Ran the ShamROCKin’ 5k in Rolla, Missouri this morning. The race course was mostly on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) which used to be called the University of Missouri at Rolla (UMR). The course was mostly on pavement, but there were hills, steps, grass, gravel, a tunnel, and a lap around the running track. My lovely and talented niece, Janelle, is a junior chemical engineering student at MST. The race was a fundraiser for a trip she is taking on spring break. She is going with a group to New Orleans to build a house. It’s refreshing to see college students doing something productive on spring break. I’m sure lots do, but all you ever see in the media are the drunken fools.
The race started on a sidewalk outside of the Havener Center. No one, me included, seemed particularly interested in stepping up to be at the front of the pack. I think there were about 100 runners. There was a guy in a diaper and carrying a spear and shield (they called him a Spartan, not sure why a Spartan, MST mascot is a Miner) Anyway, diaper guy gave a rousing speech about joining him in battle. He then gave the signal to start. The ROTC fired their cannon and we were off. Right at the start there were only 4 runners ahead of me.
The pace wasn’t really taxing me so I passed all 4 within the first half mile. Imagine that, me in first place. This has never happened before. Fortunately there was a guy on a bike leading the way and giving me advance warning of turns and other things like steps and street traffic. I had a pretty good lead as we approached the 2 mile mark. Then we had to cross a 5 lane road but there was no cop there to stop traffic, so there we are, me and my guide waiting in the center turn lane.
I don’t know how long we were there, but it was long enough for several others to catch us. The rest was just what I needed though. When the traffic cleared I bolted and quickly built up my lead again. We soon came up on the track and had cross about 25 yards of grass and gravel to get on the track. Something about being on a track just makes me run faster and the lead widened. Once more through the grass and gravel coming off the track and now less than a mile to go. This was no time to slow down. My legs were getting heavy and the breathing more labored, but if anyone was going to pass me they would have to earn it. The last half mile was down hill for the first quarter so I was using gravity to full advantage. The last quarter was slightly up hill and I was giving 110%. Wow, first to cross the finish line. That has never happened before. I can’t expect it to happen ever again so I’m going to enjoy this moment and not dwell on thoughts of “where were all the fast runners today?” My time was not my best ever, but considering the hills, steps, and traffic stop 20:46 is good for me.
Update: I forgot to mention, for the win I received a $20 gift card to the campus bookstore. I was going to buy myself a sweatshirt, but the bookstore wasn’t open so I gave the card to my niece. Upon returning to Columbia I went to The Alpine Shop and rewarded myself with a new 44″ fairing for my Yakima rack. It was 20% off. I then went over to Walt’s Bikes and further rewarded myself with a new pair of cycling shoes. They are the kind with the loop in back for quick mounting in triathlons. Now I just have to learn how to do that maneuver without injuring myself or others. The shoes were 30% off.