Anyone who knows my training regimen knows my headless chicken Saturday morning efforts are the product of relentless daily afternoon slog jogs through the Soda City. I am continually amazed by those of you that throw down tempos and speed sessions during the week, while I’m out there loping along to mid 90s alternarock getting passed by hobby joggers.
But there’s one exception… Strava segments.
Like little invisible dangling carrots, segments stoke my raging competitive narcissism and I can’t help but throw down every now and then to get on the leaderboard. I too am the author of a few segments, including the infamous MOUNT LYNHAVEN , which gets my vote for worst hill in the Columbia area (with consideration for Henderson St as well). But what about a segment named after me?
A couple of months ago, I was so eager to check out Drew and Tracy’s potential new house on Heyward St that I decided to run over there from the Y and take a look. It was already under contract though they were having work done on it. Somehow that led me to believe that it was unoccupied. I was wrong. A sweaty Sasquatch made his way all the way to the backyard before seeing a car and some kid’s toys. Total panic. My mind immediately filled with images of being the next perp on OPLive, with 250 lb muscle-beast Deputy Garo Brown tackling me in the middle of Shandon for trespassing. I feel like that would be hard to explain to the SC medical board. In any event, Tracy decided to christen the two blocks (0.18 miles) in front of the new house as the “BLUE SHOE CREEPER” segment.
And if you’re going to have a segment named after you, then you should probably be its champion, right? One problem. Strava segment leaderboards automatically populate with previous runs. A certain Eric Westog, who crushed the Run for the Saints 5k in 4:50 something pace, held the Creeper record – an even 1:00. I tried twice to take it down in the late summer heat, after a few miles. No dice. Like 1:03, 1:04. So close, yet so far away. I made it my mission to take down the record, and the Blue Shoes SUB 1 (minute) project was born.
After a few weeks of my empty promises to race it, Tracy and Drew moved in and agreed to stage an official photodocumented attempt. I would come down there, in my VAPORS, fresh legs, cooler weather, with traffic control (yeah, we’ll get back to that) and of course plenty of pics and a celebratory beer. I guess it was time to get off the pot.
I showed up around 4 and was ridiculously nervous for something that absolutely, positively, had no bearing on anything whatsoever. Somehow I had worked this thing up to be a metaphor of my total value as a runner. Seems logical, right? I warmed up for about 2 miles around Shandon and felt like trash. This was going to suck.
Finally we set it up. Simple straight route on Heyward from Woodrow to Queen. Tracy at the finish for pics and Drew at King Street to avoid me getting T boned at the intersection. I strolled down to Woodrow, and figured I’d give myself about 10 meters for the Blue shoes bus to get rolling into the start. I waited for the light to turn green and just blasted out of the gate. My first sensation, other than my hat wanting to fly off my head, was that I was most certainly every bit of 47 years old. All achy from my slog jog miles and not used to ever approaching this kind of speed, not even on race day. First block seemed OK. Drew was there filming at King Street and no cars were there. Unfortunately I had a sense I was being tailed by one but I don’t dare look back at sprint speed, since I’d probably end up eating pavement. Second block was another story. First, my legs started bathing in the lactic acid of the first 200 meters. Second, there was a car waiting to pull out of the Heyward St United Methodist church. I have run past that church perhaps hundreds of times in the past decade plus. Number of cars pulling out: ZERO. But this woman picked this particular moment to potentially destroy the dream of the SUB 1. Perhaps it was the car behind me, but more likely the absolutely terrifying scene of a runaway freight train of a man that gave her pause. As I blasted by her, three teens were mocking me on the sidewalk, Drew and Tracy were screaming at me, and there were possibly other cars involved too. It was a complete scene, probably going to end up on the Shandon Nextdoor site. The last ten meters were pretty much torture, the legs turning to stone and my pace plummeting. I crashed through the “finish” as hard as I could and ran over a bit to make sure it captured the segment. Legs and lungs were absolutely on fire. I immediately saved the run and it seemingly took forever to upload to Garmin/Strava. Please…please..please… BEEP . I saw the run pop up with a golden crown and 57 SECONDS. Wooooooooooo! PROJECT SUB 1 COMPLETE.
I was pathetically happy with this. I’m embarrassed to say it made my week. It may be broken by the time you read this, but for now, I am the BLUE SHOE CREEPER CHAMPION. Thanks so much to Tracy and Drew for the support, photodocumentation and of course the celebratory beer.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEDI RUNNER PHOTOGRAPHY