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If you do call yourself a runner, can you handle the truth?
Truffle Shuffle

Race Report - 2001 Truffle Shuffle

The scene for the 2001 Truffle Shuffle was pretty typical Oregon conditions for this annual mid-February event at a place called Alton Baker Park in Eugene, Oregon. While the theme for just about all of the running events anywhere in the nation this weekend was all about Valentine's Day, unbeknownst to me, the devil was waiting for me on the course. And I ain't talkin' no cupid, baby. I'm talkin' Mr. 666 himself. More on that, later.

Before the race, there was no evil in the weather. Just some Truth: cold and cloudy, threatening rain and a slight breeze. The only thing I didn't like thinking about was the thought of having to turn back into the breeze for almost the entire third mile of the four mile event, which me and 401 other runners would be dealing with in about 45 minutes.

As I waited for Coop, Bill and Tommy to show up, I was trying not to freeze my not-much-of-a-butt off. Thank goodness for the race organizers, including former Olympian Mike Manley and the Bolder Options folks for keeping the runners comfortable before and after the race year after year. I hate pre-race time, especially when it's cold. Not to worry. They had plenty of hot drinks, heaters and shelter to get runners out of the wind and cold. As usual, the volunteers made it all happen, including handing out truffles to every participant after the race. Wow.

Coop showed up and kindly allowed me to stash my gear in his car. We then took off for a short loop warm up. I tried to get myself pumped up. My confidence was low. I wanted to at least come within shouting distance of my time from last year (22:56), but had not raced individually since July. I thought something in the low 23's…like 23:0-anything was possible for me if I ran a smart race. We all had all done a dry run of the course together a week earlier, and the 23:45 I ran felt great.

After our warm up loop, Coop and I hooked up with Bill and Tommy, who showed up with a bad case of the crud, still planning to race, of course. It was getting close to start time, and I did a few strides and then toed it up waiting for Manley to get us started. Also present at the start was another former Olympian, Annette Peters. Wasting no time, Manley got us off, mercifully sparing us from any more shivering than necessary. I wondered to myself how many times he had raced and what his starting line stomach must have felt like for a runner of his caliber as I tried to block out the discomfort that was shortly ahead of me. Then we were off.

I took off and Bill was right with me. It was great to have him there. He ran a great first mile, and that's what we both needed. I try to fool myself that the first mile is free, but I know all pace decisions have a price. I have also learned from Bruce that you don't run fast without taking chances. I just was not ready to do it today in the first mile. I came across in about 5:37, which was slower than my opener last year, but it was how I felt that I was most concerned about, and I felt good which immediately boosted my confidence.

I fell into pace with a couple of guys in front of me, and then passed them as they started to fade. I hoped to come across mile two at around 11:30. Bingo: 11:31. O.K. It's on, I thought.

Mile three was tough. I was now separated by a group in front and felt nobody coming up behind me. I find it really easy to get lazy when I am not pushed. Also, as I had feared, as I turned back down the canal, here came the breeze, which wasn't much, really, more of a mental thing than anything else. But it made the usual ¾ point fatigue factor seem worse than it really was. Watching the group in front widen their lead was not a good mental thing, which only meant I was probably getting lazy.

Then…from out of nowhere, a huge devil…repeat…devil…passes me right before mile 3. Actually, mercifully, at least the guy left the tail and pitchfork part of his costume at home, or at least in the trunk of his car. Otherwise, I would have been really demoralized. When I came across the third mile in 5:57 (17:28), I realized it was not as bad as it felt. One mile to go. I now had motivation: Beat the devil. Also, I noticed the devil was also probably in my age group! If I was going to three-peat in defending my age group championship, I was almost certain I would have to beat the devil himself. I told myself "those are my truffles!" (age group winners get a four-pack of truffles, and my kids were home waiting).

Now, it was REALLY on. I tucked in behind and rode on his shoulder for the first half mile. I felt fatigued, but in control. He was a big guy. Easily over six feet tall to my 5'7". He had a real long stride and decent turnover. When the devil approached a slight hill with a little over a half mile to go, I thought this is where I will make my move doing my short, choppy, high turnover uphill thing. As I passed him going up, I sensed another runner coming up behind us. The devil responded to all of this and passed me back on the downhill side, holding off me and the other runner by putting his long stride up against my short choppy thing, which makes downhill running a big weakness for me. I heard the other runner coming up making another surge and I accelerated to hold my position. The devil and I were now running shoulder to shoulder.

Then, just before the third to the last turn, still well back from the finish (about a third of a mile out) I thought it was time to take a risk. I decided I would try taking off and see how long I could hold it. I knew this was risky on my part and I really didn't know how much I had left. I was, however, running against the devil and I had played it pretty safe so far.

Fortunately it paid off and I managed to hold my surge through the finish which was enough to hold them off. As it turns out, "they" were Todd Bosworth (23:13) of Eugene and Sarah Raitter (23:14) of Bend. I turned to shake hands with them in the shoot and congratulate them on a good race. Yes, I shook hands with the devil.

Matt Dressell of Eugene (19:37) and Annette Peters (21:15) were the overall winners.

I finished in 23:09 for 21st place overall, running the last mile in 5:41, which I was very pleased with. Bill came in at 24:08 (28th) and Tommy ran 24:41 (37th). Coop took an amazing 1:20 off his time from last year, averaging 6:36's for a 26:24.

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Date and time page last updated: 03/14/2013 4:54 PM