Reindeer Dash for Cash Race Review

   After the last entry when I left my audience (Largely members of the Folsom county correctional institution, whose guards have deemed my blog as a "safe for viewing page") hanging, I decided to answer some of the questions posed. Was I chicked by Jenny again? Did I beat my coach, or last year's time on this new, harder course? Will I be joining the boys at Folsom?
Well boys? Did she beat him again?
   Right after the gobble and gorge, via Christmas magic, I managed to turn my rest day into a rest-week-and-a-half. Studying for finals and writing papers for the end of the semester at the same time meant that my diet was a runner's ideal combination of pizza, coffee, beer, and cereal. (No water necessary.) The week flew by and before I knew it, we were 24 hours from the race start.
  I headed down to one of the local sports shops to pick up my race packet a day early and was fortunate enough to bump into the race director who was on hand to help with packets and greet runners. We both mentioned how absurdly hot it was going to be at the 1:00 start time, (low 70's) and hoped that the shade along the new course would help. I stayed and talked for a while, looked over some new shoes, and then bib and shirt picked up, headed home to justify carbing up some more and get a good night's sleep.

Determined to make it to the race on time
   I wasn't really sure what to do with myself the earlier part of the day since almost every other race I participate in takes place in the morning. I decided a few extra hours of sleep wouldn't hurt anything. So, well rested I took off for the race and after getting stuck behind every octogenarian on the road, finally arrived at the site. A friend and training partner named Johnathan awaited me in the parking lot defending a space from other drivers. I was looking over to him, smiling and waving when my eyes locked onto to his bib. Which I had forgotten. At the house. I quickly rolled down the window and explained what had happened as I peeled  out of the parking lot and floored it back home to grab the bib (which held my timing chip) and some safety pins. Violating several speed limits and probably some city ordinances I made it back to the race with just enough time to get to the start line with about ten minutes to spare.

     I lined up at the front of the start line with my team members, (Dash for Cash has a team as well as individual entry) and compared projected completion times. The youngest member of our team was planning to run the fastest and it quickly became apparent that the rest of the team including Jenny, Johnathan, myself and our coach, Tim, were out to beat each other. Fake smiles all around we waited for the gun to go off and when it did we all bolted off the line.

Tim, Jenny and Johnathan make sure I don't get too far.
   The youngest and shortest, Melanie, took off to lead the pack, second only to the woman from Kenya. Realizing I didn't have much hope of keeping up I decided to back down a bit so I didn't burn out. A quick look over my shoulder revealed Tim, Jenny and Johnathan running side by side not ten feet behind me making sure that I wasn't able to pull away. For the moment I felt what every harp seal must feel when a pack of Killer Whales moves in for dinner. Just as I was about to risk burn out to put a little more speed into my current pace, another runner beside me went down over one of our city's newly installed "speed humps," which seem to be solely designed to launch cars into the air Dukes of Hazard style. Reevaluating my decision-making process I decided to keep my current pace and in the hopes that the other three would fade a bit.

   Dash for Cash's ten mile course follows the 5k course for the first three, very flat miles. Gratefully this year the ten milers and the 5k runners had a staggered start with the ten mile race starting roughly fifteen minutes before the 5k. By the time we cut around the corner to hit the mile two marker we were also fairly well separated, having left the gasping eight year olds who sprinted the first mile in basketball shoes behind. A allowed myself a whiplash fast glance over my shoulder to see where the competition was. (I still have yet to figure out how to casually look over my shoulder in a race and feign non concern.) I noted that I had about fifty yards on Johnathan, and didn't seem Tim and Jenny anywhere around.

He makes Kenyans look over their shoulder during a race.
   Almost right at the three mile marker the races diverged, with the 5k runners headed across the red, white and blue decorated bridge, (Dash for Cash is a race dedicated in the memory of Captain Christopher Cash, who died while serving his country over seas.) the rest of us took a side street that brought us onto Greenville's greenway system. Flat, shaded and running parallel to the Tar river, the greenway was definitely my favorite section of this course. It's also the section where Tim caught up to me. 

   Feeling some heavy, decidedly not sexy breathing on the back of my neck, I found Tim drafting off of me like this was the fifty shades of racing. From miles three to five we proceeded like this, shooting questions back and forth to take my mind off the sound of my own ragged breathing. I don't remember what question was asked, but somewhere around the mile five marker Johnathan answered it, prompting me to respond with a non too calm; "You're still here?!?" He laughed and I struggled with a baby heart attack, figuring that  he would be at least a half mile back by this point. 

No matter how fast I ran through the wooded greenway,
Johnathan always seemed to catch up.
   Wanting to at least take some of the pressure off, I told Tim to go ahead and I would try my best to catch up. Tim sprinted ahead, and for the next four miles remained about a tenth of a mile ahead of us. Johnathan and I continued along the greenway and observed that while Tim was within range of catching, there was no one close behind us. Joking and talking between sips of air we passed an aid station, crossed bridges and exited onto college hill where we would round ECU's dorms and head into the final two miles. Noting the mileage I told Johnathan that we only had "half a 5k to go!" (math had never been my strongest subject) Looking back, that oxygen would have been put to better use going to my brain so that perhaps I wouldn't have run into the hood of a parked police car serving to remind runners that they should turn right, not run straight. 
"Then he just came right at me, all shoutin' and
with this crazy look in his eye."

   Giving both the officer inside the vehicle and Johnathan a good laugh, I peeled myself off the hood and picked up the pace, still determined to beat last year's time. Another half mile in there was a construction crew marking off the street for...something. Knowing that I couldn't lose time that running the precious five extra feet around them would cost me, I began shouting the words "sorry," and "race" over and over while tearing through the site.
   Crossing over the street and hoping that the gods of traffic were on my side, we began our last mile through the college campus and towards the finish line. Tim stretching his lead ever longer, I encouraged Johnathan to try and catch him. Issuing no response, we both dropped it a gear or two lower and hit the last few hills which when reviewed on garmin's elevation website look ironically like the screen shots of the heart monitor I was hooked up to post race. As the two of us scaled the last hill and headed towards the bridge we were received by cheers from friends and family, and one cry of  "Pick it up, I can see the mustache now, Honeycutt!" which was all the motivation I needed. Covering another fifty yards, the now familiar sensation of bile and acid creeping up my throat hit me. I had a choice to make; either try to beat Johnathan to the line and shave five seconds off my time and have every picture from the finish featuring me vomiting on an unsuspecting volunteer, or slow it down and still finish with a respectable time. I chose the latter and finished just a few seconds slower, but still almost 90 seconds faster than last year's time. 

   High fiving and congratulating both Johnathan and Tim on a race well done I turned around to see Jenny finishing about 90 seconds after me. It had been a close and hard fought race between us all, but it was a good finish that has now lead to the birth of (yet another) friendly rivalry. As far as placement goes, we were able to score second place team overall, and I was able to score first in my age division, picking up some nice race bling with my friends along the way. 

   A great race, an incredible cause and an awesome course means that not only will I be back next year, but I'm sure that the almost 1,000 runners that showed up this year will be too. And now, with 123 miles to go before I BREAK ONE THOUSAND MILES FOR THE YEAR, (first time ever- excuse me while I fangirl squeal) I'm off to get a run in. 

Race bling



  1. Good times...pun intended... the journey continues sir! Keep up the great work! We are so going to rock 2013!!


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