Get to the Green has been around about 10 years, starting as a smaller road race and growing into one of the biggest in the state. It’s tied into the St Patty’s Day festival in Five Points, one of the mid 90’s-Blue Shoes favorite events of the year. Somehow I’ve made it out to this race every year since 2009, despite the fact that its super competitive and one of the least likely trophy opportunities of my racing schedule. They did start offering a 10k a few years ago, which created the undercard factor. The 5k event has still been the main race, though the 10k seems to be gaining traction among the elites.
Things started off well for me in this race. In 2009, I was still a pre-blue shoes running noob, and I was thrilled with my new 22:27 PR. I about died doing it, and one of my early race faces was captured:
Yeah that’s me on the far right, not wearing a stitch of green and looking like I’m doing some sleepwalking slow dance. I do notice my giant clodhopper stability shoes are blue. Good choice. See also Jeanna Moffett running in long pants and a jacket. I think it was 40 degres and rainy. I recognized a guy who finished just in front of me from high school, barely breaking 22 minutes. His name: Tyler McGaha, aka Trophy. FYI, it would be his last Blue Shoes 5k victory until I fell off a cliff.
2010 was also a banner year. One race removed from my first sub 20 (19:58) in the maiden blue shoes performance, I clocked a 19:31 and chopped 27 seconds off my PR, and I would never race in another color shoe again. My finish photos from that race were diminished somewhat by the OG absolutely crushing me in the last 50 meters. See below:
Also note Barrett Boozer in the old school 621 ninjas shirt and Geary kicking it in. 2011 was 19:20ish but sadly, no pics survive. In 2012 I did about the same and managed to score my first age group trophy, though only because they decided to go 5 deep. Pic with Sarah Allers and Greg Howell:
The suckage started in 2013, when I tweaked my back and foolishly decided to race anyway, barely clearing 20 minutes in 19:56. In 2014 I was still in post cliff recovery and for some reason chose my personal demon, the 10k. I had an epic battle for the ages with Ted Hewitt in the final stretch, and just edged him to get 42:52. Also a bonus, super ugly race face and a very poor decision to wear 10 year old Irish boxers.
Which brings us to the present. I decided to do the 10k again, as I’ve made the sub 40 my goal for 2015. I was disappointed in a less than stellar performance at the Lexington Race Against Hunger, but I still got a 40:56 on a crazy hilly course. Surely I could flirt with a low 40 on the much flatter Get to the Green, and maybe even the elusive 39:59. Yeah…we’ll get back to that.
Things have been rough this week. My disease vectors, I mean lovely children, have been playing hot potato with some virulent Polo road elementary respiratory bug, and I’ve been battling the snot wars at home. I did two runs this week in the 80 degree heat and felt like complete death, so I just bagged it on Thursday and Friday. I decided to go to Henry’s with the fam on Friday and the draft beers were calling my name a little too loudly, so its always good to wake up at 4 am all dehydrated and cotton-mouthed. Apparently its not 1996 anymore.
Which reminded me – this is my first masters race. After years of battling the most brutal 35-39 group in history, I do get a few months of reprieve before the rest of my 1975 brethren come back to haunt me.
This year’s weather was about as bad as 2009. I woke up the sound of raindrops, and by the time I jumped in my car it was pouring. I was running late, and apparently the same train that ruined the 2012 Fallen Heroes race decided to roll in and park on the tracks. Luckily I know the roads of Columbia like the back of my hand, because I had to fly down Rosewood and Assembly to get over to the other side where the start was in Maxcy Gregg park. By the time I got my packet and Chernobylized a portapotty, I was racing back to my car so I wouldn’t miss the start. I guess that counted as my “warm up”. I forgot my oh-so-cool spibelt fanny pack and decided to just hold my iPhone.
The 10k start (7:30) was 30 minutes ahead of the 5k. The front was crawling with elite studs. Bishop was on hand with Eric Ashton and a bunch of lean singlet types. I got there so late I couldn’t fully scope the competition, but Chris Fawver shows up and tells me my new nemesis Toby Selix just turned 40 today. Damn, I can’t catch a break. Eric Allers is also there to make sure I don’t think about masters wins, though I completely forgot Ashton had that in the bag already. Trophy, Jamey, Luke Godwin, Angel, Ron Hagell, Barrett, Randy and Matt Pollard are some of the familiar faces.
The start is a mob scene due to all the fast peeps. About a quarter mile in, I’m in a loose pack of Luke Godwin, Barrett, Sarah Allers and a few randoms. I’m also acutely aware that there is something very, very wrong. I feel horrible and there’s zero energy. Not the best way to feel with 6 miles to go, but I hang in there thinking that it will pass. Blossom is straight and flat at first and then becomes a long incline up to King St. Not fun, but not too bad. Once you’re on King Street, you’ve entered into the Shandon rectangle that is 2 laps for the 10k, 1 for the 5. Mile 1 seems like forever, and I hit it at 6:35. I figure this is pretty good, given the hill. Still haven’t shaken the bad feeling though. There’s a long stretch on Heyward and I can already feel the wheels falling off. I feel like death but I keep hoping things will get better. Somebody is riding me like monkey on my back, which is pretty common since I make an excellent wind barrier. Finally Howie Phan has had enough of my dawdling and leaves me. I actually hit mile 2 in 6:38, but I am just toast. I am actually still trying to go race pace, but I’m getting nothing in return. Barrett and Howie have left me for dead and I can feel my pace start to slow.
When I hit mile 3 in 6:56, I realize I’m running slower than half marathon pace and I have some serious thoughts about dropping out. The finish line is right there, and it kills me to have to go back and do another lap. It’s tempting – I’m dead man running and dropping out will save me from getting passed by everyone on the second lap, maybe even Trophied. But then I think about Hawaii, and how it killed me not to run for months, and how glorious it felt to cross that first post cliff 5k finish line, even if it was seven minutes slower. F@# it – I’m finishing this thing.
Of course my newfound resolve takes another hit right away when Tigs catches me just as we start lap 2. Oh, I’m going to have to hear about this for years. I at least try to keep her in sight. Lap 2 is mostly a blur – for whatever reason, I cant muster over 6:50ish pace but I’m still trying hard. I try to focus on just maintaining this pace and somehow stop the bleeding. It seems to work. I can still plug along, pretty close to my Kiawah pace but at least I’ve lost the queasy, delirious feeling of the first few miles. I remember seeing Jen Lybrand, Carol Wallace and Coleen Strasburger cheering me on. I didn’t realize how much that helped when you are in a full-on death march. Thanks, guys. Around mile 5, Matt Buffum passes me and asks me if he’s having a career day or I’m just sucking. I hated to inform him it was the latter. I’ve never been so glad to get to Devine Street again – just a long flat stretch to the finish. Matt Pollard catches me with about 1200 meters to go and asks if I’m going to pull the Blue Shoe on him I pulled in Ray Tanner (he’s the significantly better looking dude in the photo below)
I inform him there is little chance of that. Still, I kick it in a little bit, just to make sure he earns it, but mostly to get this thing over with. I have to give Tigs credit – I thought I might be able to catch her when he hit Devine, but she kicked it in and gave me no chance. I crossed the line in 42:22, 30th place, 4th in AG.
So, this is probably my worst race since the 2012 Wildewood Fitness Fest, and probably top 5 of all time, but I am glad I finished. And hey, still better than last year’s time. I’ll take it. Now to endure a few years of grief from Tigs and Brandenburg!
In the 10k overall, Ricky Flynn took the win in 31:42. Wow – 5:06 pace. Eric Ashton was our top local finisher, male masters champ and 4th overall in 33:45, with Justin Bishop 5th in 34:21. Among the women, team EA’s Alyssa Bloomquist and Heather Costello went 1-2, with Catherine Herring 3rd. Female masters went to Sarah Allers, rocking a very nice 41:37.
10k age group honor roll: Matthew Pollard took 2nd in the 25-29. Luke Godwin crushed a sub 40 in 39:43 and took 1st in the 35-39, followed by age group regulars Phil Midden and Angel Manuel. Ivanka Tolan won the women’s 35-39. Eric Allers and Toby Selix took the top 2 in the 40-44, with Jennifer Glass taking 2nd among the ladies. Matt Buffum won the 45-49 with Randy “Body Pump” Hrechko. Howie Phan came out of the Sasquatch shadow and took first in the 50-54. Donna freeman placed 3rd in the 55-59 with RUI’s John Ramage taking 2nd among the men. Pete Poore took 2nd in the 60-64 behind Rob Kriegshaber. Peter Mugglestone, Shawn Chillag and Ken Lowden swept the 65-69. Patti Lowden and Brigitte Smith both placed among the women.
In the 5k, Trent Binford-Walsh won in 15:53, with Greenville’s Matt Shock 2nd and Pat Burns 3rd. Kenzie Riddle won the women’s overall in 18:49 just ahead of Michelle Zeigler. Kathryn Cavanaugh placed 3rd. Male masters once again went to Jeff Brandenburg, with Chantal Faure winning among the women.
5k age groupers: Emma Charlton won the 11-14 in a sub 24 performance. Parker Roof took 2nd in the 15-19 in 18:14. Jordan Lybrand won the 25-29 in a blazing 17:06. Orinthal Striggles and Drew Williams went 1-2 in the 35-39. Whitney Keen took the 40-44. Barbara Brandenburg placed 2nd in the 45-49. Joe Roof and Travis Cowan topped a tough 50-54. Birgit Spann was all upset about her “slow” 5k but still got 1st in the 50-54 by a couple of minutes. Geary McAlister and Pete O’Boyle went 1-2 in the 55-59, with Lisa Smarr winning among the women. Bill Iskrzak and Alex Ponamarev were 1st and 3rd in a very close 65-69.