June 13, 2009. The 4 a.m. alarm time was almost the worst part of this race. The dog ate, we went out for a brief walk and I left by 5 a.m. I got the first bus out of the RBC parking lot for the short ride to Meredith College, the site of the event.
We took a team photo at 6:15. Some of us were doing the competitive 5K, some the non-competitive open 5K. I lined up for the 7 a.m. start with one competitor in my age group and maybe 4 or 5 rows behind the one who usually wins the age group. We were up near the front. I am not really keen on being that far forward, especially in a big race. They said several times that if you run slower than an 8 minute mile, line up towards the back. I don't run 8 minute miles! But a competitor who always beats me lined up rows in front of me.
Fearing trampling, I almost moved to the back (as I have done in the past in some races.) But, I didn't and the race started. I stayed close to the right so that fast runners could pass. However, there were so many runners and masses were passing that not too far from the start of the race, a young lady wearing a pink top (or was it blue?) and white shorts pushed me to the side as she passed and weaved through those in front of me. She was moving quite fast. Within a minute, a lady behind me and to the right began falling forward. I glanced back hearing the noises and saw her, arms outstretched, heading for a nasty fall. I worried about the possibility she might get trampled and slowed for a fraction, thinking of stopping. I saw people on the curb and a few nearby runners lean down to her. Meanwhile I kept going to avoid being run over myself. I expect she either tripped or someone stepped on her heel.
It was about 70 degrees and humid.
The race proceeded up Hillsborough St which had a slight incline, left on Gardner and then left onto Clark St. Clark was partially down and uphill. There was still a sizable pack of people running with me, so I imagine there were a lot of runners in this race. We turned right onto Brooks and I began to feel the strain. Brooks has a gradual uphill incline. Somewhere along here, we passed the half way mark and began going uphill again. I dropped to my first walk about 3/4 of the way up that hill.
Between Barmettier, Dixie Trail and the return towards Meredith on Clark, I dropped to a walk three more times! I am wondering if my almost 5 mile trot on the hills of Johnston Lake the preceding Thursday night was too much for this old crone. (The east path around the lake has numerous short but challenging inclines towards the latter half of the path.)
By the time I finally saw the Finish and the horde awaiting the 7:45 start of the Open 5K, I was wiped. I barely managed to speed up for the finish. In fact, I did not speed up.
I don't know that I shall do this race again. Too many people. Too much jockeying for front position. If I do do it, I won’t consider any kind of age group placement and rather, start in the back of the pack and just track my chip time. Sometimes, it isn’t worth it to try to be competitive within your age group when you can't really run as fast as the front of the pack.
And there is very little chance that I will ever run fast enough (over a distance) to make up for another's possible gun time start advantage. It really is myself I am running against, any way. The satisfaction comes with a better chip time and more than that, how it felt to run the race. Was I exhausted? Was it a real strain? Or, was I able to run it feeling a bit uncomfortable at times, but without dropping to a walk at any time? That is really the objective.
This is not track, after all.
Chip time 29.39.61 Gun time 29.50.28 1348 of 2623. Lots of people equals lots of folks crossed start minutes after front runners. Chip times would be far better for those folks than gun time.