What is a Rooster? It’s basically a male chicken.
However, today no chickens were harmed because this was THE Rooster. A 5 (or two man) Marathon relay. The 5-man rules were simple. Each team member runs 1 one-mile lap around the business park and does this five times for a total of 25 miles and all 5 team members run the last lap together. The kicker is the person who has to run the fifth leg has to run two miles to finish the race, but more on that later.
The goal was to meet at the Waxhaw Lowes at 4:55am per Deadwood so of course Deadwood comes screeching in on two wheels at 4:59.55am.
Deadwood lead the two-car caravan and it wouldn’t be a Deadwood lead if there wasn’t at least one audible right? Well when we pulled into the business park he pulled straight ahead into a parking lot that clearly wasn’t the correct one. Audible 1, check.
We met up with Smithers and Foundation who decided to do the 2-man team and each run 13 miles – have fun with that, and set up in front of Comporium with everyone else. Deadwood brought a tent and a propane heater for inside the tent, sounds like a great idea, right? Eventually the propane heater made it outside the tent amid fears of hearing a giant “whoosh” and looking back and seeing a fleece blanket nylon fireball if that heater were to tip over.
6:00am or so and the race begins.
The Waxhaw Express Starting Lineup:
Easy Button started off strong but so did the other teams. As we were running a total of 6 miles at threshold pace the key was to start strong but not gas out too early. Deadwood, Dasher, YHC, and Hollywood all had a great first round and were situated in third by about a minute by the time the first round wrapped up.
Round 2 definitely saw a little slowdown from the group but not by much (maybe 30 seconds for five miles). Everyone still ran strong and we were in still in third place by about the same amount.
Round 3 is crucial because this is when the lactic acid starts to build a little from the two hard runs and standing around in 35-degree weather for 24ish minutes between runs. We finished this round about 15 seconds faster than our round 2 and noticed the gap was but shrinking a little bit.
The penultimate solo round or “movement round”. This is where our running solid consistent rounds was paying dividends. We traded places between 2nd and 3rd place twice this round and finished the round in second place. The heat was on.
This was our drop the hammer round. Easy Button had a strong first leg and shortened the gap between 1st and 2nd. You could see the other teams starting to really glance in our direction. Deadwood took over leg 2 and dropped the hammer. He may have looked gassed coming in but we had a solid lead after Deadwood finished and there was no doubt he left it all on the road. The other team had their fastest guy (who also had the fastest segment today of anyone) run leg 3 and he was able to retake the lead from Dasher. However, Dasher laid down an amazing leg and we were in a solid second place when YHC ran his leg. YHC was able to run down the first-place team at the ½ mile mark and I was either going to puke or die because I wasn’t going to look back and I wasn’t going to let either team catch me coming into Hollywood. Hollywood’s fifth leg was a smoker which is BY FAR the toughest leg because he had to
Hollywood came smoking around the curve with a solid lead and we knew it was ours to win or lose on the team leg.
Round 6 – Team Leg:
Here we were. All those Ignition workouts. The Swarm workouts. The “we don’t wake up at 4:30am to be average” dark and cold mornings. Hollywood looked pissed when he came in from Round 5 as if he had just been punked into running another lap and he had, big time. But no time to talk, we had to move.
While we were waiting for him Dasher noted, “I promise to give my best” to which was answered, “we don’t want your best we want your everything”. We start off letting Hollywood lead our pack since he was coming off a lap with no rest and we settled into a tight huddle. We were about 100 yards or so ahead of the team behind us and they seemed to make some initial gains but that’s how this day had been. Hold your pace and be steady and run OUR run. And that’s what we did. We stayed together, we pushed each other, and we extended that lead to about 200 yards by the time we crossed the finish line in first place.
What an awesome morning of 1st and 2nd F! I’ve done relay races before like the Palmetto and Blue Ridge and those are great and I highly recommend them but they are long, take you away for 2 days, and not local. The Rooster is right in our backyard, takes up a morning, and is relatively short at 6 miles which is no longer than a long Swarm or Ignition workout.
The mile loop is great because everyone can hang out at the start/finish area to observe and cheer on. The time between laps goes quickly and the 2nd F in between is great. It was also great to chat with our brothers from Rock Hill and Gastonia who finished 2nd and 3rd. Great group of guys and one of them were the 2018 champs so there was some well-intentioned ribbing and rivalries going on.
I can’t say how cool it was to see Easy Button putting in round after round of low 6-minute miles. All I can say is the jig is up. We’ll see you every Monday and Friday at Ignition and Swarm.
Deadwood ran the fastest I’ve seen him run. I don’t know if it’s the new diet, losing a few lbs (always helps) or what but he was clutch when it counted and was ran negative splits on every lap. Well done.
Dasher had the trickiest leg because he was going against the fastest guy out there today on the other team. To hold his own and put us in a position to take the lead was crucial. When you were laying on your back on the road after the finish I knew you had given everything and this is what it’s all about. Hell yea.
Hollywood had the toughest leg because he had to put us in a better position going into every round, get the lead, hold the lead, and increase the lead, AND run two threshold miles back to back. I’ll never forget the look on your face coming in for the final lap but you kicked it out there and set the final pace that allowed us to hold off an attack and then increase our lead on the final stretch. Way to go.
We were given the F3 Rooster trophy with Waxhaw Express 20’ written on the side with the past two years champions. So, needless to say we have to come strong next year with the trophy to defend our title. The target is now officially on our backs.
If you haven’t see our pictures from today, don’t worry, the Rooster trophy will be making its “Stanley cup” rounds to all the workouts this week.
Final Note: We talked to a lot of people today. Everyone had pretty much the same reaction when we mentioned we were from F3 Waxhaw and it was one of respect and admiration for what we have done as a region. Keep up the great work everyone. We are an example of how a region can grow in all three F’s and it’s not our little secret anymore.
Final Final Note: On the way home we had Deadwood audible #2 with a right turn too early and then a U turn in someone’s circle driveway.
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