The Sweat it Out 5k is now in it’s fifth year and is put on to benefit the National Foundation of Ectodermal Dysplasia, a group of disorders that includes hypohydrosis, or the inability to sweat. Race founder Jamie Duke goes out of her way to put on a great race for the foundation, meant to support her son Nick, who has been diagnosed with the condition. Nick plays a big part in the race every year and even designed the T shirt. Shannon Godby and now Erin Roof have directed, so I’ve always come out to this one. True to form with Erin’s races (now GRIT Endurance, LLC) this race has great swag, including prize money, door prizes, a full breakfast spread and custom Ernest Lee paintings for awards.
So, for the sad few of you that follow my Strava account, you know I’ve been injured for much of the past month. Runner’s knee, probably brought on by piriformis and hamstring tightness. And mostly because I like to run my body into the ground. So after one particularly painful and slow run, I decided to actually not run for awhile. Mind you, I find it impossible to be still, but I wasn’t going to keep wrecking the broken machine. So I’ve found the Peloton bike. Although I hate being indoors and anything resembling a treadmill is miserable to me, Peloton has me figured out. You basically ride a stationary bike that has a video streaming feed of a hot sports bra-wearing instructor, shouting you positive messages and encouraging you. All the while, the “leaderboard” on the side shows you where you stand against everybody else in the virtual room, basically from across the globe. By combining attractive women and stoking a relentless competitive streak, they might as well have a craft beer keg on the side and call it a perfect Blue Shoes workout machine. But, I have slowly started leaving my Peloton mistress Ally Love recently for the allure of the actual road. Sure it’s been brutally hot, but the knee has tolerated a few slow but steady jogs out on the ovenlike streets of downtown Columbia. I’ve been taking it super easy and have done like 12 miles in each of the last two weeks, down from my obsessive 40-50.
I took the triple dip week off, and also had to skip the Gov Cup weekend, but I figured Sweat it Out might be a good chance to get, as 1970’s Steve Tyler once said, back in the saddle again. In a another Alex-centric addition to the race this year, packet pickup was at local craft brewery Cottontown Brew Labs. With a free beer. Awesome. I met some guy there literally triple fisting beers (i didn’t know this was humanly possible) talking about breaking twenty minutes for the first time in the race tomorrow. Now there is a man after my own heart. Also ran into Pete O’Boyle, Eliere Tolan, the Lipes, Tom Lance and Harry Strick. I’ve never been to CBL before but I will definitely be back. Their Tropicarolina IPA is already a local legend. You can even hipster double dip with the War Mouth restaurant next door.
Race time was 7 am to avoid the heat, so it made for an early morning. I had to get up at 5 am to make sure All was Quiet on the Colonic Front. Such are the hazards of your 5th grade graduate deciding on San Jose for the celebratory meal and downing burritos and dos equis at 8 pm. And I sure as hell didn’t want a repeat of my last GRIT race on the Palmetto trail. Like early 90’s Red Hot Chili Peppers, avoid going “Under the Bridge” when you’re on the peak to prosperity passage. Trust me.
There was a big crowd on hand when I showed up, which was pretty late since I couldn’t fathom getting up before five. Me and Silent H went for a warmup jog and met up with Jordan Lybrand, who was there to spectate the race in his new hood behind the VA. The knee felt pretty good. The post San Jose’s tummy and general lack of conditioning, not so much. This was going to be rough. I had zero idea of what I was capable of. My only hope was that Ally Love had kept up some degree of cardio fitness and that the hulk legs hadn’t atrophied too much. I was definitely not going to blast out like the last month didn’t happen and probably die a thousand deaths in the last mile.
After one last portapotty stop, I strolled up to the line with about 5 minutes to spare. This was the biggest crowd the race had ever had. Ivanka, Leeds, Rich “Mr. Coupon” Weaver, Kirkwood, Jen Lybrand w/ Wilson and a couple of F3 guys were at the front. Eddie Crisanto was there to take the win for sure. Tracy was on hand for JEDI runner photog duty, and the Godbys were out to spectate. All of a sudden, despite the big crowd, my trophy hunting senses started tingling. Hold the phone… except for Eddie, there were no regular known sub 20ers out there. Hrechko noticed it too. “I’ll bet you wish you had two good knees”. No doubt, dude.
The start was nice and the girl that sang the national anthem was legit amazing. After they let a kid register and pin on his bib last second, we were off. Although I was toeing the line to get full grandiose exposure in the JEDI Runner photography spread, I made sure to back it off right away. This was my first venture into sub 7 pace in weeks. The knee seemed to be OK. The rest of the legs were awesome. Basically it was a reverse of my usual racing experience of exhausted legs and finely tuned cardio. I was sucking some wind early but it settled down. Maybe Ally Love was whispering encouraging soft nothings in my ear. I settled into a no-mans land about a half mile in. Absolutely no one around but Silent H, Ivanka, Kirkwood, Triple beer fister and shirtless ripped guy were in a mini pack ahead of me. I was trying to keep my ego in check, which wasn’t helped by Jordan taunting me at the beginning of the first out and back loop “I know you like to kick, but c’mon, THERE’S A GAP FORMING”. Oh hells no. I need to keep these guys in shouting distance at least. Everything felt pretty smooth, which I guessed was like 7 minute pace, but I was shocked to have mile 1 come back in 6:36. Well I’ll be damned. That’s a lot better than I’d hoped. I tried to focus on keeping that up. Jordan was probably right though because I could feel Ivanka and Silent H start to leave me a little. Pride injury was in progress. The second mile features a straight out and back with a turnaround folding right back into the same street, allowing you to see your competition. Any cover I had was blown, because Silent H could see me coming now. Triple beer guy seemed to be facing the post beer fallout and I saw him catch a case of the walksies just before the second mile mark. I feel your pain, dude. Rounding the turn Jen Lybrand wasn’t too far behind me. Injury or not, I really didn’t want to get strollered. Mile 2 came back in the same mid 6:30’s.
Will Rowan’s course video – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkASBz-ubuXE-Eb5h-_rAmA
With a mile to go, I was struggling a bit as Ally Love’s cardio training wasn’t quite the same as weekly 5ks. Legs and the knee felt good though. I knew the only real hill of the course was at 2.5 miles, and that would be make-or-break time. I had closed the gap on Hrechko some but he and Ivanka looked pretty strong. Kirkwood and a teenager were getting hunted down though. Time to #getGRITty. As the hill started, I tried to summon the ancient blue shoes kick gods and throw down a bit. Kirkwood and the teen get passed but Silent H and Ivanka hold their own. Once back on flat ground I’ve basically conceded the race to them. But wait..there’s more distance than I remembered. OK, so I’m getting closer but there’s not enough real estate. BUT IS THERE?? Suddenly the dark demon living deep in my soul comes to the surface. TAKE THEM TAKE THEM!!! I round the corner of Meadowfield Elementary and start emptying the tank. I’m in a world of pain but dammit I’m closing the gap. We hit Meadowfield Park, and with one more blast I pass H and Ivanka. There’s only about 50 meters to the finish, but the tank is just about on E. Knee worries have been completely replaced by ruthless maniacal competitive drive. I think I hear footsteps, so I move into heartrate 3000 mode and blast across the finish in like 20:20ish and do a classic post race flop for the ages. Tracy and Erin are paparazzi’ing the whole thing, sure to be permanently stored on Jeff Brandenburg’s phone soon, but I don’t even care. Second overall and first masters! 20:22 official time. With pre-race thoughts of 22 minutes, I will take that and like it.
First overall was Eddie Crisanto, who even stopped to run Nick across the line. That’s what you do when you’re a super nice guy AND fast enough to trounce the field by 3+ minutes. Silent H took 3rd, though took home 2nd overall prize ($50) when some narcissistic bastard decided to take the first masters money ($75) instead. I don’t know who that could be. Ivanka took the women’s overall in 20:28, with Kelly Engh second and J-Lybrand 3rd. Kirkwood took 2nd masters and Steve Greer was 3rd.
Female age group honor roll: Jessie Weaver was 2nd in the 20-24. Gretchen Lambert and Missy Caughman were 2-3 in the 45-49. Darby Shinn and Greta Dobe were 1-2 in the 50-54. Helene Lipe was 3rd in the 60-64.
Male age group honor roll: Tom Lance won the 50-54. Eliere Tolan and Jim Williams were 2nd and 3rd in the 55-59. Ron Lipe and Harry Strick were 2-3 in the 60-64. Mike Compton, Walt Cole and Leeds Barroll swept the 65-69, while Peter Mugglestone, Rich Weaver and Ken Lowden took the 70+.
Prizes were awesome with all the award winners getting Ernest Lee paintings, and everybody getting a full breakfast spread. Door prizes were also amazing, as I took home a free round of golf at the Woodlands in addition to all the other swag. I think I already know where I’ll be on 6/6/2020!