I hadn’t planned on racing this Saturday. I had double dipped in the mountains at the Hogpen Hill Climb (5k and 18k , http://www.runthehogpen.org/) two weeks ago and was pretty wrecked for the week following that ill-advised decision. I had missed the 2017 Tour de Columbia opener at MLK , so I wanted to get back as soon as possible at the Red Shoe 10k the following week. The results were predictably bad – I ran 6.2 miles on an almost flat course, full effort, and managed about what should be my 20 mile pace. It felt awful . The only positive was some awesome pics with my most deranged family member, Ronald. In the week after that disaster, I caught a nagging cold and I was almost sure I would pull the plug on both races this weekend.
But the addict cannot resist the drug. I got up early thinking I would do CRC picture duty since our expert photog, Tracy, was working. But by the time I had some super strong Starbucks homebrew coursing through my veins, I decided to run Saints.
Run for the Saints is a 2nd year 5k put on by Strictly Running team member MC Cox, going to benefit St Joseph’s Catholic School. Like most events put on by runners, MC’s race was a big success last year and she was quick to bring it back to the Tour in 2017. It drew a pretty competitive field last year and had the added bonus of attendance by the giant headed St Joseph’s cardinal mascot. I was in.
The course is a very fast Shandon rectangle, basically the Race for the Place course backwards. St Joes to Queen st via Blossom and Wheat, then Heyward all the way back to Bonham, finish behind the church on Blossom.
I got there super early, always bothering the registration table before they are even set up. It was cold as balls. Sixty degrees last Saturday and barely over 30 this weekend. I’ll take cold all day over hot though. Did a couple of miles with the Code and Sara Bonner. Code hadn’t raced since his spontaneous combustion at Kiawah.
Lots of beasts out there to support MC. Striggles and John Charlton looked like early favorites for the men. Women’s side was more elite than usual with Shawanna, Erin Miller and Linn. Eric and Sarah Allers would be likely to take masters. With overall and masters off my radar, it looked like me and the Code would be fighting it out for 2nd and 3rd, with Phil Midden likely taking the win (and assuming Striggles in the overall – damn the 40-44 is brutal) Thankfully, Drew Williams and Luke Godwin are still a shade too young. Larry Jourdain was making a rare appearance. Geary , the OG, Henry Holt, Mike Compton, Arnold Floyd, and Alex Ponomarev were also on board from a quick scan of the start line.
The start was pretty brisk with all the competition. My legs hadn’t tasted real 5k pace since Cold Winters Day and they were none too happy. The newly healed gimpy hamstring was definitely giving me a WTF are you doing?? twinge. Code was riding my shoulder like a hairy yellow albino monkey and Luke was also in our vicinity. Drew was crushing it like usual out of the blocks and Linn was up ahead as well. Mr. Hammy warmed up and the twinge went away, and I settled into a groove, pretty much lock step with the Code. I felt like I was motoring pretty well, but Luke dropped us near the mile mark. I was pretty sure we were pulling 6:05ish pace. Maybe I can back it off a touch in mile 2 since we’re going so hard. NOPE. Garmin spit out a 6:24. Hopefully there werent any children out on Wheat St, because there was some serious F bombage and other Debbie Downer grumblings.
It felt good to hit the turnaround on Queen, since I get a boost from knowing I’m no longer running away from where I’m trying to go. I use the turn on Queen to kick it up a notch, leaving the Code in a mid-race funk and passing Luke in the process. Turning back on Heyward, I’m pretty much on my own. Just my sasquatch feet pounding the pavement and my wind suckage to keep me company. Coming over a rise on Heyward, I’m surprised I can still see the lead police car. By the time mile 2 nears, I’ve reeled in Drew and Linn a bit, split came back at 6:16.
I was hurting pretty bad by this point, but I think my oxygen deprived brain promised my legs I could skip the Dutch Fork race if I threw down in mile 3. Plus, Linn and Drew kept inching closer. Beast mode was engaged. Heyward has a little climb right before it does a little squiggle over Ott street. I hit the incline hard and got within about 10 meters of the Hall/Williams combo. Unfortunately for me, I think they were locked into a bit of a pissing match. My favorite tactic is to stealth pass an unsuspecting solo runner – but these guys were both blasting away against each other. I think Brad Marlow blew my cover at the Heyward/Bonham corner anyway. At least I couldn’t hear anyone behind me. The final half mile on Bonham is actually a gradual incline, but I had already pushed in all the kick chips. The last 800 meters was pretty much a blur – just all out headless chicken, running on fumes. I was almost sure I would overtake at least Drew, but damned if they werent flying too. I missed the mile 3 split (5:50 per Garmin – holy crap) and turned the last corner as the clock flipped to the 19’s. One last blast to the finish, just steps away from Drew and Linn, 19:23. I will take it. My second 5k in a row where I started too slow and had to throw a sub 6 down to get back my usual 19:10-19:30 range. Good enough for 1st in AG though OJ and Midden took 1st and 3rd overall since Charlton got hampered by an injury.
As mentioned, Striggles cruised to the victory a step ahead of Shawanna in the first part of their double dip. Eric Allers snagged second with Midden third. Erin Miller and Linn Hall finished out the ladies’ podium on a good day for the SR team. John Charlton still won male masters despite the bum hamstring. Sarah went sub 21 en route to the female masters win. Larry Jourdain crushed a sub 19 at age 54 for the male grandmasters win. Mary Naligan won among the women.
Age group glory: MC’s son Chaplin Cox took 1st in the 7-8, with daughter Olivia winning 2nd in the 9-10. Linn’s daughter Ellie won 2nd in the 11-12. New Columbia college track recruit Brittany Robbins claimed the 15-19, followed by 2nd generation CRCers Katy Hall and Katie Weber. Drew Williams and Luke Godwin went 1-2 in the 35-39. Jennifer Glass took 2nd in the 40-44, with Code second among the men. Heather Hawn was 2nd in the 45-49. Lisa King won the 50-54 women. Geary McAlister, John Bradley and Tug Quarles swept the 55-59. Robbie McLendon, Mike Compton and Ron Lipe won the 60-64. Helene Lipe won the 60-64 women. Alex Ponomarev placed 2nd in the 65-69 men, while Leeds Barroll took third, apparently while playing football with his son half the time. Not sure I could pull that off. Brigitte Smith notched another 65-69 win in the first of her double dip. Arnold Floyd, Peter Mugglestone and Henry Holt placed in an uber competitive 70+ group. Hou Yin Chang, John Houser, MC’s husband Trey Cox, Chaplain John Houser, Michael Sakara, Wendy Robbins, Sweat it Out 5k founder Jamie Duke, and RWB’s Kerry Stubbs were other notable finishers.
After I got my mascot fix in with both the St. Joe’s Cardinal and the Chick Fil A cow, I was off to Dutch Fork. With 2 hours in between races, there wasn’t much urgency, and I still got there 45+ minutes early. Since I was already “warmed up”, I broke my mile 3 promise to myself and signed up to race this one too. I gotta lay off the caffeine. Scanning the crowd, it looked good for my age group – didn’t see any of the usual suspects. But, I wasn’t sure if they had masters or masters money, and damned if Johnathan Kirkwood didn’t show up. He was going to make me work for it. This being a high school race, there were a ton of teens there. Not sure how many were XC though.
I was glad to see this race back on tour this year. I heard the RD for 2017 had some health issues, so original RD Kimberly Taylor stepped in with help from Frances O’Toole and some other parents. The race goes to benefit the Special Education Departments at Dutch Fork Middle, Dutch Fork High and Spring Hill High Schools.
There was a decent crowd at the start – Roy Shelley, Shelley Hinson, Harry Strick, Pete Poore, Brie and Quentin McGrievy, Jennifer Reeves, and Rocky Soderberg were all on hand. Brigitte, myself, OJ and Shawanna were the few double dippers.
This race has an interesting course almost completely on the campuses of Dutch Fork high and middle school. They took out a bunch of parking lot loops last year for a much nicer out and back on Old Tamah rd. The first two miles are pretty flat, but the last mile has two nasty “hill repeats” to add on distance, and a climb into the stadium. Finish is 3/4 of a lap on the track and a run onto the football field, similar to Stomp the Swamp.
The start line was cool because they had Foxy, the Dutch Fork mascot, and another Chick Fil A cow. It’s not often you get to quadruple dip on mascot selfies.
The start was crazy with a downhill in the first 100 meters in the parking lot and a ton of high school kids, similar to the Healthy Capital 5k at Columbia High. Temps were 15 degrees warmer for this race, and with the Saints 5k already in my legs, the start was a lot smoother. They take you out of the parking lot just to bring you back for a lap before heading out on Old Tamah. As soon as I left the parking lot, a couple of teens were shocked to see a pasty old man sasquatch leaving them for dead. That is what I live for. What I don’t live for is hitting this “flat and fast” stretch with a 10 mph headwind in my face. Not prepared for that. Plus, with my physique, you get the same wind resistance as an 18 wheeler. With all the wind and turns in the parking lot, I’m actually pleased with the 6:32 split for mile 1 , which is still on the way out.
The turnaround is just a painted circle but plenty of volunteers around it. The field has already separated out by this time. I count OJ, Shawanna and two high schoolish kids ahead of me. Turning around , I see Kirkwood not too far behind. The way back is considerably easier with a tailwind and an ever so slight downgrade. Rocky verifies my 5th place on the way back. Suddenly the course turns at Dutch Fork middle. I pull a left hand turn into the campus, across the back of the pack , similar to my Grand Theft Auto skills. Luckily no one got hit by the Sasquatch bus. There’s a glorious downhill but I know the pain to follow. First a small uphill climb into a small bus loop. Not fun but its pretty short. I see Kirkwood entering just as I leave. Mile 2 in 6:23. The next hill is pretty much torture – a long slog all the way back to Old Tamah only to turn right back around and plunge back down the mountain. Thankfully my mountain climbing in Georgia two weeks ago has paid dividends, because now I’m tracking down a teen guy in a red shirt with early 90’s era Chris Cornell hair. Dude can probably hear the albino elephant stampede behind him, so he is not giving up his position easily. He looks pretty relaxed, so probably some 17 minute xc kid toying with the old man. Up one last hill to the track. My legs are officially toast, screaming from all the morning’s abuse. Actually worse than all the wind suckage, though my lungs are putting on quite the performance as well. We hit the track and I am right on Cornell’s butt. I’m pretty much going 1000 percent by now but I just cant seem to find a seam to pass this guy. Rounding the corner onto the football field, I’m in a full sprint. But But Becky with the good hair is holding me off, we hit the line and I’m a half step behind. Dammit. 19:44.
In my oxygen-deprived brain, I thought my fight with the kid on the track was for a meaningless 4th place. I forgot that Shawanna was one of those places ahead of me. The kid got third male and the 25 bucks. However, somehow the timers were entranced by Revon Landranea’s flowing locks and labeled him as a girl. They initially gave me the cash and 3rd place, but then corrected to give it to Revon. Revon then had to give up the cash since he’s a high school athlete. In a classy move, he gave me the prize money, but I donated it back to the race.
In the overall, OJ and Shawanna made out with some serious cash and CRC points by winning both races. Nelson Addison took 2nd with Revon Landranea taking 3rd among the guys. High schoolers Pippa Richter (I think someone said AC Flora) and Anna Jenkins (Dutch Fork) were 2nd and 3rd female.
Age group honors: Mary O’ Toole placed 3rd in the 14-16. Brie McGrievy was 2nd in the 40-44. Shelley Hinson was champion of the 45-49. Brigitte Smith was 2nd in the 65-69. Joe Greene was 3rd in the 40-44. Johnathan Kirkwood was 1st in the 45-49 with Roy Shelley 2nd. Pete Poore and Harry Strick went 1-2 in the 60-64. Rocky Soderberg won the 70+. Other notable finishers included Jennifer Reeves, Alfred Baquiran, and Jessalyn Smith.