Run Hard Turkey Day 5k – Lexington, SC – 11/24/22

Thanksgiving Day has always been the day of the Boys and Girls Club Turkey Day race , but to my Sunday slog jog partner Randy “Silent H” Hrechko, it’s the day of his ceremonial long run through the Soda City, known as the Thanksgiving Day Ground Pound. Even through COVID, he’s kept up the Ground Pound streak for over the past decade. But with the end of the year rapidly approaching, the CRC pointmongering reaches a fever pitch. And while I’m perpetually trophy hunting, H is usually pretty low key about it. But I knew he was having severe point anxiety when he discussed a) ditching the ground pound this year and b) going out to Lexington to trophy hunt. Clearly he’s spent way too much time near my insanity.

So we hatched the top secret plan to run Lexington, because the first rule of trophy hunting is do not talk about trophy hunting. While Jesse Harmon had done some Thanksgiving races before, this was the first incarnation of this race, the Run Hard Turkey Day 5k. The course was a new one, but it’s apparently the Lexington High cross country route, essentially 2 loops of the perimeter of campus. I briefly flirted with the idea of a very tight double dip with the BGCM race, but decided the logistics and potential speeding ticket made it too risky. Nevertheless, the notorious HYC managed to pull the double, albeit with his typical start line tardiness.

But with Lexington, the hope was a trophy hunt. Thanksgiving is always a crap shoot in that department, with relatives visiting and all. You never know when somebody’s super fit 45 year old xc coach uncle is going to show up and crush your dreams. Speaking of crap shoots, H and I showed up so early they didn’t have the usual stadium bathrooms open yet. We were able to find a random unlocked women’s room near the track and unspeakable horrors were released in there. What’s worse was the 12 year old girl meeting us at the door as we left. She’ll have nightmares for sure. Sorry.

We did a warmup loop around campus and found the course to be not too bad. Plenty of momentum sucking grass and a couple of hills, but definitely better than the River Bluff HS roller coaster. We get back to the start with less than 10 minutes until the gun,  and the Blue Shoes colon decides there’s an encore to the first performance. Let’s just say I got some speedwork in right before the race. When I do make it back with only a few minutes to spare, I realize there’s a problem. While all the potential CRC studs are AWOL, there’s KIDS. Like lean, singlet wearing , arm sleeve dudes that probably run my 5k pace on a daily slog jog. GAH. How am I going to get overall points against guys 50 pounds lighter and 30 years my junior. There’s even a 30ish guy there looking all elite. I told Randy this was going to be a waste of time. Of course he’s going for masters/grandmasters so he couldn’t care less. Not too many CRCers, though Jared Franklin, Melody Kreiling , Rick Gibbons, Sara/Dorothy/Scarlett Huchins and HYC were on hand.

The start of this thing is madness. All the fast kids go tearing off the blocks and leaving me for dead. I’m trying to go hard but this is also by 4th race in 6 days. I’ve got the vapors on, but they’re not much help on the soft grass. At least it stopped raining just before the start. You cross the football field , run on some bumpy terrain and then thankfully get dumped out on the paved road running through the Lexington campus. I try to speed it up on the road to make up time but it’s pretty demoralizing getting smoked by all the fast dudes. I focus on chasing who I think is Jared Franklin (same red shirt and black calf sleeves) , and the middle schoolish kid next to him. Jared had said he wasn’t in the best of shape but he seems to be killing it. After the road stretch is a nasty long uphill on the grass into the wind, totally sucking any momentum. Though thanks to hulk quads I manage to make up some ground on the field. As the first lap approaches I pass “Jared” and realize he’s not Jared at all (actually Rich Mizell). Middle schooler also gets passed by the middle-ager. I’m blasting away along the front of the school when Joyce, ever the motivator, screams at me “HA HA YOU PICKED THE WRONG RACE”. Well, she wasn’t wrong.

I manage to pick up a second wind on the second loop. I can see Jesse Oates way up ahead but no way am I catching him. I essentially run the rest of the race alone, except having to do a little dodging of the back of the pack walkers. I figured it would be poor form to run over a kid doing his first race. I’m pretty much toast when I hit the start line for the second time , but it’s all downhill from there. I haven’t even looked at my garmin, figuring this course to be really slow with all the grass.The last bit goes around the football stadium and finishes on the field. I make out some 19s on the clock and blast it out to make sure I don’t get blue shoed. Finished at 19:32. Of course the first thing I do is badger Jesse about my place. 7th overall! So not a complete disaster. Glad to get anything with that field. What’s better were the awards – full size pies for overall and masters and individual sized ones for age groups. Very nice. 

Overall: 30 year old Drew Harris crushed a 16:03 to take the win over Sol Shafer in 16:14. Thomas Sutcliffe got 3rd in 17:04. Women’s overall was won by two 12 year olds, listed as S. Potts and K . Murray in the results, Natalie Walke took 3rd. Women’s masters was Wendy Hart/Jennifer Conrick/Melanie Jackson and Jodi McFarland. They all crossed the line together. I assure you that would never happen in the guys’ division. Randy and I took the top 2 men’s masters with Brandon Koehler third.

Age groups: Jesse Oates won the 15-19 while Campbell Cox took the 20-24. Jared won the 35-39. Amanda Wardlaw was 2nd in the 45-49. Tab Blakely won the 50-54. Melody Kreiling won the 60-64 by 11 minutes. Other notable finishers were Ryan and Jay Welch.

Nightmare in Elmwood 5k – 10/29/22 – Columbia, SC

The Nightmare in Elmwood 5k is a completely new 5k, the brainchild of Erin Roof/GRIT and the Elmwood Park neighborhood. I’m always a fan of the swag-tastic GRIT races, but this one provided another costume opportunity and was scheduled so you could double or even triple dip CRC races in one day. Plus, the race course was essentially on my “home field”. I don’t live in the neighborhood, but Elmwood is one of the regular Blue Shoes afternoon downtown slog jog routes and the site of an unexpected Sasquatch win in the Tame the Beast 12k in 2018. I was definitely in.

I had debated being sensible and making this my only race on Saturday. But who am I kidding? My insatiable lust for CRC points and severe case of FOMO made it virtually impossible to resist a triple dip. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Elmwood was number 2 on the docket, sandwiched between two potential trophy hunts at Go Leo Go at 8:30 and RCRC Great Pumpkin at 4:00. 

I saw the course map and decided to preview the route on Thursday. In my mind, it was a flat course, figuring it stayed on top of the hill on which Elmwood Park sits. …And I would be wrong. It actually takes you down almost to the bottom of the Park St roller coaster and turns on Confederate, then essentially has you run back up on a parallel street (Lincoln). Oh man, this was going to be rough, especially repeating it at the end on the out-and-back route. However, the rest of the course was relatively flat and fast, especially the Vista greenway section. And I’m going to assume Elmwood had some kind of Halloween house decorating contest because these people went all out. Perfect for the race.

After throwing down a hard 5k at Leo, and getting brutally strollered and double chicked in the process,  I was a sweaty mess by the time I got to Elmwood. I had chosen a costume both great for running and appropriate for my ego, entitled “HE’S A GOD ” by a company called “Dreamguy”. Not entirely sure whether this Greek god outfit was meant for a straight dude. It was somewhat lame by my cosplay standards, but it was virtually no hindrance to racing. Plus, I wasn’t going to run in my heavy, hot Bridgerton Duke costume picked out by Mrs. Blue Shoes. As you can tell,  I was completely losing my man card this Halloween. 

After a destruction of the Victory Church bathroom, I scoped out the competition at the start. I knew Regan Freeman was on board already. I step up to the line and here comes “Trackstar” Eddie Crisanto. The only race I’ve ever beaten him in is the Beer Mile. And that’s because he puked. He tells me he’s doing RCRC too. Total trophy crasher! Oh well, hopefully I could still score some points.

The gun goes off and my legs feel like complete, absolute trash. I’m getting swarmed from the get-go and getting passed left and right. Instead of flying down the opening hill on Park, I’m finding myself braking and tearing up my quads trying to reduce the pounding. Dr. Kushinka is crushing the field already, and Eddie and some other guy I don’t recognize aren’t too far behind. Regan is by himself, then a big group with me and Yerg , Parker, Jen Davis and an unknown woman in a Cinderella costume. Oh no, I can’t let someone else take the fastest costume. The slog up Lincoln is no joke but at least it’s short. It takes all the way until the Elmwood cemetery rd before I finally feel a little better. The course flattens out and the first turnaround, appropriately, is right at the cemetery gates. Mile 1 just before the cone in 6:40. Yikes, this is about 30-40 seconds off from my usual. I try to ramp it up a bit and finally take down Cinderella, but she is still looking strong. I can’t let her be the belle of the ball, because obviously that’s me. Looking ahead on the greenway, I can see Regan, and it looks like he’s all aboard the struggle bus. PERFECT. The second turnaround is on Finley Park,and I pull a NASCAR maneuver like a runaway city bus, passing Mr. Freeman on the outside. There’s a mob scene behind me so I better put it into high gear. Mile 2 in 6:15 on the way back on the Greenway. It’s cool to see everyone in this out and back section. Huge CRC turnout! I’m getting pretty gassed by this point but I know I’ll need some in the tank for that last hill. I think I’ve gapped the rest of the field but I keep having hallucinations of other runners thanks to the wind whipping through my toga dress and sash. So manly. I bottom out on Confederate avenue and take the left on Park. Sweet Jesus this is steep. Short, thankfully, but really steep. As I power up this hill I can see Eddie up ahead. I’m not going to catch him, but hopefully I can salvage a sub 20 after that opening mile. At the top it’s flat again and I am just toast. One last turn into Bryan St and I go HAM to the finish, crossing in 19:44. Standard Blue Shoes collapse, trying to not look too ridiculous, as I know Erin is directing the photog to document the sweaty cosplay mess on the pavement. 4th overall, first masters,and most importantly, first costume. I’ll take it. Took home a nice basket of Riverbanks swag and a cool skull trophy. Great race!

Overall: Marc Kushinka left everyone for dead  in 17:17 , while Codie Pickett from Moncks Corner was 2nd. Eddie got third. Jen Davis was able to track down Cinderella (Andrea McCracken from Raleigh) for the top two women’s slots, while Shannon Godby was 3rd female/1st masters. Nikki Barthelemy and Joyce Welch completed the masters podium for the women, while Rob THE YERG Yerger and Prez Roy Shelley went 2-3 for the men.

Female age group: Ryan Welch won the girls 10 and under, while Sabine McGrievy was 2nd in the 11-14. Sophia Homeyer was 2nd in the 15-19 . Jessie Weaver ran in full Mandalorian costume and still took 2nd in 25-29. This is the way. Janie Campbell was 2nd in the 30-34. Brie McGrievy and Stevie Dee Dukes were 2-3 in the 45-49. Dana Kaminer, Missy Caughman and a completely unrecognizable Clara Beaudet swept the 50-54 podium. Bertha Woehl and Tee Coker were first and third in the 55-59. Melody Kreiling was champ of the 60-64, with Regina Kelly 2nd. Eileen Korpita won the 65-69. Lynn Grimes and Brigitte Smith were 1-2 in the 70-74.

Male age Group: Liam Patangan blazed a 21:38 to take the 10 and under boys, with Oliver Oates 2nd. Parker Roof was tops in the 20-24. Regan won the 25-29 while Brian Aplin was 2nd in the 30-34. Micah Simonsen was champ of the 45-49 in his comeback race! John Sherrer won the 50-54, with Michael Beaudet 3rd. Joey Swearingen and Kurt Hamm went 1-2 in the 55-59. Dave Hale PUSHED DA RUN to 1st in the 60-64. Pete O’Boyle crushed the 65-69 in 23:28 with Harry Strick 3rd. Leeds Barroll and Pete Poore went-12 in the 70-74, while Ron Hagell and Ken Lowden did the same in the 75+

Other finishers included: Ian Loughlin, Michael and Kate Ferlauto, Michael Jensen, Regina Kelly, Will Rowan, Teresa Shelton, Deanna Rennick, Gabby Swearignen, Jennifer Glass, Melinda Waldrop, Quentin McGrievy, Maria Pray, Chateau Mangaroo, Laura Howell, Heather and Brian Hawn, Bridgette Honor, Rachel Trott, Tony Claremont, Samantha Horsley, Margie Shelburg, Sue Weaver and Kristin Laughlin.