Today I ran the Buffalo Run 5 miler at Pioneers Park in Lincoln, Nebraska for the first time. I’ve run at Pioneers Park many times but have never run this race for some reason. It was an idyllic day for running. Perfect weather for running: (cool, not too humid), beautiful sunrise, not windy. It’s called the Buffalo Run because runners run 2 laps around a large iconic buffalo statue during the race.
Fortunately, I arrived at the park in time for sunrise. Walked to the late packet pickup, picked out my free running shorts by Brooks (Lincoln Running Company/Lincoln Track Club gave these away) that say Buffalo Run on them. I was excited to be able to find purple running shorts because I am a TCU Horned Frog alum (purple and white! fight fight fight!)
Having not run this race, I had no idea what to expect. I knew the course was hilly. The course was familiar to me although I had not run on it recently. Perhaps the last time I had run there was when our daughter Cecilia was little we ran the Pumpkin Run there together (I remember putting her on my shoulders for part of that running through mud).
I chose to wear the TopoAthletic trail shoes (had not worn them in a race before), nice performing zero-drop shoes. That proved to be a good selection as the pavement on the course was broken up a bit so it felt more like a trail surface in spots.
Set a quiet goal of 35:00 flat (7 minute splits) knowing that might be tough with the hills. We were told in the pre-race preparation that there were a lot of fast masters runners there and that was correct, especially in my age group 45-49.
Race began at 8am, shortly after sunrise. Got off to a good start, running a 6:48 first mile, under goal. Right after the mile marker, we were challenged by a hill. Cresting that hill, I was excited to hear Eye of the Tiger playing and that did help us. Flew down that hill trying to make up time I had lost slowing uphill. Remaining splits were: 7:02, 7:19, 7:15, 7:03. Almost like clockwork.
Splits stayed around 7s. Realized late in the race I was not going to break 35:00.
Coaching instincts: I was using an anchor runner ahead of me to try to catch and she began struggling so I encouraged her as I passed her going uphill. But I realized I had to pick new anchors as I could tell she was perhaps injured/struggling in some way.
Surging uphill passing 2 people. Usually I’m more of a downhill runner but was excited to be passing 2 people at the same time going uphill. One of them did eventually beat me but I think I held the other runner off.
Broke 1 record according to Garmin (fastest 5k) but Strava says I broke 7 records. I like Strava’s story better.
Right after finishing the race, I had the unusual reverse peristalic wave sensation. So instead of sticking around for the awards ceremony, I decided to leave early. I had to “punch it” pace-wise at the end to hold off two fierce challengers right behind me (I could see their shadows so I waited until there was .1 mile left and then pressed the turbo speed jets). Perhaps this sudden surge caused my stomach to flip a bit.
Checked the results board. Darn! 7th place in my division. Someone in my age group actually got 2nd overall. Finished in 61st place out of 458. 35:52, 7:11 splits. Very respectable. Slightly slower than I was hoping. Not the age division place I was hoping for but life is full of mixed results moments. We take the good with the bad and hope they balance out in the end. Looking closer for the silver lining, it was found in the 21:54 fastest 5k ever (in the Garmin era).
All in all, it was a successful race: a silver lining of unexpected speed found amidst a mixed bag of results (failing to hit goal time and placing in age group). So when something good happens, you have to smile after the race.
Highly recommend you run this race if you are considering it. The terrain resembles a cross-country meet and very good, friendly competition. Cross-country runners volunteering at the race brought home the XC theme for us.
Run long and strong and prosper, Running Groove Shark
P.S. in a funny moment of running irony, I found a “lucky nickel” on my 3rd run of the day (with Misty our dog) on the same day I ran a 5-mile race. One penny for every mile. And my father told me running would never pay. Hahaha!