Before I get to the “Main Event” of week 3, a quick recap of the week. After twisting my ankle on Easter Sunday, I got back in the pool on Monday for an hour run. The foot felt better than I thought it would, but then again I did ice it as much as I could and was popping the Advil like they were Jelly Bellys. On the flat surfaces it was fine, so the pool treadmill gave it no problems at all. 60 minutes at a tempo pace, felt good to be back at it after the gluttonous and lazy weekend.
Back to work Monday evening, nice two-day layover in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather wasn’t quite as fabulous as it was when I was last out there in February, but I still love running the waterfront and Golden Gate Bridge so a little drizzly gloom didn’t put a damper on things. Did the long run across the bridge on Tuesday (about 12.0 miles), then about 8-9 on Wednesday, staying on the SF side of the bay. The two long days allowed for post-run clam chowder bread bowls, quite possibly making San Fran the best run-eat combo city out there (San Diego fish tacos might offer a challenge to that one…). Spent Thursday in Syracuse, stuck to the elliptical due to the hilly downtown and the previous days mileage.
Home Friday morning, back up to the HydroWorx pool for the first of two consecutive days of pool running. I had originally planned on running a 1500m at a meet at Bucknell on Saturday, but with my schedule getting a little clobbered and the kids having a full slate on Saturday I bagged that plan and decided to jump in the “inaugural” Hershey 10k put on by the folks out at Hershey Park – same gang that does the half marathon I’ve enjoyed running the past two Octobers. Went pretty easy on Friday, then the same on Saturday – not really ‘tapering’ for this, but trying to avoid dragging myself to the starting line on Sunday.
Rode out to the race with a neighbor for the early (7am) start. I haven’t run a 10k in probably almost 10 years so I don’t even know what my PR for the distance is (spoiler alert – still don’t know my PR). I do know that even though I was probably in my low 30’s the last time I ran one of these, I am in much better shape now so it would take a disaster for this not to be my best time ever. (spoiler alert #2 – this is foreshadowing). Weather was warm but breezy and raining – probably didn’t make for the fastest course but it wasn’t a freezing rain so I was feeling lucky (spoiler alert #3 – that feeling didn’t last long).
At the gun local ringer John Butler (28) took the pace out faster than any of us had the onions to try to match. I settled into second place, hoping to hit the 1k markers at around a 3:24 pace for a 34:00 finish. I was pretty erratic to start out (3:02, 3:45?!?), guessing the person laying out the markers had a few too many chocolate martinis at the volunteer bash the night before. I eventually settled down into a good rhythm, the splits kept getting a little faster and faster. 3:32, 3:28, 3:21, 3:22, 3:19. When I was back on pace by the 8k mark (3:17/27:06) and was still feeling pretty good I thought I could really post a fast time. I had lost sight of the leader long ago, but I had also dropped the third place guy around the 5k mark so it was just me versus the clock – what could go wrong?(spoiler alert #4 – don’t ever say “what could go wrong?”)
3:15 for the 9th kilometer, was now looking at something mid-33:00’s. Still felt good, was holding back “going for it” until the 9.5 mark. I was approaching the stadium where I knew we finished on the track, so things were looking good. As I approached the stadium, which was located in the middle of several large parking lots, there were no volunteers or signs or anything. I reached a point where I had to make a turn somewhere, so I asked the nearest people (a nice looking elderly couple) who said “go that way”. So I did, even though I knew I only had a quarter-mile to go and I was now heading away from the stadium. Other folks gave me real-time guidance around an auxiliary parking lot before heading back towards the finish. I knew that the last kilometer was pushing 4:00 when I entered the arena, finished in 34:40, absolutely fuming. Can’t say that I was ready to do it all over again, but I think I was so pissed and hell-bent on finding a race director that I didn’t even feel spent afterwards. The winner John Butler was waiting with a “wtf?” look on his face as well. Ahhhhhh!
When I finally tracked down someone at least partly responsible for the gigantic SNAFU, the dress-down I had planned for her didn’t even seem fair. She was so unknowledgeable about racing, what went goes in to training for something like this, and how much your results mean that it wasn’t even satisfying letting her have it. After about 39 apologies from her I switched from mad to cynical (much more my ball of wax). I ended with the suggestion that maybe she was actually on to something, and she should keep the same course for next year and just advertise it as the Hershey 10.273k – then she would have no competition since all the other race directors are like lemmings, all doing the same silly 10k distance.
So, what could have been a sweet race (no Hershey pun intended) ended up being an essentially untimed ball-busting tempo run. No PR, no prize (times must be tough at the Fortune 500 company – only prize offered went to the winner) for second overall, and to top things off somebody actually stole my race t-shirt that I wadded up and threw in a corner after wearing it to the rainy start line. Who steals a race t-shirt?!? Anyway, it was good to know that sub-34 minutes is more than just possible, but it would have been nice to have had it in the books. A dorked up course or timing system happens every blue moon, but it still drives me absolutely crazy when it happens. I’m sure there are some that are just out to have fun and get some exercise, but I am out there for the test – I can have fun and get exercise at home and save $35 if I wanted to. I considered this a wasted Sunday morning and 10k opportunity – I can’t find another one anywhere near here as the 5k season seems to be around the corner. Oh well – if nothing else I guess I dis-proved the old adage “if some is good, more is better”…