Fallen Firemen 5k – Lexington, SC – 10/17/15


The Fallen Firemen 5k is a first year event in Lexington put on by Eggplant Events to support the Jeffrey Vaden Chavis House  at the Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, GA.  Jeff was a Lexington County fireman who lost his life from burns suffered in a house fire in 2001. The House was set up in his name by the Chavis family to help other families have a place to stay while their loved ones are undergoing treatment at the Burn Center.

This race was a late addition to the Tour de Columbia, but I was planning to do it anyway because of the good cause. It was originally scheduled for October 3rd, which ended up being the first day of the 1000 year, Biblical flood of Columbia, so it got canceled. They rescheduled for the 17th, which was the day of the Sumter Tri that I had been training for all summer. Then that got canceled too, and the Race for Life (which I try to do every year) got postponed to January. So by multiple twists of fate, I ended up still doing this race.

Though I was glad to be able to do a race that I had already paid for, this course had me scared. I had to reach way back in the Blue Shoes mental archives, but I distinctly remember the old, now defunct, Lexington Kiwanis 5k.  I did the last year of the event in 2010 , and it stands out as one of the smallest races I’ve ever done. There were maybe 25 people there. I ran out hard from the gun in a misguided attempt at the trophy hunter’s holy grail, the overall win. I died a million deaths in the mountains of that course, and everyone had slow times. I couldn’t catch future Run Hard marathon director Jesse Harmon, though I did pull an epic blue shoe of Amy McDonough (now Kelley) to take second. I think everybody ended up winning an age group medal in the race and I distinctly remember the last place finisher taking female masters.  Google is a wonderful thing :



The Firemen 5k pretty much mirrors that course, and actually is the same one as the Patty Packs 5k in December.  That’s a newer race I’ve yet to do, but the consensus about the course sticks out in my mind from the CRC newsletter: absolute sufferfest. Oh well, at least everybody else has to run those hills too.


Not a huge crowd but a good turnout for a rescheduled first year event.  As some kind of karmic retribution for the rainout, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Cloudless and about 50 degrees. The first cold-ish race of the year. The Yerg was already there and we did a couple of miles on the middle of the course, which was taking the wind out of me at 9 minute pace. Awesome, cant wait to do this at my 1000% race effort.  We get back and its looking good for the Yerg’s overall trophy chances. I don’t see any of the big dawgs – no plexes or bishops or ashtons.  Leeds Barroll, Pete Poore, Alex Ponomarev, Kristin Cattieu, Shelley Hinson, Pam Griffin, Brie McGrievy, Maria Huff, Rocky Soderberg, Peter Mugglestone and Brigitte Smith were all on hand. Rob had raced the Hump Day 5k on Wednesday and the Hoka Oktoberfest 3 mile run the night before, but his chances were still looking pretty good. There was one kid that looked pretty fit but that was about it. Then all of that went crashing down when Jason Dimery showed up last second. Dimery has a habit of barely making it to the start line as the gun sounds, and I remember him winning the See Spot 5k a few years back showing up about a minute late. The Yerg would have to wait for another day to get his glory.

I had no time goal with the brutality of the course, save maybe to avoid the blackjack (21 minutes) and having to endure Trophy mocking me for months. Oh, and don’t get Kristinned. She had already crushed me in Tri the Midlands earlier this summer, and I wasn’t too keen to have that get repeated, despite my tri-ineptitude.

The start was super fast since you go out flat then plunge down into a valley on South Lake Dr.  It seems almost every 5k has that couple of kids who go hauling ass out of the blocks only to crump about a quarter mile in, and this race was no different. I had to pull a couple of Leonard Fournette moves to avoid these dudes getting hit by a Blue Shoed Bus. This maneuver then got me forced to squeeze between the two kids running with flags in honor of the fallen firemen. Classy move, Sasquatch.

Dimery had already crushed the field by the time we reached the first monster hill, followed by the high school kid and the Yerg. The first half mile was mostly downhill, but guess what, time to make up all that elevation gain right away. Brutal long slog all the way to Gibson Road and the mile marker. I hit it in 6:36, probably the average of my 6 min pace screaming down into the valley and 7 minute pace trudging back up. While Rob had left me for dead in the distance, 2 fit looking dudes were just in front of me who I’d never seen before. I couldn’t tell but they were looking kind of age groupy. I needed to latch on lest one of these randoms take my precious trophy – there was Dimery, the fast kid and Yerg ahead of these guys, so masters was still up for grabs. Unless one of these dudes was 40… oh hell no. Luckily I was gaining on them without surging, and by the time I reached them near the halfway point, they seemed pretty gassed. One of them jumped on my back for a while after I passed, but I surged on the next hill and left them. These crossfit guys sure hate getting Sasquatched.

Did I mention hills? Sweet baby Jesus mile 2 sucked. My Garmin readout makes it look like a couple of bumps, but rest assured South Church Street is a veritable mountain range. Total roller coaster. The worst is the slog leading up to the mile 2 marker. While I had been feeling pretty good, the last hill on Church had me praying for mercy. In the fog of my oxygen-deprived brain, I noticed the Yerg was getting a wicked case of the bonksies and I was slowly gaining on him. Maybe the three races in four days had left him ripe for the picking? Would there be another Stomp the Swamp epic blue shoeing?

Mile 3 had to be relatively flat, so I started to ramp it up some. Mile 2 split was an identical 6:36. Unfortunately the Yerg glanced back at the turn onto 3rd St and my stealth stalking cover was blown. Damn. I tried to redline it some more but the mountain range had given me a sucker punch to the lungs. Nothing left. I spent the whole last mile completely alone with nothing but the jackhammer beat of my heart and death gasps from my lungs to keep me company. That, and the paralyzing fear of crossfit guys or Kristin blue shoeing me along the way. One last little bump on to Main Street and I managed a weak kick on fumes. Yerg was painfully close but I had run out of real estate. I rounded the last turn and crossed in 20:37.  4th overall, 1st masters.

Definitely not happy with the time, but I figure this course adds 30-45 seconds from a flat course. Not the most brutal, but close. The Lexington Jingle Bell still reigns supreme for 5k sufferfests. I’ll take first masters any day though. Nice plaque for masters and top 3 overall. Beer glasses for the age groups!

Jason Dimery crushed a 17:23 to take the win. That’s sub 17 easy on a flat course. John Kaminski was the “fast kid” who finished 2nd. He may be the guy who won Tunnels to Towersa month ago. Third went to the Yerg – got me by 19 seconds to avoid the shame of getting Sasquatched. Kristin did win the women’s overall in 23:56 followed by Shelley Hinson. A tiny 8 year old, Ashalyne Fietkau, took 3rd in 25:47, which is pretty amazing.

Age group honor roll: RWB’s Maria Huff won the 35-39 with dog in tow. Brie McGrievy took the 40-44 in her first race back from a tough injury suffered at the Silver Fox 5k. Don’t call it a comeback! Pam Griffin was champion of the 50-54. Leeds Barroll, fresh off his blue shoeing of Tracy Tisdale-Williams on Wednesday, took down Pete Poore and claimed the 60-64. Pete took second with Paul Bates 3rd. To Pete’s credit, I hear he’s been a little busy with the Dept of Transportation recently. Alex Ponomarev won the 65-69 by a mere 22 minutes while Brigitte Smith took 2nd. Peter Mugglestone and Rocky Soderberg claimed the top 2 spots in the 70+.






Race to Read 5 miler – Lugoff, SC – 9/26/15


The Race to Read is a 5 mile race in its 11th year, going to benefit early literacy efforts in Kershaw County. It’s put on by Betsy Long, librarian at Doby’s Mill Elementary, who is also a runner herself. It’s always been a good event and a regular stop on the Blue Shoes racing calendar.

Of course if you know me at all, it will take about 5 seconds before I inform you I have won this race. Not the age group. The whole enchilada. The holy grail of the trophy hunter.

This was back in 2010, before it was on the Tour de Columbia or Palmetto Prix. When it was a little known rural race that just screamed come and take my trophy. And so I did. It took an all-out effort, locked in an epic age grouper duel with Greg Howell, complete with a blue shoe kick and dry heave on the final turn. It was not pretty, but man was it sweet.

But as usual, whenever some pasty Sasquatch wins a race, all the real trophy contenders take note. I havent even seen the winner finish since the glory of ’10.  I got Vowlesed badly last year. The Pale Beast laid down a couple of low 6 miles at the finish to completely crush me. The shame was even worse in 2013. Coming off my cliff dive, R2R was my second race back and got me Trophied and Ferlautoed. Oh, the humanity.

But maybe I could redeeem myself this year. Pale Beast is still run-injured, and takes his sadistic impulses out on our Sunday bike ride instead. Who knew the guy was a covert Brandenburg-esque stud on the bike? Ferlauto was MIA but I did hear the Trophy was going to make an appearance. With his double double deuce showing (albeit the 35-39 “champion”) at the Dam Run last week, I wasn’t too worried, but it would be really awful to lose to him this week, which would mark his masters debut. Happy 40th, Trophy.

I show up to Doby’s Mill on race day and wondered where the fall went. Around 70 degrees, and like 90 percent humidity. Sweating right out of the car. Awesome. At least I had avoided the frequent Friday night Blue Shoe perils of concerts, late nights and beer. I felt pretty beat down, though. The last couple of weeks of training have been mostly without any aches or pains, which is pretty much license for me to overtrain and get hurt.  I usually take Friday off but I ended up running anyway, which led to 6.2 miles instead of the easy 4 I had planned. Nice job, hero.

The first person I see is, lo and behold, the Code. With TUS singlet on, ready to race. The dude has been out for the better part of 6 months, and been my assistant…or as I like to call him – “photo bitch”.  Someone has to help me carpet bomb facebook news feeds with running pics, so he was the chosen one. Luckily for me, he says he’s just going to tempo it and see how the leg feels. I’ve heard this crap before, though, so I make a point to keep my eye on him in the race. He is now 40, and back in my age group.

I did a couple of warm-up miles with Trophy, Code and J-Lybrand, whose trophy hunting is even more voracious than mine. She’s doing the FATS 50k next week. And you thought I was racing obsessed. Back at the school I briefly get a twinge of the holy grail being up for grabs, seeing no elites right away. Then Eddie Lopez shows up, so there goes my dream of the overall glory. There’s still masters, though, and it looks like its only me, Code, Trophy and Whitney Keen. I thought this gave me a good chance, provided the Code didn’t get too frisky. Whitney did beat me at Springdale a month earlier, but I figured that was just me coming back from injury.  On the women’s side there was Heather Costello, who would probably trounce the ladies as bad as Eddie would beat down the men.  Garrick Douglas, who so brutally blue shoed me at Springdale, was also there. Mario Alvarez,  Kara Clyburn, Peter Mugglestone, Rocky Soderberg, Brigitte Smith, Andrew Lipps, Natalia Rozchkova, Henry Holt, Jennifer Reeves, Tim Pearson, Alex Robertson and the rest of the Keen clan (Robert, Julia and Caroline) were some of the familiar faces.


I wasn’t sure what my strategy should be for this one. I figured around 6:40 pace with the hot tub humidity and the hills. The course is mostly a rectangle beginning and ending at Doby’s  Mill. You have a short hill coming out of the school, but then 3/4 of a mile of flatness on Kennedy Road. You turn on Kirkland at mile 1 and run mostly downhill on gravel. The turn onto Porter Cross is near the mile 2 mark. Porter Cross is initially downhill but changes to a mountain range at the end. Mile 3 is on top of the worst hill. Mile 4 is mostly downhill on Fort Jackson Rd, Mile 5 is pretty rough with a nasty hill to start and a twisting short “nature trail” on the school grounds before the finish back near the start behind the school.


Not a big crowd for this one, so the start thinned out the field very quickly. Eddie left us all for dead before we got out of the school grounds. I tailed on to Whitney and Heather at first, but then fell back as we turned on to Kennedy rd. I was already sweating like a pig in mile 1, and didn’t feel great. I started having nightmares about getting Coded and Trophied. Spent most of mile 1 trying to get the lead out from my ill-advised 6 miler the day before and making sure Costello and Keen were in striking distance. Mile 1 was surpisingly fast at 6:31. What the hell did Whitney have for breakfast, cocaine? I expected Heather to soundly beat our tails, since she’s probably literally half my weight. Whitney, on the other hand, has a 5k PR just under 20 and hit mile 1 in what had to be around 6:15. Is he a new Jen Lybrand disciple? I settle in  to the long slog down the gravel road all by myself, alone with my thoughts. Why is Whitney kicking my ass? Oh God, is that Trophy I hear behind me??? I have a severe case of race-induced paranoia. The gravel road is only a mile but seems to last forever. I can barely make out Eddie making the turn way up ahead, and then I lose sight of him. Heather and Whitney are also starting to gap me even more. That’s OK, Whitney is going out way too fast, I’ll catch him!…Right? Mile 2 in 6:45, so pretty close to goal. There’s a nice drop initially on Porter Cross to get your wind back a little, opening up to a beautiful country scene with a field of cows. You might enjoy taking in the scenery if you didn’t look up ahead and see a mountain arising out of nowhere. All of a sudden, I’m huffing and puffing and dying a thousand deaths, climbing up this beast of hill. What’s worse, I am making zero ground on the two ahead of me. This was supposed to be where I could make my move. Yeah… not happening. Mile 3 is at the top of this monster and the split is like 6:50 something. Holy slowdown, batman.  I try to duck behind some trees as we approach the turn onto Fort Jackson Rd, employing the patented Blue Shoes stealth technique. This would work well if I was within at least 100 meters of the Costello-Keen combo, which I’m decidedly not. Whitney doesn’t look back anyway. I try to push the pace on the ensuing downhill, but I’m getting nowhere. Whitney is holding steady, right on Heather’s back and not fading one bit. What is fading way is my hopes of getting my precious masters win. Damn that Keen, crushing Sasquatch dreams. Mile 4 in 6:40 . Once my spirit was crushed I needed to make sure my shame wasn’t amplified by losing my age group to the two jokers behind me. The slog up the last hill on Fort Jackson rd about kills me and it feels like I’m barely moving hitting the nature trail. People either love or hate the nature trail, but you will know where you stand once you get there. It loops back around so you can clearly see who is behind you. Whitney and Heather are nearly done by the time I come to an area where I can see them, so I know my masters hopes are dead on arrival. Thankfully I can only see Garrick as I loop around myself towards the finish. I blast out onto the bus loop and see Whitney and Heather cross the line in what looks like a photo finish. I mount a half-hearted kick with no one to chase and cross over a minute later in 33:40.

Not thrilled with this one – my 2010 time was a minute faster.  To be fair, I’m still on the comeback trail and the 2010 race was when it was held in late October, with race temps in the 30’s. Must get faster..again. But hey, I got this email yesterday about a little race in Massachusetts, so better get to it.



In the overall, Eddie Lopez killed it with a 27:34 for the win. It turns out Heather outleaned Whitney at the line to capture 2nd overall and the women’s win. Whitney got the male masters win, with Nikki Campbell taking female masters.

Only one deep in the age groups, but awesome bricks painted as children’s books instead of medals. I experienced a ridiculous amount of anxiety over someone choosing “Go Dog, Go” before me, since this is the book I’ve read a million times to all three of my minions. Luckily it survived until the 40-44 age group. It was a good day for team Keen, as son Robert and daughter Julia each claimed their age group. J-Lybrand ran a strong, and fairly even-paced 35:49. Garrick Douglas won the 30-34. Mario Alvarez captured the 50-54. Tim Pearson said his goal was not to finish last – not only did he achieve that goal but also took home an age group as well, taking the 55-59. Alex Ponomarev (65-69) , Brigitte Smith (65- 69) and Peter Mugglestone (70+) all took home age group glory as well.