I feel the need to clarify from the beginning: For once, I am not the fiasco to which the title refers. Rather, the organization of the 5k Run Wild for a Cure event this past weekend was a mess.
Based on my 10k, I decided that a finish time between 32 and 34 minutes would be okay, and a time under 32 minutes would be fantastic. On the way to the race in the morning, I visualized myself at the start: nervous but excited. Getting off to a decent pace, a bit faster than on my usual runs, but easily maintainable. I would stay strong and keep everything in check for the first mile, leading up to the huge hill that starts Mile 2. I would power up the hill, and at the top, I'd feel a sense of accomplishment because the race was half over, the hill was behind me, and I knew I would be able to finish strong. At that point, I would pick up the pace and make the most of going back down the hill to relax my muscles but still use the momentum to pick up speed. I would tough it out through the last mile, and fly across the finish line. I pictured myself with a finish time of 31:45—just enough below my expected finish range to be exciting but possible.
I was excited and nervous at the start, so it was all going according to plan. People flew by me left and right, which I'm getting used to. I held my pace, and started passing people about 1/2 mile in. I was feeling pretty good, closing in on the one-mile mark and the uphill. I reached a fork in the road, and veered right to head towards the hill. Not everyone was going the same way, however.
It was a mess. There was a huge surge of runners, I wasn't sure if they had started the 1 mile race? Wasn't that just a walk, though? Either way, a lot of runners were charging up the initial incline and heading left and right, willy nilly. No one seemed to know where they were going, and there was a lot of shouting going on. I just held to my course, because I had run this race before and knew exactly where I was going. But I felt bad for the other runners, who had obviously been misdirected.
Then I reached the bottom of the hill. A person stood next to the one-mile marker, yelling out splits. From a few feet away, I heard her .... but I must have misunderstood. She was yelling out times that were past the 13-minute mark. That was impossible!
From my perceived rate of exertion, and my breathing, and how my legs felt ... I was expecting a time anywhere between 10 and 11 minutes. 13 was wayyy past the acceptable range. And I hadn't even gotten to the hill yet!
I was so depressed. I completely lost my motivation. I struggled up the hill, walking part of it, and then walking through the water station afterwards. A walker charged past me. A cheetah paced in her cage, seeing all us back-of-the-packer's as easy food.
I just couldn't believe I was so off in judging my pace, based on how I felt. Maybe my legs were still tired from the 10k? Maybe I didn't drink enough water that morning?
By this point, I just wanted to get the stinkin' race over with. I trudged back down the hill, doing my best to make up a little time and maybe, just maybe, finish somewhere near my goal pace.
At the bottom of the hill, a different person was calling out times. When I passed, he said it was 21 minutes and some. I thought, "Well, that would be great if that was my 2-mile time! Too bad it's just the 1-mile time for the runners/walkers going up the hill."
And then I kept running, and kept thinking about it .... and there was no Mile 2 marker. But surely I had run further than that. So maybe Mile 1 and Mile 2 were at the same point, at the bottom of the hill? And maybe I really had passed Mile 2 in 21-some minutes?!?
By this point, I didn't know what to think anymore. I knew the race was a fiasco, because I had seen other runners being misdirected. So wasn't it also possible the time-keepers were also off? And I hadn't run the first mile in over 13 minutes? I gave up trying to figure it out, and just did my best to finish strong, as per the original plan.
I came around the final curve and saw the clock at the finish line: it was just past 32 minutes. I ended up crossing the finish line at about 32:30. So definitely within the acceptable range, and so close to the fantastic goal!
For the rest of the day, I wasn't sure how to feel about the race. I was happy with my time, but so frustrated because I felt like I could definitely have done better, if they hadn't messed with my mind at the 1-mile mark. In the end, I decided to be happy with it. It was a good time, and I was lucky to at least be one of the runners who ran the whole course and finished.
And now I have a good starting point for the rest of the summer. Our next planned race is a 5k at the end of June. I hope to be under the 30-minute mark for that one. And I hope the organizers do a better job of running the race!