Good or bad, this race was going to be a test to see where I stand with my running speed and recovering from my bulging disc. I ran a decent 5K last October at Truman State and then ran First Night on Dec 31. I have not felt really good in months. I don't know if the cold weather or the low level of constant pain in the buttock area that sometimes goes all the way to the calf. I am feeling at least 90% better than when I was at my worst, but not 100%. I am not too worried I am going to injure myself further since I continue to do the exercises and am now even lifting weights again. This low level pain plays with my mind though and the fact that a lot of my runs since November have been slower than I used to run does not help. Although, when I have run faster in the past few weeks, I felt okay. After I am done running, I feel my best which I am guessing the endorphins might block the pain for awhile. Then if I don't run for a day, I feel crappy again. But my mood has been good so I am not too worried and am just dealing with it and hoping things get even better at some point.
I had a good warm-up of almost 11 miles just like last year with the Long Run Lunatics. However, the temperature was about 30 F colder at 36F which I don't enjoy. I was tempted to line up in the back, but got in the front. We started off downhill so it is a crazy fast start, but I noticed and slowed it down a bit. I ran a few steps behind Andy S. Phil was not racing it hard or I am sure he would have been right with us. I was trying to keep a 6 min pace since I couldn't imagine I am faster. The first mile was 6:06 so not too bad. I am still running with Andy and we run another loop. The hill we run up every time slows me down so I have to make up time on the downhill. My second mile was a bit slower at 6:13 so I am a bit worried about the last mile. The 3rd time up the hill I go around Andy and remember to pump my arms which made going up the hill faster than the second time.
I pass the start line and see Stephen B. pretty far ahead, but I think I might have a chance of catching him, but only if I pick up the pace since he is not slowing down. I pick it up and at about 2.8 miles I pass him going fast. After I did it I was worried that I made my move too soon. I was ready to be done, slowed a bit, and then tried to give what little I had left. Fortunately, he was nice and did not pass me but I think he was on my heels. Last mile was 5:56 and last 0.11 was 5:14 pace. Overall time of 18:50 which was my second fastest Nut Race (13 seconds slower). Anytime I can go under 19 is a good 5K for me.
Nut oriented prizes as usual so got a 14 oz bag of peanut M&Ms. I was first in my age group of 40 - 49 and 4th overall of 42 runners. Hugh placed 3rd in his age group which received 2 smaller bags of peanut M&Ms. Second place received a jar of peanuts. Ryan H. won overall in 17:06. Results will be posted soon at Columbia Track Club web site.