A completely-made-up person writes in:

How did the race go? That Mt. Tabor thing? Wasn’t that today?

Fig O. Imagination

Thanks for asking, Fig! (Is that your real name, by the way?)

So… yeah… the race…

I’d been really looking forward to tackling this race again. I think I’ve been training hard for it, too. Kinda made it a test to see how far I’d come in the last year.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment, then, to discover that I had mistakenly ran a longer course than most others in the race.

Weather was perfect; sunny and warm. Maybe a bit too warm, maybe a bit too humid. But it sure beat the rain that had been coming down in buckets yesterday.

They had also changed the course a bit, at least the starting line. Instead of starting at the top of the hill and working down from there, the course started by the basketball courts and went uphill. My careful planning was already taking a bit of a hit. However, since I had planned to hold back the first mile, anyway, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it played into my favor.

Standing at the starting line, the race organizer (never got his name) explained the course. I distinctly heard him say to watch out for the chalk “5” and arrows, since the 8K race was being run over the same area and there were differences. For instance, the 8K-ers had to run up to the top of the hill twice; the 5K-ers didn’t. “Got it,” I thought, “watch for the chalked numbers.” The course was a bit confusing because we went past the finish line twice; we had to circle out around the reservoir, then come back to finish.

For the first third of the course, I did really well. Just under a 10:00 pace for the first mile — good. Managed just under a 9:00 pace for the second mile — awesome, and the hills (downhill for this section) helped me tremendously. I only needed to split the difference or slightly under in order to beat last year’s time! When I was approaching the finish line for the first time, I spotted the sign showing the 3-mile point for the 5K, but it was off to the side on another road coming down from the top. I made a mental note of it.

I and a group of other 5K-ers reached a point on the hill where we had been before, and there were the chalked arrows — but no numbers. Just a confusing tangle of arrows. I realized that we didn’t have to go back up, so there were two choices for downhill. One leading out and around before returning and a shorter course. I thought it was the shorter leg, but a group of three girls who had been keeping pace with me decided among themselves that it was the longer route. We didn’t discuss it out loud. I simply went along with them, figuring that if it was wrong, at least we’d all be wrong together. Another lady followed us, also. Maybe others but that’s all I spotted.

As we proceeded along, I realized that this was not correct, since my watch showed 12:00 and counting for this leg. There’s no way that I had been going that slowly! I had stopped a bit to walk but only briefly. It felt wrong.

When I passed the 3-mile mark for real this time, again, I was on the wrong road. Argh. My total time for that segment was over 16:00, which indicated to me that, yes, I had gone much longer than necessary. After I ran through the finish line, I hunted down a copy of the course map and confirmed my mistake. I don’t know exactly how much extra I ran, though. But it makes my time easier to bear. Tough race.

So, um, argh. I’ll do better next race.