TITLE: A First Race AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 04, 2009 1:39 PM DESC: ----- BODY: This morning, I ran a 5K. It was my first "race" since my last marathon, with last year lost to not feeling well enough to run more than a bit. Today's race was organized by a student group on campus that includes a couple of my current and former students, so I risked signing up even though when I did I wasn't sure that I'd be able to do more than plow through the miles, if that. I went in with no expectations, literally -- I had no idea how fast or far I could run all-out, or even what all-out means for me right now. I figured this would be an opportunity to gauge myself a month before my big goal right now, the 500 Festival Half. Even still, I wasn't able not to daydream about times as I stretched before the race... My best guess was that, if I could break 25:00, I should be a very happy man. This was a race by college kids, for college kids. Most of the runners were undergrad students -- some of whom run, and many of whom probably don't run much. You know college-aged guys... They broke from the gate fast, and within a mile many had fallen back. The early pace felt good to me, so I hung on and passed a few guys, figuring they'd take me in the last mile when I was gasping for air. First mile split: 7:18. My first thought: They have the marker in the wrong place. We couldn't have run a mile yet. Second mile split: 7:25. My second first thought: Really? Probably not. Either the mile markers were wrong, or I faded a bit in the last mile. As I got within a quarter-mile of the finishing line, one of the guys I had passed caught me -- but only one. I picked up the pace, to see if he was for real. He did, too, and stayed a stride ahead of me as we entered the chute. Time: 23:33. I guess I have to be happy now! The next test is how I feel tonight and in the morning, when I hope to run an easy 8 miles en route to Indianapolis. Another sign that this was a race by college kids, for college kids was the age grouping for prizes: 17-under, 18-29, and 30-up. After the race, one of my former students suggested that I might have won my age group, but I was pretty sure at least one of the guys ahead of me was also in the old-man group. I was right. Unfortunately, the race offered only one prize per age group, so I don't know if I finished second yet. My best guess is that I finished in the top 20-25 overall. It wasn't a fast group. But it was nice ti run against the clock for real again. Here's hoping I feel good in the morning. -----