Run Red Bank is in its 5th year and this marks my 3rd time doing the race. I think the race was put on by a dental practice its first year (weird), but then was picked up by the YMCA and Erin Roof, which is how I started running it. As it has been thoroughly documented in this blog, Erin’s races are exceedingly swagtastic, so despite the long odds they are always worth a trophy hunt.
That being said, let”s not sugarcoat this. This race is tough. It was held at White Knoll high school and that course was brutal. The race had a change of venue to the Lexington YMCA in 2014, which I naturally assumed was done to make the course flatter. Um…not so much. I went charging out in the 5k last year like a maniac and died a thousand deaths climbing up a mountain for the first mile and a quarter. It didn’t help it was 80 degrees and humid either. The second half was mostly downhill but I was already toast. I got chicked by a 12 year old in the last half mile and ran my slowest 5k in 5 years (20:40 something).
So I wasn’t stoked to go back again initially, but Erin told me the 10k registration was pretty low, and apparently my lust for trophies outweighs any rational thought. Because what’s better than a humid, hilly sufferfest?… doing it twice, of course. I really need to stay away from Strictly Running’s website after a couple of beers.
Oh yeah, and I was coming back from injury too. After a tweaked back nixed by Get in the Pink race, my Hawaii toe acted up and made my shin feel all tight and sore. I was panicking about shin splints and stress fractures, but some rest and avoiding the hard runs seemed to have helped. I even skipped Jailbreak too, which about killed me. I mean, the header on this page is from that race. I wanted to cry.
Since this would be the first race in a few weeks, I figured I needed to take this one easy. Actually, let me clarify. I mean not maniacally, insanely hard. Once I get a bib on, you can forget easy. But at least maybe I could rein it in some. Yeah, impulse control is not my strong suit.
Lexington is a bit of a drive for me, but I managed to make it out there about 45 minutes early. Pretty sizable crowd was there already, helped by a huge group from Run for God. About as humid as last year, maybe a touch cooler. Orinthal Striggles, Shawanna and Ryan Plexico are like the first people I see, and my immediate thought is Mrs. Roof has tricked me with the false lure of a trophy hunt. Roy Shelley, James Hicks, JOhn Gasque, Pete Poore, Craig Wlaschin, Eric McMichael, Lucia and Jeff Smith, Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw, Tom Beattie, Andy Mikula and Barb Brandenburg are some of the other familiar faces. Most surprising is the absence of Barb’s evil husband, so despite all the fast peeps, the masters trophy hunt is looking better than most. It’s tough to tell who is running what race, but a quick analysis at the start says that I can take the 10k masters if I can hold off Joe Roof. Oh, and not die on the mountains. There’s always that.
With the start I keep telling myself to run this like a tempo. No one’s going to set any PR’s on this course, and I need to protect the gimp shin. I figure if I can do 7 minute pace I should be OK. No problems reining it in -the first mile is a killer. After a very brief plunge down, the next mile and a quarter is mostly an uphill slog all the way to Two Notch. The humidity is like a wet blanket. Luckily the legs are fairly fresh from reducing my miles most of May. Unfortunately it’s my brain that is hurting – it seems to have having trouble comprehending why in the bloody hell did I decide to do the 10k??. Especially when you climb 2 brutal hills then look out on a half mile mountain to climb after that. Apparently Shawanna and Angel are also taking it easy because they aren’t that far in front at the mile mark, which I hit in about 7:10. Another quarter mile and I’m finally at the summit for the first climb. I’m pretty gassed already. Two young teenage kids, who are doing the 5k, keep trying to pass me. They would surge ahead, get tired, then apparently face unbearable shame by having a ghostly white Clydesdalish 40 year old pass them again. Eventually the Albino Sasquatch broke their spirit. The next mile or so is pretty glorious. One long gradual downhill that lets you get rid of the lactic acid bath that your legs take at the start. I think I kind of zoned out at this point and just let gravity be my friend. Mile 2 came back in 6:50ish. At the bottom of the hill you hit a dirt stretch and I hit a low point mentally when I see the 4 mile marker. Low, because the heat and humidity is getting nasty really fast, I’m facing having to climb that damn mountain again, and I still wont even be near done when I get back down again and pass this 4 mile mark for real. Once the 10k course splits off for my second lap I realize Erin wasnt lying about the registration being weak for the longer race. Suddenly everybody’s gone, and I realize I’m probably like 5th or 6th overall in the race despite taking it relatively easy. I can still see Angel, Shawanna and Craig pretty far ahead, and I know OJ must be in another zip code by now. Loop 2 of the mountain is similar to the Double Quarry Crusher – it actually is about the same or slightly easier the second time around since your legs are warmed up. Mile 3 is 7:07. It’s nice to get near the top since I start hitting the back of the 5k pack and there’s people to see again. My biggest demotivator is not having people to try and catch. Conversely, I will fight to the death to keep someone from passing me. And it’s at the bottom of lap 2 that I start hearing quick footsteps behind me. At first I think it’s a 5ker suddenly kicking it in but then I realize its some super fit young guy doing the 10k trying to assert his dominance. He uses me as a windscreen for a while (smart choice) then pulls ahead as we hit the dirt stretch. Oh hells no. I decide to stay just behind as we near the split point again. Suddenly he goes right at the split up the mountain again. Apparently he loved the hill so much he wanted to do it a third time. I hear some of the volunteers yell and I tell the rest to go get him. No one deserves to climb that thing 3 times. I break off to the left and head out into a short out and back in a neighborhood, which is yet another hill. Good times. This out and back is shared by the end of the 5k course and there’s plenty of traffic, but its pretty short. At the turnaround I see superfit is pretty close behind but maybe fading a bit. I decide to put some pep in my step on the downhill as the 10k course takes one more out and back that I’ve never seen before. I remember it looking not too bad on the course map but sure enough it starts with, you guessed it, another hill. The course takes a right turn and goes up a little more, and I keep telling myself the turnaround has got to be coming up pretty close. Then suddenly OJ appears. Oh dear God. I thought OJ had already completed the loop, and he’s easily 6-7 minutes faster than me when I’m going all out in a 10k. And here he his still coming back from this “short” out and back. Sure enough another expanse opens up and there is neither a turnaround or anyone else to be seen. My brain reminds me how stupid I was for doing the 10k. Plus, any clouds or coolness from the morning is now burned off and it is getting hot in a hurry. After what seems like an eternity, a teenager (Brady Rafanan), Shawanna and Angel finally show up on their way back, and I can finally see the turnaround.
Heading back towards home I see mr. wrong way is still pretty close behind so I ramp up the pace a little bit – 1) to put some distance on him and 2) to get this thing done quicker. Andy Mikula is next in line behind, and then Joe Roof a couple of minutes back. I just need to make it home in one piece to sew up the masters win. More hills on the way back. Fun. The heat and the course have taken their toll and a few cases of the walksies have broken out around me. I don’t blame them. Finally I crest a hill near the end of the 10k out-and-back and I realize it’s all downhill until right before the finish. I ramp it up pretty close to 5k pace to make sure the dude behind me doesn’t get any bright ideas. The 40 minute 5k crowd is fully traumatized by hearing a rabid bear approaching behind them, so I make sure I give them plenty of room when I pass. I finally make out the finish clock turning over to 44, and I sprint out the last little bit to cross in 44:16, 6th overall and 1st master! I’ll take it since the goal was to do 7 minute pace – 7:08 by official results, though 6:58 / 6.35 miles by Garmin. Erin and the YMCA did not disappoint with a ceramic tile, 10 dollar Dick’s gift certificate and 50 bucks cash! Awesome.
Orinthal Striggles easily won the 10k overall with a 36:44. Aiken’s Brady Rafanan (40:33) placed 2nd and Harbison Trail Runner Craig Wlaschin (41:27) took third. Among the ladies, Shawanna White went out for a jog (41:20) and still claimed the win, followed by Gina Campbell (49:29) and Erin Thompson (52:36) . Monica Wright won female masters.
In the age groups, it turns out Luke Fang was the guy chasing me – he took 1st in the 25-29 ahead of Palmetto Runners’ Andy Mikula. Thomas Outlaw, the younger, claimed 2nd in the 30-34. Angel won the 35-39 with James Hicks 3rd. Lucia Smith took 2nd in the 35-39 women. Roy Shelley easily claimed the 45-49. Joe Roof won the 50-54 , with pastor and TDBS reader James Laurence second. Tommy Outlaw, the slightly more mature, won the 55-59. Cheryl Outlaw completed the Outlaw sweep by placing 2nd in the women’s 55-59. Racing machine Brigitte Smith won the 65-69.
In the 5k, it was a good day for Strictly Running with Ryan Plexico and Jordan Lybrand going 1-2 in the overall men and Erin Suttman and Barbara Brandenburg finishing 1st and 3rd among the women. Parker Roof finished 3rd male and Whitney Craft 2nd female. Masters winners included Lisa King and Palmetto Runners’ Eric McMichael.
Age groupers included: Team Utopia South’s Michael Jensen and Todd Whalen going 1-2 in the 40-44. Stephanie Dukes won on the women’s side with Lucia’s sister Aura Sinescu placing 2nd. Tom Beattie placed 2nd in the 50-54. Tour director John Gasque crushed the 55-59 by 5 minutes to take the win. Alsena Edwards and Sue Porter went 1-2 in the women’s 55-59. Pete Poore and Leeds Barroll took 2nd and 3rd in the 60-64, while ALex Ponomarev claimed the 65-69. Peter Mugglestone, Henry Holt and Rocky Soderberg once again swept the 70+.
Congratulations Alex! You just can’t beat winning MONEY- this was definitely the race to show up for despite the hilly/mountainous course. Plus a Dick’s gift card and a tile aren’t bad either. I noticed you hadn’t posted in awhile and was thinking something was up so it’s good to see you’re back out there. Aren’t you glad you’re a masters now?!?!?
Floppin Flounder tomorrow here which is like 500 people and the exact opposite of a trophy hunt.
Hey man I was the guy behind you at the Red Bank 10k, Luke Fang,, and I gotta say, I was really impressed. Most races I run big guys like yourself don’t or can’t go the pace you did, and I was trying my hardest to pass you. Haha, it isn’t the first race I made a wrong turn and got behind 10 or 20 seconds 🙂 Congrats on your finish.