This is the third year of the Lexington Half marathon, an expansion of the Run Hard races which includes the Columbia Run Hard Marathon in March. It’s put on by Jesse Harmon, who basically rose the Columbia Marathon from the dead, directs the Run Hard program and apparently decided to add this race in his free time. I have a hard time just writing this ridiculous self-indulgent blog, so hats off to him!
Speaking of unmotivated, I was very slack about signing up for this race. I just did the Famously Hot Pink Half a few weeks ago, and I had planned to do this one on the road to my goal of the Kiawah Half in December. Unfortunately, between having a few illnesses, nursing a still somewhat wonky hamstring, finishing the tennis season, and various other non-running life events, my training has definitely been less than optimal. So I wussed out and did the 5k. I decided so late they had already shut down online registration and I had to drive across town to sign up in person at the expo.
As it turns out, it ended up working out well. The course was completely changed from last year, and now started and ended at the Blowfish baseball stadium. Jesse had promised a flat course, but I’m always skeptical of anything flat in mountainous Lexington. So I decided to do an easy pre-race 5k preview of the course since I was already out there. Turns out he was right – this route was really pretty nice. No major hills to speak of. Props to USATF coursemaster Ken Lowden for taking it easy on us.
This Saturday was looking a little more hopeful than last weekend, where I tried to combine my mini college reunion with racing the Spring Valley Presbyterian 5k and 5 miler. Turns out multiple beers at the Flying Saucer and the Salty Nut does not bode well for optimal race performance the next morning. Lord knows, you’d think I’d have grasped that concept by now. But again, impulse control is not my strong point. I felt like death the whole 3.1 last weekend and pulled a 20:30. What’s worse? I missed a holy grail trophy hunt in the 5 miler, won by Randy “THE H is SILENT” Hrechko.
I got to this race super early in order to catch the half marathon start for Columbia Running Club pics. There was a huge crowd on hand, so it definitely looked like registration was up. There was some nice cash to be had for the overall and masters winners, and it looked to be an epic battle between superhuman Eric Ashton and newly minted pro triathlete Adam Feigh for the men’s win. Shawanna “Peachrunner” White also appeared to have this in the bag for the women, though Sara Ashton might at least give her a challenge. Because I wussed on the half, I realized I probably missed a potential battle with the Code and Angel for masters money. But at least I’d be able to see them duke it out without an hour and a half of busting my ass. Masters women contenders included Team Utopia teammates Julia Norcia and Joyce “the puppetmaster” Welch. Michael Nance was out to pace his invisible friends to a 1:30 finish. The Yerg, Tug, Sam Hilliard, Chris Fawver, Michael Jensen, Mike Compton and David Russell were also representing the Black and Gold. Zander Jeffcoat, the 13 year old that unofficially won the Famously Hot Half , was on hand to shame the adults again. Other familiar faces were Larry Bates, Wendy Hart, Kristin Cattieu, Jennifer Conrick, Joe Russ, John Bradley, Jim and Sherry Fadel, Scott Flicker, Mike Griffin, Jeff Smith, Pamela Knapp, Alsena Edwards, Jen Clyburn, Dawn Erickson, Donna Chen, Jack Brklich, Andrew Lipps, Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw, Michael Beaudet, Barb Brandenburg, Reneww McCCormick, Ken Lowden, Carol Wallace, Sandy Smith, Makenzie Wilson, Jennifer Hill, Wade Bauer, Kaye Sostak, Alan Humphries, Sharon Sherbourne, Jennifer Reeves, Hou Yin Chang. So yeah, a big crowd and lots of CRCers in there.
After taking pics of the start, I had another half hour to get ready. One side benefit of being a wuss about the half was potentially stumbling into a trophy hunt in the undercard 5k. Eric and Sarah Allers showed up though, so that meant I could forget about the holy grail and possibly masters as well. Also, Sarah’s times have been getting faster again so I was fearful of getting chicked and then never hearing the end of it. The melon head couldn’t take that. Drew Williams, my primary nemesis of 2016, was on hand for another epic battle. He had thrown down an incredible time at Ray Tanner a while back, and I have had a crap fall racing season, so it didn’t look good. At least he’s not 40 yet. There were a ton of kids there from the Run Hard program as well as Joyce’s Team Utopia Youth, so difficult to see who else might pose a challenge. Shelley Hinson, Jen Lybrand, Kimberly Hardin, Luci Smith, April Hutto, Rebecca West, Gretchen Lambert, Leeds Barroll, Rocky Soderberg, Patti Lowden, Stephanie Dukes, Dolly Rodgers and Jeanna Moffett (with a huge Run for God group) were representing.
I lined up on the front row, and with the gun it was a total madhouse. The Run Hard kids must have thought they signed up for a 400 meter sprint, because I was immediately swarmed by a sea of grade schoolers. I was pulling Barry Sanders moves and stiff arms to avoid getting trampled. Eric and Drew hauled tail from the start so they got a nice lead from the mob scene behind them. After navigating the first 100 meters, I then knew I would deal with the reverse of this – kids stopping and bailing out. Like a bunch of SmartCars hitting the brakes on the freeway with a Double tractor trailer behind them. Thankfully, I was able to avoid an epic collision, though I was already sucking wind a half mile in from all the dodging. Finally I settled into something of a groove, but damned if Drew and Eric were already way ahead and Tigs had a few steps on me too. The start is mostly flat, maybe an ever-so-soft incline on Ballpark road. I decided to ramp up the pace just a bit to pass Tigs, but honestly it felt like death, so I backed down a notch. Mile 1 in 6:28…when I usually shoot for around 6:15. The next mile was a neighborhood loop with a slight rise on the turnaround on Yale Rd and way back on Leaning Pine. I was catching a severe case of the Debbie Downers on this stretch. With the slight incline and wind in my face, I was laboring too much and it just felt slow. Wah wah.
Oh, and the kid. When I say kid, I don’t mean some college guy or cross country teen, I mean actual child. About 5 feet tall, this stud of the elementary school was rocking low 6 pace and unknowingly dragging my pride through the mud behind him. It’s one thing to get chicked, one thing to get grandmastered, and a whole other thing to get pre-teened. This could carry more shame than my first tri pic or the darrell brown snuggle bunnies photo. As I pulled near I heard some onlookers cheer him and call him Connor. Oh no. It’s that dude from Joyce’s team Connor Forsche. The kid that has already broken 20 minutes at age 10. Plus, he has an 8 year old brother who is almost as fast and probably right behind me.
I finally pull up next to him but apparently Joyce has been teaching cutthroat racing tactics as well. As soon as I put a few steps on him he surges and starts swerving a bit into the wake of the tractor trailer of a 41 year old next to him. I step to the side and push ahead, only to have him do the same thing. We hit the mile 2 mark and somehow I’ve slowed down even more, 6:30 split. The course has flattened out and now we are doing the reverse of the slight incline from the start. The kid is still battling me like David and Goliath, so I am forced to push in the Blue Shoes chips a lot earlier than usual. I apparently have zero shame, so as soon as I hear him really laboring I step on the gas. He lets out a moan or something, and I feel kinda bad, but apparently not bad enough to ramp it up another notch. After my extended pissing match with a 10 year old, I realize that Drew and a teenager have gotten a lot closer. The teen suddenly stops for a few seconds, but then looks up and sees the terrifying scene of the Sasquatch in full kick mode. He takes off like he’s escaping a rabid grizzly bear. I am really hurting by the time we near the baseball stadium but Drew and the kid seem so close. Unfortunately, they both ramp it up as we enter the stadium. Too gassed to look at my watch for the 3 mile split. What I thought was a direct shot in is actually a lap around the outfield warning track, and I am completely on fumes. Not enough room or time to catch Drew and I’ve got nothing left anyway. All I could see coming into the finish is the half marathon clock before I do a flop onto the turf. Pretty depressed I had to about donate breakfast for a 20 minute 5k. But wait, I actually have 19:35 on my Garmin. Is the course short? Nope – 3.12 and even longer by Eric and Drew’s watches. I was very confused about the race all the way until I got home and uploaded the Garmin data – 5:53 last mile with a 5:40 kicker. Jeez, I guess i need more 10 year olds to almost shame me. Apparently he’s coming back at Sleigh Bell, so I better lay off my chips and salsa addiction and the adult beverages. Good enough for 4th overall, and another “consolation masters” win since Eric won the whole thing.
In the 5k, Eric won easily with an 18:36. Drew took 2nd in 19:18 with Jennifer Conrick’s son Chris (age 13) getting 3rd in 19:27. Sarah took the women’s win 20:27 ahead of Gabbi Hart and comeback kid Jen Lybrand. Jen took 3rd in a post baby PR of 22:26. They did masters three deep with trophies, so you know I was happy. Shelley Hinson took 2nd female masters. In the Run Hard division, my 5th grade rival Connor Forsche took the win in 20:08, with Nolan Bausch 2nd and Tyler Miles 3rd. Connor’s little brother Camden ran a 20:34 as a third grader. Those are some insane times.
5k age group honor roll: Kimberly Hardin rocked a 23:50 to take 1st in the 30-34. Rebecca West on the 40-44 with Gretchen Lambert 2nd. Leeds Barroll was 2nd in the 60-64.Patti Lowden was champ of the 65-69. Rocky Soderberg took the 70+ win.
In the half, Eric Ashton continues to amaze with the win over Adam Feigh, exactly half his age. Mike Kilbourne from Augusta was 3rd. Among the women, Shawanna easily won in 1:21. I heard Sara Ashton was hurt pretty bad around 3 miles in – hope she is OK. Cruz Figueroa took second, with Cymbeline Wilke 3rd. Male masters was won by Brent Shealy – I seem to remember him stealing a trophy from me before. The Angel-Code showdown did not disappoint. Angel passed Darrell just a few meters from the finish to take 2nd masters. BRUTAL. I am forever indebted to Luci Smith for capturing this montage:
The women’s masters competition was equally fierce, with a sweep of the category by some very fast Lexingtonians: Julia Norcia 1st, Wendy Hart 2nd and Jennifer Conrick 3rd. All within 2 minutes of each other.
Half marathon age group honor roll: Zander Jeffcoat had a tough day but still managed 1st in the 2-17. Miles Fowler won the 20-24 and 5th overall. David Russell crushed the 30-34 with a 1:23:07 for 6th overall. Michael Nance did another great invisible man pace job for 1:29:40 and 2nd in the 35-39. Kristin Cattieu took 2nd among the women. Sherri Mims was 3rd in the 40-44. Joyce, Heather Hawn and Sherry Fadel swept the 45-49 with Kenny Culbertson 2nd among the men. Phil Togneri was 3rd in the 50-54. Barb Brandenburg paced Sherry and took home 2nd in the 50-54 women, Renee McCormick was 3rd. Larry Bates and Alsena Edwards were champs of the 55-59. Carol Wallace paced the 2:15 group and took 3rd. Mike Compton blue shoed Joyce at the line and easily took the 60-64. Sharon Sherbourne won 2nd in the 65-69. Michael Lambert placed 3rd in the 70+.
Half results from Strictly Running: http://www.strictlyrunning.com/json/Index_JS_C4.asp?uYear=2016&uRaceId=2413&uEvent=Half