This is true. I crossed The Dam Run 5K finish line first today.
How did it feel? Embarassing. And with that, let’s go back to the beginning.
It had been awhile since the race director had described the course to the 10K runners, and Kelsea and I noticed people gathering around the start line. So I lined up and Kelsea made one last trip to the bathroom. As soon as Kelsea returned the countdown began as if on cue. “10-9-8…”
“Wow, that 10 minutes went by fast.” (Kelsea said this.)
“Yeah, I know.”
I frantically turned on my Garmin, pulled out my headphones, and before I knew it we were off.
I’m guessing that you, my smart and together reader, have already figured out what went wrong. The 10K racers started 10 minutes before the 5K racers. And Kelsea and I joined them.
I realized our mistake at the 5K turnaround when everyone else kept going straight. I immediately and desperately began searching for black bib numbers (red = 10K, black = 5K). It was an out-and-back course. I was running “back” and it took awhile before I saw the head of the 5K pack running “out.”
I quickly did the math and realized I was going to finish first. I started praying about as hard as I was running that there wasn’t much planned for the first runner in. Visions of tearing through a finish line ribbon filled my head. I would limbo if they had one up. That was my plan.
The funny thing about our mishap is that not everyone figured it out. So many of the “out” runners cheered me on as if I was truly in first place. I recognized the look in their eyes as they shouted out congratulations because I’ve been there. It’s the look that says, “I can’t believe you’re already on your way back and I haven’t even turned around yet. Maybe one day I’ll be the runner on my way ‘back’.”
And today I was… I guess it was kind of worth the trouble for the once in a lifetime trip down the “back” side of the course. (If all goes according to plan today will be the one and only time I’m literally the very first runner.)
Kelsea was just a little ways behind me and didn’t put the pieces together until she finished and I told her. During the race some guy shouted out to her, “There’s only one girl in front of you and she’s not that far ahead!” Kelsea also noticed there weren’t any 5K runners around her and assumed the guy meant she was in last place. Ha! I’m not quite she what she thought all the runners behind her were doing.
Aside from the embarassment, the worst part about being the first runner was I had no one to follow. I ended up taking a bit of a wrong turn and adding what I’ll call a “parking lot detour” to the 5K course. I eventually figured out where I needed to be but it added some distance and about 20 seconds at a 10 minute mile pace.
The actual finish was, fortunately, anticlimactic. It was a small race with virtually no crowd at the finish line. That is aside from my awesome Team Challenge teammates who were there handing out flyers. They were the best cheerleaders and so much fun to see at the finish line!
The race coordinators got a good laugh out of the whole ordeal and promised not to tell anyone. Hooray! Crisis averted.
Now here I have gone on and on about starting at the wrong time and told you nothing about the race itself. It was, in a nutshell, good. My official time was 24:47. And with that I was able to snag 2nd in my age group and 3rd overall female.
Picture dedicated to Run for the Bling of it!
I definitely felt like I pushed myself, but didn’t feel like quite as much death as during the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot. And this was even a hillier course. So it was a good race. I can’t really complain.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m a little disappointed. Disappointed that I didn’t fully capture this run in ink. Our frantic start meant we were at the back of the pack and wasted time getting to the start line. And then there was the parking lot detour… Long story short – my Garmin tells me I ran 3.16 miles in 24:33. If I had started at the front, only run 3.1 miles and picked up the pace by 1.5 seconds/mile I would have finished under by 2011 goal time of 24:00. Aaaahhh!!!!