Winter Challenge Triathlon – Springfield, SC – 2/17/18

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For the last couple of years, I’ve made a point of trying to race some different events that are unique or challenge me in some other way than my standard weekly road race.  A couple of years ago, Columbia Running Club legend Lisa Smarr talked up this event  – something she and her husband (former 2:20ish marathoner and tri beast) Paul Laymon  had done for several years. It was a triathlon not of the typical swim/road bike/road run but of a 7 mile trail run, 6 mile kayak and 10 mile mountain bike. I balked initially at the idea, since I didn’t have a mountain bike and had never kayaked in my life. Ever since the atomic bonk of the 2012 downtown tri (i.e. the one I thought I could wing the swim on zero training and ride a borrowed mountain bike in a hilly road course) I have been seriously gun shy about doing any tri I for which I wasn’t thoroughly prepared.  But time passes. I end up meeting one of the Winter Challenge race directors (I think Chris Williams)  at the 2016 Heathwood Deck the Hall race and I finally bought an old used mountain bike to schlep the trails out at Sesqui. He and Lisa assured me I could just rent a kayak from Nature Adventures, who provided them to all the noobs wanting to race. I guess I didn’t have an excuse now. I think I saw the event on facebook a few months back, and in typical Blue Shoes two-beered mode, decided to take the plunge.

But that was months ago, and with the Columbia Running Club annual banquet to plan and my typical obsessive running/racing/tennis/kids activities schedule, it got put on the back burner. I did manage to get on the Bill Clinton era cannondale a few times out in Sesqui, once with fellow psychiatrist Michael Ferlauto and another with fellow psychiatrist and certifiably insane Jeff Brandenburg.  JB decided to put me through a Tour de Torture on the sandy hell of Sesqui,  where I ended up wiping out at least 4 times on a 10 miler. I think the bike got shelved since then.

So Winter Challenge weekend rolls around, and my “training” involved a few 50 mile running weeks culminating in last week’s leg-annihilating triple dip, 2 mountain bike rides, and absolutely zero paddling/kayaking. But hey, I paddled the Tyger river with my 11 year old last year in a canoe, so totally the same, right?

I had planned to join in on the Winter Challenge party atmosphere and camp out at the Dome Farms site in Springfield on Friday, but my suburban dad duties went a-calling and I had to take my son Jack to his baseball practice while the wife had a girls night. I had planned to follow up the Winter Challenge with a trip to the World beer festival with Drew, Mike Nance and McGrievy, but Jack’s boy scouts had camping at Sesqui that Saturday also. I figured showing up daydrunk with my 9 year old (who also wanted to come)  amongst the Boy Scouts would be poor form, so I had to nix the beering. The sacrifices I make for my children.

With the race at 10 am and the site at least an hour away, I left at 7 to make sure I got everything squared away well ahead of time. Yeahhh, we’ll get back to that. On the way, I blew by some truck with kayaks, so I figured I was going to the right way. A couple of seconds later JB calls me and wonders if I’m the jack hole hauling ass down 321 like its a Nascar track. Yep, he was recruited by Paul to run the 7 mile trail run for his relay team since Paul had an injury and couldn’t run.  After forever and several 30 mph speed traps through Gaston, Swansea and Springfield, we finally get to Dome Farm. Well, I should say JB and Paul did, since I decided to turn the wrong way at the sign and head towards Red Bank/Pelion oblivion before JB called and got me back on course.

I got there about 2 hours ahead of time and picked up my packet and got set up by Nature Adventures. The guy was kind enough to give me some kayaking tips and fit me into something suitable for my Sasquatch frame. Got my bike racked in the transition, all set. Lots of Columbia people on hand for this one. Lois Leaburn, Teresa Harrington, Mike Wainscott, Ken Lowden, Patti Lowden, Winston Holliday, Alfred Baquiran, Renee and Patrick McCormick and Chesson Merritt were on hand, in addition to Paul and JB. Michael and Kate Ferlauto were on relay teams with Kate’s brother Will and his wife Lorien. Sadly, Lisa Smarr was sick this week and had to pull the plug on this year’s event. Word has it she might have been weakened by being sucked into a triple dip last weekend by some idiot. Just rumors, I’m sure.

JB and I decided to do a brief 2-ish mile run warmup and it was still well before 9:30. We then decided to go out on the bike and see some of the combined run/bike course. Everything was fine until JB looks concerned about 2.5 miles in, and he says we should have finished one of the loops by now. So we decide to turn around. At some point we come back to the EXACT SAME SPOT and realize we have gone around in a big circle. Minor panic ensues. JB accesses the “return to home” feature on his Garmin and we try to go back. Nope. Meanwhile, the time is ticking and its already past 9:40. The pace gets quicker as more panic sets in. 9:50 and we still don’t know where the hell we are. Finally, about 9:55 we realize we’re in the right place and haul ass through the forest at mach 5 , arriving at the transition area at 9:58 with the pre-race briefing in progress. I rack my bike like a headless chicken, run at 400m pace to my car, throw on my ankle strap timing chip, pound whatever water and coffee I have in the car, and sprint back to the start. I usually hate late starts at races, but I’ve never been more thankful for this one. With my heart rate probably at 160, I hear they will get underway in 10 minutes. I’m exhausted but at least I have a second to relax. I am sweating and puffing away like I just finished half the tri already. I ran into Winston again at the start and he said he was doing the duathlon this year after doing the tri before. When I asked him if the kayak was really that bad, the look he gave me spoke volumes. Ruh roh.

PART I – 7-ish mile trail run

With the start, I try and lay back a little, not trying to jack up my heart rate again after the terrifying “warm-up”.  First 2.5 miles are a loop on the other side of the lake, not the 5-ish mile loop that me and JB already extensively toured.  I’m definitely warmed up, so the 7:30ish miles are not too bad. JB has left me for dead since he is just doing the run. After the slowish start, I pick it up some after finish the first loop. The other loop is decidedly more technical, so I’m making decent gains on the field by just maintaining pace. At some point I hit a 5 mile marker at 4.46 miles by Garmin. I just hope I’m not getting lost again.  A little later I catch a guy with  a 2015 era Harbison trail shirt (the SCROTUM edition) and he says he knows Rick, though I haven’t seen him on the roads. Six miles in and I start to really throw the hammer down, figuring I might need to have a substantial lead on the field going into disciplines I never do. I catch some guy who tells me to trash talk his nephew up ahead. I catch the nephew near the 7 mile mark, but there’s clearly more distance to go. I make sure and tell him his uncle is getting ready to kick his ass and then Blue Shoe him in the process. I hit the mat around 56 minutes for about 7.3 miles. Fairly wiped from the effort over the last mile but not too bad.

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JB heckling me and the ambulance ready to take me

Part II – 6 mile kayak

So I jump in my rented kayak, in the first corral based on the run pace I submitted, and go to own. I hear Ken Lowden shout that I’m a natural. I plow ahead for a  few minutes and realize one thing: my whole upper body hates me. While my 11 year old son and I could fly down the Tyger river in a canoe, this was a completely still lake and I was embarrassingly slow. I knew there were 3 laps of this thing, and I wasn’t even halfway done with the first lap before I knew I was in a world of trouble. As it turns out, about half the loop was clear sailing and the other half involved navigating around trees and stumps and whatever the hell else was out there in this Dagobah like environment. In addition to being painfully slow, I was taking all the wrong lines and coming incredibly close to capsizing or crashing. I got hung up on a log once but somehow managed to free myself. I should note I was probably in the top 10 in the run, so I was getting passed by seemingly EVERYBODY. First relatively fit guys, then average Joes, older women, basically anyone with any kayaking ability whatsoever. After navigating the swampy part, I was so glad to finally hit the open water again. Of course, this is where people with actual paddling strength just fly by me like I’m sitting still, which I basically am. I remember the day before the race seeing Lisa Smarr in a paddling picture wearing gloves. I was so proud of being prepared and bringing gloves too. Those gloves were currently sittingin the middle of my passenger seat of my 2005 Honda pilot. I suddenly recalled this due to my hands screaming for relief from the multiple blisters forming. Awesome. I started gripping the paddle like an animal without opposable thumbs, desperately trying to save the area between my thumb and forefinger already rubbed raw. Of course this was even less efficient.  For those without small children, there is a character called Robee on the show “Yo Gabba Gabba”.

robeeBrobee has long, limp, lifeless arms. All I could think of on Lap 2 was that I was Brobee in a boat. My arms and shoulders were so wrecked that they were almost numb. Plus my core was wiped from stabilizing and steering the boat. Oh, and the legs were real thrilled to be crammed into a half sit-half dump taking position for an hour, after blasting a seven miler.  By the start of Lap 3 I was half delirious and just glad I wasn’t Lois, who managed to find herself in the weeds on the bank. At least there was another noob on the course. I hardly recall lap 3, other than I could barely turn the boat and I had to stop a few times and completely redirect the boat. Towards the end of lap 3 I started wailing away once I hit open water, just trying to get this misery over. In my last gasp effort I finally caught up with Podium Patti Lowden. By the time I drifted into the finish, I was just destroyed. I could hardly walk and my arms were just dead weights by my side. Results said 1:17 on the paddle, one of the slowest times out there. I later realized I was actually ahead of the eventual overall winners initially, but got smoked by them and probably 15 other people in the water.

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PART III – 10 mile mountain bike ride

Ok, so I was in no condition to do anything but crash on the couch and have a beer after my embarrassing display on the water. But I still had 10 miles on my 1990’s cannondale with a sketchy gear shifter to go. I entered the transition area in a slow walk. Fifty two seconds just to put a helmet on and grab my bike. I basically chugged whatever was left in my one water bottle I brought to the race. Jumping on my bike, I knew this was going to be an epic struggle. There was no part of my body that wasn’t sore and exhausted. At least there was a big Columbia cheering section at the transition. The start was the same 2.5 mile loop from the run. Thankfully not too technical with some decent flat, open stretches. That didn’t save me from getting passed again by people presumably with biking skills and/or any energy whatsoever. After the 2.5 mile loop I was dying for some water, so I actually stopped and chugged multiple shots of HEED and water which I think was actually for the run course. Brandenburg was heckling me the whole time and telling me how bad I sucked. Dude, I know.  Some random girl in a lounge chair even told him to go easy on me. The next 3 plus miles were on the trails that JB and I had already gotten to know from our ridiculously frenetic warm up. Some flats but more single track and some tight muddy areas. I had a couple of near wipe outs and  I basically wrecked when my left handle bar hit a tree and sent me catapulting forward. Luckily I was so damn slow that I was able to catch myself before I fell. Five miles in the course suddenly crosses over highway 39. I’m hoping there may be a road stretch but its only a crossing, and I’m thrown back in the woods. My only solace is that there is a nice long open stretch leading into the next loop. Great! Maybe I’m done with the technical stuff? Wrong. Dead wrong. Suddenly I’m navigating the narrowest, hilliest area of the whole course. No way my legs can power through this – basically have to hop off and power walk my bike like a third grader through any time I hit anything remotely difficult.  Seven miles in, some kids are giving out more of the shot glasses of HEED/water. They are also offering, in a much more enthusiastic way, “DO YOU WANT WATER SPLASHED IN YOUR FACE!!??”. Being half delirious, I tell them no and grab their larger “face splashing” cup and chug it like a champ. They implied that cup may be less than hygienic, but damned if I cared at that point.  At nine miles, I am dead man biking but I suddenly hit the flat stretch again heading back towards the highway and hopefully, the finish. I instinctively gear up to the big wheel, and it appears my millennial aged bike has had enough I hear a crunch and my floppy chain jumps off the drivetrain. Between the crazy warm February day (70’s) and my dehydrated, exhausted self, putting the chain back on is a freaking feat of strength. I’ve faded so far back in the field by now I actually don’t get passed in my bike repair session. The last mile is a total blur – just going as hard as I can on the flat open stretch to home.  The bike feels a little off but I can’t tell whether its the wonky machine or the even wonkier person riding it. Finally I see the finish and roll on in in 3:24,  a 1:09 split for the bike, slower than I run 10 miles on the road. 34th place. But sweet baby Jesus I am glad to be done. I have not been that physically destroyed in a long time. I think the only thing close was the BQ marathon in Kiawah. So freaking weak.

 

What definitely was not weak was the post race spread. Awesome BBQ, hash, rice, rolls and apple pie. And a keg of Mama’s Little Yellow Pils. These guys know how to do a race right. JB introduced me to Brian Curran from Outspokin’ Bicycles in Columbia who was really nice to fix my chain and do a quick tune up on the gears of my geriatric bike. Thanks, Brian! I had to leave early to go camping but they had a bunch of swag to give away as well.  I will be back!

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2504469905

https://runsignup.com/Race/SC/Springfield/winterchallengesc

Thanks to Bryan Leaburn, Teresa Harrington and Ken Lowden for the pics!

 

 

 

 

 

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Triple Dip 2018 – Race for the Place/Lagniappe 5k/Cupid’s Chase 5k – Columbia,SC – 2/10/18

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The triple dip. Like a runner’s solar eclipse, the perfect storm of three races being geographically and temporally arranged to complete them all in one morning is an exceedlingly rare event. In the annals of Columbia Running Club lore, the only known triple dip occurred on March 2, 2013. That triple was completed by John Gasque, Cheryl and Tommy Outlaw, James Hicks and myself. That triple was made immensely more difficult since the old March for Meals course at the zoo was delayed by a train by 15 minutes, and had all the triplers get to the second race less than 10 minutes from the start. And of course there was the beauty of the secondary challenge of that day, Tyler “Trophy” McGaha seeking a rare Blue Shoe win by taking me on in the last race of the day. Let’s just say victory is sweet.

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Triple Dip 2013

https://tourdeblueshoes.com/2013/03/10/triple-dip-march-for-meals-5k-colorectal-cancer-awareness-5k-race-judicata-5k-3213/

I should say that the triple, to be properly done, should be as close to 5k race effort as possible. Most regular runners are not going to have any problem running 9.3 miles (presuming all are 5ks). It’s the intensity of the 5k effort that is the challenge. Just one 5k, if raced at full effort, is brutal. Doing it 3 times in a row should hurt like hell.

This year, everything fell into place again, though very late. The webmaster or somebody put up an 8:00 am start for the Lagniappe 5k originally, but the sleuthery of Roy Shelley resulted in the realization that this was an error, and 9 am was the actual start. So, 2 weeks before the event, we now had the Race for the Place 5k in Shandon at 8, the Lagniappe 5k at City Roots/Owens Field Park at 9 and Cupid’s Chase at Maxcy Gregg Park at 10. The perfect storm had arrived.

I advertised this fact on the Columbia Running Club facebook site and even made an impassioned plea during our awards banquet for any possible triplers out there. I thought I was probably on my own. I don’t know why people balk at the idea of blowing 90 bucks to submit themselves to a morning of psychological and physical torture . Jeez.

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As an expert level double dipper, I planned everything in advance. I was very thankful Strictly Running had early packet pickup for the last 2 races, so that would cut down on time. Jordan Lybrand prepared a route where I could actually run between all three. While actually possible, the logistics of navigating 14+ miles and potential for rain made me wuss out on that option. Next time, Jordan, next time. My race strategy was to go balls out in the Race for the Place, and then survive the last two. While I didn’t think three sub 20’s were likely, I wanted to at least get close. “B” goal was to definitely go faster than my 15k PR of 1:01:50. Hopefully place in age group in all 3. Knowing RFTP was the most competitive, this is the reason for the all out effort in race one.

Race prep included not sleeping a whole lot on Thursday post-CRC banquet and beer/pizza at Upper Crust on Friday night. I showed up to my getaway spot in front of St Joe’s church about an hour early and warmed up with the Silent H. Of course, my legs feel like crap and I’m cursing my decision to do a 6 miler on Friday afternoon. Plenty of fast peeps are already there and I’m already not liking my masters/age group chances. Eric Allers is still bitter over the Cold Winter’s blue shoeing and Mike Nance is going to kick my ass age group-wise. Both will probably beat me for masters glory. I’m interested who will win this race as Blythewood high/CRC beast Alan Deogracias has some serious competition with #triathalonAF Adam Feigh and brand new CRC member Mike Schrum toeing the line. Justin was hunting for the top team pizza party prize and there was a big TUS contingent with myself, Justin, Sean Marden, Nance, Sara Bonner, Sheila Bolin, and Mario Alvarez. Joyce was also there with huge Team Utopia Youth representation, including newly turned 9 year old phenom Kendra Miles going for the 5k state record. Randy would be facing off with his “identical twin” nemesis Johnathan Kirkwood. Other familiar faces included Sarah Allers, Pamela Knapp, Ken Lowden, Kat Hudgins, Tammy Carter, Marie Demetriades, Kimberly Taylor, Derek Gomez and his daughter Madelyn, Reese and Melinda Petruzzi, Alsena Edwards, Mario Tudor, Jennifer Tudor, Arnold Floyd, Sandy Smith, Leeds Barroll, Lois Leaburn, Teresa Harrington, Dave Hale, Brigitte Smith, Sharon Sherbourne and Mickie Ishizue.

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Ryan Plexico and Lisa Smarr showed up a little later and they both said they “might” triple. Missy Caughman is an awesome race director and apparently ran the race as well.

With the gun, the start was predictably fast with all the beasts in attendance, especially because the opening stretch is slightly downhill. My whole body is immediately screaming for this insanity to stop, since I’ve been lazy about speedwork and just logging a metric crap-ton of slow miles recently. I even get mocked on Strava for my 9ish training pace sometimes, but again, it builds up the can of whupass to be unleashed on Saturday mornings. Take that , Strava bullies. By the time we reach the long stretch on Heyward street, the pack has completely thinned out and I am left all alone. I am just close enough to the Allers/Nance/Marden minipack ahead to have them to gauge pace. Mile 1 comes through in a pretty brisk 6:11. Mile 2 is just tough mentally. We’re still heading away from the start and every time I push it a little, the little debbie downer voices start reminding me that there’s 2 more of these to go.  I’m pretty miserable by the time we reach Queen street, the far end of this rectangle course, but its nice to start heading somewhat back towards the finish. It’s really hard to muster up much of an effort because I desperately need someone to push me. Finally mile 2 comes through in 6:36 or something and I realize I’ve really fallen off pace. I start kicking it in,  and I can feel the minipack start to drift ever so slowly back to me. Sean just hiked 400+ miles of Palmetto Trail so he’s falling behind Nance and Allers. I’m really struggling with wanting to make a headless chicken attempt at Sean but I realize the only points/position gain I could get is by catching Allers or Nance, and that just isn’t happening.  Apparently I make a living out of tracking down faster dudes when they’re hurt or recovering, like a giant white vulture feeding on the wounded. But Marden kicks it in enough to avoid the endless shame that poor Allers and Nance have had to endure previously,  and I mount a half-inspired kick to cross in 19:27.  Tracy, who is making sure to photodocument the triple dip, catches some absolutely beautiful finish line pics. I had been complaining of my lack of decent racefaces recently. I will complain no more.

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In the overall, Adam Feigh crushed it for the win in 16:25, followed by Shrum and Deogracias. Justin also broke 17 minutes for 4th.  The ladies’ race was quite the showdown between youth and “experience”, as 12 year old Madelyn Gomez ran a blazing 20:55, followed quickly by 57 year old Sarah Allers in 20:57 and then 9 year old Kendra Miles in 20:59. Kendra’s time is a new state record by at least a minute and a half I believe. But most importantly, TUS won the pizza party. Gotta have your priorities.

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https://runsignup.com/race/results/?raceId=26703#resultSetId-107233

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2489988706

I walked around a bit but realized I needed to head over to the Owens Field area for race number 2. The hard effort at RFTP left my legs pretty wrecked and I was super not looking forward to the Lagniappe. I got confused when I got there and almost parked in Owens Field park but then realized the start was at City Roots. I pulled in with about 15 minutes to spare so all was OK. Unfortunately, I realized the start was about a half mile from the finish, so I would have to factor this in for the triple logistics.

Strictly running had picked this as their preferred event and Brandenburg, Coach B, Drew Williams, Jordan Lybrand, Jennifer Lybrand, Plex and Justin Jones were representing the red and white. It was good to see Kimberly Hardin back racing, and she brought a cheering contingent including fellow runner Teresa Shelton. Columbia Running Club’s royal family, the Weavers, were all on hand as well.  Reese and Melinda Petruzzi were there to complete their double dip, with Bob and Alex joining them as well this time.  Arnold Floyd was also doubling up. Tracy Tisdale was racing , so briefly putting down her camera to actually run. She did manage to steal my iPhone to take most of the start line pics (minus the giant headed self-aggrandizing selfies of course).  Laurie’s son Cotes was also on hand. Eme Crawford  and CRC award winners Kayce Singletary, Rocky Soderberg, and Chesson Merritt, were in attendance.

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The start on this one felt like death. I ran Lagniappe last year on a modified course due to construction, and they were going back to the old one this year. I thought we were being spared the hill on the crawdaddy course by turning left immediately on holt st, but it turned out it was just drawing out the hill on a more gradual plane. This would be fine normally but my legs had gotten super tight and my stomach was grumbling for some eggs and toast, not another gut wrenching 5k effort. It was tough to see Brandenburg and Coach B pull away since I usually hang right with these guys. Ian Loughlin was riding me like a circus monkey early on, but fell off some once we turned on to Waccamaw and got another dose of hill. I finally turned on to Rosewood and my Garmin spat out a 7 minute flat split, and I was deathly afraid my triple was already coming undone. Thankfully the course is basically all flat and downhill from there. I plowed ahead and finally got a little more comfortable after my legs finally realized they were going to be tortured again. I was able to make up a little ground on Coach B and JB, with an unknown girl just behind them.  The long stretch on Holly was thankfully a gradual downhill, and mile 2 came back in a more 10kish 6:28.  Mile 3 dropped us all the way back down to City Roots again and then headed towards Owens Field park with a long lap around the soccer fields. I entered the park with coach B and JB a little closer, thanks to JB wanting to take the scenic route near the old memorial stadium. I wasn’t sure how long the lap was in the park, but I could see the leader still hadn’t finished yet, so I guess the answer was LONG. The course was all on gravel road from here and for whatever reason I had a wild hair that I could maybe catch the guys. As I rounded the far turn, I blasted into full-on headless chicken. I could tell there was probably not enough real estate to get Coach B but unknown girl was about to get caught. I pulled alongside her and she was having none of it, surging ahead. Of course this triggered david banner green-eyed mode in myself, and I ratcheted it up about 4 unknown adrenaline gears into a ridiculous display that must have scared any nearby women and children.  Garmin recorded a 4:40ish pace over the last 0.12 after a 6:10 last mile. Crashed into the finish in 20:14 just behind Coach B in a whirl of fury and pain. Turns out the “unknown girl” was actually Mackenzie Jordan from SR, who took the overall women’s win. Hopefully her victory photos aren’t ruined by an maniacal sasqatchian 42 year old. Good enough for 1st in AG.

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Justin Jones took the overall win in 17:18, with Jordan Lybrand in 2nd in 17:34. Plex completed part 2 of his triple in 18:26. Behind Mackenzie was Jen Lybrand, who ran 23:14 with Wilson. Third went to Kim Hardin in 24 minutes and change – pretty strong for not racing in close to a year.  Drew Williams and Gay Petrey won masters. Age group honors: Cotes Royson was the champ of the 11-14, with Reese and Alex Petruzzi also claiming the podium. Jessie Weaver won the 20-24 with Ian Loughlin  taking 2nd on the men’s side. CRC’s Lauren Mojkowski placed 3rd in the 25-29. Eme Crawford was 3rd in the 35-39. Tracy Tisdale won the 45-49 by a full three minutes. JB squeaked by with the 50-54 win in 13 minutes. Susan Weaver won among the women. Mark Bedenbaugh was champ of the 55-59. The 55-59 featured a double Lisa with Lisa Smarr and Lisa King crossing the finish line together. Harry Strick and Bob Petruzzi claimed the 60-64 men. In the 70+,  Arnold Floyd, Rocky Soderberg and a hoodied Rich Weaver claimed the podium.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/json/Index_JS_C4.asp?uRaceId=2754

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2489989154

Of course my headless chicken finish left me even more wrecked after race #2 . I headed over to the River Rat truck and claimed my post race “breakfast stout” beer, with a bonus extra shot of lager when the keg wouldn’t work. Nothing like double fisting at 9:30 in the morning. I can only imagine what I looked like power walking down Jim Hamilton blvd, soaked in sweat and pounding a beer. I eventually had to do the most blasphemous act of pouring out half the beer since I was running out of time.  When I got to my car they had me barricaded in for the Mardi Gras festival, so luckily some guys helped me out and I tore out of there. I pulled into the lot at the Lourie center (site of my original 2013 CRC banquet as prez) and had to high tail it to the start of Cupid’s Chase with Plex doing the same.

I strolled up to the start and they were already announcing t-minus 6 minutes to the gun. Whew, a close one. Didn’t have a lot of time to gauge my competition, but Nate Carrasco was on hand to give Plex a run for his money. Plex told me he felt like death, and I was right there with him, though it was great to be ready to finish. It was good to see the OG Robbie McLendon and Nicole after a long time. Matt Gregory and Alex Ponomarev were also on hand.   Sandy Smith, Brigitte Smith and Dave Hale were completing a double with RFTP. Lisa Smarr actually registered and walked up to the line less than a minute before the gun. Hardcore.

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At the start, Nate takes off like a man possessed and gaps the field immediately. The first mile starts at Maxcy Gregg and mirrors the first mile of Get to the Green all the way up the hill to the King/Blossom intersection.  My legs are complaining again but I try and force them to cooperate and keep up with Matt. The hill is brutal but it helps me against the field. In my delirium, I see Ken Lowden cheering about my 2nd 5k, which I think I screamed “THIRD!!!” at him in a maniacal frenzy. Sorry, Ken! Despite my efforts, mile 1 is again slower than my half marathon pace in 6:57. But luckily the rest of the course is also flat and downhill like Lagniappe. I had forgotten how long the course stays on Blossom, and I’m practically begging for us to turn right and come back. Finally we hit the turn on Amherst and come back on Wheat. With the long flat stretch and heading back home, I launch into an extended kick well before mile 2. Just so ready to get this done.  I pass Matt and just pray the rest of the way in that he doesn’t blue shoe me in the end. Form is probably going all to hell my now, basically feels like I’m falling forward and trying not to wipe out. Mario Alvarez suddenly appears at Wheat and King and catches some pics of my flopping around. Mile 2 in 6:25. The whole last mile is pretty much a blur. If I can smell the finish, I will give up a lung and my sanity to reach those red numbers. The finish is awesome to this race – flying down Blossom in a reverse of that early climb. There’s a guy in front of me and I can’t tell how old he is, looks vaguely age grouper. With all these bearded millennials , I cant tell the real old from the faux old guys.  To his credit, he kicks it in pretty good, and once we reach 5 points, my gas tank is pegged on E. One half hearted flop towards the finish and I cross in 20:15, 6:05 last mile with a 5:49 kicker. SO glad to be done! Thankfully the age grouper guy was in the 35-39, so I was lucky to get 1st in AG again, especially with the one-deep awards.  The reason for the one-deep is that the swag is crazy good – I got a “love bug” stuffed animal and a 20 dollar gift certificate to BJ’s brewhouse. Pretty nice for an AG award!

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Beauty and the Beast

Overall win in this race went to Nate in 18:39, which I think may be his first win. He’s gotten insanely fast really quickly. Major props to him. Dustin Cook took 2nd and a beatdown Plex still was good enough for 3rd.  I believe Jennifer Newman took the women’s win, as a guy named Joey accidentally got keyed in as a woman. Angela Titus was 2nd and Katy Mayhew 3rd.  In the age groups, Matt Gregory took the 30-34, and Sandy Smith won the 55-59. Robbie McClendon won the 60-64, while Alex Ponomarev and Brigitte Smith were champs of the 65-69.

http://www.strictlyrunning.com/json/Index_JS_C4.asp?uYear=2018&uRaceId=2688&uEvent=5k

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2489989676

I want to send a big shout out to all the Columbia Running Club people supporting me in this ridiculous endeavor, especially Tracy Tisdale for taking all the pics and my fellow triple dippers Lisa Smarr and Ryan Plexico. I didn’t do a triple sub 20, though I did calculate my total time as 59:57  – A 19:59 average.  Plus my last mile of my last 5k was the fastest, so I’m pretty pleased with the effort.  It was a blast!

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