Sunday, February 3, 2008

Race Report: Super Bowl 5K

I should be pleased as punch, right? I finished fifth in my age group (out of 45) and won an official event hat. I got two pint glasses. I got a bunch of great stuff for 50% off at the Running Fit store right after the race.

No. NO! I'm pissed as hell. This was supposed to be the race for me, the one where I busted the 25:00 barrier for the first time since I was a senior in high school. I was feeling so fine this morning. I was so ready.

OK. First of all, HOW CAN YOU HAVE A CHIP-TIMED EVENT WITH ONLY ONE TIMING MAT??? I just DON'T GET IT. The only people who are going to have an accurate time are the ones who were standing with their toes on the starting line when the horn sounded. The rest of the pack, shuffling slowly forward, crossed the starting line well after the front-of-the-pack sprinters, adding seconds if not minutes to our times. I shouldn't have put myself so far back in the pack; I spent forever zooming past people in the early stages of the race.

Secondly, and I know this depends on how accurate my Garmin 305 is (and it has shown itself to be pretty darn accurate in the past), THE COURSE WAS NOT A 5K. My Garmin showed the distance to be 3.21 miles.

To give you a sense of how inaccurate it all was, my Garmin showed my first mile split as 8:07, but when I got the "official" time from the race volunteer with a stopwatch he called out 9:00. My second mile split according to my Garmin was 7:42! Third mile split, 8:03. (And never mind that the difference in distance between when my Garmin chirped to signal the completion of another mile and the "official" mile marker kept increasing with each successive mile). I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line at 25:28. My "official time" for the race was 26:06. HUH? After I ran a 7:42 mile? How is this possible?

So let's see. Splits of 8:07, 7:42, and 8:03 equals 23:52 for three miles. For the remaining distance I was running at a 7:39/mile pace according to my Garmin. One tenth of a mile at that pace would have taken me 45 seconds to complete. 23:52 plus 45 seconds is 24:37. Twenty-FOUR minutes and 37 seconds. Not twenty-SIX minutes, my "official" time, or even the twenty-five minutes my Garmin showed.

Oh, and? Strip mall parking lots? NOT GOOD FOR RACING! This was the screwiest race course I've ever run. All these loops and twists and double-backs and everyone jammed in between rows of cars. It was ridiculous.

Running Fit did such a great job with the Big House Big Heart 5K in September. Chip-timed (with TWO timing mats), dead-on accurate 5K, nice wide open race course. Maybe it was the race management outfit. I don't know. I'm just highly peeved. I ran a 5K in under 25 minutes but it's not official. I can't point to my time in the race results and say, "See! I did it!"

There's a St. Patrick's Day "Shamrocks and Shenanigans" 5K next month in Ann Arbor. Maybe I can redeem myself then.


Fritz said...

It's not you who has to redeem yourself, it's running fit, eh?

You should be warned that the races- they aren't always perfect distance wise. It's one of those things where I have to shrug and say "well, I hope it's plus or minus 10%"

In your own mind, you know you beat 25. It doesn't matter how messed up the timing chips, distances or general confusion of the race is.

So, go you! drink something fun out of your new pint glasses! Wear your hat proudly on your next run! You've earned it! :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the place! That's great news!

Here's a little secret though, the Garmins aren't particularly exact. They are better than pretty much anything else out there, though, which I why I love mine to death, I have a 201, and that bad boy is at least 0.05 miles off per 3 miles or so when compared to Google Maps . When you download the 'bread crumb maps' to Sport Tracks, it's really apparent why, as the corners get rounded off, and the gradual sweeping curves on routes get overemphasized a little. (I'm a geek, so I like to check these things out).

You had a great result, though for your first race of the year! There's no redemption needed, just chalk it up as not an ideal PR situation and think about how that next race is going to feel when you get there! That St Pats course in downtown Ann Arbor is going to be as flat as a pancake, you can bet that there's a PR waiting for you there!

Sun Runner said...

Weeellll...I guess y'all are right. I guess I know that I can run that fast; now I have to find a way to make it show up on some official race results.

I'm still geeked that I ran a 7:42 mile, though. That was pretty exciting for me.

It was a good racing experience as I really felt that for the first time I had a "strategy". I really raced, you know?

And for the record, I had not one but two beers last night in my new pint glass and I'm wearing my race shirt to work today (but not the hat).

Tina said...

Sorry you didn't get your PR, but great job anyway! I'm going to volunteer for Shamrocks and Shenanigans next month, so I'll probably see you there.

justsayrun said...

As a fairly new race director (I've only done two so far) I appreciate reading your comments about the Super Bowl 5K.

I did Run Drugs Out of Town last summer and will be doing it again. That race was fantastic. This year, the course is certified, we're using champion chip timing, etc. That race wasn't the problem...........

The second race I did I inherited shortly before the race. The morning of the race at 5:00 a.m. I realized I had no prizes, so while the runners were running, I divided up cash as prizes -- huge faux pas to give amatuer runners cash, but what did I know? The local high school track coach sure made sure I knew better next time.