As an avid South Carolina Gamecock fan, the Ray Tanner Home Run was an event I’ve wanted to run for awhile. I couldn’t three years because of my running injury, and the last two were date conflicts with cycling events. With my recent injury, it looked like this might be another scratch, but determination counts for something. I kept my registration with the intention of walking the course.
Ray Tanner, for those who don’t know, is a local legend. He was the Baseball coach who led the Gamecocks to consecutive College World Series championships. He has since been promoted to Athletic Director, and is now overseeing the best football team in years under Steve Spurrier. On the day of the race, the football Gamecocks would be away playing the LSU Tigers. A win would vault them to the national championship race. Needless to say, this is an exciting time to support the program.
What’s great about this ride is the location. It begins bright and early at Carolina Stadium, where the Gamecocks play their home games. It ends at home plate, with the awards presentation at left field. With just over 1,800 athletes participating, it was a crowded and festive atmosphere.
Because of the Ray’s new position and the LSU game this evening, he could not make it to the event. Instead, Karen, his wife, hosted thousands of riders, family members, and volunteers. She gave us some thanks and words of encouragement before a young girl (sorry, missed the name) started the race with an air horn. The 12k runners started first, with the 5k pack leaving half an hour later.
The weather changed my plans. It was a cool morning in the low 50s, with a chilling breeze. As we lined up, I moved further and further towards the back of the pack. I was only allowed to walk, as I kept reminding myself, and didn’t want to be motivated by other runners.
The race started, and I started walking with the pack. This wasn’t working. I had to jog slowly to warm myself up. Oddly enough, it felt alright. I kept at it for maybe half a mile. Then I forced myself to stop and walk. I walked/jogged the rest of the route, not wanting to push myself further into injury. When I crossed home plate, it had taken me 37:29, which I will take for my injured state. According to the official results, I finished 393rd out of 659 finishers of the 5k. Having expectations of being close to last, this was fantastic.
The run was encouraging. The hip was slightly sore afterward, but it mostly held up. It should be fine to train on in the next week or two. I could also tell that the rest was good for me. I had a lot more running power than I expected, especially on the hills. There were times I felt I could pick up the pace, but kept myself in check just to be safe.
The event was awesome. It is a great feeling to finish at home plate to a cheering crowd. The ride director, Ken Lowden, did a phenomenal job. As Karen said at the beginning, it simply would not happen without he and his volunteers.
Running is probably not going to be in the training plan for France. This will most likely be my last one for quite awhile.