I last ran this race in 2005 in 15:14. I ended up winning over O.J. Striggles, who talked smack pre-race about how he would beat me. A little over a mile into the race, he pulled slightly ahead of me, talked some friendly trash, and then I responded by throwing in a long surge and dropping him to get the victory by 14 seconds. Since I wasn't really fit when I ran 15:14, I felt like I would at least be able to break 14:30 and maybe sneak under 14:20 if things went well.
|Sorry OJ, I was one man you couldn't slaughter|
The Thursday night before the race, they announced they were giving time-based incentives to the winner. If you broke 15:00 you got an extra $100. Sub 14:45 was worth $250 and sub 14:30 was worth $500. After seeing that, the race became a lot more appealing. Instead of logging 15 miles the day before the race, I only put in 12. I felt like 14:45 wouldn't be an issue but I really wanted to nab the $500 (assuming I would be able to win). The course is somewhat rolling but can be fast if you run it well. The first mile is definitely the toughest with the last mile including some decent downhills. My plan was to open up around 4:40-4:45 and then hammer.
I felt like at least two or three guys from RunFurman would show up, if not Fam, who lives 1.5 hours up the road. However, while warming up, I really didn't notice anyone and when it was time to head to the line, I felt like I would be running out front alone.
Since it rained prior to the race, the roads were really wet. I wasn't sure how it would affect me, but I knew it wouldn't be ideal. However, I still felt like I was fit and ready to roll. The race starts on a gradual 1/2mileish hill, before branching into the neighborhood. I immediately shot out front and was using my GPS to keep me on pace. It felt like I was rolling, but I was running over 4:40 pace on my watch, which meant I was running even slower than that in reality. I came through the mile in 4:48 and was temporarily bummed as it meant I would have to close the last 2.1 miles really hard. At that point, I felt like sub 14:30 would be tough but 14:45 was definitely in the cards.
|Not my prettiest moment|
The second mile had some rolling ups and downs and I ran the first half of that at sub 4:40 pace and was gaining my confidence back. However, the uphills came and I started slowing down and lost some time. I came through the second mile in an even slower 4:49, which meant I would have to run sub 4:38 to break 14:45. I started trying to hammer again and my legs felt like they were sprinting but I couldn't find that power I was looking for.
With about a half mile to go, I knew 14:45 wouldn't be possible. I ran down the final hill and when I saw the clock getting into the upper 14:40s, I had an "oh snap" attack as I realized that I may even miss out on sub 15. I was able to hit the line in 14:55 and I was pretty bummed. I thought for sure I'd be at least worth a 14:30 something, which is a big difference time-wise and I guess financially.
But looking back at it, I have to realize that I was all alone, the streets were wet and the course had a ton of rhythm changes, which really wreaks havoc with my style of stride/running, especially since I'm trying to be the marathon metronome man. The week before the US Half-Marathon Championships, I ran 14:47 on a pancake course, with competition for the first mile, and then I ran well a week later, so maybe it's the same situation (hopefully). I'm also coming off two really hard training weeks and have done very little work at sub 4:50 mile pace, so maybe it means I'm marathon fit. Enough excuses for now, it's time to continue the training with the end goal on my mind.
But it's always good to come back down to South Carolina and race on my old courses and see some of my old friends. Strictly Running always does a great job of managing their races. At most races around Nashville, results are posted pretty quickly on a wall, post, etc.. At the Cold Winter's Day race, the results were posted on two big screen TV's. Pretty fancy!