TITLE: An Unexpected Personal Best in the 5K AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 12, 2005 5:52 PM DESC: ----- BODY: 2005 Snow Shuffle 5K The end of my semester has been busier than usual, which has made it difficult for me to set aside time to read, write, or rest much. So I was happy to have the luxury of an hour on Saturday to run the 2005 Snow Shuffle 5K. This is the 5th annual Snow Shuffle, which brings the local racing season to a close with a relatively relaxed run and plenty of doughnuts and hot chocolate. Back in November, I wrote:
Now I am getting excited about running the Snow Shuffle 5K on December 10. It's tough to PR races in the cold of December, and there is always the chance of snow or ice or fierce wind. So I won't plan for anything other than running as fast as the conditions allow. But the thought of racing, however short, sounds good again.
In the intervening few weeks, I had not felt all that fast, either on the road or the track, so I had decided to make this a fun run. I even ran laps on Wednesday, three days before the race, as a way to reduce any temptation to expect anything out of the race. The super cold weather of last week passed, but in its place we received several inches more snow, for a total of 13" or more on the ground. So race day saw temperatures in the teens Fahrenheit and plenty of slush and ice on the course. My expectations were lowered even further. But I felt good. My early pace was faster than my usual fast runs, and I finished the first mile in 6:31 -- my second fastest 5K mile ever, after the first mile of my June race. I slowed a bit in the second mile, to 6:42, but with a little push I was able to maintain this pace... and finally, with about a half mile to go, I caught a guy who had been running just ahead of me for over a mile. He cheered me on and, though I didn't have the legs to accelerate, I held on. My official time was 20:46, with a course time of 20:44 -- a PR by over five seconds. I was a happy guy. Maybe it helps train in the winter weather of Iowa after all. Even more amazing to me than my 2nd place in the 40-49 age group is that I finished in the top ten overall, out of 150+ finishers. I'm not sure I have ever finished as high as 9th in a race that had more than nine people in it! This race buoys my spirits a bit, both for running and for the end of our academic term. I have much that I would like to write about the last few weeks, and now I can see the finish line of the semester, at which I will be able to indulge in a little reading and writing. -----