Soda City Crit 5k and Destiny Johanna 5k double dip – Columbia, SC – 12/17/16

Although it may seem inconceivable to the non-road racing obsessed, I actually felt like a slacker with this double dip. Why? Like a total eclipse , a TRIPLE dip opportunity only comes along once in a very good while. As has been well documented in this blog, my triple dip in 2013 was my personal masterpiece: an epic trophy hunting, Tour de Columbia points grabbing run through the morning of my 38th birthday weekend. I shouldn’t mention the trouncing Tyler Mcgaha received in the third race after trash talking all week. Ooops..there I go again.


Anyway, this weekend was set up for another possible triple. The rescheduled Destiny Johanna 5k was at 7:30, Soda City Crit 5k at 8:30 and the Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell 5k at 9:30. It was a little tight but definitely doable. However , Soda City has an elite 5k at 9:30  separate from the main race, where the top two women were going to make a run at the 5k state record (16:30) – I couldn’t miss that.

So double it was. The original Destiny Johanna 5k was scheduled during the Hurricane Matthew weekend in early October, and with the busy fall racing schedule it had to be postponed all the way until now. It’s a first time event, put on to benefit the Destiny Johanna Foundation, a group which assists with parents dealing with the loss of a newborn. Looks like a good cause.

Surprisingly, this first time event not only had a certified course but a unique one that went through the streets of Rosewood, starting and ending at Memorial stadium. I had already pegged this race as a trophy hunt given its limited publicity, competition with a bigger race (Soda City) and rescheduled status. My trophy senses were tingling even more when I showed up kind of late and there was hardly anyone there. The organizers probably thought I was some complete nut job parking and re-parking my car to find the optimal getaway position for the double dip. Kristen Brumbaugh was working the table and said she was a TDBS reader, so always good to have the ridiculous ego fed first thing in the morning.

It was brutally cold, getting late, and I was being lazy, so my “warm-up” consisted of a half mile jog around the area. When I got back there was still only a handful of people there. We had good Columbia Running Club representation with Jennifer Tudor, Stephanie Dukes, Rocky Soderberg, Reese and Melinda Petruzzi, Pete Poore and Gretchen Lambert. I looked around and didn’t recognize anyone else. None of my typical age group peeps, no elites. They had 70 registered but only 27 at the starting line. Jordan Lybrand looked at me and we both realized the obvious: this was going to be a run for the holy grail of trophy hunting: the overall win.


There was one fit looking dude that I was slightly worried about, but he seemed overdressed to be racing. After getting directions to make sure I could navigate the parking lot loops, we were off. The first loop goes through the parking lot and a short out and back around the bathroom house near the field, maybe a quarter mile tops. As I turn back on the road out of the stadium complex, I already have a 100 meter lead on the field. Fit dude is walking with his family. Um , this is not going to be close. Circling back onto Holly Street, I hit mile 1 in 6:23, and there’s no one in sight. Now, I love a good trophy hunt but this just seems ridiculous. My hamstring is complaining since I didn’t warm it up enough, and my mind is already drifted to the fact I have to do another one of these in less than an hour.

The pace gets backed down and suddenly I’m getting a police-escorted tempo run through Rosewood. The total Adam Feigh/Eric Ashton experience -only 2 minutes per mile slower and a lot fatter. I’m kind of confused by the course but the police guy seems to know where he’s going. Slightly hillier than I thought but not too bad. Lots of police monitoring the intersections – sometimes “my ” cop car would pull ahead and say something to the other guys. Probably “How did I get Sasquatch babysitting duty??” Mile 2 was like 6:55, slower than Kiawah pace. This makes me pick it up a little, because I am forever mocking Trophy McGaha about his “blackjack” 5ks. Heaven forbid the crap I would get for going over 21 myself.

I finally make it back to Bonham St after a mile or so loop, and it looks like a good third of  the field is actually just walking. The finish is a long gradual hill up Bonham and Holly St, the same as the old Rosewood Eagles 5k. I turn the last corner into the parking lot, and the clock is already in the 20’s. I do a mini kick and cross in 20:40. It wasn’t pretty but a first overall is always cool. I took a few pics and met Destiny’s mom, Joy, who was super nice. I feel bad about the turnout, but glad to see they had 70+ registered. Hopefully they can have better luck with the weather next year.



I then had to jump into my car and haul tail to the Crit. Start was at 8:30 and I had 8:03 on the watch when I left.  As I was pulling out I saw Gretchen taking 1st female and 2nd to cross the line. Looking at the results, Pete Poore took 2nd  male, with Stephanie Dukes and Jennifer Tudor taking 2nd and 3rd female. Awesome! Rocky , Melinda and Reese Petruzzi all won their age groups.

After a million traffic lights and not finding any parking, I jumped out of my car on Assembly street and sprinted over to the Soda City packet pickup. You’re supposed to do early pickup for double dips, but I figured my kids wouldn’t take to kindly to missing Star Wars: Rogue One so daddy could feed his freaky addiction. I made it to the table with ten minutes to spare. Luckily it was still super cold so I just threw the race shirt on instead of going back to the car.

The Soda City crit is another iteration of what was the Main Street Crit. This race started as a nighttime November race, then a nighttime December race, then a New Year’s Eve afternoon race, then not happening at all last year. I personally like the nighttime December race the best, but I was just glad to see it come back again. Steven Johnson and some of the 621 ninjas put this event on. It is done criterium style (Crit) where you essentially use 2 city blocks as a rectangular track. Its a great event for spectators since you get to see people come back through the same area 6 times. My favorite part is the separate elite race , where the pros and local beasts battle it out for cash.


Ken Lowden course with Blue Shoes notations


I had to throw my bib on and high tail it to the start, which is about a quarter mile from the finish line/packet pickup. Everybody was lining up already. Looked like a decent crowd – Sarah and Eric Allers, Randy Hrechko, Zach De Moya, Ian Clawson, Drew Williams, Will Brumbach, Wilson Harvey, Matt/Brie/Sabine/Quentin McGrievy, Winston Holliday, Kyle Addy, Anita Recchio were all I could see with a quick scan near the front. Oh, and Joyce brought all her Team Utopia Youth minions with her. Oh noes. Here I am weakened from the previous 5k and the Forche family is going to come beat me down. Connor informs me he’s sick, but dad Jason informs me that little bro Camden is going to try for the 8 year old state record, 19:45. Great – there is a legit chance that I’m going to get third gradered and his dad is going to age group me. Awesome!


Photo credit: Tracy Tisdale-Williams

The start feels like death as the cold and sitting has frozen up my legs and the slightly gimp hamstring. The Forches, Randy and Sarah jump ahead of me instantly as I try to get the engine fired back up as quickly as possible. Tigs gives me a quick “gluteal massage” on her pass. Oh, she’ll pay for that. The first corner is the heckler/smoker bus station corner – always good to pull a wide turn around these guys. The second turn onto main st features the awesome 90’s band, which seems to have a playlist completely from the Blue Shoes college CD rack. Nice downhill on main all the way to the finish mat/lap counter. By the first lap, I’ve passed the Forches but Tigs and Brumbach are in a mini pack up ahead. Finally the legs are a little warmed up and I surge ahead, making sure to throw a little elbow and verbal harassment Tigs’ way, drawing a rare British F bomb. I am so proud!  The first couple of laps feel OK, mile split in 6:19, though its hard to trust the garmin signal among the downtown buildings. Around the third lap things start turning a little south – legs are hating the abuse and I can feel Brumbach just behind me. By this time, people are getting lapped so you have to do a little tailback maneuvering and find your seam. A few times, people almost step out in front of the albino bus but I’m able to avoid any significant impacts. I don’t hear the mile 2 split, and I’m really just going by Coach B’s lap signs anyway. With two laps to go, some teenage kid cuts me off and starts blocking. OK dude, its on.These xc kids are ruthless. I start trying to kick it in but the legs are  just toast. Wide turn around the hecklers, a little Nirvana on the turn and blast down the straightaway with one lap to go. My eyes of death meet Joyce and Darrell, both of which I’m sure are rooting for me to get the smackdown from Camden. No way. The last lap is just brutal – the brain is spending all of its energy trying to override the veto of the legs and lungs. I basically throw everything into the  heckler/band curve, hoping to slingshot into the downhill finishing straight. I don’t dare look back. I still see 19’s as I make out the clock with a block to go. One last sprint into the chute and I cross around 19:50. The official time is 19:46, which matches my Garmin. Good enough for 1st in AG, though only 14th overall. I’ll take it for a double dip.


Photo credit: Tracy Tisdale-Williams

In the elite race, Michael Banks, running for Strictly, crushed a 14:35 for the win. Adam Freudenthal ran shoulder to shouder with Banks for most of the race and finished 2nd in 14:41. Brandon Hudgens placed third in 14:48. The women’s race was also close with Victoria Hammersmith and Esther Atkins battling it out side by side all the way into the chute, with Hammersmith taking the win 16:51 to 16:53. Michele Ziegler used a punishing finishing lap kick to edge Shawanna White for third. Adam Feigh had a huge PR with a 15:50. Other Columbia finishers included Eric Ashton in 16:20 and OJ Striggles in 17:01.

In the mere mortals race, Christian Acker clocked a 16:51 for the win over Hunter McGahee and Alex Dahlstrom. Sarah Allers recovered from Blue Shoe harassment to take the women’s win. Even with all the elites, the only state record taken down at the Crit was 2nd place female Kendra Miles. All of 7 years old, Kendra rocked a 21:51 for a PR and an obliteration of the 22:30 record she tied last weekend. Amazing. Ten year old Rylee Matthews ran an impressive 22:50 for third overall. Joyce, what are you feeding these kids?

Age groups: Camden came up a little short in the record attempt but still got 2nd in the 2-14 age group with  a  20:32. Alan Deogracias placed 2nd in the 15-19, with Ian Clawson 3rd.  Zach Demoya ran an impressive 17:53 but only needed to show up to win hs 20-24 age group.Wilson Harvey continues his sub 19 streak with a 2nd in AG in the 25-29. Drew Williams and Will Brumbach  went 1-2 in the 35-39. Eme Crawford took 3rd in the 35-39 women. Rebecca West, Amanda Wardlaw and Brie Mcgrievy won the 40-44 women while Jason Forche and Matt McGrievy finished 2-3 among the men.  Eric Allers, Randy Hrechko and Winston Holliday swept the 45-49 men. Anita Recchio eked out a 50-54 win by a mere 17 minutes. Kyle Addy took the 55-59 men. SC racing legend Catherine Lempesis was champ of the 65-69 women in an impressive 24:34, with Peter Mugglestone winning the 70+.

Soda City results:

Destiny Johanna results:

Adam Feigh’s blog from the elite race:


Kiawah Half and Marathon – Kiawah Island, SC – 12/10/16


The Kiawah half and full marathon are in their 39th year, having been a mainstay of the winter marathon season since the late 70’s. Normally a somewhat snooty gated community, the whole island opens up once a year to let a few thousand people come and trash the place for a few hours.

I hadn’t planned on coming back so soon. True, the 2014 marathon was the crown jewel in my running career – a 3:11 Boston qualifier that I trained like a beast for under the wing of TUS coach Justin Bishop. However, my hydration/nutrition plan, along with a few overzealous sub-7 pace miles, nearly sabotaged the whole thing. The last 5k of the race is easily the worst I’ve felt in any event before or since. It’s a minor miracle I didn’t run over one of the 3 hour half finishers taking selfies and/or cover them with a shower of projectile GU puke. It was rough.

But my vice president Joyce scored some sketchy deal on the race in the fall, and somehow I got sucked into doing the race again. Thankfully, I had the foresight to realize I was in no mood to train for a marathon again. I’m a 5k guy. Nothing kills my soul more than Sunday 20 milers and 5 mile intervals. But I am fond of the half, so I was in. Unfortunately, my training ended up totally sucking for distance. I was doing a lot of 5k specific stuff to compete in the fall races, but just not putting in the long runs. I did a few leading up to the Famously Hot Race in late October and managed a 1:31 on a brutal course. And that was pretty much it.  No runs over 8-9 miles in the last 6 weeks before Kiawah. This could get ugly.

As it turned out, half of the Columbia running community showed up for this one. We had a sizable Team Utopia group going, two condos worth. I was rooming with Joyce, Code Brown and Israel, and I somehow managed to coax my wife “first lady” Mary into coming. Mary is not fond of running, or talking about running, so she was hesitant to go. She did hear that her Boston drinking buddy Sheila was there, so apparently that was enough. Both have an affinity for mixed drinks and F bombs, so the connection was clear.


Speaking of F bombs, I dropped more than a few on the way down to Kiawah. Highway 526 was jacked up for some unknown reason and it took us an hour to go like 3 miles. I lived in this mess for 2 years in 2006-2008, and the traffic is something I definitely don’t miss. Actually the whole reason I got into running was avoiding Charleston traffic and hitting the treadmill at o’ dark thirty in the morning. And the rest was history. Anyway, it took us forever and I was super afraid of missing the 8:30 curfew for the expo.

When I get there I get a jokey volunteer who asks me if McDonald has a farm. Yeah, I might have heard that before. That and “run, Forrest, run”. He then stops, pauses, and smiles. WTH?? Grabbing a piece of paper off the back of my bib, he turns around and yells “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE A HIGH PERFORMANCE ATHLETE!!!” And all the volunteers give me a round of applause. As I acknowledge my “fans”, Mary’s eye roll behind me is palpable. The ego continues to grow out of control. It’s pretty late by the time we get out of the expo and I’m starting to get panic-level hangry. Luckily Sheila calls and tells us they still have food left from dinner, since Justin was running even later.  Since it was close to 9 pm and I was running on fumes, I’ve never had a finer dining experience than spaghetti with potato chips, washed down with a Miller Lite. I like to keep it classy.

Race morning was pretty much perfect racing weather. Super cold for Kiawah, probably low 30’s. Thankfully, Mary was a saint and agreed to do Sherpa duties, which made things way easier. For the uninitiated, “Sherpa” = someone to carry around all your race s#$% and extra clothing, and take pics. She definitely earns her self-proclaimed “Best Wife Ever” status. I got to stroll into the guarded “HIGH PERFORMANCE CORRAL” due to my “A” number, melon head ready to explode. I thought it was “A” for first place, though Mary felt “A” stood for something else that I won’t print here.  Drew Williams, Ivanka Tolan, Justin Bishop, MC Cox, Joyce  and Linn Hall are some of the other familiar faces in my corral.


The start was ridiculously fast. Although legitimately in the corral (sub 1:30 documented half), I felt like a whale swimming among the marlins. Not too many other Sasquatches in the land of singlets and zero percent body fat. MC and Linn form a tandem, and I try to pace off them for a while, but they are flying and I back off. Code catches me about a half mile in , having done some crazy speed from the corral behind (10-15 seconds back). He didn’t put in his half time when he registered. We cruise through mile 1 in 6:46. Not too bad. I knew a PR (1:28:27) would pretty much be out of the question with the crap training, but I was still hanging on to the sub 1:30 goal, 6:52 pace.  Code and I are pacing together by now – he had planned to do around 6:50 for a few miles as warm up before ramping it up faster.  We catch Ivanka over 1.5 miles in – she must have crushed the start. I start chasing down Drew Williams for the better part of a mile, but it turns out its a pseudo-Drew in a similar blue singlet. Damn it. Pseudo Drew gets blue shoed around mile 3.  Somewhere in there is the bridge that provides a few feet of incline in an otherwise pancake course. By mile 4 I start feeling a little like crap. When the split comes back at 6:44 I realize I’ve been pulling like 1:27-1:28 half pace the whole time, instead of my planned negative splits. Apparently the gigantic head got carried away with all the “high performance” stuff. I consciously try to back it down a notch because we’ve got a long way to go. Code then leaves me like a red headed stepchild and pushes on the gas. Fine – be that way!

Next few miles are more of the same, mostly generic condos and shady streets with a few marsh views thrown in. The course is so flat, I’m trying to change my gait at times to use different muscles. I start getting passed by a few people, notably a pack of college kids from Berry College. I don’t know where Berry is, but I’m pretty sure its not Division I if these guys are pacing with the Albino Sasquatch. To their credit, they surge ahead, but I keep them in sight.  Around 6 miles the course splits off from the marathon and I get a lift that we are at least headed back in the general direction of the finish. 6.5 mile mat reads 44:30.  Pretty soon after, some skinny tall dude pulls up alongside, and damned if it isn’t Brandenburg. I’m so glad JB traveled 200 miles only to shame me once again. He leaves me in the dust as I start entering Debbie Downer mode.

The next few miles provide some nice change in scenery, with a few trips on the golf course cart path and, for a glorious 50 meters, an actual view of the ocean. Imagine that. The turns and twists feel like crap, though, and my pace starts to bleed into the 7:05 range. I’m realizing exactly what hard 5k training will do for you in a half – I’m not breathing hard at all but my legs feel like absolute lead. I’m beginning to feel like the wheels may be coming off soon – it feels a lot warmer, the stomach feels like giving back the little bit of GU I could choke down, and there’s not much motivation. But then I see it…the Code is getting reeled in. After the Sanctuary hotel grounds we’re back near the start line, and I get a boost from my hot Sherpa cheering me on. Off (literally) come the gloves, and it’s time to go catch some Code. It doesn’t take long because dude is definitely hurting – starts moaning about the course being boring, how he’s going to throw up, etc. etc. Sounds like he’s taking a page from the Tyler McGaha book of lamentations.  It’s always nice to pass the Code, but I could probably use a good puke too. Mile 10 comes back at 7:04 and it just pisses me off. OK – just a 5k to go, about 21.5 minutes to break 1:30. I start methodically pushing in all my chips, ramping up the pace. I’m going much harder effort-wise than the start but only getting the same 6:40’s in return. Once mile 12 hits, it’s time to Blue Shoe it.  I finally pass an older guy who I talked to at the start aiming for a 1:29. I’m hurting pretty bad, but then some young guy flies past me, offering some words of encouragement. Oh hellz no. I ride his tail for a while and I see JB and now MC Cox up ahead. Having some new carrots on a string helps me push it even harder, but the legs are really protesting about the abuse now. Finally I hear the announcer and see the last turn ahead. Headless chicken mode is engaged as I round the turn with the American flags, which I remember so well from the ’14 race.  With 100 meters to go, I pull a total Leeds Barroll meets Usain Bolt sprint. Unfortunately, the announcer takes off the stealth mode from my attack on MC and she ramps it up 1000 percent. I pass a couple of Berry college kids, and with one ridiculous sub 4 surge nip the guy who passed me a half mile ago, at the line. Mr. Nobile, I’m sorry/not sorry for ruining your finish pics. Official time of 1:29:21 /6:49 pace. About as good as I could have hoped for in this (air quotes) training (/air quotes) cycle. What’s even better – 5 deep masters and 5 deep age groups yielded me a 3rd in the 40-44. No coveted pelican trophy (overall, masters and grandmasters) but the age group awards are really nice wood plaques.

In the half, Chris Bailey rocked a 1:11 to take the overall win. He barely edged me out for the 2015 Rose Fest double down win. Barely.  Erin Miller crushed a 1:23 en route to a 4th overall. Columbia was well represented in the masters women with Linn Hall 1st, MC Cox 3rd and Ivanka Tolan 5th. PR’s for both Linn (1:27) and Ivanka (1:32), I believe. Brandenburg took 3rd as a newly minted grandmaster. Justin Bishop was 4th in a brutally competitive 35-39. Mario Alvarez PR’d with a 1:36 for 4th in the 50-54. Sue Porter captured 4th in the women’s 60-64, while Pete O’Boyle did the same among the men. Jesse Smarr rocked a 5th in the 75-99.

In the marathon, my Palmetto 200 teammate Rob Gannett killed it with a 3:01, good for a BQ and 2nd in the 35-39. Noel Schuch took 2nd in the 40-44.

Lots of Columbians in the 2800+ runners:

Half: Drew Williams, Darrell Brown, Julia Norcia, John Bradley, Ken and Sheila Bolin, Derek and Jamie Gomez, Michael and Kate Ferlauto, Israel Bilbao, Jason Lockhart, Kelly Ghent, Alan Humphries, Teresa Harrington, Mkie Wainscott, Brent Shealy, Mark Stout, Sam Hilliard, Dawn and Dave Hale, Lisa and Jesse Smarr, Paul Laymon, Lauren Holliday, Peter Mugglestone, Sandra Riccuito, James Dubose, Kim La, Kana Rahman, Krystal McManus, Anthony Hernandez.

Full: Hal Ray, Winston and Kimberly Holliday, Alecia Milling, Mike Griffin, Michael Jensen and Jason Thompson. Special shout out to my original running partner Emily Granberry and husband Michael – Emily finished her first full while training as a mom with 3 kids under 5!

Sorry if I missed anyone – let me know!