proceeds going to support their charity Bridging the Gap with Alpha.

It seems like a nice course on paper – most of it is in Shandon with the start and end fittingly at MLK park near 5 points. What the course map leaves out is the fact that MLK park sits in the valley of the little-known Old Shandon mountain range. Consequently, the first half mile in this race is spent climbing out of said valley before going on a relatively “flat and fast” Shandon loop, before cliff diving back into the park. Well, at least I have the cliff dive down pat.

I did my first MLK in 2010, when they had postponed the race from January to June.  This was briefly after my first sub 20, and I had no idea about the opening climb. I sprinted up the mountain like a boss, only to die a thousand deaths the rest of the course, producing one of my early race faces – see here:


Head to one side, arms locked in pain, grimace/scowl from hell. Yep, that’s me. It looks like I  got shot in the back attempting to do the twist. Beautiful. It didnt help it was like 90 degrees either. I missed the race with an achilles injury last year, but 2013 was my course record, a 19:15. But that time was when I was doing sub 19’s in prime 5k shape. The last month has been a mixed bag of marathon recovery, post-Christmas snot fest and basically no speed work (other than races of course).  So, no idea what to expect this time. On the plus side, the mucinex guy has left my lungs, allowing for adequate oxygen exchange again. That tends to help with running. On the negative, running in my old new balance minimus shoes to avoid getting my precious blues wet left me recovering from a sore heel this week and fretting about the evil plantar fasciitis. But hey, racing down a mountain at 5k speed is good for PF, right?

Right. Anyway, I figured this might be a relative trophy hunt this year. The Grand Prix isnt happening in ’15, and though this is on the Tour de Columbia, it seems a lot of people are focusing on next week’s flat Red Shoe Run 5k/10k. My archnemesis, the Pale Beast, is sadly on injured reserve, as is the Code. Angel does this race sometimes, but he’s just been a spectator or pacing Meme the last few years. None of the other 35-39 rivals have done this race, though that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a random Brumbach sighting or one of the stealth superfit soccer dads ready to crash my hunt.

Got there an hour early and the registration table is already set up and ready to go. Most races I show up and they can’t believe some freak is already here.  Pretty on point for a bunch of college guys.

I’m not there more than a few minutes before I see my trophy chances getting a lot slimmer. OJ Striggles, Plex and Brandenburg are all on board. Yeah, the holy grail (i.e. the overall win) was not to be had at this one. Plenty of familiar faces in the small crowd. James Hicks was ready to pick up some 35-39 points, since none of the other regular age groupers were there (though I keep forgetting OJ is in our group – doh!). Thomas Beattie was replacing Wes Spratt in JB’s tri entourage, with Barb filling out Team Brandenburg. Albert Anderson and Arnold Floyd were sure to make the 65 and 70 year age groups faster than almost everyone else. Pete Poore was out for his 25th consecutive MLK – now that deserves a trophy. His main rival, Alex P., has now aged up to the 65’s, but still ready for a Poore/Ponomarev showdown. Eric McMichael was ready to test his new masters wheels (just turned 40).  John Gasque, Lisa Smarr and Rocky Soderberg were representing just a few years of CRC membership. Newly minted CRC member Leeds Barroll was out to add to his 2015 TDC point collection, having already started at Resolution run. Laurie Royson is grooming a next generation CRC/TUS member with  son Cotes. Dutch Fork’s Anna Johnson was there for an easy win.

I did a mile or so warmup , jogging up the hill, which reinforced in my mind what I already knew: this was going to suck. I was breathing hard doing 9 minute pace. Ruh Roh.

And suck it did. The start gives you zero flat time to warm up – just straight up the face of Mount Preston Road. I hate slogging up hills, so I try and attack it the best I can. Yes, the hill is getting done quicker but my lungs are getting the beatdown of their life. Two weeks of easy running did not prepare me for 5k pace+mountain. As soon as I reach the summit I’m relieved, with a turn on King, but sucking this much wind less than a half mile in cant be good. JB comes up from behind and passes the gasping Saquatch like I’m standing still. Not two races in a row. I make a point to keep him in range. Anna J, who I’m sure is quite literally half my weight, is using me like a giant windscreen. I’m sure I’m good at that.    There’s another nasty slog up the incline right before Hand Middle School. OJ and Plexico are already in another zip code but there’s one random in between. I have a sixth sense about detecting 35-39 year olds but I decide he’s a good bit younger. He starts to fade almost immediately though and we pass him in front of the school.

The lungs are still complaining about all the previous climbing and I’m not even a mile in. Briefly I contemplate mailing in the rest of the race since there’s no further age group glory to be had. But its Saturday and I have a bib on, and my giant melon will have none of that. JB has gapped me by about 20 meters and Anna is  on my shoulder, like a 90 pound monkey on my back. She keeps surging ahead, engaging in Billy Tisdale-esque psychological warfare. First mile was like 6:27, which isnt too bad considering the climb. That’s right on 20 minute pace, one that I had ingrained in my memory in my 18 month pursuit of the 19:59.  Unfortunately the lungs will not have any ramping up of pace.

After a long slog on Heyward, the turnaround is on Sims.  About this point is when I realized that my lungs had finally calmed down and things felt a little easier. And hold the JB getting  closer?? I managed to pass Anna at some point on the return on Wheat and hit mile 2 in like 6:24, which is irritating since I guess it was all recovery from that first climb. Time to throw down. Wheat is pretty nice and flat and once I make out Woodrow st up ahead I decide to basically empty the tank. Right at the Woodrow crossing is when I finally catch JB. I would have liked to make a snarky comment but there was no air, and plus, he might catch me. With the turn on to King again I’m in full-on headless chicken mode, which isnt particularly good because the finish is over a half mile away.  At the Devine street crossing, Jordan is screaming at me at the top of his lungs something about “this is what you live to write about!”  just before he screams at JB about getting blue shoed.

One more incline on King about kills me, but then you get dumped off onto Preston for the cliff dive down to MLK park. I cant imagine the ugliness of my form on the way down, but I’m sure there was a lot of flailing limbs and head bobbing. Thank God gravity is my friend because I was on fumes. I kept waiting to hear Brandenburg footsteps. One last turn to a straightaway in front of the park and I can see the clock. Red digital numbers apparently cause me to go into convulsions because I find another gear and sprint like there’s no tomorrow to the line. Crossed in 19:19 , 3rd overall. Last mile: 5:52. I crash out like I usually do at the finish, and damned if JB is just now making the turn. His spirit must have been broken. I can barely move from sucking so much wind, but I manage to pull out the iphone just in time:



It would be more triumphant if I wasn’t on the ground from all the effort, but I’ll take it. My JB victories are few and far between.

OJ crushed a 16:36 for the win, which is a smoking fast time for this course. Plex also recorded a blazing 17:22. JB placed 4th in 19:40, with Anna just behind in 19:45. Barbara took 2nd overall female in 23:46, with Vernell Rixner trophy hunting it for third in 26 minutes.

Age group glory: Cotes Royson blazed a 25:42 and a new PR to take second in his age group.  Kyzer “A.J.” Garrick completed his first 5k in 29:33, being paced in by Lisa Smarr. Both got first in age group for their efforts. James Hicks took home the 35-39. Eric “King of the Quarter” McMichael took 2nd in the 40-44. Tom Beattie won the 50-54, while John Gasque did the same in the 55-59.  Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll took 1st and 3rd in the 60-64.  Albert Anderson and Alex Ponomarev went 1-2 in a super competitive 65-69, with Brigitte Smith taking the women’s division. Arnold Floyd (72) continues to make runners half his age look bad in winning the 70+, with Rocky Soderberg placing 2nd with his patented 1966 SEC mile champion kick.

106 106b 107 108 108b 109 111 111b 112 114 115 117 119 120 120b 121 121b 122 123 124 125 126 127





New Year’s Resolution 5k – Columbia, SC – 1/3/15



It’s the new year, so what’s my resolution? More trophy hunting!! Duh. I turn the big 4-0 this year in March, so while other people worry about getting old, I get all giddy as a schoolgirl thinking about being a masters (40+) runner. Being 40 is awesome because you’re still young enough to still go for open overall wins, but there’s also masters glory to shoot for if some high cross country dude decides to show up and kick your tail. This sounds great in theory, but there’s plenty of masters beasts out there too. I only need to think back to September when a 60 year old (Dave Geer) smoked me by four minutes in a 10k.

OK, so this race was not a great choice to try and win. It being the first race of the year, and first on the Tour de Columbia, it kind of stands out. Still, some part of me wondered if all the competitive guys had done Cold Winters Day and Main Street Crit, leaving this little nugget for a trophy starved Albino Sasquatch.

Um… not so much. I’m not there more than a couple of minutes and I see Jordan Lybrand, Brandenburg and John Charlton doing warmups.  I can only beat JB when he’s either injured or coming back from an Ironman. I think I have one win over Jordan at the IOP beach run two years ago – in the interim he’s running 17 minute 5ks and not even in my zip code. Charlton has been crushing elite level 5k times for 30 years and I’ve only seen him finish when I was spectating. So yeah, the overall holy grail would have to wait.

But there’s always the age group. Quick check yielded none of my usual nemeses. No Angel, Code, Pale Beast, Derek, Yerg or Drew to be found. Trophy continues to be MIA. James Hicks was on board but I didn’t see any other 35-39ers. No shock to see Jen Lybrand there – an expert level (and much more successful, I might add) trophy hunter herself. Kris Litman-Koon was the sole other Utopian.  Barb Brandenburg, John Gasque, Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone, Lynn Grimes, Leeds Barroll, and Brigitte Smith rounded out a roster of some seriously hardcore racers. Hrechko was taking a break from his body pumping to try and get his speed back. Wes and Rhea Spratt have now turned into serial road racers.  Newly minted CRCers Melinda, Bob and Reese Petruzzi were on hand to start their 2015 Tour de Columbia point hunting.

This year the crowd was a little smaller than the inaugural event in 2014, probably because WACH TV bowed out as a sponsor. Still, Columbia Boot Camp did an awesome job picking up the slack and there was probably 100 people there (99 by check of the results).

The course was one used in the past by the Colorectal 5k from my March 2013 birthday triple dip – you know, the one where I beat a fresh legged Trophy in my third 5k in 2 hours – yeah, that one. Pretty decent course for speed. You have one nasty climb at the end of mile 1 on Blossom street that lasts a few blocks, the same one that you go up at Get to the Green. Once on top of that hill, you’re golden – virtually all flat and downhill from there. Turnaround is on Capitol street, comeback on Wheat, right turn to plummet down Harden then a left on Blossom to the finish.

The start separated out the crowd pretty quickly. Jen had talked about showing some restraint but she was leaving me and Brandenburg in the dust in the first half mile. As expected, Charlton and Jordan were in another zip code right off the bat. There was an unknown dude just ahead of JB. First half mile is flat through 5 points on Blossom. After you cross Harden is the start of the long incline to King, and doesnt level out until Woodrow. I finally caught Jen on the hill and I tucked in behind JB. Unfortunately, Brandenburg has like 2 percent body fat, so not much of a wind shield. Legs were feeling the other 2 races in the last 7 days, so I was surprised I was keeping up with JB pretty easily. Once I hit the mile 1 mark I saw why – 6:30. JB was slacking big time and I was apparently more than ready to follow him to a crap race.

JB must have seen the split too because he started ramping it up. I tried to do the same but legs were cashed from the long climb, and lungs were still not 100 percent. We turned around on Capitol street and JB and random guy gapped me some. I was pretty much all alone on Wheat  street on the way back. Way up ahead I could see Charlton and Jordan locked in an epic battle. JB and random were also running stride for stride. I hit mile 2 in 6:20 something, so I was way slower than I hoped. I was going to have to throw down quite a bit to even break 20. I kicked it up a notch as we started the descent past Hand Middle. I was drawing pretty close to JB and random but they gapped me again on the sharp decline on the turn to Harden. I remember that Jordan said that the finish seemed a lot further than it looked once you got back on Blossom, and he wasn’t kidding.  I thought for awhile I was going to catch JB and random guy and epically blue shoe them both, but my lungs didnt get the memo. They were still working on hacking up whatever plague had been living in my respiratory tract for the past week. I was able to make out the clock from pretty far out and saw low 19’s. It took an eternity, but eventually I mustered a weak kick and crossed the line in 19:45. 5th overall, 1st in AG. Not thrilled with the time, but I cant expect too much with the way I’ve been feeling. Hopefully I can get back to 100 percent soon.

It turns out Jordan won the battle of the beasts in 17:38 and took the overall win, which is damn impressive to beat a guy like Charlton. Third place went to the aforementioned “random”, who turns out is 37 year old Tony Marshall from San Francisco, who usually does ultras. Tony will now undoubtedly take his 10 Tour de Columbia age group points back to California, leaving me with 7 (they went three deep in overall so he got removed from the 35-39). Damn him. Good job keeping JB away from the podium though.

Among the women, Jennifer completed the sweep for Team Lybrand for an impressive start to 2015, taking the win in 21:09. Hopefully she and Jordan will be spared being called twins in the newspaper again. Barbara Brandenburg and Christina Marshall (wife of Tony Marshall from above)  finished 2nd and 3rd, so apparently it was a good day for husband/wife teams.

Age group honor roll: Reese Petruzzi claimed 1st in the 2-14, though had to endure the shame of an excited grandmother. Hey, I take any attention I can get. Kris Litman-Koon made Team Utopia proud with a win in the 30-34. James Hicks took 3rd in the 35-39.  JB took 4th overall and 1st in the 45-49, with Randy Hrechko finishing 2nd. Rhea Spratt won third in the 50-54 while husband Wes had to endure JB mocking him all the way down the home stretch. He did get 3rd in the 55-59 for his troubles. John Gasque held off Wes for 2nd in the AG. Dawn Galloway-Hale won the female 55-59, with Melinda Petruzzi placing 3rd to earn her first TDC points. The 60+ group was filled with some serious competition as Arnold Floyd, Peter Migglestone and Leeds Barroll swept the mens side, and Lynn Grimes, Brigitte Smith, and Dianne Jackson winning among the women.






Main Street Crit – Columbia, SC – 12/31/14


The Main Street Crit is now in its 3rd year, this time with a big change by being held in the afternoon and attaching itself to the Famously Hot New Years party put on by the city of Columbia.

This is a really cool, unique event. I’m not sure its exact origins, but Steven Johnson and some of his fellow 621 ninjas thought of the idea to bring a criterium style race to downtown, hold it at night, and ramp up the excitement with an elite race after everyone finishes. I had a blast in the first two years – I never get a chance to see pro runners live, and apparently pounding 3 or 4 post race beers makes me a very vocal spectator.

As anyone who’s ever watched a road race knows, watching a regular road race is not super exciting. You basically get two chances to see who you came there for.  A criterium involves multiple loops around a short course, so you get to see everyone every half mile or so. In the case of the Main Street Crit, 6 loops for the 5k, and 10 for the elite 8k.

No beer this year with the race in the afternoon, but the daylight would at least help with the runner traffic on the course. Plus, I needed to pace the alcohol anyway since it would be a long time ’til midnight on New Years Eve.

Unfortunately I was still riding the snot train that started the night before Cold Winter’s Day.  Speaking of CWD, I was contacted by multiple people about my performance there, basically asking what the hell was wrong with me. Apparently I’m not allowed to go less than 100 percent or people think I’m dying.

So I was going to do my usual balls-to-the-wall 5k this time around, if anything to avoid all the faux concern and trash talk. I was hating my decision when I got there though, since I was still hacking like a pack-a-day Marlboro habit. I ended up getting there so late I really didn’t have any time (or motivation) to warm up other than a jog to and from my car. There was a decent crowd this year, about the same as last, but again packed with lots of road racing regulars. Most of the ninjas were pulling volunteer duty or racing, with my marathon twin Shannon Iriel race directing.

I tried desperately at the start to get a Garmin signal but I guess all the tall buildings were blocking the satellites. Alas, I would be running “naked”. You would think a 6 lap course with a time clock wouldn’t require a GPS device, but somehow I seem to believe the miles disappear if not fully recorded on Garmin Connect. At any rate, I kind of blasted out of the gate with all the fast peeps around and the pancake flat course. There was a band at one corner playing Rage Against the Machine, which was awesome since most race musical selections include
“Running on Empty”, “Born to Run” or any other song with “Run” in the title. The first lap is actually only a partial one, maybe 3/4 of the two blocks. I had already been running too fast,and the wall of noise and spectators as you cross the finish area didn’t help.

And that’s about the time I started feeling like death. Lungs just couldn’t get my usual breath and I had to hack up a lung a couple of times. This was going to hurt. Will Brumbach, (who hardly ever races but always gives me trouble when he does) comes flying by me and basically drops me right away. I hear Geary’s industrial machine breathing behind me tracking me down. I notice the back stretch is actually painfully a slight incline, which ends in a smoke haze of the Sumter city bus station. I’m in a world of trouble by lap 2 and I’m afraid I might have to drop. Everything feels slow and Geary eventually passes me.

The rest of the race is pretty much a haze. The next three laps, by Strictly’s record, have me running about the same pace, slowly bleeding a couple seconds. It was great to get some adrenaline in the finish area each lap because that was about the only thing keeping me going. Plus, I saw the Pale Beast had arrived to watch, so I couldn’t let him see me drop.  The dude made it a point to beat me in the Tour de Columbia this year, and he had already clinched it . He may or may not  have received this gift from his wife:


Somehow I passed Geary at some point but I could hear him close behind. I started to lose touch with the field with all the laps and I had to concentrate on not freight training people that I lapped.  Speaking of lapped, OJ Striggles blasted by me on my lap 5 and cruised to the win in just over 16 minutes. It was painful to see him finish, but I had to put the jets on as not to also get lapped by Justin, who I could hear just behind me. I managed to avoid that by exactly one second. The last lap I threw down as hard as I could, which wasn’t a whole hell of a lot. I was making some ground on Brumbach but I had nothing left in the tank to do my usual headless chicken sprint to the finish. I somehow finished in 19:29, 2nd in AG behind Will. That’s not to say I didn’t finish ugly. You can count on that:


I rarely have felt that bad in a 5k so I was pretty thrilled with the time.

As noted, OJ and Justin took 1-2 in the overall with Adam Feigh taking third. Never seen him race before. Top 10 finishers included mini beast Kenneth Vowles in 17:58 for 4th and Jack Carmody, king of the Crooked Creek 5k, finishing 5th. Parker Roof continues to throw down some fast times, despite his Jennifer Lybrand style rocket fast starts. He finished 6th in 18:28. Jason Dimery  took 9th.

Among the women, Erin Miller was disappointed with her time but still was good enough for the win in 19:06. MC Cox gave me the beat down and finished 2nd in 19:23. Anna Johnson of Dutch Fork also kicked my butt – I couldnt catch her in the home stretch and she took 3rd in 19:26.  Female masters included Linn Hall  taking the win, just outkicking Sarah Allers 20:13 to 20:17.  Sarah turned in another 85+ percent age grade performance. Male masters was won by Jason Gibson, with Geary and Winston Holliday taking 2nd and 3rd.

Age group honor roll: Ian Clawson barely won the 11-14 by like 7 minutes. Brittany Robbins won the 15-19 girls. Samantha Yeoman won the 20-24. Marian Nanney took 2nd in the 35-39. Colleen Vowles claimed the 40-44 with Jennifer Glass 3rd. A trio of familiar faces in the 45-49 with Randy “don’t pronounce the H” Hrechko , Jim Fadel and Tim Hewitt rounding out the category. Jennifer “JR” Reeves finished 2nd in AG despite me catching her with the walksies. Joe Roof and Phil Togneri had a photo finish (same time) in the 45-49 but Joe must have outleaned him to bring home the win. Anita Recchio, Jeanna Moffett and Lisa King swept a very competitive 50-54. Likewise with Pete O’Boyle, Kyle “Ghost Rider”, and Larry Bates in the 55-59, all just over 21 minutes. Dolly Rodgers took 3rd in the female division. Mary Howk threw down an incredible 23:23 at age 63 to take the win in her AG, while Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll won the men’s 60-64. Alex Ponamarev won the 65-69.

Other finishers included Andrew Touzel, making a return to the racing scene. CRC officers Sheila Subbarao (on a comeback, now down to 28:11) and John Gasque.

The elite 8k was awesome to watch after the open 5k, even while completely sober. Kipkoech Ruto crushed the competition for the win in 22:52 (4:36 pace) and just missed the state record set last year at this race. CWD winner Adam Freudenthal finished 6th in 23:27, just ahead of Running Times cover guy Matthew Elliott. Ricky Flynn took 9th. Eric Ashton and Tim Jeffries were locked in a brutal one-on-one battle the whole way, with Eric outkicking Tim in the last lap for the win. The women’s race was also hotly contested, with a large pack separating only in the last lap. Kimberly Ruck took the win in 26:32 ahead of Alyssa McKaig and Charlotte’s Caitlin Bullock. Major props go out to Shawanna White for breaking the 30 minute barrier and claiming a new PR in 29:49.

Mere mortals: