Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Run to the Sun" Memorial 4-Mile Run/Walk

Jefferson H. Ridgdill "Run to the Sun" Memorial 4 Mile Run/Walk - 4 Mile

Quote of the Race: "When we turned the corner of that first block we could see you and Jenny already running across the top of the bridge!" - My mother who walked the race.

Location - New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Cost - $20 pre-registration (with no fee 'cause it's not those Active Nazis!) or $25 day of race.
Year of Running - 5thSponsor - Black Crow Media, New Smyrna Pennysaver, Publix, Hometown News, Elite Amenities, MultiSportFit.com, Canal Street Tire & Tube, SoNapa Wine Company, Clancy's Cantina, Chick-Fil-A, Daytona Beach Track Club, Pepsi & and other local businesses.
Charity - This race always supports a charity as it memorializes Jefferson H. Ridgdill, a local teacher and musician that passed away after a long battle with cancer. This year's race benefits the LIVESTRONG Foundation.
Number of Participants - 144 finishers.
Available Races - 4-mile loopCourse Condition - Mostly concrete or asphalt sidewalk. Note: this is an open traffic course so there are no road closures, but since it is a loop around the Intracoastal Waterway in a counterclockwise direction there are no major intersections to cross. There are two bridges with moderate incline/declines, but otherwise the course is flat and fast.
Pace Groups - N/A
Expo - N/A

ORGANIZATION, SUPPORT & SPECTATORS: This is the third year I have participated in this race and it's one of my local short distance favorites. It's about average for your run-of-the-mill $20 5kish race, but what is above average is the overall atmosphere. Runners will notice a small town vibe that is relaxing and NOT stressful. Packet pickup and day-of-registration is easy, fast and simple. This year runners received strap-on ankle style chips and while the race was still "gun time," it is small enough that even if you're the last to cross the start line it's only a matter of seconds difference from gun time. I was easily able to toe the start line. Support was excellent with volunteers handing out water at each mile during the race and I was handed a customized "Run to the Sun" labeled water bottle upon finishing. Light breakfast was served pre-race and a full on Chick-Fil-A sponsored brunch was held following the race before awards and prizes. Spectators are minimal, but there were a few lining the sidewalk just before the first bridge.

The race starts and finishes in Riverside Park in downtown New Smyrna Beach right along the waterfront. It's a straight shot from I-95 on State Road 44. There's plenty of parking along Riverside Drive and in the parking lot of the park. New Smyrna Beach is located 20 minutes south of Daytona Beach and 1 hour northeast of Orlando.

For a $20 charitable donation this race gets you breakfast, brunch, chip-timed results & and a decent quality cotton race T-shirt.

In previous years all finishers received "music themed" medals. This year, only place finishers in age divisions got medals, but all finishers were given yellow LIVESTRONG gel bracelets. Overall winners were awarded trophies and age group winners were given aluminum water bottles, yellow in color with race logo on them. Numerous prizes including, a vacation in St. Pete Beach, Kid's mountain bicycle, gift certificates, free 1-page advertisement in the local newspaper and a sport analysis from MultiSportFit.com were given out in a post awards ceremony drawing. Food was great, because, well, it was provided by Chick-Fil-La... 'nuff said.

This was the 1-year anniversary the first race that Jenny and I ran together. On that fateful day last year it was only a third date, we were both overcoming injuries and all I remember was something like "dang, this girl is FAST!"
This year I'm feeling the strongest I've ever felt as a "runner." Jenny is overcoming a small post Boston Qualifying marathon muscle injury. We decided that we would not run together since I was really feeling like opening up the throttle on this one and it would be best for her not to further aggravate her injury. We also managed to talk my sister, mother, step-father and friend, Matt, into registering during the Thanksgiving festivities the few days prior so our little race was now a fun social event!
Jenny and I both managed to get right up to the start line. The gun sounded and we were off. I immediately got caught up in the lead pack and after about 200 meters decided that it would be a VERY bad idea to continue to run with these guys and started easing off to a pace that I felt was sustainable. After a block, the course begins a 1/4-mile incline up a high rise bridge crossing the Intracoastal Waterway. I'm used to this bridge from running repeats on it (it's the only hill in New Smyrna Beach) and it's something like 66-feet tall. Still able to see the leaders (only about 10 runners in front of me) I probably charged it harder than I should have and came down fast too...
The Mile-1 marker is right at the bottom of the bridge. I check my watch and it reads 6:50. "Holy sh*t," I gasp aloud! I'm still too fast so I throttle back a little more. I man passes me. I blow past the water station and just after a female runner blows past me. I try and settle into a sustainable pace. It's hard when I know the course from running it hundreds of times at a slower than race pace and now I'm trying to figure out how far I can push the envelop. At the second mile marker I check my watch again and my second split is 7:10. That's a little better, but still seems fast for me. It's overcast and in the low 70s temperature-wise, but I'm starting to sweat like a horse!
I start to slow a bit running up the second bridge (a smaller draw bridge) not by my choice. After the summit I try and make up the time by speeding up, but my body tells me otherwise. I guess it's going to be a Fartlek-style finish to this race as I continue to slow the pace, catch my breath and then speed back up.
I don't dare look behind me. I don't want to know. I want to feel like I'm the predator and not the prey. There is a man about 50 meters in front of me. For the last mile I focus on slowly gaining on him and cut it down to about 20 meters. We turn the corner of Riverside Drive and I can see the finish line. I feel a burst of adrenaline and probably have the speed to over take him. Something strange happens. I don't want to pass him. He's been running hard this entire race and so have I. I'm not racing him. My goal is to beat my PR from October's 4-Mile "Beer Run," and I'll settle for anything under 30 minutes. Besides, I feel like people that surge to an all out sprint the last hundred feet of a race tend to look like douchebags! The race clock comes into focus and I can see 28:something and I know I'm OK. I cross the finish line with a new 4-mile PR! Jenny comes in about 20 seconds behind me and we hug and congratulate each other. She really is an amazing runner! Jenny gets a free post race Massage by KJ and I devour some food. It's a good day.

My official stats:
15th out of 144 finishers
12th male finisher overall
1st in my age division out of 5 - woohoo!
Chip Time: 29:19 (personal record)
Average pace: 7:19
"Run to the Sun" Memorial 4-Mile Run/Walk grade = A

My sister, stepfather, mother, myself, Jenny and Matt after finishing the race. Good times all around!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Just before bed last night I got a text message from a surfer friend in New York City.

"Did you hear about Andy Irons," she text.

"Nope?" I replied.
The following news was the kind you never want to hear. The kind that makes it hard to go to sleep.

The 3-time World Champion and only surfer ever to defeat Kelly Slater when he was in his prime has passed away. And apparently of dengue fever??? All I could say was 'what the f*ck?' I guess we'll find out for sure when autopsy reports are released, but initial reports saying he got the virus in Puerto Rico and died in Dallas while trying to get back to Hawaii are mind blowing to me. Having traveled to Africa, India, South America and other places where dengue fever is a risk, I personally have learned to take precautions (insect repellent), but also was always under the belief that dengue kills the young, old and weak. NOT an elite athlete.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Irons family. Andy will be remembered as one of the greatest surfers ever! Mahalo Andy for all the inspiration and aloha you gave to the world of surfing!