April 25, 1998
GVH decided to put on its own race, which we named the Southside Shuffle – an 8K course (5 miles) and a 5K course. I was part of the group that measured the course and part of the cadre of volunteers that helped with registration, set up, and clean-up.
Having put on this race and seeing what goes in to putting on a good race, I get very frustrated with other races charging large amounts of money and losing their perspective on raising money for a good cause. The purpose of our race was to raise money for the Davis Battered Women’s Shelter. If you pre-registered, the cost was $11, and $13 on race day. Checks were written directly to… The Davis Battered Women’s Shelter. In other words, 100% of the monies collected went to our charity. 100%!
The trick was that we got everything else donated. Fleet Feet donated the prizes and got some shoe companies to sponsor a shoe giveaway for the winners. Oranges and gummy frogs were donated by the local grocery chain. Shirts were donated through charitable donations from other sponsors. Race course volunteers were provided both by our club and by the Battered Women’s Shelter.
I got to the race WAY earlier than everyone else. This was because I created the registration signs on my computer (daisy-wheel printer) and needed to put them up. Then I helped slice oranges and open boxes of gummy frogs (part of the theme of the race – part of the course went by the Toad Tunnel – a pathway under the 80 Freeway for local toads to safely get across). As people showed up, I helped with registration, then pinned on my own number and got ready to run the 8K.
Riva and my dad drove up from the Bay Area; Riva to run and dad to take pictures. Dad asked me, ‘What kind of time are you going to run?’ I thought about my usual goals and felt that I might be able to improve my PR slightly. My 8K PR was the Aggie Invitational 6 months earlier (39:27). I would be ecstatic with anything under an 8:00 minute pace. Also, the conditions were less than ideal – really really really windy – my favorite.
As part of the sponsorships from shoe companies, Saucony (I believe) provided us with Olympian Frank Shorter. He had recently had some kind of back surgery, but was healthy enough to be the starter for the race, and to present some of the awards (and sign autographs).
So, the race starts, and I go out fairly fast, and I’m feeling good. One trick we employed was having someone shout out our pace at 0.25 mile. This was a good way to tell if we went out too fast, since there is a tendency for that to happen at the beginning of a race. At MY 1/4 mile, they shout out “6:00.” What?!! Too fast. Way too fast. So, I pull back on the throttle. 7:45 would be just about right.
I get to Mile 1 (and mind you, I helped wheel out the course, so I KNOW it is accurate, but I feel like maybe the signs are in the wrong place), the timer reads out my time, “6:50.” Hmm. I felt like I slowed down more than that! But I feel OK, but still decide to slow down even more.
Mile 2 – 6:50 again. identical pace.
Mile 3 – goes over the overpass, so I KNOW I will have to slow down, and I run 7:40, which was the overall average pace I wanted to run (not for the toughest mile).
Mile 4 – is mostly downhill, and I begin to ramp up for the last mile or so. Can’t believe my split is 6:20.
So, now as I am coming up on the finish, my dad is nowhere in sight. Why? Because I told him I was going to run a 39 minute 5 miler… not a 35 minute 5-miler. My time is 34:45, almost a 5-MINUTE PR.
I even placed in my division (which may have been the first time), and the prize was a hat with the logo on it – a toad smashed or the shoe sole imprint.
I thought that my race was just a fluke, but… afterwards, I continued to have similar race results. What I have heard, and subscribe to, is that one will have the ability to run a certain pace. It is possible to run a little faster than this pace, but for the most part, runners will maintain this pace and not improve drastically… unless they work at it. However, depending on how fast this pace is to begin with, it takes a bit of doing.
I call the continued consistent pace “plateauing.” In other words, you are able to run at this comfortable pace, and then suddenly you are able to run faster – going to the next plateau. How long you remain on each level of the plateau… depends on your training.
I have been on both ends of the plateau. My running has suffered and I dropped back in my pace… and like at the Southside Shuffle, I suddenly was able to increase my pace. Weird.