I felt ridiculous. I looked like a jackass. Forty-four people at the starting line and I’m standing at the front with my shirt off, racing flats on, footpod blinking, while forty-one moms with daughters and dads with strollers and grandpas with Starbucks stared at me. Someone said, “what’s the course again?” The announcer blared into the microphone, “just follow the shirtless guy.” Oh good grief. There was another runner-looking guy next to me, and a high school girl whose Dad I recognized as the winner of the Star Flight 5k (but he wasn’t running). The runner-looking guy (whom I later learned was Kenneth Hausman) and I exchanged expectations. He said he ran 18:50 at Star Flight, I said I was hoping to run between 18:30 and 18:00.
The gun went off and 10 meters into it Kenneth yelled at me, “you ever won one of these before?”
“No,” I replied over my shoulder.
“Congratulations! Enjoy it!” he said.
Final time of 17:47 and I did win it, but I wouldn’t say I necessarily enjoyed it. It was too painful for that, as 5Ks are. And everything surrounding the race was kind of a clusterf**k, but you can’t complain too much if you win the thing and run a PR.
First, the veracity of the course. It’s not a certified course, so I asked beforehand how accurate it was and the race director said “as accurate as the GPS that measured it.” Afterwards my pod read 3.22 miles, which is about right because it’s always long by a little bit. Also, Kenneth ran 19ish which was actually slower than his Star Flight and Daisy 5k times. So I’m counting the course as accurate (or at least not short) and my time as official.
Going in I had less than zero expectations, as I’ve conveniently knobbed here several times recently. I only signed up because I felt I needed some race practice before the Bataan, er, Capital 10k. I decided to train through this race. But Friday night I started thinking about my 1k workout from Thursday and figured I could run an average of those times for the race. Putting it that way (just run average of Thursday’s workout) seemed doable, but looking at the actual numbers seemed more doubtful, but still … you never know. 3:35 1k average pace would put me around 5:46/mile. Hmmmm….
I got to the race later than I wanted so could only warm-up for about fifteen minutes. Weather was perfect. I brought three shirts and wore none of them. Was wearing the new Adizero flats that Gilbert gave me to test out. Activated the pod. No heartrate monitor (though that would have been interesting). Felt out of place. Had no idea what the course route was.
The first mile felt like I started way too fast, as you always do in races. I was still feeling tired from the previous couple weeks, Wilke on Tuesday and random doubles. There was a big hill. I handled it pretty well and the first turnaround of the outback course was at the top. Thus I was rewarded with a screaming downhill. Kenneth was already quite a bit farther back than I expected him to be. Up to then I had been afraid to look behind me, you know, all Satchel Paige and everything. I looked at my watchpod pace and it read 4:19 or something (it gets a little off on downhills). I’m not a good at downhills either.
Belterra 5K Elevation Profile
There was no course management, just a few orange cones, and the odd Sheriff just nodded when I shrugged at him to see if I was on the correct course. So as I was coming back down the hill I was weaving in between the moms and strollers still heading up it. I could see the reflection of a maniac in their eyes. No mile markers on the course and when the pod finally ticked off mile 1 it read 5:20. I thought surely that was wrong.
I kept pushing it. It’s tough to race alone. My arms were achy and I shook them out a couple times. I tried to keep looking up, not down at the ground. The pain was rising. I felt like I was moving pretty quick though. My breathing was intense but rhythmic, which is a good sign. There was supposed to be another turnaround but I had no idea where. A race official drove by and told me I was on the wrong side of the cones. The cones were in the middle of the street and they never said what side to race on, but I moved to the other side anyway (there goes that tangent!). Mile 2 on the pod ticked off at 5:16. That had to be waaaaaaay off.
Finally the second turnaround and I was feeling muy tired. Those thoughts crept in to my head. “I could start jogging now … shoot, I could stop and still win … easing off is ok you know … I just want to lay down … mmmm pancakes ….” I tried to stave them off. I thought about Fletcher and his quest to explore pain and keep pushing it. I tried, I really tried, but I could tell I was slowing down. Third mile at 5:34.
The finish in sight and I snuck a look at my watch. Wow, I might actually break 18 minutes. The course must be short. But I am running pretty well. Is it worth it? It hurts. Stupid thoughts to have at this point. Needless internal debate. I tried to kick to the finish, but of course, I’m slow. Kenneth later said I looked real tired and he wondered why I was trying so hard. The lone volunteer (there were no spectators) at the finish line seemed surprised when I finished. “Oh!” she exclaimed.
I ran another five or so miles after the race and one kid still running yelled at me, “ok, now you’re just showing off.” Pizza and donuts, which I skipped, at the post-race. I waited around for two hours for the awards ceremony and finally, when they announced the awards, they got the second and third place finishers wrong. Made no difference though, since they couldn’t locate any actual awards to hand out. Kenneth was not happy. I asked them to mail me whatever might show up, which elicited a very un-reassuring response. I finally went home, sans any proof of PR, win or even racing.
So my pod showed splits of 5:20, 5:16, 5:34, 1.37 (7:20 pace??). Who knows what the actual splits were, or the actual distance. As I said, I’m claiming 17:47, but if I run an 18:40 at the next certified 5K, I’ll certainly have to wonder.
As races go, it was probably the most unorganized event I’ve ever been a part of. The address for the starting location was wrong, so I drove around Belterra for 10 minutes looking for any sign of a race. The start time changed at least three times after I got there. The course was unknown. The awards ceremony was broken. The #2 and #3 finishers weren’t even clocked. They gave me the wrong size t-shirt. Watching the duathlon that followed, they sent four runners on the wrong course. When I got home there was an email from the race director sent at 1am that night with instructions for, among other things, hotel accomodations (a little late for that?). But oh, they meant well, they’re volunteers, and it was a good race for me.
I can’t believe I would write so much for a measly little 5k neighborhood fun run. But I sometimes go back and read old Knob posts, and because I seldom remember the actual events I wrote about, it often feels as if someone else wrote them. Occasionally they are funny, usually cringe-inducing, but I realized these missives are as much for me as anyone. Regardless of the narcissism or self-centeredness, I’m glad I write them so that I remember what once was. Otherwise, like this race, they would disappear into never-was.
Did you mean: gibberish. Yeah, sorry Mr. Google.