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Race report: Linda Yalem Safety Run

At the first mile marker, I had regretted my wardrobe decision.

This is what folks like to call a "teachable moment." While checking the weather forecast and deciding to definitely go with a short-sleeved running shirt, the overnight rain and chance of showers prompted me to wear lightweight capri running tights.

What I failed to take into consideration -- the humidity.

Yep. Should have worn shorts or a plain old running skirt. This was uncomfortable.

Also uncomfortable -- my shoulders, which presumably ached a bit from my first week back in the gym for strength training, and my core, which at times felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

Ah, the 5K. It can be the most difficult event to actually try to race. Training to finish a 5K is a reachable goal for anyone. But always wanting to try and go a bit faster, try to set a new personal record, well, that can fun, challenging and a bit frustrating. Particularly when your training has been focused on longer distances.

Still, when my friends Karyn and Jessica decided to run the Linda Yalem 5K Safety Run, I jumped at the chance.

It's the official off-season with lower-key workouts. This was a chance to run a 5K just for fun, with good friends, with no heart rate monitor or numbers to record for testing purposes. It was a chance to run for a good cause. Yalem was a sophomore at the University at Buffalo in 1990 when she was attacked and killed on the bike path near the campus.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the safety run which highlights ways in which people can be safe when running.

And while the message is simple, it's powerful, and a great reminder for those of us who from time to time forget key items that can keep us safe on the roads and trails. Like not running alone, varying your route, not using earphones and trusting your intuition about a person or an area.

The actual race takes runners around the roads of the UB campus. Students from all walks of life volunteer and line the route with signs and cheers to help the 1,500 or so participants get through the course. They were pretty amusing at times, from witty signs to general cheering. It was notable spirit for college kids at 9:30 on a Sunday morning -- in cool temperatures and a drizzle that turned into rain.

I started off running with Karyn and Jessica, but after a mile they dropped me. Well, I dropped back. That start pace was a bit much for me and two weeks of enjoying mostly strength training and short easy runs, plus a bit too much of the off-season excused junk food had me a bit on the slow side. Speed work had not been on my agenda for quite some time. Racing with pacing for endurance events had been my calling card this summer. The short stuff? Yeah. It's harder than I remember.

In the end, my time was about a minute off my personal best. And that had me slightly disappointed. But it does mean that for the past two weeks I got adequate rest and have a starting point for 2010 training. Being disappointed is OK. It means I want to get better. And for the record, the disappointment didn't ruin the day. Because in the end, it was some pretty good laughs with some pretty good friends.

And that's the best part of the race report.

--- Amy Moritz
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