As I stood at the starting line for this morning's Winter Iowa Games 5k road race, I reminded myself that I wasn't in the best of shape. I reminded myself not to push too hard, especially at the beginning -- an ill-advised tendency for me the past several (well, about 40) years.
This time, I didn't require much persuasion, and I paced through a decent wintertime run. Though my time was my slowest 5K (3.1 miles) at this event in some time -- perhaps ever -- I was satisfied with a 22:41 -- especially since I had enough left to pass a couple of fellow competitors in the final half-mile.
For that, I was runnerup in my age group, trailing by a substantial margin my ex- training partner Dan Rohner, a former Dubuque resident whom I have managed to beat exactly once in dozens of races the past decade.
Still, the result tells me I have a lot (as in 2½ minutes worth) of work to do if I'm going to challenge the 20-minute barrier on Labor Day 2008.
Considering the difficult winter we've had for running (and living), it was a mostly pleasant day -- sunny with temperatures in the high teens. A couple of guys ran in shorts, and one competitor ran in shorts and topless (also a guy). It wasn't that warm!
Because conditions were reasonable -- last year, it was so far below zero officials nearly cancelled the race -- there were many race-day registrants. Among them was Madame X, who, coincidentally, also earned a Silver Medal.
Next race: A 5-miler at the Gaelic Gallop, Dyersville, Iowa, on March 15. Beware the Ides of March!