I've had several great races this fall, but this was not one of them. Fully intent on setting a new PR for 10K, a distance I've never run to the best of my ability, I was not even close, finishing in 43:25.
DID YOU WIN?
The results say I was 6th of 102 overall, 5th of 47 men and 2nd of 9 in my age group. Good thing for a small field.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
After my half marathon the weekend before, I came home and almost immediately fell victim to the cold my daughter passed me (further proving what they say about hard workouts punishing your immune system). I had an especially terrible run Thursday, but by race morning I was feeling well enough to turn in a strong effort in spite of warm, windy conditions.
The first mile of the race went as planned. The wind was in my face but not so powerful that I couldn't fight through it. There were 8 runners in front of me, but I figured some were doing the 5K so I was right about where I thought I'd be.
I wasn't paying too much attention to the time on my watch -- I was distracted by the distance; more on this below -- so I didn't notice that my pace was tailing off even as I kept my effort up. I was happy to get to the halfway point and get the wind at my back, but when I finally figured out how I was doing around mile 5, I was surprised to learn that the tailwind really wasn't doing much for me at all, or perhaps was just keeping me from having a truly awful race.
As I neared the final turn with about a third of a mile to go, it was clear that not only would I not hit my goal time, I wouldn't get a PR either. Only one guy had passed me since that opening stretch, though, so it was a lot easier to brush this one off pretty much immediately.
My ears perked up a little when I passed a fork in the trail just after the 1-mile mark and the course monitor called out "5K this way, 10K this way." Both events had coned turnarounds, I thought, so a turn in that spot would be wrong. Sure enough, after the race the announcement came down that many 5K entrants had only run 2.3 miles (about half of them, based on the results). The folks in charge decided to apply the honor system and allow runners to turn themselves in if they didn't run the full distance, thus making themselves eligible for a whole new impromptu set of age group awards. In short, don't trust the results for either distance when you go look at them later.
The race feebly tried to put itself forth as "green" in the spirit of Arbor Day by telling folks to bring their own water bottles... if they wanted. If not, they could still take cups at aid stations and litter them as usual. I gamely went along and carried my handheld, just like roughly 2 percent of everyone else. Maybe I should blame lugging around an extra pound of water for my slow time.
7:15 pace last .27
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
Each entrant gets a pair of gloves; if you want a shirt, you can pay extra for one when you sign up. The thought process behind that was that most race shirts end up at Goodwill or the landfill, so why make a bunch of shirts that won't be worn? The logic behind this is deeply flawed. For one, it's the ugly shirts that get tossed. Design a clean, simple, attractive shirt and it will be worn. I bought the shirt -- I registered long ago and apparently wasn't thinking clearly about paying extra for a shirt -- and think it's a fine shirt: a brown long-sleeve tech shirt with the tree logo and usual array of sponsors. I don't, however, care much for the gloves, which will in fact probably start on my hands at an upcoming race and end up on the side of the road.
The age group awards, however, took illogic to a new level: plastic reusable travel mugs. Remember, this race was supposed to be green. And yes, the mugs were allegedly made of some kind of biodegradable plastic, but plastic is plastic, and they're still stuff that people don't need (does anyone out there not have a cabinet full of reusable beverage containers already?). The Tyler Rose Marathon gives all finishers a rosebush; how the Arbor Day Run does not give award winners some small living piece of greenery -- you know, a TREE -- makes my head hurt.
Big D 30K, Sunday.