Race Review: Ray Tanner Home Run 12K 2012

Oct 15, 2012 by

Race Review: Ray Tanner Home Run 12K 2012

I could take the easy way out and copy and paste last year’s Home Run review because, in reality, the experience was almost the same – a great event and a good personal result.

While I can be somewhat lazy, I suppose that might be crossing the line.

The Event Summary

As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of the best events in the Columbia area. This year lived up to that reputation, with a sold out event for both 5K and 12K races.  I think the organizers have some kind of deal with Mother Nature, too.  While somewhat cool and breezy before the race, once we started, the weather was perfect for running.

Also, I believe the organizers made the 5K start time a few minutes later, as they were not in the way of most of the 12K runners as we came back down Knox Abbot Drive.

Race swag included another Under Armour short sleeve shirt and a coffee cup.  Only nit picky complaint with the shirt is that it is basically the same color as last year (just a slight shade difference in the garnet) and they don’t include the year on the shirts.  I didn’t notice that last year.

The post race spread was very good with bananas, oranges, bagels, cookies, hot dogs and snow cones.  One could definitely consume more calories than burned during the race, if not careful.  There was also a rock band playing.

You can view the race results here.

Personal Summary

This event was two weeks before my next marathon.  In an ideal race prep world, I’d do a half marathon at full marathon pace (i.e. a bit slower than normal half marathon pace) to test my fitness level.  My full marathon target pace per mile for this next one will be in the 8:50-9:00 range.  Well, there was no half marathon close by, so I decided to give a hard effort at the 12K (7.4 miles) distance.

My last couple of long training runs had not gone well at all, so my confidence was getting pretty low.  However, a pretty good short workout a few nights before the Ray Tanner gave me a glimmer of hope.  With a relatively short distance of 7.4 miles, I felt breaking the 8:00/mile pace was attainable, but would be short of last year’s 7:31 pace that resulted in a 55:49.

So, how did I do?  Much better than I expected. Here are my mile splits:

Mile 1: 7:19

Mile 2: 7:54

Mile 3: 7:20

Mile 4: 7:34

Mile 5: 7:54

Mile 6: 7:14

Mile 7: 7:36

last .4: 2:41 (6:44/mile pace)

Total 55:36 (7:29/mile) for a PR in a 12K, beating last year’s time by 13 seconds.  I really didn’t see that coming. At least I have some confidence back as a taper for the marathon.

If you want to run the Home Run next year, be sure to sign up early.


Finish Line



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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 PalmettoStateRunner.com, 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: http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/12PHM.txt


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Columbia Marathon 2012 – Additional Ramblings

Mar 14, 2012 by

Columbia Marathon 2012 – Additional Ramblings

Earlier this week, I posted my Columbia Marathon review.  Now that I’ve had a few more days to reflect, I have some thoughts to add.

Ideas For Next Year

Need More Cowbell

One thing the marathons I have completed (a whopping 3) have in common is lack of spectators.   Most, if not all, runners are used to this.  We train countless hours in solitude.  I understand watching long distance running MAY not be the most exciting thing, but on the rare occasion when there is a crowd, it is appreciated.  How can this be improved for Columbia?

University of South Carolina was on spring break, and that might have been strategic on the race director’s part, but as I ran down Green Street and then on Sumter Street in front of the U.S.C. Horseshoe, I could almost hear crickets chirping.   What about a U.S.C. pep band in this area or some bands in other areas?  What about a noise contest between fraternities and sororities as we passed the Greek Village on Blossom Street?

Contest Within The Contest

In the neighborhoods, we passed several churches, but only one had any people outside cheering (both laps!) – thanks Wesley Memorial UMC! .   Maybe  churches and other business organizations could setup unofficial aid/cheer stations.  Perhaps someone can come up with an idea to get  neighborhoods more involved to put on a display (adopt-a-street?, “Welcome to the neighborhood” signs?) and get a crowd.  Some humorous motivational signs up Trenholm Road would have been funny.  The runners could then vote on the best street/area at the end.  I think the now defunct Labor Day 15K at Ben Lippen did something like this.

Finish Announcer?

Maybe this is impractical for a large race, but one nice feature of some races is an announcer who lets the crowd know runners’ names as they approach the finish line.

Random Personal Notes

My quads ached for two days.

The official website lists the marathon as having 653 feet of elevation gain. That’s roughly the equivalent of climbing 65 flights of stairs.  I think that it had more.  Either way, it is no wonder my quads hurt.

Near the end, as I struggled up the Gervais Street hill the second time, a young girl blew past me.  “Curse, you, young person,” I thought, “How can you be that fast up hill at this point?”  Then I noticed her Newton shoes.  I smiled. “Go, Girl!”

One lady had a sign that said ‘Your feet hurt because of all that @$$ you’re kickin!’  I wanted to ask her: Since my @$$ was hurting so bad, was I the one getting kicked?

In the mid-late ’90’s I worked at a small, now defunct  start-up company in Columbia. We had less than 15 employees at that time, I think, and no runners.  This weekend, three of those former co-workers completed marathons, one even at the bottom of the world!  Congrats, Ben and Dean!

Here’s a video of Ben talking about his experience (6th video down the page, labeled 3 Friends Talk about the race): http://www.thestate.com/2012/03/10/2187014/videos-columbia-sc-marathon-2012.html

In the 13 weeks leading up to and including the race, I logged 353 running miles and 141 exercise bike miles, totaling 73 1/2 hours of training.  That’s just over 27 miles running and 5 1/2 hours of training per week.  My wife might argue that seems too little, but the GPS watch software doesn’t lie!

Here’s the video my son shot as I finished:




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Columbia Marathon 2012 Review

Mar 11, 2012 by

Columbia Marathon 2012 Review

On March 10, 2012, I ran in the inaugural Columbia, SC Marathon.  The event had around 550 runners in the full marathon and 750 in the half.

Here are my thoughts on the race in general:

First, let me start out saying that Dan Hartley and his team did a wonderful job organizing this event.  Organizing a race of this magnitude is quite an undertaking and it seemed to go off  smoothly.  I did not experience any major problems and did not hear any complaints. Also, I don’t know what kind of deal he made to bring  the “Chamber of Commerce” weather, but that was an added bonus.

Headquarters: The Columbia Convention Center served as ground zero for all the marathon activities. This proved to be an excellent choice -plenty of room for the race expo and other activities. Plenty of restroom facilities (at least for the men. Do women ever have enough?) Also, this was a nice place to duck in before the race to get warm. That was a cold wind whipping down Lincoln street before the race!

Race Swag: Easily one of the best race shirts I have received (or will receive. I signed up right before the deadline for shirt guarantee, so mine hasn’t arrive yet). The medals were really good, too, with the Columbia Famously Hot, Surprising Cool slogan and a cutout  of the city skyline (see below). I believe everyone received a State Farm happy sack, too, with the obligatory coupons and other race announcements.

Aid stations: Plenty of stations with water, Gatorade and Gu. One minor suggestion I’d make would be to have the water coolers more easily accessible for people carrying their bottles to refill.

Race Bib With Name

Misc: The race bibs had our names on them. That is always a nice touch and appreciated, especially when the three cute girls at mile 5 yelled “Go, Greg”.

The bibs also had the lightweight timing chips applied to the back. I like this system much better than the shoe chips.

The post race spread was pretty good, too – bananas, granola bars, mini bagels and water.

Weather:  As I mentioned in my preview, I was concerned about the weather. Mid-March in Columbia can have a wide variety of weather. I was mostly concerned about too hot – this is the Famously Hot Columbia Marathon after all. Thankfully, the weather was just about perfect, ranging from about 40 degrees at the start to the mid-50’s, I think, when I finished.

Here are a couple of minor changes I suggest:

1. As mentioned earlier, put water and/or Gatorade coolers at the end of the aid stations to allow easier refilling of personal water bottles.  I carried my own to better judge fluid intake and this would have been helpful.  I used the coolers that were there, I just had to wander back behind the tables. The Kiawah Marathon encourages people to bring their own bottles to reduce cup waste and provides easy access to coolers.

2.  If the post race spread had any sports drink, I completely missed it.  So, I’d like to see a sports drink option.  I’d also like to see chicken noodle soup.  Yep, chicken noodle soup. Myrtle Beach had this last year and it may have been the best cup of soup ever.

Am I just missing the finish clock?

3.  A bigger clock at the finish or at least above the finish line.  Unless I was too out of it (entirely possible) I don’t remember seeing a clock at the end of the race.  In the picture to the right, I’m not sure what that clock on the left means that says 7:49.

In summary:  As you can see my suggestions are very minor picky issues, which hopefully tells you this was a good race.  I think it was an excellent start to what hopefully will become a popular southeastern race.

For additional coverage by The State newspaper, click here.

My Experience: I get by with a little help from my friends

OK, now the part you’ve been waiting for. How was my race? There are 3 Chapters: Going Strong, Going For It, and Going South.

Chapter One: Going Strong

I arrived in plenty of time to get a good free parking space at the Colonial Center, a few blocks from the Convention Center. The 39 degree pre-sunrise temperature made for a chilly warm up, especially with the brisk wind whipping down Lincoln Street as I headed toward the Convention Center.  After trying to get loose by walking and some easy jogging, I hung out in the Center for a bit to stay warm.  About 7 am, I headed to the starting line. The race started right on time (7:15) with some pre-race 2001 and Sandstorm music to get us pumping.  Oh yeah, the young girl, 12?, who sang the national anthem was amazing.

As in my previous two marathons, the first half went really well. I didn’t notice too much wind as the race went on and the temperature warmed nicely into the fifties. The dreaded Trenholm  Road and Gervais Street climbs went very well, and I made the first loop in 1:55, right on target.  At this point, though, the race became pretty lonely as the half marathoners finished up.

Greg and Ben After the Race. Photo courtesy of Ben’s wife, Ally.

My first sign of trouble came at the Saluda Avenue hill as I climbed toward the mile 15 aid station. I didn’t remember it being very steep the first time around, but this time was a different story.  On the first loop, I had run this section with an old friend and former co-worker, Ben, who was running his first marathon.  That and early race adrenaline helped.  No Ben and no adrenaline now.  I told myself the easy part was officially over.

My friend Craig was working the mile 15 aid station and had my gels I needed for the rest of the way.  I had changed gel brands during this training cycle, so I was not taking the Gu’s provided by the race.  Carrying the four gels I had planned for the race was too bulky for my race belt, so Craig’s placement at this station worked out well.  This was right at my 2:15 mark, and I was due my third gel of the day. That and some water perked me up a bit, but by the 16 mile mark, my mind was starting to drift as I ran alone.

Chapter Two: Going For It
At this point I had not paid much attention to pace. I had been feeling good, but being alone now, my mind was starting to drift. This is when I made a decision that probably contributed immensely to the Going South part of this story.  The 3:45 pace group passed me, and I made the impulse decision to hop on board. New friends!

Before the race, I had no expectations of beating my personal best on this course.  I felt breaking 4 hours would be considered a victory, given the tough hills.  I certainly don’t usually recommend changing strategies during a race, but I felt good and felt I had sub-4:00 in the bag.  Why not, I thought.  Let’s go for it.

For the next 6 miles the excellent pacer lead us up and down hills, shouting out technique instructions that really helped keep me focused. This was actually a lot of fun.  If I could keep pace with this guy, a PR would be in the books on a brutal course. Unfortunately, Trenholm Road awaited.

Chapter Three: Going South
As we approached the 22 mile mark and the beginning of the long climb up Trenholm, only a couple of the 10 or so people at mile 16 remained with the pacer, and I was done.   The legs were protesting mightily!  I stopped to walk a bit and watched the pacer’s bright yellow shirt start fading into the distance. A run/walk strategy got me up Trenholm, but it seemed twice as long as the first time. I managed to average 10:12 per mile on this two mile stretch, a far cry from the 8:40 or so I had been logging.

Mile 24 brought a much needed break from the hills. A this point, I started keeping my eyes out for another friend, Bobby. He planned to meet me around here to help me finish up. He was doing the same thing for a faster finisher and would be coming back to meet me. I spotted him around mile 24 1/2.

At this point 3:45 was out of the question, but I held a bit of hope for 3:50. I don’t think I was too coherent as Bobby encouraged me and led the way home.  After the final steep hill up Gervais and another 10:00+ mile, 3:50 was no longer the target. Now, I just wanted to finish. When the finish line FINALLY came into view, I just let the downhill take me in. I wanted to pick up the pace but couldn’t.

At The Finish – Finally!

My final official time was 3:53:03, an 8:54 per mile pace and 134th place out of 545.

Final Thought

I don’t know if I’ll do the full marathon again.  My marathon training is usually limited to one a year, and I like to change venues each time.  However, I will probably make the half a regular part of my spring season.  If they figure out a way to flatten Trenholm Road, I might change my mind!

You can view the final results here.

For my additional ramblings on the Columbia Marathon, click here.


PS.  In reference to last week’s post, Final Marathon Details. If you are wondering what I chose for my target playlist Grand Finale song? It was Queen’s “Somebody to Love”.  I had it finishing about 3:52, so I just missed timing it right.  I had to go into overtime with Night Ranger’s “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”!

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Ray Tanner Home Run 12K Race Review

Oct 17, 2011 by

Ray Tanner Home Run 12K Race Review

This was the 6th running of the Ray Tanner Home Run and my first time in the event.  I sure hope I can make it each year.  It was easy to see why this event sold out.  This race should be the model for all races. Here’s a run down of my experience:

Race swag: Technical T-shirt.  By Under Armour.  Very nice.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think the 12K runners shirts were garnet and the 5K’ers were black.  If so, I like that.

Course: I really liked the course.  Fairly fast, but a few good hills to make you work.  Good scenery around downtown Columbia and the avenues of West Columbia, including 2 trips over the Congaree River.  Great finish at home plate inside the South Carolina baseball stadium, easily one of the top collegiate baseball stadiums in the country.  The only slightly negative thing I could say about the course was how we integrated with the 5K runners and walkers.  The 12K started about 20-25 minutes before the 5K and then we starting mixing with them close to mile 3, I believe.  This just made for some difficult maneuvering in the crowd.  No big deal, just part of it.

Post race spread: Awesome.  I snacked on a snow cone and trail mix, but there was also fruit, cookies, cake and hot dogs.  I deemed 9am too early for a hot dog, though.

Weather: Chamber of Commerce morning in Columbia.  I’m not sure how the race director arranged it.  Not a cloud in the sky and the race start temperature was 55-60 degrees with low humidity.

My Performance

As I mentioned in a previous post, the goal I had in this race was to measure my fitness as I train for the Governor’s Cup Half Marathon in 3 weeks.  I had a race pace goal of just under 8:00/mile.  I also hoped to run a negative split, meaning running the second half of the race faster than I did the first.  Let’s see how I did.

I could bore you at this point with a description of each mile, and I what was happening in my head, but I won’t.  Here’s the summary:

Time: 55:49, a 7:31/mile pace.  10th place out of 41 in my age group.  55 of 248 in the male overall category.


Mile 1: 7:30

Mile 2: 7:48

Mile 3: 7:20

Mile 4: 7:51

Mile 5: 7:51

Mile 6: 7:19

Mile 7: 7:35

Last .44 miles: 2:40ish

So, I accomplished my first goal of a less than 8:00 pace.  I didn’t think I had a 7:31 in me for 12K, but the perfect weather really helped me on this.  This was one of the best races I have ever run.  I never hit a wall or felt ill, as I do the last mile of 5K’s. Also, I believe I did the elusive negative split.  If not, it was very close.  I am very confident right now in my fitness heading into the Governor’s Cup.

Bottom Line: Hope to see you at the Home Run next year!  If you can only do one race in the Columbia area, this should be on your short list.

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