Saturday, March 18, 2017

Get to the Green-St Patrick's 15

Yesterday Kenny and I headed downtown for a nice dinner and plans for a quiet weekend. We've had a busy 2017, traveling most weekends, racing the few we are free, and generally just needing a break. I've certainly been taking a break from running-- obvious to anyone following me on Strava. And it's been nice. My mom and I got in some nice walks when she was here. In fact, that was my exercise plan for Friday afternoon: getting in a nice long walk with Kenny.

Well that was the intent. After about a 2 mile stroll from 5 Points to the Vista, we both got hungry so we headed back to 5 Points where we were going to eat a cheap meal since I had a gift card from my latest burger eating contest winning.

Side-bar: Pawley's Front Porch has the best burger deal in town. For $20 you can enter yourself in a burger contest and if you win you get a $15 gift card for your next visit. The competition is ridiculously easy so you are in essence eating for $5.

Okay, sorry about that digression. On our way over, I suggested a detour to the local bike shop which, amazingly after 5 months of being here, I still hadn't visited. What good luck! It was hosting the St Patrick's Day 15k, hosted by Eggplant Events as part of the St Patrick's Day Festivities in 5 Points. While Kenny was distracted by the good assortment of Specialized and Cannondales, I hastily signed myself up for the next morning's 15k. So much for a race-less weekend!

We have done a few races in Columbia since we've moved down here, in they've all been small affairs with a few hundred runners at most. So that was my expectation for this race but when we arrived 25 minutes before the race start, the whole 5 Points was already packed with runners and we struggled to get a parking spot, We finally did and jogged the 3/4 miles to the start line.  I had heard on the radio that they were expecting some elite racers in attendance, and only two weeks after the disastrous Columbia Marathon, I had no thoughts of winning.
Danny and Kenny pre-race
The 10k and 15k both started at the same time so as the gun went off, I settled into a comfortable pace and trying not to get carried away with the 10k runners. At the 10k/15k split, I realized that all but one of the runners ahead of me were running the 10k. Trying my best to not get in my own head, instead of thinking of the chance of a win, I focused on my breathing and running smooth and steady.

With a lead cyclist and only one runner ahead of me, the chances of winning were greatly improved since I a)couldn't conceivably get lost, and b) only had to pass one guy. I slowly reeled in the guy ahead of me and after a few surges that I was able to contain, I passed him around mile 6.
Mile 6
 Then I had the awesome experience of being led by the cyclist. Which wasn't anything special until a little after mile 7 when the 15k converged on the herds of 5k runners. Literally a sea of green. No actually that's no literal but figurative, but you know what I mean. A lot of green runners. Impossible to get though.

Nothing is impossible with your own cyclist! He told me to stay left then spent the next 3+ miles shooting "On your left! Lead 15K runner coming through!" It was so cool to this modern Moses part the Irish seas. As I'd pass, the runners would cheer me on which would result in me picking up my pace a bit more. When he changed his wording to "15K winner come through!" I knew I had it in the bag.
Dodging Leprechauns 
What fun! It was such a great race, well organized and came with a cool medal that doubled as a bottle opener. The course took you through some of the best parts of 5 Points and awesome volunteers and fan support. Plus participation got me free entry into the St Patrick's party saving me $20.

I had to book it out right after the race because I was leading a hike at Congaree, but the race director, Erin, was good enough to give me award right then. She was so friendly and really made me want to do more of her races. If Kenny wasn't running the Wrightsville Beach Marathon next weekend, I definitely would have done the Quarry Crusher, which looks awesome. Kind of like a fell race but in a quarry. Kenny and I are actually probably going to do the one in Atlanta. I say probably, because while she has signed up, I haven't yet. But I think knowing Eggplant Events, or E squared as I like to call them, is organizing, I probably will now.

Danny with the race director, Erin

All in all, I am really glad to have wondered into the bike shop, not only because of the win and discovered a cool local bike shop but also because I found out about a cool race production company.

Until next time,


1 comment:

  1. Who would have guessed? Especially from the guy yawning repeatedly at the start line ;)