Three members from the Greenville Track Club (GTC) Elite training team debuted on the outdoor track Friday night at the 49er Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina. The meet attracted the largest field in its seventeen year history with 46 teams and nearly 1,500 athletes competing in track and field events.
Kimberly Ruck has returned to her prior racing form when she was an All-American standout at Clemson University. She set a meet record in the 5,000 meters on Friday night with a time of 16:20.68 (nearly a minute ahead of the next competitor). According to Road Race Management, this was the twenty-fifth fastest women’s 5,000 meter time in the world run so far this year. Ruck’s personal best in the event is 16:01.24 set back in 2010.
“I'm really excited,” said Ruck, “because it's the first time in a long time I feel like I'm getting stronger and faster.”
She told her coach (Laura Caldwell) before the race that there were “no excuses” to not run well. Despite a 90 minute delay in her event as the meet ran behind schedule and knowing that she’d likely be running the race mostly by herself, Ruck was able to maintain and eventually exceed the 79 second per lap pace that she and her coach had planned out.
“I was feeling good and ended up right where I thought I was (with her fitness) and so I'm really thankful I was able to prove to myself I'm in good shape,” said the Greer native.
She says that the delayed start was not a major distraction as she was able to readjust her pre-race warm-up. And while she admits that running night events can be “an adjustment,” Ruck has learned to adapt to them from her experiences running in college where meets are traditionally held at night.
“I am thankful that my events are in the cooler portion of the day,” she said. “Mentally, I get anxious throughout the day, but as long as I can keep myself calm, I often times feel a lot better at gun-time than I do in the early morning races.”
Like many top runners who race at night, Ruck will throw in an easy shakeout run in the morning and stretch periodically throughout the day. She tries not to sit for extended periods of time leading up to the race which she says allows her to remain “a lot looser at night.”
Following the three women’s heats, the men’s 5,000 meters didn’t get going until about 10:00p.m. on Friday.
Adam Freudenthal remained a perfect three-for-three in race victories for 2014. The winner of the Greenville News and Reedy River Run 5K road races turned in a personal best 14:25.29 in the 5,000 meters at the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center. Like Ruck, Freudenthal topped the event’s most competitive heat and achieved the fastest time overall at that distance.
“The race strategy going in was to go out and get in a rhythm the first 3k (kilometers) and see how the last 2k played out,” said Freudenthal.
He gives a lot of credit to his former Winthrop University teammate, Brandon Hudgins, who after winning the 1,500 meters earlier in the evening rabbited Freudenthal through the first eight laps (3,200 meters) at a pace of 69 seconds per lap. The effort was a seven second improvement on his previous personal record, set indoors back in 2012.
For Freudenthal, returning to the track where he hasn’t competed in nearly two years was a “great confidence booster.” Last year, he missed the entire outdoor track season due to a leg injury. And while he sustained another minor snag back in January following the Run Downtown 5K, Freudenthal now feels healthy and back into his training.
“Using the ElliptiGO has helped build fitness and seeing the staff at Performance Therapy has gotten me back to form really quickly,” he says. GTC-Elite athletes regularly incorporate massage therapy and mobility assessments into their training as a way to build strength and to lower the risk of injuries. Doing the little things that has Freudenthal excited about his potential for some major breakthroughs on the track this season.
“I'm anxious to really attack this outdoor campaign,” he said following his performance on Friday.
The team’s newest addition, Ricky Flynn, was down in Columbia over the weekend gorging on burritos. That’s right. While his GTC-Elite teams were up in Charlotte running fast times, Flynn was competing in the Moe’s Burrito Dash 5K sponsored by Moe’s Southwest Grill. The concept race has runners devour a “race-friendly sized burrito” at the halfway point before continuing to the finish line. For his ability to digest a burrito and still complete a 5K in 16 minutes and 11 seconds, Flynn took home $500 for his second place finish in the event that raises funds for the Epworth Children’s Home.
The team returns to action next weekend at the Raleigh Relays. Ruck is scheduled to compete in the 10,000 meters with Freudenthal running the 5,000 meters. Flynn will also be at Raleigh where he comes in with personal bests on the track of 13:59 in the 5,000 meters and 29:21 in the 10,000 meters, respectively. GTC-Elite will also be part of the Furman Blues Shoes Invitational on April 12 which is open to the public.