Kiawah Island Marathon Change

Jun 8, 2012 by

Kiawah Island Marathon Change

My first marathon was the 2009 Kiawah Island Marathon.  I don’t remember exactly why I choose that one, but it fit my main criteria – flat.

Overall, it was a good experience, but I was little underwhelmed with the route.   It was a two-loop run that frankly got a little boring during the second loop.  After that race, I decided I would not repeat marathon locations.   My thinking was that since I may only do one marathon per year, why not see somewhere new each time?  So, far I have followed that thinking for my three marathons – Kiawah Island, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia, SC.

After the Columbia marathon, I started pondering my next locale.  I really want to complete all the South Carolina road marathons, so that meant Greenville and Charleston were still left.  However, while looking around, I saw that Kiawah was changing their route to be a single loop.  This had me intrigued.  For the last two months or so, the Kiawah website has mentioned that the new route is going to be published soon. Well, they finally published the route this week. It can be found here:

Calling it a ‘loop’ is a bit of a stretch – there are several out and back spokes and some overlap, but it definitely looks improved.  Wish I had downloaded the old map for a side by side comparison.   Still no hills. 🙂

So, right now, this is high on my list of next marathons.  I can technically say it is not a repeat since the route is new.

For more information on the marathon and the island, check out:


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Race Review: 2012 Jailbreak 5K

May 28, 2012 by

Race Review: 2012 Jailbreak 5K

Event Recap

Everyone knows that Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer.  Most everyone also knows that summer means hot in the midlands of South Carolina.  So, if you are planning a holiday weekend on the lake or at the beach, then bright, sunny and hot are what you want.  If you want to run a race, though, then these are not what you want.  Throw in some very high humidity, and you have the race conditions for last Saturday’s Jailbreak VI in Lexington, South Carolina.  The temperature at race time was 75 degrees, and the humidity was 75%, according to my weather app. Yuck.

The local elites didn’t seem to have too much trouble with the heat. What they did have trouble with was an outsider who rained on their parade. Scott Wietecha from Hendersonville, Tennessee showed up and threw a 14:47 on the field, besting perennial favorite Eric Ashton by an entire minute. Folks, that’s a butt-whippin in my limited 5K race knowledge book.  I could not have run a 14:47 if I’d have turned left at the intersection of Pond View and Gibson and cut 3/4 of a mile off the race.  Wow.

Here is the link to the results to see how the other 500-plus of us fared:

I enjoy the Jailbreak event, but they can do two things to improve in the future.  First, move the race up to 7:30 or worst case 8:00.  8:30 is too late this time of  year.  Second, provide a technical T-shirt instead of a cotton shirt.  I like the designs of their shirts, but I personally dislike the Haynes cotton tee they include with the registration fee.  Just doesn’t fit well.

Personal Recap

I had two goals for the race.  The first was to break 22 minutes.  I figured that was out the window when I saw the weather.  I kept a dim hope alive for a PR, which would be to break 22:37.  I came up just short of this with a 22:45.  My mile splits were 6:50, 7:21, and 8:03.    I was hurting by mile one, and you can see the crashing progression.  It was painful.  Not even great live ’80’s music on the playlist could help me.

My other goal was to beat my teenage son.  I did that, but he had such a bad race, there was no fun in that.  I never saw him once the gun went off, so I honestly wasn’t sure if he was ahead of or behind me.  I guess the epic neck and neck battle at the finish will have to wait until fall sometime.  He’ll be starting his summer cross county running in earnest this week, so by September, he should be well ahead of me.  Probably for good this time.

That is supposed to wrap it up for my spring racing season.  However, right now next Saturday’s weather forecast looks a little cooler.  Maybe I’ll find one last race, so I can end with a PR before summer!



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Race Preview: Jailbreak 5K 2012

May 16, 2012 by

Race Preview: Jailbreak 5K 2012

This year is Jailbreak VI and will be held on May 26, 2012 in Lexington, South Carolina.  The race supports the Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation and has become quite popular, with over 400 participants last year. The usual Columbia area superstars normally show up and take the overall prizes, but the Lexington High School cross country/track long distance guys are gaining ground quickly (4A State champs in both cross country and track this year!).  Don’t be surprised if one of these young guns  comes out on top.

The Course

The course starts and ends in front of the  Lexington County Sheriff’s Department on Gibson Road in Lexington.  The first two miles are very flat to slightly downhill.  The course bottoms out early in the third mile and there is about 200 feet worth of climb in the last mile to make it back to the finish.   Here are the course and elevation maps:

Jailbreak 5K Course Map

Jailbreak 5K Elevation Map

To register go here:

Personal Notes

This will be my 4th time running in this event.   I believe I have set a 5K PR each year in this race.  I hope this year is no different. My current 5K best is 22:37.  Last Jailbreak, I broke 23:00 in a 5K for the first time, with a 22:49.  This year, I’m gunning to break 22:00.  As a bonus to me, it is one of the closest races to my house, and the two non-racers in the family will come out to watch the finish.

And the finish should be a close one – at least in the Battle of Fowler Running Supremacy.  See, I probably only have this one last chance to beat my son in a 5K.  I’ve never lost to him, but those first couple of years of us “competing” really weren’t a fair competition.  He was a little kid, and I was  a grown man.  But things have changed.  Lately, he has not been training as much, but physically he has grown a good bit since we last raced in December 2011 and can almost look me in the eye.  If I don’t get him this go round, I seriously doubt I’ll ever come close to him in a 5K again*.  That’s one of the reasons my target song for the end of my playlist is going to be It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M.  If you have any suggestions for the first 18 minutes of my playlist, let me know!


* My son’s 5K PR is lower than mine, thanks to cross country team training, but the times we have run head to head, though, he has not been in the middle of cross country season and in his peak fitness, so I have been able to beat him.



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Race Review: Palmetto Half Marathon 2012

Apr 15, 2012 by

Race Review: Palmetto Half Marathon 2012

2012 Palmetto Half Finisher Medal

I waited pretty late to enter the 2012 Palmetto Half.  The main reason I waited was March’s Columbia Marathon. With only five weeks between the two, I wanted to make sure I came out unscathed in the marathon before shelling out the money for the Palmetto Half.  I did, and I am sure glad I ran the Half.

The Event

As I said in my race preview, I was impressed with the first Palmetto Half in 2010, and I looked forward to them outdoing themselves this year.  Once again, I was impressed.  I cannot comment on the pre-race meal or expo, since I could not attend those.  I waited until race day to pick up my packet, but from my view, everything went well.

Five hundred runners turned out for the half marathon on April 14th.  Another 400 or so ran in the 5K.  Jud Brooker of Columbia won the men’s division in 1:14:13, and Amy McDonaugh of Irmo won the women’s division in 1:23:28.  The course was well marked had plenty of aid stations with water and Gatorade.  The finishing spread had the standard water, bananas and oranges and a special treat – Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.  I showed some will power (not sure why) and only had one, along with half a banana.

2012 Palmetto Half Tech Tee

The organizers also outdid themselves on the race shirt and finisher medal.  The 2010 shirt was a tech tee and had a great design, but it was gray.  So it was pretty good, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the gray.  This year, the shirt was also a tech tee but is red with a lime green palmetto tree.  Very nice (my picture doesn’t do it justice).  The finisher medal is also one of the better ones I have seen, with a very neat palmetto tree.  Since this is, I am partial to all things Palmetto :-).

Finally, the weather. I was worried when I wrote my preview.  The early warm weather around here had me concerned.  Well, those fears were not to be.  It might have  been the best running weather ever.  Yes ever.  There was almost no humidity and the temperature at race time was around 48 degrees.  The sun was just coming up at race start, and it warmed quickly. It may have been low 60’s at finish, but the low humidity made it very comfortable and a great day.

My Race – Some Firsts

This race had three firsts for me. Read on.

I have to admit, 14 hours before the race, I wasn’t too terribly excited.  I had worked in the yard a good bit on Thursday, so I was a little run down on Friday.  My wife even commented I was way more chilled about this race than usual.  For example, before the Columbia marathon, I had tapered properly, and I was bouncing off the walls the few days before, just ready to hit the road.  This week was opposite. I hadn’t even prepared my playlist by dinner on Friday!

Then Friday night, that all changed.  My friend Ben called.  He was running the race and wanted to run with me.  He’d seen that I was going to shoot for a pace around 8:00/mile, and he wanted to stick with me.  That sounded great.  I was now pumped up.  Maybe those 40 bales of pine straw weren’t such a good idea on Thursday after all, though.  Was I up for pacing and 8:00 miles? We’d see. This would be the first time I tried to pace somebody during a race.

So, Ben and I set out to meet or beat an 8:00/mile pace. That would give him a PR, and if we could do 7:59/mile or better that would give both of us PR’s.  I knew we could do it the first half.  The second half had me concerned.  This course works it way downhill the first half, then clobbers you the second half.  Our plan was to bank a bit of time on the downhills, giving us the extra seconds we’d need on the hills on the way back.

Well, we reached the halfway point right on plan, around the 51:40 mark and a pace of 7:53.  My legs were already protesting a bit as we started to climb the first of the tough hills on the way back up.  Then, by a stroke of luck on my playlist song placement, Freddie Mercury called out in my ear on Queen’s Somebody to Love Live in Montreal “OK, let’s do it” (at the 1:00 mark of the video below).  I may have had said out loud: Freddie, you’re on.

For the next 51 minutes, Ben and I had one of my most amazing runs of my short running life.  We didn’t break 8:00 minutes on that first hill from about mile 7-8, but after that we started reeling in people and beat 8:00 miles on each mile on the way in.  We also passed a bunch of people.  I think only one person passed us briefly on that second half, then we left him behind around mile 11.  Mile 13 was our fastest of the splits at 7:22, and according to my GPS watch, our last .1 was at a 6:16 pace.  We finished with a 7:51/minute pace for a total time of 1:42:40, and by all the crunching I can do with my watch software and Excel, we achieved the elusive negative split on a course that is not setup for that.  I believe this is my first negative split.

Ben, congratulations on your run, and thanks for that call.

One last note – the final first.  Since I try to amuse myself with song placement on my playlists, I stuck an ABBA song in this time – their first appearance on my run playlists. Huh?  You say.  Is this guy a loser?  Maybe, but the song was Waterloo.  I tried to place it right before the long uphill stretch of the course between miles 10.5 and 11.5 (Valhalla Dr, I believe).   I wanted to remind myself to not make this stretch my Waterloo. OK, so maybe I have issues.  I mistimed it a bit and it was too early, but the dumb luck of the Freddie Mercury comment at mile 7 more than made up for it.

For complete results, click here:


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Race preview: Palmetto Half Marathon 2012

Apr 1, 2012 by

Race preview: Palmetto Half Marathon 2012

In 2010, I ran in the first Palmetto Half Marathon. I was very impressed with the organization of the race, especially for a first time event. I could not run in 2011’s event because of injury, so I am looking forward to an even better event this year.

The Course
The course is a nice run through mostly residential areas of Columbia’s northeast.  Starting near The Plex in The Village at Sandhills shopping center, the course is an out and back route that winds through the Woodlands and Wildewood neighborhoods. A word of caution if you’ve never run the route: the first half works it’s way downhill and bottoms out about the half way point. Then, it’s a climb back up to the finish at the Village at Sandhills fountain. The climb up is pretty gradual, except for two tough stretches, the mile starting about mile 6 1/2 and the 3/4 of a mile or so starting at mile 10 1/2.  These two stretches are pretty steep.  Here’s the elevation map that I tracked one day in my car at lunch (my office is not too far from the route):

Palmetto Half Elevation Map

The last short uphill spot at the Two Notch Road to Clemson Road ramp is tough, too, mainly because it is so close to the end. It is definitely not The Governors Cup Blossom Street climb, but a tough final hill nonetheless.

Personal Goal
In 2010, I went out too fast and the second half was painful. I finished with a time of 1:46 something. I’d like to think I’m smarter and better fit this time around. Doubtful on the smarter part, but that’s what I’d like to think.  So here’s my plan to beat 2010’s time and possibly set a PR (personal record): attack the downhills. I’ve got to bank some time on the downs to make up for those two tough stretches I mentioned earlier. To beat my 2010 time, I have to beat an 8:05 pace. To set a PR,  I have to beat an 8:00 pace. I figure at best on those two stretches I have an 8:15 in me.

Another factor could be the weather. At this writing, the race is too far away for an accurate forecast, but warm weather arrived early in Columbia this year. Even with a 7:00am start, the second half might be pretty warm, especially if it’s sunny.

Come join me on April 14th!


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