Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, the race played the Cupid Shuffle song before and after the race. No, I did not partake in the dancing.
Now, for the race. The Cupid Shuffle is race number 5 in the 6 part Winter Run Series from Lighthouse Events. At the last event (The Big Chill) we got sub zero temperatures. At the Cupid Shuffle, we got the other worst part of winter: snow.
And lots of snow.
When I left to head over to the race, with a pit stop at Starbucks, it had just started snowing. By the time I arrived to the start line via the shuttle, we were over an inch. And this was about 90 minutes before the race started.
While it was snowing outside, it was nice and cozy in the High School gym while we waited for the start.
By the time we moseyed outside, we had a couple of inches on the ground. And with the roads being closed for the race, you better believe they hadn’t seen a plow. Fortunately, the temperatures were in the mid-high 20s, so it wasn’t too cold.
The Cupid Shuffle is an out and back run, or a double out and back if you were in the 10k. The first 3/4 (roughly) mile is almost entirely down a 7% grade hill. AKA: Very easy to get sucked in.
As we can down off the hill, we turned onto Hwy K, the only cleared part of the course. Here we saw the first mile marker and clock, and it became very apparent that the clock had started late. That, or we had just hammered down a 4:36 first mile. The clock was late, it was actually a 6:10 mile.
After briefly running on clear roads, we turned to ascend another hill on uncleared, untouched, fresh powder neighborhood roads. The “out” part of this stretch was far worse, as it was mostly all uphill.
The turnaround was an opportunity to gauge where I stood in the race. Apart from one guy, everyone was within about 10 seconds of one another. So it didn’t take much counting to see I was 8th out of all runners, but third in the 5k (the perks of a series is you know who is in what race).
I came almost full stop at the hairpin turn, since trying to plant probably would have led to me going down.
And now it was time to head back.
If you’re a dedicated reader of the blog, you might remember in The Big Chill recap, that I hunted down a runner in the last mile of that race. Well kids, history was about to repeat itself (and yes, it was the same person).
Just past Mile 2 (run in a snow slowed 6:52) I pulled up along side this guy. Since we were just getting onto our last downhill, he made the effort to pull away, but I knew I’d get him in the last mile.
After what seemed like an eternity, we re-emerged from the neighborhood onto Hwy K. With clear roads for a solid 400m, I made the pass. But I knew what was waiting.
Remember that uncleared 7% grade hill we ran down? Time to go back up.
The entire last 3/4 mile felt like slow motion. Running up a snow covered road, that had been trampled by runners going down, was tough sledding.
At the base of the hill, I got passed by a 10k runner on the way up. I took that opportunity to latch onto him as best I could, and follow his path up the hill. Still, I kept waiting to be passed. In the moment, it’s hard to remember that the hill is steep and snowy for everyone, not just me.
In the final uphill stretch, the snow started coming down again, and mostly I was just happy that I wasn’t heading out for a second loop in the 10k. Somehow, my last mile was still under 7 minutes in a 6:55. I don’t know how.
That being said, my time of 20:38, while unimpressive, was good enough for second overall, and a much narrower (in relation to first place) second than I realized.
And for me, that’s a wrap for the Winter Run Series as I’ll be in Nashville running/dying at the Music City Trail Ultra. So if you happen to be reading this, are in my age group, and have run multiple races in the series: it’s OK to not show up for the last one either. That way, I can slide into the top 3 (Age Division) in the series standings.