I slept in Saturday morning and got to the race site at 9:30 to pick up my packet before the 10 AM start. They had the map for both the 5k and 10k races out on the table, so I looked at the 5k and saw it was an out and back course, with the turn around spot being at mile 1.75 or so it appeared.
The group that puts on the races isn't too organized, but from what I hear, trail races aren't too organized. I just used to running road races, where things have to be in order for things to run smoothly. Deciding to forego warming up, I went over to the start line a few minutes before 10 AM, thinking I'd be near the front.
The announcer said some things in a loud speaker, which wasn't too loud and pointed in the opposite direction of where I was standing, and then shot the gun off. Off I went, and felt pretty good the first mile. I kept looking for a river crossing or something fun and exciting to conquer, but it was mostly just a path. At mile 1.5, I started to look for the turn-around spot. I wasn't running with any music, so I listened to the volunteers to see where they were directing the runners to go. But, I heard nothing so I continued to run on.
By mile 2, I figured there was a mistake. I fully admit that I have no sense of direction, but I knew that we were still running away from the finish line. By mile 2.5, I started to get frustrated. I asked the volunteers working the water stop at that point if I missed the 5k turn around, to which they replied "This is the 10k course." At mile 3.18, I stopped running.
I was upset that I was on the 10k course, when I only planned on running a 5k that morning. For me, the mindset of a 5k is far different than that of a 10k. Also, the preparation is different as far as diabetes is concerned. There was a man on a bike who was there to watch his wife run so I talked with him for a bit. He told me the turn-around was where the person with the cow-bell was standing. I waited for a few others I knew running the race to come by, but ended up missing them while I was talking to that guy. Eventually, I started to run again.
I caught up to 4 other people that I talked to before the race had started, who were also now running the 10k instead of the 5k. I crossed the finish line at 5.25 miles (the 10k was a mile short) and decided it was a good thing I didn't have any expectations for this race.
I learned after the race from another runner that the 5k started 15 minutes or so after the 10k. Never did I hear this, or read it. Maybe I just missed it, but I reviewed old emails and nothing was mentioned.
In a way, I feel disappointment. I would have most likely gotten 1st or 2nd in the 5k (I don't know what the #1 female time was). I think what is most bothersome is that this is my last race of 2012. I have always felt that your last of the year should be something that you are proud of - time or effort-wise - to propel you into the new year of training and racing. Do I really need some more trail socks, the prize for winners? No, not at all. But I do want the energy from that race to have a positive impact on my training. Unfortunately, it left a rather bitter taste in my mouth.
However, as I have learned this year, all races are learning experiences. From this race, I learned:
- Ask if races start at the same time or different times
- Always know the course route
- Trail racing is far, far different than road racing
- Breakfast after races with other bloggers is wonderful
My suggestions for the race organization:
- Have different bibs for the different distances
- Put in your email that the races will start at different times
- Put signs on the registration table that races start at different times
- Get a more powerful microphone for your announcements
I contemplated signing up for another race next weekend so I can end the year on a positive note, but decided against it. I have bigger plans for the spring and summer, so I'll be focusing my energy on those instead. My goals are new and exciting, and honestly a bit scary, but that makes them even more exciting. 2012 was the best year I've had racing, and can't wait to see what 2013 will bring.