Hey y’all. Long time no see. How are things? We haven’t talked in a while. Me? I’m fine. Just sitting here on the porch on a gorgeous spring day in North Carolina, complete with shining sun and singing birds. Yeah, pretty idyllic. And since the chaos that is my life has calmed down for a second, I figured I’d try to knock out a quick blog post. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get to it.
A while back, a bunch of friends (led by Danielle who did all the house-finding/renting leg work – the Crockfords, the Churches, the Freshnesses, Michelle, Meagan, Caleb, and Caitlin and her entourage) and us decided to go down to Charleston and rent a house and run the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K. I was a little hesitant since this was only a few weeks out from Boston, but thought what the hell – good friends, good race, why not? I’d figure out a way to work it into the training plan. And since we had quite a few studs running, I decided to sign us up as JITFO for the first ever Cooper River team competition.
The Freshnesses and the Stricklands carpooled down on Friday, all squeezed into my little Jetta since some jackass in a dump truck decided to back over Sommer’s truck the week before. We made it down to Charleston without incident and had a great pre-race pasta dinner Friday night, the shot-glass-sized waters notwithstanding.
The next morning, Laura, Sommer, and I drove over and parked at a Whole Foods near the starting line. The racing-yet-still-part-of-Boston-marathon-training plan that I ended up with was this: Laura and I would squeeze the 10K into our weekly long run – we’d run four miles of warm-up, run the race at tempo pace, then four miles of cool-down. Laura and I set out on our extended long run while Sommer relaxed in the car where we’d pick her up for the final, normalized-distance warm-up. We ran out and back then swung by for Sommer, then the three of us set out for the starting line.
As we proceeded to jog out of the Whole Foods lot, an overzealous supermarket manager had blocked off one end of the parking lot – he warned us that we’d get fined if we left our car parked in their lot. I decided to call his bluff and just said “Okay” as we ran past. With typically over 30,000 people running this race, you’d think Charleston-area businesses might expect some people parking in their lots and might even consider being friendly instead of harassing. But alas, southern hospitality my ass. Boston never acted like this, New England treats runners like rock stars. I made a mental note to cancel my plans to buy post-race supplies from Whole Foods.
We jogged over to the starting corrals where thousands of runners, walkers, and partiers-in-motion had already begun to gather en masse. As we continued our warm-up on adjacent side streets, we ran into some of the elite members of the JITFO team so I took the opportunity to yell my favorite pre-race joke line, “Which one of you bitches is coming in second?” Crickets – Caleb may have chuckled but I can’t be sure.
With the warm-up complete, we took our places in the competitive (sub-45:00) corral. I saw fellow Triple C Beer Runner Matt in the sub-elite (sub-40:00) corral directly in front of us so I waved him over and we chatted for a bit before the race.
Laura, a bit anxious about what pace to run, asked me how fast I planned on going. I really wasn’t sure – I thought somewhere between half-marathon and marathon pace. But I know me, too – once the gun sounds, all bets are off. Laura, someone that likes her race plans much more specific, did not particularly care for this answer.
It was all moot moments later when the starting gun fired. Sommer shot out of the gate, and Laura and I started not much slower. A glance at my watch revealed 6:18 pace and I thought, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Allen, what is wrong with you?!?” I backed off and decided to shoot for sub-sevens.
As I day-dreamed about pace, apparently I drifted to the right even as the course headed left, and I cut Laura off who gave me a perturbed, “What are you doing?” To which I retorted, “Oh, sorry!” as we cruised along during the easy, flat first mile. Moments later we came upon a girl in tights, whose let’s call it ‘nether regions’ were drenched. Laura pointed her out to me then whispered the question “Pee?” And I think she was correct in her observation. Some poor girl had pissed herself in mile one of a 10K. I was simultaneously disgusted and in awe.
Having passed urine girl, I settled into just under seven-minute per mile pace and felt great. The pace was comfortable, easy even, and I toyed with the idea of taking off and shooting for a PR. But this seemed ill-advised so I just locked in.
We hit the bridge where the combination of the wind and ascent were downright brutal, but what did I care? I was just hanging out with my friends for a fun weekend, the rest was gravy. There were so many people on the bridge that it was easy to just tuck in behind various random dudes who were both taller and brawnier, aka perfect wind shields, and draft. I soaked in the beautiful scenery of the boats along the Cooper River and kept the legs churning ever upward. Somewhere during the ascent, Laura backed off.
I enjoyed myself – the scenery, the spectacle of the race. I felt so comfortable that it was almost like an out-of-body experience, like I was in some holographic representation of a race where I was really just sitting in a recliner and eating popcorn. A girl with a long, blonde ponytail, grimacing and working hard, passed me at a faster clip so I went with her. As soon as we crested the bridge’s apex, I let gravity take on more of the work – I felt it only fair he shoulder some of the burden since I’d been doing all the work up to this point. I passed ponytail – she appeared less than appreciative and immediately passed me back.
I crossed the 5K at 21:44 and decided to ratchet up the effort to see if I couldn’t get a nice negative split.
Long story slightly less long, I ran a negative split the second half of the race (which is common, if not probable, at Cooper River). I sort of zoned out and just ran, until in the last 100 meters or so I saw ponytail up ahead so I sprinted to catch her at the line. I ran the second 5K in 20:11, finishing in 41:55. Laura finished right behind me in 42:48.
But the big story for the day is that JITFO won the first ever Cooper River Bridge run team competition and here’s the proof:
Thanks to Chad’s huge PR, Caitlin’s top 3 American, Adam and Caleb’s photo finish, and Meagan’s “remotely-not-in-shape-but-better-than-99.99%-of-all-runners” performances, we finished first out of 202 teams. I’m proud of JITFO – our first team victory!
After the race, the gang gathered to run a cool-down over to Hominy, a restaurant somebody recommended for brunch. We ran around the streets of Charleston, periodically stopping and asking for directions, slowly but surely making our way to the restaurant. At one point, we found ourselves running down a narrow street when a driver approached. Apparently perturbed at having difficulty reaching her destination thanks to the street-closings of the ongoing 10K, she decided to take out her frustration on us by laying on her horn. As I was in the very rear, barely able to keep up with JITFO at even their cool-down pace, I decided to show this rude lady my new wedding ring by tapping on the driver side window and flashing it to her. Or maybe I showed her the longer finger next to it – one of those two.
The rest of the weekend involved, not in any order:
- One Gucci coin slot appearance (I regret not having a camera available, or maybe I’m really, really glad I didn’t have a camera available)
- One ginger salad controversy
- More than one moment of drama over sleeping accommodations. We ran into some snags when the online realty site inflated how many people the place could sleep. Luckily for Laura and me, we had recently gotten married so I played the “but it’s our honeymoon!” card to assure us a bed. Kudos to Danielle for [mostly] keeping everybody happy!
- One (well one that I heard that really cracked me up) witty Chad Crockford line
- One narrowly averted auto accident where a lady thought it prudent to drive 70MPH in a parking lot while another guy (not noticing said lady) motioned me to pull ahead directly into the path of speeding lady whom I could not see coming. I’m guessing Sommer saved at least two lives by yelling at me to stop just in the nick of time.
And that’s the great 2015 Cooper River adventure.
I began this blog planning on writing about the Know Your Craft 5K also, but that one may have to wait as I have already spent way too much time on this post.
Real quick, and then I’ll let you go (as if you’re still reading). Boston is eight measly days away. Having lost nearly three weeks of training (due to sickness) of a 16-week training play, I’m not super confident about my fitness level. But I’m not without reason for optimism, either.
Some stuff to mull over as I shoot for a PCR (Personal Course Record) at Boston:
1) The 10-day forecast looks pretty darned good at this point:
2) Predictors have me all around my BQ (3:25) time. I ran Yassos (half mile repeats) a couple of weeks ago and my average came out to 3:14. Using the Linz formula and adding 10, that puts me at 3:24. If you feed the Cooper River time, 41:55, into the McMillan Calculator, you get a prediction of 3:16, but again, going Linz and adding 10, gives us a prediction of 3:26. So as usual, it would appear that I’m hovering around Boston-qualifying. But as any reader of this blog, or anybody that tracks Boston qualifying knows, it’ll take faster than a 3:24 to get in. If I come out of Boston with slower than a 3:23, I will feel like I’ve failed.
Fortunately, these predictors can’t measure heart. Let’s hope that when the Darkness comes calling (probably somewhere around the Newton hills), I can dig deep and find the will to push through. We’ll find out in eight days.