Race #183 – Coon Dog Day 5k – Saluda, NC – 07/07/12

After this past Tuesday’s melt-fest at the Firecracker 5k where the temperature was a toasty 98 degrees at the start of the 7 p.m. race, I was ready to get back to business. I had intended to run that race but after gorging myself on pizza and ice cream for lunch and then having dinner with the family at the Original Pancake House just an hour or two before the race, I just wasn’t feeling it, so only about a half mile into the race I decided to opt out, pulling over to the side and waiting for my grandson Ryan and his half brother Andrew to catch up so I could run with them. Andrew was told by a doctor last week that he would need surgery on his badly swollen ankle so he did what any normal 23-year-old would do — went out and ran a 5k. I stayed back and ran the rest of the race with Andrew while Ryan ran on up ahead with our friend Heather. I actually felt fine after I stopped running hard and enjoyed our slow 3-mile jog. As we approached the finish I had decided to not cross the finish line and instead take a DNF (Did Not Finish) since at that point it could hardly be called a race. Despite my attempt to miss the finish line by walking on the other side of the fence, lo and behold, the clock caught my chip time anyway and I had an official finish time of something like 46:30. Someone pointed out to me a day or two later that it was caught on the finish line video, which you can view here. Just go up to where the clock reads about 46:30 to see Andrew (the one limping across the finish line) and me (the one trying to avoid the finish line). I’m still not counting it as an official race, but the day may come that 46:30 might be a normal finishing time for me to run a 5k. I hope it’s a few years down the road.

Speaking of down the road, Saluda is about 75 miles away so we were up and out the door before the sun came up. Saluda’s elevation is about 2,000 feet so it’s a little cooler up there and it was a good day for running. This was Saluda’s 48th annual Coon Dog Day festival, which is part of why it’s such a fun race. Because of parking and traffic logistics, the race both starts and finishes a half mile or so from the parking area. It’s no big deal for the most part, especially at the beginning of the race since it gives you some time to get warmed up. I didn’t mind the walk back either but it was probably an issue for some people who might have been already zonked from running their first 5k. 

The course this year was exactly opposite of last year’s course, but since I didn’t remember a lot about last year’s course it didn’t make a big difference to me. Going either way most of the first mile was uphill, and there’s a nice long mostly downhill finish. 

As any good neurotic would do, I had checked the registration list before the race to see what kind of competition I could expect in my age group. There were several pretty good runners but the one who stood out was David Spark from Greenville, South Carolina. David is an amazing 63-year-old runner who I’ve been in several races with before and I’ve been lucky up until now that I had not yet reached his age group. I had talked to him last year at this race and he was just recovering from some health issues so he wasn’t running his fastest times. After I saw his name on the list I took a look at Athlinks to see how he was doing, and I could see he was back on track and running at least a minute faster than me in a 5k, which is a considerable amount. Once the race started he was gone with the much younger runners up front, leaving me back in what seemed like the middle of the pack. With so much uphill running in the first mile, it was a slow one for me, and I heard the girl at the 1-mile mark call out a time of 7:15, which is easily 30-45 seconds slower than my usual pace in the first mile. The terrain eventually leveled out somewhat, with just some small rolling hills that you usually find in this part of the mountains. 

The last mile had a lot of downhill to make up for all of the uphill climb in the first mile, and that’s the way I like it. About a half mile from the finish I passed the 3rd overall female, 18-year-old Rebecca Elliott. As we got to within about a tenth of a mile from the finish I could hear her coming up behind me, and we both put it into high gear and headed for the finish line. I really don’t mind getting chicked (kind of used to it by now) but it’s always fun to try to beat somebody to the finish line. We were as close as I’ve ever been at the finish, so close that I couldn’t tell which of us was ahead. Somebody who saw the finish commented on Facebook that they saw it and there was a discussion among those who saw it as to who won, and the consensus was that she beat me by a hair. Looking at the results just now, I saw that they had me finishing ahead of her, with both of us at 21:28. Either way, it was a fun finish for me. The Garmin Connect website recorded my pace as I crossed the finish line as 4:22!

Despite the fast finish, there was no catching David Spark, who beat me by 28 seconds with a time of 21:00 flat. I was happy though with my time of 21:28 and I finished 19th overall out of 229 runners.

David Spark – Jennifer Reeves – Richard Hefner – Linda Hefner

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My Stats: 

Time:  21:28
Pace:  6:55
Age Group:  2 of  11
Overall:  19 of  229
Average Heart Rate:  161
Maximum Heart Race:  176
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  17:16 (74.71%)

* RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points) *

Note: With my new rating system (started in December 2011) there’s not a chance of any race scoring near 100. If it’s important to you, look at each individual category to see how points were earned (or not). Just trying to be more objective with the details. I generally like all of the races I run. If there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way I’ll mention it in the summary above.

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
2 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION  (6 possible points)
1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
0 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
5 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
0 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes  (Carey Pace Photography)
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes

PARKING  (8 possible points)
0 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
0 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
1 – No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  64

Lots of good food after the race!

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