Dry Run 5k – Shandon – Columbia, SC – 9/24/16

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The Dry Run has been a staple on the Blue Shoes racing calendar, dating back to 2009. I believe the race is now in its 10th year, and goes to benefit Midlands Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), a substance abuse recovery advocacy group. It’s been well directed for years by Mike Hedgecock of the 621 ninjas and Strictly Racing team.

The Dry Run has held a special place in my heart for a few reasons. Originally it was one of the highlights of my “rookie season”,  in 2009, where I went low 21 and the first seed of the sub 20 goal was planted.  This was back in the awesome years of the most ironic age group award ever, the pint glass. I almost had a full set of 4 Dry Run pints when they someone apparently thought they were in poor taste and they went to a crystal disc instead.  Never one to be shackled by good taste, the three dry run glasses are still part of my regular beer drinking rotation. This race has also signaled for me the start of the fall race season. It’s usually been held in mid-September and has often been the first cool weekend morning of the year.  It’s produced some pretty fast times (for everybody) as a result. Lastly, this was the site of my first race back from cheating death on a cliffside in Hawaii in 2013. I started at the back of the pack, awkwardly ran a near 11 minute first mile. My toe then loosened up, the cool breeze hit my face , the legs started working again, and I began tearing up for being so grateful I was free from the couch. I ran a 26:06 and have rarely been happier.  Geary gave me his age group award to remember it by, and I’ve kept it with my race bag ever since.

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Dry Run 2013  26:06

The race was being held a couple of weeks later this year, but as it turns out, Columbia’s summer has been lingering like your drunk uncle at a family reunion. Humid and 70’s at this year’s race when I got there an hour before race time. I had visions of double dipping with the WIL to run 5k at 10 am, but the conditions were rough. Plus, WIL wasn’t on our Tour de Columbia this year, so I felt like the jilted ex-girlfriend.

The Dry Run is kind of a toss up as far as competition goes. It’s usually small, but it sometimes brings out some real beasts.  With Hedgecock at the helm, there’s always a chance of him bringing some of his SR teammates to come out and crash the trophy hunt. Being in Shandon, you never know when fast masters guys named Eric may come out of the woodwork and steal the cash too.

Scouting the competition early on, the only age group threat I could see was, of course, the Code. This summer, the Code wilted at Hot Summer Night, which of course made it open season for me to taunt him for weeks. He got his revenge pretty soon afterward, whipping my tail at Stomp the Swamp and Labor Day. No other 40-44 guys were around, though I saw Eric Ashton warming up with Sara, and Bedenbaugh was being cagey about maybe running too. Eric Allers made an appearance with Sarah, but it turns out they were just watching.  Or were they? That’s how my sick paranoid mind works. Masters hopes weren’t looking too bright.

CRC regulars Jennifer Lybrand, Pete Poore, Leeds Barroll, Alex Ponomarev, All the McGrievys, Peter Mugglestone, Lisa Smarr, Sue Porter, Greta Dobe, Sara Bonner , Mario Alvarez and Deirdre Maldonado were on hand. Ken “THE PALE BEAST” Vowles was making an unofficial comeback from hip surgery by pacing Zach. Colleen, Kenneth and Danny were all racing as well.

I figured I’d race this pretty hard, but I didn’t have any real strategy until I walked up to the line. I was going to jump on Code’s back like a circus monkey. The course is very well known to me – basically a big Shandon rectangle followed by a little one after a painfully close encounter with the finish line. I thought I was crushing low 18 minutes back in 2009 before realizing I still had a half mile to go. Standard Blue Shoes grandiosity.

We take off at the gun and one kid leaps out to the front, followed by another kid, Sara and Eric Ashton, and a couple of pasty 41 year old nerds. Eric is clearly pacing Sara, since he’s not way out in front like the superhuman he is. My biggest question is …why are we just a few steps behind them???. Of course, the answer to this question is the Code and his undeniable death wish in the first mile of a 5k. He’s out there arms pumping, blasting away at sub 6 pace like there’s no tomorrow. Who’s dumb enough to follow this maniac?  This guy. As though this was my first road race, I’m hanging on to Code’s shoulder for dear life, even though I know how ridiculous this is. I mean, I probably weigh the same as the Ashtons combined. Sarah Allers is spectating about a half mile in and is telling us “TOO FAST!” Yep..  At some point soon after, I realize I’m pulling like 5:40ish pace. I finally back off, the unspeakable memory of my walksies at 2015 Bayler’s Bash 5k coming into view in my mind. Code apparently is content to continue his suicide mission and hits the mile mark quite a bit ahead of me. My garmin spits out a 6:08 (i.e. about 19:00 5k pace), which would be fast but OK if I hadn’t included a lactic acid producing 1200 meters of death to start off.

What’s worse is that I am the straggler of a very spread out lead pack, which basically makes me feel like I’m dead last. Letting cars in behind me and everything. We make the turn at King to head back toward the finish and I’m struggling to find some sweet spot of gaining some form of recovery and not letting Code and the others get too out of hand. There’s a long straightaway on Hayward street that is familiar as the 2nd mile in like a dozen local 5ks. It seems fairly flat on paper but it’s actually got a fair amount of roll. The second kid, later identified as Nate from Shawanna’s running group, has backed way off the initial pace and Code and myself pass him near the mile 2 mark. 6:27 split. Not too thrilled with the slow down but the recovery was definitely needed.

With a mile to go, I haven’t made much progress on Code’s lead but it’s remained fairly steady. The legs have loosened up but damned if the lungs still want to suck up all the oxygen in the Shandon area.  There’s a nasty little incline before the “Heyward squiggle”, a quick right and left as the street crosses over Ott. I wake up from a couple minutes of mental napping to realize mile 1 may be exacting its revenge upon poor Code.  I’ve definitely reeled him in some. And, having had the most unfortunate experience of staring at his back for years, I can see his form breaking down a bit. Of course, he knows better than to look back because this has been known to set off many a headless chicken Blue Shoe kick.

Bonham street features not only a soul crushing long incline (a la the Race for the Place downhill start in reverse) but gives you the faux finish line mentioned earlier. I’m sucking a lot of wind by now and Code still has a decent lead. I think my stealth attack was let out of the bag since Jordan is cheering and surely alerts the Code to an impending Sasquatch invasion. We hit the turn onto the little finishing loop and my mind is having an ongoing debate about mailing this in versus going for broke.  Especially when I realize I misjudged the loop with the turnaround a whole block further. But who am I kidding? This blog is not called Tour de Mail it in.  I turn the one block circle around into my own personal  400 meter homestretch at Rio. Right at the corner Code gets passed and he shouts something at me that sounds like, loosely translated,  YOU BETTER F^*&G RUN. The last quarter mile is one big slog up a slight upgrade that sucks any remaining life out of you. I pass Coach B spectating (whose hinting at racing must have been just to see the terror in my eyes) and he tells me to STRIDE OUT!, which probably means I’m looking like a seizing T-rex on cocaine . The morning sun is blinding and I feel like hell, but I’m scared to death of the Code coming back to Blue Shoe me. Fortunately it was not to be. I hit the finish at full speed in 19:25 and do one of my classic Sasquatch pavement flops.  But I make sure to whip out the iphone to capture the Code’s finish. These opportunities don’t come along too often.

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Pretty happy with the result – 3rd overall and first masters thanks to Eric not officially racing. Fifty bucks and a Code takedown are always going to make me happy. Despite the average time, I think this is actually a course record for me – I usually slow way down over the summer and take a while to get back up to max 5k speed. So hopefully this bodes well for the fall.

Dustin Corder,a  new SR team member, took the overall win in 18:11, with Sara Ashton claiming the women’s win in 19:00. Colleen won female masters and also was an impressive 2nd overall in a PR time of 21:46.

Age Groupers (only one deep):  The 2-14 was a good day for second generation CRCers with Sabine McGrievy and Danny Vowles winning. Kenneth Vowles paced Danny to a 24:31 and picked up an unexpected age group as well in the 15-19. Nate Carrasco won the 20-24. Jennifer Lybrand was shooting for sub 25 and crushed a 23:23, not even 4 months after giving birth to baby Wilson. She took the 25-29. Sara Bonner won the 35-39 women in an epic TUS battle with Colleen. Code and Brie McGrievy took the 40-44. The 50-54 was claimed by Mario Alvarez and Greta Dobe. Lisa Smarr won the 55-59, with Sue Porter taking the 60-64. Alex Ponomarev won the 65-69 while Peter Mugglestone claimed the 70-98.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/json/Index_JS_C4.asp?uYear=2016&uRaceId=2396&uEvent=5k

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1376328532

2014: https://www.athlinks.com/Events/417157/

2013: https://www.athlinks.com/Events/292017/

2012: https://www.athlinks.com/Events/231232/Courses/322936

2011: http://results.active.com/events/dry-run-5k–6/5k

2010: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/83411/results/145278/raw#.V-rKGogrIdU

2009: http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/58830/results/96920/raw#.V-rKPogrIdU

 

 

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Run for Our Troops – Cayce, SC – 9/11/16

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The Run for our Troops is a 5k in its 4th year, and is always held in the evening on September 11th, regardless of the day of the week. Based at the West Columbia Riverwalk, the event has become pretty big, with attendance in the 150-300 range over the years. Proceeds go to fund Hidden Wounds (a veteran’s advocacy group for PTSD, TBI and other post-combat conditions) , Team RWB and the host group, Cayce-West Columbia Jaycees.

I actually missed the first couple of RFOT’s, with the odd time and day, but the one last year was really cool and moving, so I wanted to come back. They have a nice ceremony preceding the race honoring veterans and those affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. The course is pretty unique with a finish on the Riverwalk itself.

This year, however, there was a construction issue on the certified course, so they opted for a one-time non-certified route in West Columbia. I noticed this a few weeks ago but didn’t bother to look that closely at it. Yeah…we will get to that.

You’d think I’d have learned from my rough weekend over Labor Day about race prep, but apparently that went right out the window. I have a few half marathons (Palmetto Foundation, Lexington, Kiawah) on the fall schedule, so I have been ramping up the long runs. I missed several weeks over the summer, but started out at 10 last month and got up to 12 last week. I ended up doing 14 on Saturday since there wasn’t a local race, but I couldn’t turn down an offer for tennis that morning either. Between the 14 miler and two hours of tennis in the heat, I was completely wrecked the rest of the day. Somehow my 17 year old brain hasn’t come to terms with the 41 year old body to which it’s attached. At least I took it easy on the beer and avoided getting tortured by a Hrechko-led body pump session. It was not looking good for a Sunday race.   Code was planning to run RFOT but wussed out after the Saturday long run. Typical Code.

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I woke up on Sunday and thought I’d be mr. tin man again, but I think all the tennis actually acted as a prolonged stretch/cool down. A little sore but not too bad. I was all good until I left the house for the race that afternoon. Holy crap it was hot. Last weekend was a total tease that fall was here, and summer decided to come back with a vengeance. Like 95 degrees with a nice wet blanket of humidity. Fantastic.

I got there with a little less than an hour until race time, forgetting about the half-hour ceremony beforehand.  The place was pretty packed. I met up with Tracy for a warm up and got my first look at the course. O.M.G.  We started going uphill, then some more hill, oh, and lets add some steeper hill. Sun was beating me down. Eventually we stopped and tried to make sure we were still on course. I could barely see my phone through the blinding inferno in the sky and my oversized head wringing out sweat on my screen, but it turns out we stopped right at the turnaround.  OF THE FIRST HILL. Dear God. Three quarters of a mile straight up.  What’s next? Run back down and do the B avenue Ray Tanner climb just for funsies. At least the rest of the course was mercifully back down to the finish.  We only did the one hill up and down, but by the time I made it back to my car it felt like I had been on a caravan in the sahara. I took down every remaining drop of liquid in my car – the rest of my zoe’s kitchen tumbler of tea and half a cooler of nice warm leftover water from yesterday’s tennis match . Mmmm, tasty.

I ended up missing the opening ceremony with my impromptu drinking binge, instead seeking refuge in the shade near the start with CRC veterans Pete Poore, John Gasque, Rocky Soderberg, Henry Holt, Leeds Barroll and Brigitte and Garrett Smith. I’m sure our lifetime races would add up to several thousand. Liz Locke was also taking a rare break from the timing at SR to do a race. Later OJ and Shawanna showed up to dash , yet again, any remote hopes of a trophy hunt. The Yerg was there anyway, so he was probably ruining those chances too. Ever since he got his payback and winning the beer bet at Stomp the Swamp, he’s trying to bet a beer on every race. He may never pay for brew ever again at this rate. RWB brought out almost their whole crew including Omar Armstrong, Michael Beaudet, Jack Brklich, Teresa Shelton, Matt Havens, Joe Greene and Maria Huff. Scott Brewer, the unwitting photobomber of the legendary Code-Blue Shoes Jailbreak finish, was on hand.

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Carrie Miller, Melinda, Bob and Reese Petruzzi, Hou-Yin Chang, Ken and Patti Lowden, and Kat Vorhauer were some other familiar faces. Gretchen Lambert and Sammye Locklair are some frequent racers newly popping up on the Blue Shoes age group radar recently.

The start is sudden and off I go at 5k race pace straight up a hill in the 90+ degree heat. Fun times.  Surprisingly, it feels marginally better than my warm up slog, probably because you get at least a little breeze running faster. Striggles and Shawanna immediately shoot to the front followed by some ripped young guy and a mini pack with me, Liz Locke, Scott Brewer, a random shirtless guy and the Yerg. Legs actually feel decent, though I could do without the suffocating wet blanket of Columbia’s famous heat and humidity.  Yerg starts to gap us a bit near 9th street as the hill decides to kick it up a notch. The Yerg may be kicking my ass and taking my beer of late, but I have to at least make him earn it. Plus, you never know when he might pull a Code-esque epic bonk, a la his 2015 Stomp the Swamp or my own 2015 Bayler’s Bash. We reach the top, navigate a short block and then start plummeting back down. Shawanna and OJ are still visible but they are giving the rest of the field their typical beatdown. I feel surprisingly good and I start being all impressed with myself until the Garmin spits back its first split. 6:54. WTF?? Nice half marathon pace mile in a 5k, hero. I try to step it up on the ensuing decline, but I am notoriously bad at going downhill. You’d think a 190 pound boulder would have some serious kinetic energy, though mine seems to get wasted in head flopping, unnecessary braking and assorted Elaine Benes dance moves. It’s not pretty.

We (and by this time I should say “I” since I’m getting left for dead by this point) hit the turnaround with the water station. I would have grabbed a cup but I wasn’t sure if the day-old tennis water and chugged sweet tea wanted the company. I then turn onto B avenue – the site where many a Ray Tanner 12k dream has been crushed. And damn it starts to suck real quick. Halfway up there’s a big patch of sun, a shadeless inferno of pain. Just my brief time in this oven sucks any remaining will to live, sun shining off my oversized noggin like a giant solar panel. But at least I’ve made some ground on shirtless guy and the Yerg, who are now both feeling the pain. I hit mile 2 in 6:39. Wow, I’ve almost made it to 10k pace now.

I know the last 1.1 must be almost all downhill, but I’m having a hard time generating any will to push it. Yerg is still 39 and outside my AG for another 3 months, and surely this random guy is not 40, right? Yeah… again, we’ll get to that. More flopping and albino incoordination follow on the long downhill back to State Street. I keep wishing I could really haul some ass on this part but the B avenue climb has sucker punched me and I’m still trying to catch my breath.  Striggles and White are barely even visible at this point and are way out of the picture by the time I hit State. I forget State has a little roll to it and the last mini incline saps any thought I had of catching shirtless guy. I turn the last corner near New Brookland tavern and I’m very surprised to see low 19’s. I must have really crushed that last mile. But wait, I never felt the 3rd mile buzz on my watch. I hit the finish in 19:46, hit my watch and then see why. 2.98 miles. My new 4.8k PR. But hey, I’ll take it since I knew it was uncertified and this brutal course needs a handicap anyway. Hopefully we’ll get the old course back next year.

In the overall, OJ cruised to a first place finish, repeating as champion from his 2014 win. Devante Kinlaw was 2nd with the Yerg taking home third. Shawanna took the ladies win, just a few steps back from Striggles. Liz won second and Jasmine Harris third. Awesome eagle trophies for the overall winners.

Age group honor roll: Reese Petruzzi placed second in the 2-14. Omar and Matt Havens placed 1-2 in the 35-39. Turns out the guy in front of me was 44 year old Andrew Ortaglia, so I got all of second in age group (3rd if you consider OJ) for being 6th overall. Damn these old dudes are fast. Gretchen Lambert won the 40-44 women. Tracy won the 45-49 women, while Scott Brewer and Jack Brklich were champs of the 45-49 men. Sammye Locklair and Carrie Miller won the 50-54 women. Tour de Columbia director John Gasque won 2nd in the 55-59 men. Mike Compton was the 60-64 champion. Henry Holt scored an impressive 65-98 win, with Ken Lowden 3rd. Patti Lowden and Brigitte Smith went 1-2 among the women.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/json/Index_JS_C4.asp?uRaceId=2234

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1355160972

 

Labor Day 5 miler -Columbia, SC – 9/4/16

 

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The Labor Day 5 miler is now the standalone race on the holiday, in its 4th year.It’s hosted by Strictly Running and it has now come to rival its other classic races (i.e. Hot Summer’s Night, Born in the USA and Cold Winter’s Day) in popularity. It’s been helped in recent years with some other races going under, like the Blythewood 5k/10k and the Labor Day Fitness Fest 15k. The Chapin Crooked Creek 5k is still on the same weekend, so I usually do a long double dip with these two.

The first year of this race was a big event with some pro Kenyans and a winning time in 24:08. http://sc.milesplit.com/meets/151166/results/256351/raw#.V88hpJgrLIU I was still hobbling from my Hawaii cliff adventure at the time, so I had to skip that one with picture duty only. In 2014 the course got changed a bit with Strictly’s new store, but retained a similar elevation profile. I did the relay that year with my oldest son (11 at the time). Unfortunately that year was brutally hot – I nearly died on my slow 2.5 miler and then my son cursed my name a thousand times on his half (he hadn’t trained at all). I did spot him a lead on most of the field but I think we got passed by virtually everyone.

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I finally got my chance to race the whole thing myself in 2015. I couldn’t remember the specifics other than I kind of sucked, but it turns out that my Labor Day activities were not well suited to race preparation. See here:  https://tourdeblueshoes.com/2015/09/11/labor-day-5-miler-columbia-sc-9715/ Hopefully I could remedy that this year. Right.

So lets summarize my “race prep” this year. Thursday: Wings and beer and late night watching my Gamecocks struggle to beat Vandy. Friday: Learning the Crooked Creek 5k was postponed, getting stir crazy, then running 5 miles in the middle of Tropical Storm Hermine. Saturday: 12 miles with the Code, Randy, Colleen, Rick Gibbons and Flicker. Two hours of tennis. Opening Saturday night college football games at our  friends’ house. More beer. Sunday: I swear I was going to rest up. But even though I was a lazy teen, I’m like an ADHD middle aged dude. Had to get out, so I went to the gym. Was almost done with my workout when Randy showed up to teach his Body Pump class. Declined, then got sucked in. 60 minutes of building up lactic acid in every muscle of my body. But hey, I actually felt pretty loose. Quaker Steak and Lube with the fam for dinner. More beer. Monday morning: Waking up like the tin man who got in a bar fight. This was going to be ugly.

But hey, I was already registered, so apparently I’d rather be tortured than simply waste 25 bucks. I got there an hour ahead of time, in the pitch dark (race time was 7:30), and “running hard” was far down the list of preferred activities for that time, headed by sleep and taking ibuprofen. A few minutes later my nemesis/friend Code showed up along with the TortureMaster himself, Randy. Luckily we were all not super thrilled about racing so I got a chance to meet Wilson Lybrand before we warmed up. He’s like the calmest baby ever and will probably be whipping my butt in 5ks in about 14 years. Once we did get around to the warmup, things weren’t getting much better. Felt like David Ortiz had taken some batting practice against my quads. Because learning to do lunges is a great thing to do 18 hours before race time.

This being a Strictly race there were plenty of beasts this year, though not the pros they had in years past. Eric Ashton was on board with wife Sara. Eric was wearing his plain white “I just threw this on but I can pretty much kick your ass anyway” singlet. I figured he had the win in hand without Striggles or Bishop to give him a challenge. Hunter McGahee and TUS beasts Michael Nance and David Russell , along with some other fit younger guys would be battling it out well ahead of me. In my radar, the Yerg would probably give me another sizable beatdown, but the Code, Wilson Harvey, Whitney Keen, Randy and Jen Kryzanowski would surely be near. Chandler Barrett, the 17 year old kid from the Press Box 5k was there, but I haven’t figured out his pace yet. Other familiar faces were Naomi Rabon making a rare road racing appearance.  TUS’ Tracy Tisdale-Williams, Greta Dobe, Mario Alvarez, Kana Rahman, Colleen Vowles, Sheila Bolin, Michael Jensen, Mike Compton, Mike Hudgins  were representing at one of coach Bishop’s benchmark races.  Jim and Sherry Fadel, Linn Hall, MC Cox, Larry Jourdain, Alex Wilcox, Micah Simonsen, Geary McAlister, Pete Poore, Jennifer Glass, Kimberly Hardin, Omar Armstrong, Coleen Strasburger, Caroline and Julia Keen, Pamela Knapp, Kim La, Kelly Ghent, John Zemp, Brigitte Smith, Charlene Fink, Lorand Batten, Alsena Edwards, Arnold Floyd, Lynn Grimes, Melinda Kurhan, Alex Ponomarev, Henry Holt, Carrie Miller, Peter Mugglestone, Reese and Melinda Petruzzi, Hou-Yin Chang, Jessica Weaver, Jennifer Reeves, Debbie McCauley and Kerry Stubbs were some familiar faces at the start and later on course picture duty. Speaking of picture duty, Roy Shelley was on board with Tracy’s awesome camera as official Columbia Running Club photog for this event.

Before trashing my body this weekend, I had two conflicting race strategies that I was mulling over. One was to jump on Code’s back like an oversized monkey and hang on for dear life, the other was to run my own race and hope to catch him at the end (he goes out ridiculously fast). I didn’t see any other of the usual age group suspects, so I figured it was a just a duel of the white and nerdy for the coveted 40-44 crown and first masters not named Eric.

The course is essentially 3 loops – one in Old Shandon behind Strictly, one looping around MLK park and through 5 Points, and one rectangle in Shandon with a finish in front of the Strictly store. The major hill is the Blossom-King incline coming out of 5 points, shared by the Get to the Green 5k in March. There’s also a kind of nasty incline right off the bat in the first half mile, and the usual Shandon slight roll. Overall not too bad, provided you don’t die on Blossom-King.

The start, predictably, feels like death. Cardio is fine but I still haven’t exorcised the bar-fighting tin man from my body. The David Ortiz hammies are begging for mercy. Code has apparently been listening to Bishop and was told to take a chill on this first incline, hanging back with me and Randy. As soon as we hit the turn on Cypress though, he starts taking off. I start to make chase but the thighs vetoed that decision real quick. I let him go but try to keep him in range. He joins a pack with Whitney and Jen K  up ahead and seems to stick with them. I’ve got Wilson hanging with me when I realize he may be trying to return the epic blue shoeing he got on Devine St last year. Randy is still hanging when we go through the first mile in 6:29. This is surprisingly fast, since it feels like I’ve been fighting my lower body the whole way. It’s about perfect for what I should be able to do for 5 miles, so I try and focus on matching that pace. Just after the mile mark is a freefall into MLK park. I attempt to let go a bit on the hill and let gravity pound out some of this soreness. As we round MLK and head out onto Harden, it seems like Randy has fallen back a couple of steps and Wilson is a few paces ahead. It feels good to be on level ground but I know that’s about to change soon. Five Points was built on a swamp so you pretty much have to climb any way you leave the area, whether you’re racing in 2016 or stumbling home in 1995. Or so I’ve heard.

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Mile 2 in 6:34, right as you turn onto Blossom. Predictably, the Blossom street hill exacts a heavy toll and I pass a bunch of people who don’t obsessively train on hills. Code is also known for his mountain climbing and I can see him and the Yerg both crushing it. Justin’s Henderson st repeats must be paying dividends. Got to make it to TUS practice more. The half way mark and relay exchange is on King street right before Wheat. I see Linn Hall and Larry Jourdain are actually part of the relay. This makes me feel a little better because Linn was WAY ahead of me and I thought she was taking the start crazy fast. Also, Larry missed the start, ran back a good block to the official line, and still passed me only a half mile in. I run through in 16:34 , which is almost identical to my relay  split in 2014 and 30+ seconds faster than last year, so not too bad (though way off my 5 miler PR) . It’s such a relief to hit Hand Middle School because I know most of the hill work is done. I’m cruising along basically in Wilson’s wake. This drafting would probably work better if I wasn’t like twice his mass, but I’ll take whatever windbreak I can get. We make the turn onto Heyward for a long straight stretch. Drew Williams suddenly appears but he’s not racing , saving a Sasquatch showdown for another day. Code and Yerg are still within sight the whole long stretch, and seemingly getting closer. Whitney has fallen off the back of the pack and seems within striking distance. Mile 3 in 6:43, an expected slowdown with the hill.

By the time we hit the turnaround of the final loop on Ott, I’m certainly sucking some wind, but I’m energized by pulling in some of the field and making some passes. Wilson is killing it and is not letting up, so I use him as a pacer. Mile 4 in 6:38, which I’m not thrilled about. With a mile to go, I start ramping it up because I’m going to have to make a move to catch Whitney or Code. I finally catch Whitney , and surprisingly, Chandler, just before we turn onto Devine.  I figured Whitney was done but I was sorely mistaken. He is not taking kindly to getting Sasquatched, so he latches on to my side and even surges a step ahead. Oh hellz no. I start 1983 Sister Christian MOTORING it on Devine street, thinking this kick is going to leave him in the dust. Nope. He’s matching me stride for stride. By this time we can see the finish line in the distance. Having raced the same stretch last year and many times at Get to the Green, I know it looks closer than it really is. A half mile from the finish, I turn it up another notch, thinking surely this will be the decisive move. Again I get nothing – Whitney is throwing down like there is no tomorrow. By the time we reach about 3 blocks away we are both flailing away at 10000% percent effort side by side. And finally, finally I get a little separation. Those three blocks seem to take forever as my lungs struggle to break free from my chest and my whole body is begging for mercy. Code is just ahead but there’s not enough room to catch him. What’s worse, Wilson has been oblivious to this whole epic cage match because he has blown us both away. I’m scared to death of Whitney blue shoeing me at the line, but I manage to flop across at Mach 5 at about 32:39 a few steps ahead of him. Last split 6:11.

Ended up 2nd in the 40-44 behind the Code. I’m OK with the time given the way I felt at the start, though still a good 30 seconds off my best 5 mile time. There were donuts and beer at the finish, which is way better than most post race spreads. Age group awards were watermelons like Born in the USA, also pretty cool.

In the overall, Eric Ashton crushed the field by a minute at 5:28 pace at age 48. Pretty sure he is not human. Billy Grimes took second with Hunter McGahee 3rd. On the women’s side, Sara Ashton was an easy winner in 29:38 with Tammy Putt and Jennifer Kryzanowski also claiming the podium.

No masters in this race though Code and Colleen would have taken the crowns. Age group honors: Reese Petruzzi was 3rd in the 11-14.  Lindsay Fadel and Julia Keen took the top two 15-19 girls with Chandler Barrett winning on the guys’ side. Wilson Harvey won the 25-29 and must have done about 6 flat in his last mile – very impressive. Jennifer Lybrand is on the comeback from childbirth and is already placing in age groups again, taking second in the women’s 25-29.  TUS’ David Russell and RWB’s Kimberly Hardin were champs of the 30-34. Michael Nance and Rob Yerger took first and third in the 35-39 men. Naomi Rabon won the 35-39 with Pamela Knapp 3rd. Colleen Vowles, Sherri Mims and Caroline Keen took the 40-44 women. Whitney Keen and Randy Hrechko took the top two in the 45-49 men. Tracy Tisdale-Williams placed 3rd in the 45-49 women in a close battle with Heather Hawn. Mario Alvarez won the 50-54 men. Charlene Fink and Colleen Reed went 1-2 in the 50-54 women. John Bradley, Geary McAlister and Hal Ray swept the 55-59 men, while Colleen Strasburger and Alsena Edwards took the top two among the women. Mike Compton and Lynn Grimes both took 2nd in the 60-64. Alex Ponomarev and Brigitte Smith were champs of the 65-69. Arnold Floyd and Peter Mugglestone went 1-2 in the 70-74, while Henry Holt and Jesse Smarr won the 75+.

In the relay, Erin Miller and Larry Jourdain teamed up for a 30:14 finish and first place overall. MC Cox and Linn Hall took the women’s win. Of course, in one of the few years I don’t do a relay in a Strictly race, there are NO MEN’S TEAMS. I could have run it with little Alex again and won. A trophy hunt missed.

And lets not forget the costumes. Melinda Kurhan pulled off a close victory over Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Savage.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1340259572

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/json/Index_JS_C4.asp?uRaceId=2203