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.

Sweat it Out 5k – Columbia, SC – 6/4/22

The Sweat it Out 5k started out 8 years ago as a small independent race, but over the years it has grown to be one of the more competitive events on the tour. Held in the area near Meadowfield Elementary and Hammond Academy behind the VA, the course is a fairly flat and fast route and typically provides the last decent chance at a fast time before the summer heat really sets in. Erin Roof took over race directing early on, so true to GRIT form, there is great post race swag and food, wth chick fil a biscuits, coffee and the signature Chicken Man painting awards. Don’t forget the free beer at Hunter Gatherer at packet pickup on Friday. (I certainly don’t) The race goes towards a good cause as well, benefitting the national foundation for ectodermal dysplasias. The cause and race is in recognition of Nicholas Duke, who has an ectodermal condition that makes it impossible for him to sweat. 

Sweat it Out has always been a standby on the Tour de Blue Shoes, but this year my calendar started filling up for June 4. At some point I agreed to do the Cottonmouth Beerlay (8 mile beer relay) with Drew Williams. That was in Greenville that afternoon, so a rough double dip was already in order. But then I realized the Wildewood Fun Run 5k was also that morning at 10 am. And I had to do that too, since I “won ” last year’s event by brutally beating down a couple of cocky teenagers from the ‘hood. Beware the chunky middle aged man showing up to a fun run in Vaporflys.

But I still had high hopes for a decent race at Sweat It Out to lead it all off. I ran a 19:05 last year and had an insane COVID shutdown virtual mano y mano race with F^&*ing Higgins in 2020 in 19:04 (which I lost and got brutally blue shoed in the final quarter mile), so I hoped to maybe crack 19 this year. It’s always a tough call though, because the heat is typically pretty nasty. The race start time is 7 am, which is good to avoid the worst of it. Unfortunately my testy race day colon isn’t used to that, so I’m always afraid of a late encore to my toilet performances of the morning.

Inside sources for this race suggested that the women’s field in this thing was going to be absolutely stacked. Sure enough, Shawanna White, Purity Menene, Sally Davidson, Christa Collins, Jen Davis, Jennifer Lybrand, Ivanka Tolan, MC Cox, Ashley Holman and Shannon Godby were all on hand, and Greenville elite Shelby Jaramillo was there as well. That being said, the men’s field seemed unusually light with no Trackstar Eddie, Shrum or Striggles to be found. Initially it looked like maybe Branham and I, or Regan, would be fighting it out for the male win, though it was all but assured we would be chicked multiple times over. A young fast looking dude and elite masters Get to the Green winner Robert McBee showed up late though, so the holy grail was definitely off the table. I told Branham he really should try to avoid getting blue shoed this time (a la Race for the Place). Getting a Sasquatchean beatdown two races in a row would be embarrassing. There was a huge CRC turnout for this one, since TDC point opportunities were about to get a lot fewer in the next two months.

We all lined up at 7 am and though the heat is definitely there, it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. I was hoping for the freakishly cool morning of the Higgins showdown but high60s/low 70s wasn’t too shabby. The start of this thing was nuts. Everybody just flying in the first quarter mile. I’m getting passed by everybody since I always have to toe the start line with my enormous ego. All the ladies are crushing it. It takes me a full half mile before I can settle in to where maybe I should be in this field. I feel like Branham, Christa and Jen are gapping me already and I’m really struggling not to let them get out of range in the first mile. Regan must have doubled up on the coffee because he is really flying out there with Shawanna. I really, really would like to just pull out as I can tell this race is going to be a dumpster fire from the get go. But maybe I can salvage something. Brendan Holman is riding me like an oversized monkey on my back and I’m deathly afraid of maybe getting Aufuldished too and miss out on masters altogether. Jordan is screaming for his wife so I know JLy is just behind me too. I really thought mile 1 was slow, but Garmin chirps back a 6:11, so not terrible for me. I had been hitting around 6 flat pace earlier this year, but it ain’t January any more. Mile 2 is a rectangle behind the school followed by the Saye Cut straight out-and-back. Saye Cut always gives you a chance to see where you are since there’s no hiding when you turn around right back from which you came. As I near the turnaround, I see the young dude, Purity, and Shelby absolutely locked in a tight pack for the overall win in both genders. McBee is next, followed by Shawanna, Regan, Chris, Jen and Christa. Regan is talking and acting like he’s out for a jog. Must be nice to be 25, I guess. Mile 2 in 6:08 and I’ve managed to keep Branham in range. One problem with pulling my usual negative splits though is that I feel like absolute death. The dumpster fire is starting to rekindle. What’s worse is not only that late hill, but also the thought of that late hill. I’m blasting down Galway pretty hard but the gas tank is pretty empty at this point. I do an ugly arm pump up that incline right before Meadowfield but yeah, I got nothing. In my mind I had hoped to blast past Christa, Jen and Chris in that last half mile, but that most assuredly was not happening. Plus, who knows what danger lurks behind me. I try and make a final surge in the closing stretch but I’m just dying. Chris informs me “NOT TODAY, DUDE”. He’s right.I hit the final turn and have to ugly sprint to get under 19:30, 19:22 officially. Not my best, but I was glad I din’’t bail. I salvaged 2nd masters and another addition to the Chicken Man installation in my office!

(Note – the timing company results had categories set up as if there were cash awards – I’m going by standard CRC Tour de Columbia rules)

 In the overall, Shelby nipped Purity by one second in the women’s race 17:39 to 17:40. Looking at other results, Shelby ran a 5:15 mile on Friday in Greenville and got up at 3 am to come down and race in Columbia. Nice double dip! Shawanna took 3rd in 18:54. On the men’s side, 19 year old David Williams took the win in 17:25, with Robert McBee 2nd and Regan 3rd. Regan crushed an 18:54 even while dealing with some recent injuries – pretty impressive.  Female masters had a top 3 of  Christa Collins, Ivanka Tolan and MC Cox. Chris Branham took male masters, with The Sasquatch and Duane Kimball  2nd and 3rd. 

Male age group honor roll; Danny Vowles was 2nd in the 15-19.. Parker Roof took the 20-24 win, while Ian Loughlin claimed the 25-29. Seth Lapic, Westley Mckinney (pacing MC) and Brian Aplin swept the 30-34. Antjuan Seawright and Chris Reed were 2nd/3rd in the 35-39. Brendan Holman was champ of the 40-44. Randy SILENT H Hrechko took the 50-54 with Jonathan Kirkwood 2nd. Ed Aufuldish, Clay Ham (with a 22:12 PR) and   Mark Gallagher swept the 55-59. Dave Hale and Patrick McCormick were 1-3 in the 60-64. Ron Lipe and Harry Strick took the 65-69. Alex Ponomarev and Bill Iskrzak were first and third in the 70-74. Ron Hagell was 2nd in the 75-79. 

Female Age group honor roll: Evelyn Holman won the Under 9 with an impressive 24:26. Lilly Holman was 2nd in the 10-14. Sally Davidson took the 20-24 crown in 19:47. Jessica Weaver was champ of the 25-29. Jen Davis, Jennifer Lybrand, Kara Stevens (PR in 21:57) and Lauren Lapic swept the 30-34, while Ashley Holman, Brittany Jones and Megan Duffy did the same in the 35-39. Mc Cox, Shannon Godby and Colleen Quarles placed in a brutally competitive 45-49. Missy Caughman was 2nd in the 50-54. Renee McCormick, Kelly Danias and Greta Dobe won the 55-59. Melody Kreiling and Mary Gallagher took the 60-64, while Helene Lipe and Margie Shelburg did the same in the 65-69. Total beast mode for Lynn Grimes, as she won the 70-74 at SIO and was the only TDC double dipper, driving to Sumter and winning her age group there too. WOW.

Other notable finishers: Jamie Duke, Nick’s mom and race founder. Joe Roof, Jonathan King, Phil Smith, Rebekah Robertson, Eliere Tolan, Patrick Hall, Stephanie ‘Stevie Dee” Dukes, Stephanie Williams, Gretchen Lambert, Son Nguyen, Jessalyn Smith, Deanna Rennick, Pete Poore, Jennifer Norris, Lynn Kramer, Kat Hudgins, Maria Pray, and Ken Lowden. Kerry Stubbs competed virtually.

True to the Brew Half Marathon – Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC – 9/28/19

ttb3

After an epic disaster at the True to the Brew 10k in March, which should be renamed True to the POO in my honor, I felt the need to redeem myself at the next race in the series, the TTB Half Marathon in Spartanburg. Columbia has more races than any city its size should, so usually I avoid anything out of town. But if you combine a trail race with beer and Erin Roof/GRIT puts it on, then my arm is easily twisted. I did this race last year, though I was one week post Table Rock 50k and ran it pretty easy. I was hoping I could improve on the 1:56 and 3rd masters performance from 2018.

Of course, given my hatred for early morning wakeups and complicated pre-race hydration and poop regimen, there was no way I was driving up from Columbia at o’dark thirty. Fortunately Drew and the Yerg (with girlfriend and fellow beer connoisseur Melinda) decided to make it very true to the brew on Friday and we hit up 2 of the local Spartanburg breweries. We were eager beaver beer nerds at the opening of Holliday Brewing right at 4 pm and got to talk with the owners. They opened about 6 months ago and have a huge selection of great beers, especially the Turtle Bay IPA. I highly recommend. Unfortunately, with the race the next morning and my paradoxically low tolerance for a large Irish man, I was only able to sample one of the brews at the actual race sponsor, RJ Rockers Brewery. Damn my 18 year old sorority girl liver. They had packet pickup there and a band, along with a free beer. Pretty cool. I even got to take a GRIT endurance spokesmodel photo. So much rugged handsomeness.

ttb1

Race morning at the hotel kind of sucked because of the 7:30 gun time and our hotel was 15 minutes away from the start. It didn’t help our Holiday Inn had hidden blackout curtains and I was staring at a brightly lit gas station for most of the restless night. It was a pretty big crowd when Drew and I got to the start, as the race managed to sell out just a few days prior. I got a chance to see an old childhood friend Jason Paddock, who was trying his hand at running/hiking a trail race for the first time. I told him that this course would be pretty brutal, but I knew they had changed some of it, so maybe it would be easier. Yeah, we’ll get to that. Some familiar faces at the start were our esteemed president Roy Shelley, Jim Williams, David Russell, and of course the Yerg and Drew. Apparently Will Rowan, Deana Rennick and Alfred Baquiran were also on hand, but I missed them with all my portapotty jockeying and warmup, which, appropriately, and perhaps with a bit of foreshadowing, ended up being up a giant hill to a cemetery.

Scouting out the field, I figured I probably brought my main masters competition with me from Columbia, but there a fair amount of fit-looking unknowns. I was going to go out harder than last year, but I was a little scared of the unknown course, the still hot/humid conditions, and the distance. The course basically runs from Cedar Springs Baptist church into Croft State Park, and continues in the park for the entirety of the race, finishing near the horse stables and primitive campgrounds. Erin said there was an extra trail section instead of the open field loops we did at the end of last year. Surely it was flat like those loops, right?

ttb4

With the gun, I take off and we get to separate a bit on the road before entering the trails about a quarter mile in. It’s still dawn, so the trail is a little dark, and I realize it has been a while since I went trail running. I’m already having to do some root dodging and my less than nimble sasquatch physique is taking a pounding. Yerg, Drew and David have left me for dead immediately, so I tell myself to focus on my own race. A girl is breathing down my neck in the first mile, so I let her pass. I try and keep up with her like a creepy old man, but she’s like a hundred pounds lighter and 20 years younger, so I succumb to the gods of age and fatness. I managed to hit mile one in a shade over 8 minutes, though the next few miles is pretty constant rolling technical trail and I fall into nine minute pace. The first aid station is about 4 miles in, and I make out a red Harbison shirt through the woods. IT’S YERG. I catch up with him and he said he’s having a bad day. We run together for a little bit and I hear somebody behind us say “ARE YOU FROM HARBISON? WELL YOU’RE IN MY HOUSE NOW!” What is this, trail trash talk?? OH HELLS NO. I put some pep in my step and gap Croft Park boy and Yerg a little bit.

At 4 and a half miles, I nearly blow past the turn as the course takes a sudden hairpin backwards in a loop around Lake Johnson, which I think is new. Just past the 5 mile mark I run out onto a field and I start getting severe misdirect anxiety. There are some orange flags on the grass but I’m not sure if they are from the race. I am almost convinced I have gone off track when I hear the siren song of Jon Bon Jovi belting out LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER from a police SUV, and an official race sign. WHEW. Jon is lying about being HALFWAY THERE because we’re not even close. There’s a nice stretch on a paved road here, which is sweet relief for someone who is 90 percent road racer. This relief is short-lived however, as we get dumped into another up and down trail section next to the lake. Here is where I started my series of Tourrette’s like F bombs, when my toe would catch a root and nearly send me tumbling. Somehow I managed to stay upright. Hopefully no children were nearby. Starting in late mile 7 is a glorious stretch of dirt road which is straight, and I was actually able to run freely and recover. Even though it was technically uphill, my road legs were loving not having to turn and root dodge. I ended up passing a guy in this stretch but I was mostly on my own for a long time.

Unfortunately the road ends at 8.5 miles and throws you into a trail section which gets brutally tough at the 9 mile mark. At this point, I realize my CRC jersey is causing some serious chafing and I am hurting pretty bad. I reflexively throw the front of my jersey over my head in a ridiculous half on/half off look that is sure to scare women and children alike. But at least it avoids the cursed bloody nips. There is a killer hill right before the 10 mile mark that brings me to a crawl. I’m panting like a banshee and the kid at the aid station looks a little scared of the sweaty albino monster with the navy blue crop top. After the 10 mile mark was another glorious section of downhill dirt road, which, in my memory, was the decline from the last tough climbing section. I’m done with the climbs! Yay!. Au contrare, you sweaty beast.
So my deluded self turns up the pace a little bit on a long straight stretch almost to the 11 mile mark, where all of a sudden I’m dumped back into some technical trail. My legs are kinda toast at this point so my case of trail Tourette’s comes back with a vengeance. LIFT YOUR F#%$G LEGS, ALEX! I yell out to the trail gods. The course keeps going up and down and at some point I pass a sign proclaiming, “SAFE – NO SHOOTING ZONE” which concerns me that I was potentially wild game up until this point. When I hit mile 12 I start trying to ramp it up for a kick but my legs are vehemently vetoing the brain on that decision. But wait, I can see hot girl who passed me up ahead. There’s few things I like better than taking down people younger, fitter and better looking than me, and this girl definitely had me on all 3 fronts. I almost bust my ass for the 40th time in this race, and she turns around, suddenly fearful of the albino bear chasing her through the forest. At least I had put the jersey back down for potential finish photos. I know we are getting close to the end when we break into a clearing near the lake, though the volunteer tells us “a half mile to go”. The girl has a good 20 meters on me but she makes a turn and I see her make some gesture of anguish. Sure enough, here comes a brutal hill. She suddenly stops halfway up and is gasping. I think I asked her if she was ok, but at this point I was in full Ed Aufuldish elbowing mode and basically going all-in that this hill was the last. Mercifully, I crest over this late course mountain and see the beautiful red numbers and finish arch. One last burst of speed for the cameras and I cross in 1:56:57. Pretty beat down, but I dare not do a collapse for Erin to photo and immediately dispense on all social medias. About the same time as last year, though with a different course. Garmin had 12.6 something miles but there’s no way GPS could accurately track all that trail distance. It was a solid effort and good for 3rd masters again/9th overall , so I will take it.

ttb2

In the overall, Radek Mittelbach, a 38 year old from Columbia whom I’ve never seen or met, won the race in 1:40. Two upstate 25 year olds, Erick Martinez and Jacob Baer took 2nd and 3rd.

On the women’s side, 46 year old Rhonda Felder made me feel very inadequate by beating me by over 4 minutes and taking the win. Hannah Giangaspro and Nastasja Rittling finished 2nd and 3rd.

2018 champ Drew Williams finished 4th overall in a shade under 1:43 and first male masters, taking home an awesome swag basket. In the age groups, David Russell squeaked out 1st in the 30-34 by 50 minutes, on his birthday no less. Yerg struggled early but rallied some and still took 1st in the 40-44. Ryan Havens was 2nd. Roy Shelley won 1st in the 50-54. Jim Williams was 3rd in the surprisingly competitive 55-59.

“True to the Brew” half marathon held in Spartanburg Co.

https://runsignup.com/Race/Results/63244/#resultSetId-172396;perpage:10

https://www.strava.com/activities/2746514252

 

Springdale 5k – Camden, SC – 9/7/19

sd1

The Springdale 5k is a race now in its 10th year, put on to benefit the New Day Transitional shelter via the United Way of Kershaw County. These days it’s a fairly standard road race, though it was originally an evening 5k completely on the horse racetrack, where you could see the whole race the entire time from the grandstand. This was a great concept, except

that a) it was held in August when it was usually 90+ degrees and humid, and b) there was ankle length grass almost the whole route. This led to some absolutely brutal conditions and ridiculously slow times. But at least they had beer at the first one in 2010.

The race has now evolved to a more traditional morning race on the roads next to the horse track. Erin Roof and her Grit Endurance company has taken over the race in the past couple of years, so she has included her penchant for awesome awards and post-race refreshments. Overall, masters and age groupers all get horseshoe trophies and there are waffles to be had at the finish line.
The course is definitely one you want to know before running it. It lures you in with a mile plus of downhill and flat, just begging you to go out really hard. What’s waiting for you at the mile 2 mark is a long slog up that same incline you plummeted down at the start, sucking the very life from your soul. Or probably something less dramatic if you’re not maniacally competitive – I wouldn’t know.

Although I signed up for this race months ago, I was definitely not feeling it this week. Kiawah training has started and the miles have started ramping up again, leaving me chronically beat down. Faux fall ended and second summer started with 90 degree temps coming back. I finished the summer tennis season with a long match on Tuesday where I tweaked my knee a bit. Then I had to start wearing glasses (which I haven’t done in 20 years) for a couple of weeks before they can set me up for cataract surgery. My wife tells me I act like I’m 20 years old but I swear my body thinks I’m 65. At least.

But hey, can’t waste a perfectly good race registration, right? Knees and eyes be damned. Surveying the competition for this one, I’m relieved not to have another showdown with Yerg, Ed or the Code. Whitney Keen is there but he’s a complete wildcard, running anywhere from low 19 to 21 minutes. He says he’s not in good shape, but, since he’s also in the mental health field, he may be using jedi mind tricks. Plex always comes out for this one and it looks like Camden coach Mark Chickering has brought out some of his high school kids to challenge the old men. CRC overall leader and brand new dad Joseph Kiprotich was there as well. Heather Costello is the only potential female winner I see. Erin’s reputation with the Columbia Running Club is legendary, so lots of CRCers out there. Steve Greer and Naomi Rabon are sporting their new jerseys. TDC legendary veterans Alex Ponomarev, Arnold Floyd, Rocky Soderberg, and Leeds Barroll were on hand. President Roy Shelley, Newsletter editor /JEDI runner photog Tracy Tisdale, Lisa Smarr, Jim Williams, Caroline Keen, Gabe and Ruth Barahona, GoPro guy Will Rowan, Tom and Lisa Hart, Betsy and Chad Long, Hou Yin Chang, Brie /Sabine/Quentin McGrievy, Jennifer and Jason Norris and John “Chap” Houser were representing as well.

I strolled up to the line with pretty low expectations and half-blind, because I wasn’t sure if my cheap glasses were going to stand up to the sweat and fury of a Blue Shoes 5k. I had one contact in my good eye and cataract eye was naked. Awesomely there was an armadillo mascot at the start, so I got a quick selfie, which of course is blurry BECAUSE I COULDN’T SEE. Oh, the tragedy.

sd10.jpg

Erin announces the start from a police megaphone and it was time to #GETGRITTY. And everybody is killing it off the blocks. I swear I was in maybe 20th place a quarter mile in as we make a right turn and start plummeting down Carter street. The knee is holding up OK but I am afraid to give it too much gas right away, plus, gotta save some for that last mile. Whitney is not leaving me for dead right away, so either he’s being conservative or true to his word about being off his training. Steve Greer is also keeping pace in the first mile and I’m concerned about some additional masters competition since he’s still new to the sport. There’s a long way down to Battleship rd and then it starts to level out a bit. My knee likes flats and uphills way better so I settle into a decent pace. I hit mile 1 at 6:20 with Whitney and Steve still right there. Heather Costello is also nearby battling it out with a girl I don’t recognize. She is shouting out encouragement to Heather. Darrell and I sometimes do this too, but usually there’s F bombs and taunting involved. I suddenly pass everyone in this mini pack just after the mile 1 mark, not sure if I sped up or the rest slowed down. All of a sudden something is about to cross in front of me and I wonder if I’m having a cataract hallucination, but turns out it is actually what I thought it was: a guy on horseback. Only in Camden. At the next turn, Jennifer Ward is out taking pics so I try not to look too bad, though I know this is probably a waste of time. There is no ugly like Blue Shoes racing ugly.

sd15
Mile 2 is mostly flat but things start to ramp up near the end. Split in 6:23 or so. I’m OK with this, should get me under 20 easily. Yeaaah, but mile 3 is an absolute beast. Basically unrelenting slow incline. Nothing really steep though. There’s a lot of curves in the road and I keep telling myself the next one is the home stretch. But wait, did that kid up ahead just look back?? THERE”S BLOOD IN THE WATER. Other than giving the Code or any of my masters compatriots a beat down, there’s few things I like better than shaming a cross country kid. I mean, I can’t imagine the shame when you’re a lean fit 16 year old and some pasty ass chunky middle aged guy comes sidling up against you. But sure enough, here comes the albino bus pulling up to the station and there’s nothing he can do about a blind old man with a gimp knee blowing past him. Time to launch into a kick. But damn, where is the $%^ home stretch? So many faux finish turns. Finally I can smell waffles and hear some noise so I must be getting close. One more turn and I see the clock. Dang this is slower than I thought. I crank it up to 11 through the Knights hill road intersection and onto the gravel driveway at 1000 percent effort just to squeak under 20. 19:57 officially. 6th overall, first masters. I thought maybe the course was long but it is a legit 3.12 by Garmin, certified too. Had a 6:33 last split despite all the masters vs. high school xc battling.

sd16
In the overall, cross country kid Cameron Hoffman edged THE LIGHTNING Ryan Plexico for the win, with Pasha Ellisor 3rd. Amy Faulkenberry was the one running with Heather and she pulled out the win among the women with a 21:02. Sarah Hannon and Kat Clark were 2nd and 3rd. Female masters went to Heather in 21:33 while Naomi Rabon christened her CRC jersey with a 2nd place. Third went to Belinda Moon. Whitney Keen and Steve Greer took 2nd and 3rd in male masters.
Female age group honor roll: Ruth Barahona was 1st in the 11-14. Brie McGrievy won the 40-44. Caroline Keen and Tracy Tisdale battled it out for 1-2 in the 45-49. Lisa Hart was 2nd in the 50-54. Lisa Smarr was 3rd in the 55-59. Helene Lipe won the 60-64. Judy Meisner ran 26:50 at age 67 and won the overall age grade at 75.5%. Wow.

Male age group honor roll: Gabriel Barahona took 1st in the 11-14 boys in 23:18. Joseph Kiprotich took 1st in the 30-34. Chad Long was 2nd in the 45-49. Roy Shelley, Joey Swearingen and Mark Chickering won the 50-54. Jim Williams and new CRC member Phil Smith went 1-3 in the 55-59. Ron Lipe was 2nd in the 60-64. Leeds Barroll won the 65-69. Alex Ponomarev and Arnold Floyd took the top 2 spots in the 70+.

https://runsignup.com/Race/Results/77754/#resultSetId-168824;perpage:5000
https://www.strava.com/activities/2687636299

Photo credits: Jedi Runner Photography, Springdale 5k facebook page