Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pinch Gut Puffer Race Report

Today I ran the 30th Annual Pinch Gut Puffer 7.5K Cross Country Race.  I woke up around 7, got dressed, had a piece of whole wheat toast w/ peanut butter and banana, washed it down with a pint of water, then headed to the race site.  About halfway there, I realized I had forgotten my MP3 player.  I thought about turning around to get it, but I realized that since Cooper River is a headphone-free race, I should probably go ahead and get used to running without it.  Once I got to the registration area, I met up with my father-in-law and my training partner and had a cup of coffee and then the three of us hopped on one of the shuttles to the start.  I've been noticing lately that my calves are extremely tight for about the first half-mile, then loosen way up and feel a lot better, so I did a quick half-mile warmup and stretched out really well.  A few minutes before the start, my heart rate had come back down, so I ran another quarter-mile or so and lined up for the start.

Before I get into the race itself, I'll quickly explain the details behind the funny sounding name.  The "Pinch Gut" part of the name is from the fact that, during the 18th and 19th centuries, Downtown Augusta was known as Pinch Gut because of the corsets worn by the fashionable women of the area.  The "Puffer" part of the name is for Private Robert J. Puffer, a colonial soldier during the revolutionary war.  Puffer volunteered to run a message between two battalions to coordinate an attack on two British strongholds, one of which was located at the current site of King Mill, and the other which was located at the current site of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.  He made the run in 28 minutes and the forts were taken 8 days later.

Anyway, that should help to explain a little of why the official starter of the race was Francis Marion.  With a shot from his musket, we were off!  I settled into an 11:00/mile pace as early as possible once the initial traffic thinned out and pretty much maintained it for the entire race.  I had to slow a few times for some of the brutal hills and switchbacks this course contained.  This was a TOUGH course, including dirt, grass, asphalt, concrete, and brick with lots of elevation changes.  Just before the 3-mile point, we had to run down a very steep, under-construction, off-ramp that's still being graded, then climb over the guardrail onto one of the major roads leading out of Downtown Augusta.  As tough as it was, the course was a lot of fun and I'm already looking forward to running it next year.

All in all, I had a good race, I was passed by a group of 3 people running together at about the half-mile mark and was able to pass them back in the home stretch of the race in addition to everyone else I passed during the course of the run.  I only had one person pass me that I wasn't able to pass back.  I'm no speed demon by any stretch of the word, so I can only assume this means I lined up exactly where I should have for my pace.  My goal for the race was to finish in less than an hour and I pretty much blew that out of the water, finishing in 52:54.

Now it's time for me to start concentrating specifically on training for the Cooper River Bridge Run.  I'll only be running one more race between now and then, the Heart & Sole 5K, because it's for a great cause.  I'm going to try to get more consistent with my posting as well so that I'm providing more updates on my training instead of just giving sporadic race reports.

Run Long, Run Free

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