The race has grown over the years and there are more than 1,000 runners now. I would have to say that there were at least 2,000 runners this year. And there are no chips. For you non-runners, this means that your time is at the mercy of the guy with the clipboard. And how quickly you can get across the start line with hordes of people in your way.
So let us go to the start line, 20 minutes before the race is to begin and I am standing there with the girls in the triple jogger waiting for Rich to return from the port-o-potty. People stopped to talk to me and ask questions. I didn't mind. I do think I need to get a shirt that says, "Don't worry. I am not pushing this stroller in the race."
I should add that I had forgotten my running watch, which doesn't really matter at all for this part of the story as I have not yet set the real time on it, but I thought I would throw that in here. So I am waiting and waiting and there is no Rich. I look at the watch of the guy next to me and see that we have five minutes before the race is to begin and I don't know what to do. Do I wait for Rich and let us really be last or do I start to run with the girls and wait for him to catch up?
I should also mention too that you really need to take care of yourself in terms of eating and staying hydrated if you are running. I do a wonderful job of this as you can clearly tell from my breakfast of a can of Cherry Diet Pepsi and a small bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. I had intended to bring Pop Tarts with us but forgot them. I swear that I would forget my head if it wasn't attached to my body.
So there I am anxiously waiting for Rich and the hunger pains start up. I grab a cracker from the girls' stash and shove that in my mouth knowing that I am now welcoming vomit to join us for the race. Right about this time, some race official walks up to me and yells, "I don't think that's gonna fit thru the chutes." I yell back. "Yeah, well I'm not pushing it SO." Hence, the need for the shirt.
Rich and one of his brothers, who was also running the race, arrive minutes before the race is to begin. We weren't in the very back but close enough. The horn sounded and off we, yeah, we were still standing there waiting for the 1,800 people in front of us to move. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, we are able to, errr, jog. There were so many "runners" crowding the street that it was impossible to really run. Rich started the timer on his watch when we crossed the start line or what we thought was the start line.
Now, let me preface this by stating that I am not a running snob. I know that not everyone can run 10 minute miles. And I am positive that there is at least one person out there reading this who is laughing at me and my times. But if you are new to running races, please, please, please learn some race etiquette before signing up for a race. Please.
So Rich and I started the race by attempting to pass all the slow pokes, which was an extremely difficult and frustrating task. After like 100 feet or so, I just took off on my own. Here is an example of what we were dealing with. We were only about 1/8 of a mile into the race and I was trying pass four 14 year olds, who may or may not have been wearing running shoes. They had decided to run right next to each which was really awesome because no one could pass them. Here are some snippets from their conversation. "That will be cool if we finish in 40 minutes." "Oh, maybe I shouldn't have eaten that donut."
Okay, so there is nothing wrong with finishing in 40 mintues (or eating donuts right before you run a race) and I don't want to be mean but get to the back. PLEASE.
I was trying to run fast to make up the time that was lost but I didn't want to push myself too hard and run out of steam. I could no longer see Rich behind me. And then I came to the first mile and I just about collapsed in frustration when the guy yelled out, "10:51."
10:51? 10:51! Are you kidding me? I run a 10:51 mile when I am easy running and I hadn't been easy running.
And then I reached Hill #1. Rich had warned me that there would be hills but I wasn't prepared for that much of a hill. People started dropping off like flies. Walking. I kept running but after that 10:51 first mile, I realized that I wouldn't be setting any world records. I wouldn't say that I slowed down but I starting pacing myself a bit better and decided to wait to see if Rich would catch up to me.
And wouldn't you know that within a few mintues of that decision, I heard someone behind me. Someone running hard and I knew that it is Rich. I can't image the strength it took to push the girls up that hill.
Other highlights of the race include me almost puking around mile 2. A guy pushing two kids in a double jogger saying to Rich, "Oh, I thought I was cool pushing two but you had to go and one up me!" And as promised by the grumpy race official, the triple stroller would have been difficult to maneuver through the chutes so Rich pulled off the bottom portion of his bib and gave it to me to turn in.
The official time on the clock when we hit the finish line was 31 minutes and some seconds. The guy with the clipboard decided that my time was 31 and a half minutes. BUT, and this is a big but, we lost all that time at the beginning. Rich, who was timing our run on his watch says that we were about a minute and a half behind the official time so I'm saying that I finished in 30 minutes.
So here is my advice to new runners. If you are planning to run a race and you want to have bragging rights to your time, find a race that is chipped or clocked via some type of electronic method. Unless you want to trust the guy with the clipboard. Most races are well organized and clipboard timing is fairly accurate but I would have been super annoyed if I had been training for my first 5K and ended up with a race like that one.
Okay, so I know that I not a super fast runner but out of 1,000 female runners in this race, I placed 425th.
And I beat my brother-in-law.
We'll file this race under Fun Runs.