A Trilogy

It’s been a crazy week of running.  Today’s blog features 3 races for the price of one.

Race #1 – The Charlotte Running Club’s First Anniversary Tequila 400

We’ll start with Wednesday, aka Cinco de Mayo.  Several of the Charlotte Running Club’s finest (and me) met at the Dowd Y.  The plan: celebrate the club’s 1 year anniversary and Cinco de Mayo all at once. 

We took off from the Y for what was supposed to be an easy little jog/warm-up to the festivities.  After nearly 5 miles of running at about 7:50 pace, (which for me is more like a tempo run than a warm-up) we trotted onto the parking lot of the Dilworth Neighborhood Grill.  I tried to catch my breath and quickly gather myself for what lie ahead – a 400 meter race after a shot of tequila.  Most of us (there were a few conscientious objectors) gave Aaron $5 apiece and moments later he emerged from the bar with a tray of tequila shots and lemon wedges.  We toasted to the CRC and seconds later we downed our shots.

My stomach burned a little as we made our way to a stretch of lightly travelled road behind the bar where Aaron had marked off a 400 meter course.  We toed the imaginary line while Ben Hovis played dual roles, photographer and official starter.  He gave the word and we took off.  I had only 2 goals: don’t finish last and don’t puke.  And with this crew and this heat, these were 2 pretty lofty goals.  How lofty?  Lofty enough that arguably the best runner in Charlotte only accomplished one of them. 

I took off like a bat out of hell and ran like a pack of rabid dogs were after me.   This served me mildly well for all of 50 meters or so – I trailed about 7 out of 12 runners – when Jay Holder passed me like I was moving backwards.  I managed to somehow stay in front of Paul Mainwaring for a bit longer, I’d say upwards of 200 meters, before he blew past me too.  I glanced over as he came by and he didn’t look to be toying with me – he appeared to be putting forth some genuine effort, which is all I really wanted.  I just didn’t want it to look too easy.  Yeah, I’m 43 but I still have some pride.   If my memory serves me correctly – and it’s a little hazy thanks to the tequila – I managed to hold off Caitlin and a couple of other guys.  And I’m going to label my new friend Leonard with a DNF as he rode behind in his car. 

Special thanks to Ben for taking some really cool pictures.  This may be the only time I ever lead Paul and Caitlin and I have proof that I was once in front of them:

What's wrong with this picture?

In what can only be described as shocking, ultra-marathoner Thomas Eggar managed to hold off Jordan “Cuervo” Kinley for the win.  Maybe I need to start running 100+ miles a week to improve my 400-meter times. 

Race #2: The Twilight 5K

The Run For Your Life 5K was the biggest, and most brutal (edging out the Tequila 400 by a hair) of the week.

Things started out normally enough.  There I was with maybe 15 of my fastest 5K pals all standing close to the starting line, in front of nearly 2,000 runners.  Most of the usual cast was assembled, including Jordan, Théoden, Dean, Mitchell Rippy, Todd Hartung, Jim Crotts, Kevin Ballantine, Leonard, and many more.

I had my usual gameplan – break 20 – but this week there was a twist.  I decided to level the playing field with a few wagers.  I set up spreads for 10 or so of my running friends.  For example, since Jordan ran about 15:50 at the CPCC Skyline 5K while I ran about 19:50, I set his spread at 4 minutes.  His challenge, if he chose to accept it, was to beat me by more than 4 minutes.  If he succeeded, I’d buy him a beer.  If he failed, he’d buy me a beer.  And so on.  9 friends accepted the challenge.

Conditions were less than favorable.  The temperature hovered around 90 degrees, the humidity was god-awful high, and a strong head wind buffeted us as we waited for the start.  When the start was signalled, we took off and a familiar set of circumstances unfolded.  As I had done at Skyline and the Bunny Run, I settled in behind Kevin.  I decided to stay closer this time and see how things played out.

Kevin went out quickly but I followed closely.  I felt good early on, even passing Mitchell Rippy early (I had chased but never passed him in our last 2 races).  Shortly after the first mile, I passed Dexter Pepperman who uttered, ‘Not you again’.  I responded by pointing at the shiny new Mizuno Elixir Wave 5’s that I had purchased earlier that morning at the Run For Your Life where Dexter sometimes worked.  I said, ‘It must be the shoes’.

Within another half a mile or so, feeling my oats, I passed Kevin too.  I thought it was a brash move, but I felt good and thought, ‘What the heck, why not?’

The remainder of the race saw Dexter and I trading spots.  He passed me on the uphills – I passed him on the down.  When we passed by Panthers stadium, Aaron was out front cheering ‘Go Dexter!  Go Allen!’ and in the same breath gave me some concern when he yelled ‘Go Kevin!’  So I now knew Dexter was not my only worth adversary at this point – Kevin was directly behind us.

As Dexter and I turned left onto the final stretch up Tryon Street, Jordan, already jogging his cool-down, trotted towards us.  I yelled, ‘What was your time?’ so I’d know what I had to do to beat the spread.  Jordan, ever the tactician, only responded, ‘You’re gonna have to buy me a beer!’  I passed Dexter and picked up the pace.

Suddenly Kevin blew past me with only about 200 meters to go.  He had a full head of steam and I felt like I had nothing left so I let him go, but knowing full well that there was no way he’d beat the 20 second spread I’d given him – I knew at least 1 person was going to owe me a beer.  Then maybe 50 meters from the finish, Dexter and someone I didn’t recognize, came past.  I went with them.  We were in full stride by 10 meters to go and out of habit from my track days of yore, I sprinted and leaned through the finish.  Dexter, this other guy, and I finished neck and neck and it wasn’t until I read the official results online the next day that I discovered I had edged out both of them slightly. 

I finished in 19:43, 3rd in the 40-44 age group (my first age group prize at a big race in years!)  The eventual tally showed that I had won 7 of 9 wagers, with only Jordan and Leonard Hilliard beating the spread.  Kevin and I agreed to meet at The Pub at Gateway later so I could collect my winnings.  Laura and I got there about 8:30, Kevin paid up, and the newlyweds Chad and Danielle Crockford, hours before heading to Jamaica on there honeymoon, showed up and joined in.  Fun was had by all.

Race #3: Our Boys 5K (the abridged version)

Saturday, I lined up for my third race of the week.  Here is the abridged story.

Basically, Kevin and I thought we had a reasonably legitimate shot at finishing first and second overall in a tiny little 5K that was being held in Kevin’s neighborhood.  And since Laura would be taking her mom out for an early Mother’s Day celebration, this was a perfect opportunity for Ken (Laura’s stepdad) and I to do some male bonding.

But after a few more beers than I intended the night before, coupled with a few hours less sleep, I didn’t feel so well.  And when fast friends/rivals Chad Randolph and Jim Crotts showed up, I knew I’d have to run hard if I had any chance of staying ahead of these guys, nevermind the rest of the field.  I had gotten an age group the night before in a race with nearly 2,000 runners and now it was suddenly very possible that I might not get one in a race of maybe 150-200 runners.

Shortly before we lined up for the start, Bobby Aswell came trotting up.  I turned to Kevin and said, ‘We can forget about going 1-2 now.’

Things went about as well as could be expected.  In a nutshell, the gun fired, Bobby shortly took the lead, Kevin settled into second, and I fell into third.  We all held our spots.  I sweated out some beer.

Kevin and I were all set to take first and second 'til Bobby showed up.

Whew.  That’s it.  A lot of speedwork, interspersed with a lot of alcohol, this week.  Next week: more slow miles, less alcohol.

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One Response to “A Trilogy”

  1. caitlin Says:

    Bahahah! The picture with the names and associated PRs cracks me up. In fact, I first thought you had called me a guy because I was looking at Leonard’s description. Nice write up and congrats on winning the bet

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