I finally put together a 10K in line with what I'm capable of, overcoming a stiffer-than-expected breeze and a horrendous on-course traffic jam to finish in 40:32, a good 1:48 below my previous PR.
DID YOU WIN?
I was pretty sure I was 5th overall, but the results have me at 7th (out of 573). The results are wrong in a huge way that I will get into later, but either way I won my age group for the 2nd race in a row, out of 59 this time. I was the 6th male of 286, supposedly.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
The 1-mile run that was supposed to start at 8 was 10 minutes late, setting off a chain reaction of confusion and agitation. We finally got sent off 15 minutes past our scheduled time, and I paired the ensuing bitterness with a tailwind for most of the first 2 miles that ensured the struggles of a couple weeks earlier would not be repeated. I was in 8th place at the first turnaround at the 2-mile mark.
Turning back south, I was confronted with the familiar wind that was blowing a good bit stronger than the 10 mph I expected. The 5th through 7th runners were smartly tucked in, single file, behind the guy in 4th, but I was a couple seconds behind them and couldn't risk speeding up into the wind to try to catch them. Besides, they were way out on the outside curve of the road so I was doing just fine to stay to the inside and save a few paces. This came in handy when I picked a couple of them off half a mile later. I crossed the 5K mat in 20:01.
Everything was humming along just fine until mile 3.6 or so, when I hit the wall. No, I didn't bonk; I hit a wall of humanity as the 10K course rejoined the 5K course right as the thickest crowd of mid-packers were coming through (the 5K started 15 minutes after the 10K, or was scheduled to, anyway). The two 10K runners in front of me jumped onto the sidewalk, but I plowed right on through the crowd, dodging folks like Adrian Peterson. We caught a brief break when the courses split again, but then the last 2 full miles were again clogged with hundreds of other runners.
I bumped a few folks and called out for the 5K runners to stay to the right, but it was pointless. Things thinned out as I caught up to the speedier 5Kers, but at the expense of nearly throwing up twice from a combination of the added effort to get around people and being generally pissed off at the whole mess.
I'll say the nice things first. My wife came along (she's associated with one of the race sponsors) and brought our little girl, who just loves to watch her daddy run. Seeing them on the course a few times was a big lift and helped me relax a bit.
Now, as for the need to relax.... This was the 2nd running of this event and the 1st time a 10K was offered in addition to the 5K. It is not difficult at all to sit down and do some quick math to determine if you're going to have runners colliding on overlapping courses. Clearly, no one did that in this case. If anyone wants to call me to fix this, I can have it done in minutes. This race got a positive mention on one of the local newscasts in part because of its huge growth (doubled in size from last year), which is only going to make things worse next time.
And about the results.... I was certain I was 5th. The results show 2 runners just a couple seconds in front of me. No one passed me until the very last short stretch before the finish line, and I believe those were 5K runners in their final sprints. I checked the names on Athlinks and while it's feasible their times were legitimate (though at least one would be a big PR), I still have little faith in the accuracy of the results. Part of that comes from another runner a couple spots behind me who also told me he was listed too low. And part of it comes from the handling of the 5K "winner".
A runner (who shall remain nameless to protect the possibly innocent) appeared to sign up for the 5K, start with the 10K and run the 5K course. She finished in 31:02, a believable time for 5K but not 10K. The first printing of the results had her listed as the 10K winner. I pointed out this impossibility to the timer, who said he had "forced" her into the 10K results, I guess because her chip went live with the 10K start but she wasn't entered in the event (maybe he was thinking she switched events that morning). I told him that either way, she didn't run the 10K course so she didn't win the 10K. This was corroborated by the actual 10K winner.
So the timer took the runner out of the 10K results and put her in the 5K results. But in doing so, he changed the start time of her chip as if she had started with the 5K group 15 minutes later, giving her a 5K time of 16:02 (again, no) and the win. She did not step forward at the results ceremony (because she reasonably assumed she hadn't won anything) so sometime next week, an envelope with a medal and a Sports Authority gift card is going to show up in a Carrollton mailbox to a giant question mark over someone's head.
If all that was too long to read, just take the entirety of the results of this race with a grain of salt.
6:34 pace last .22
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
You get a shirt. The winners, like I said, get a cash card to Sports Authority and a medal:
Isle du Bois 54K, Dec. 8.