As you know, I was registered for a local 5k this past Saturday. I was pretty excited and I was hoping to come in under 25:30. I was feeling good about that goal going in.
I prepared a little by stretching the night before. I ate well and went to bed on time with everything already laid out. I was planning to run to the race because it's only a couple miles from my house and I knew I would run much faster having warmed up well.
My alarm went off at 5:40 and I was up and getting ready. I procrastinated a bit and left the house for the start line at 6:55. The race was scheduled to start at 8am and I still needed to pick up my bib.
I jogged slowly and combo'd that with walking. My right calf was a little tight (Note: foam-roll that tonight) and I had forgotten that my Kinvaras seem to just make things worse in that department. I was wearing my old, worn-out Kinvara 4's because it was super muddy and I didn't want to get a new pair dirty. The shoes held up just fine, though.
I arrived to the race site around 7:25 having ran 2.85 miles to get there. I hadn't known exactly how far it was going to be because I had never run exactly from point-to-point, and I was trying to take the shortest route, which usually is not the case.
I picked up my bib, stopped by bathrooms, and started the wait.
They did some announcements, etc. and then a "Breast Cancer Boot Camp" (whatever the hell that is) lady came up on stage to lead the runners and walkers through a series of warm-up exercises as is typical for this type of event. I stood at the back stretching my calves and hamstrings and watched everyone look ridiculous doing arm circles, calf raises (?), and squats. Yes, the lady led the group through a series of squats before they started their run. I thought that was just bizarre.
Anyway, we lined up - 10k runners first, then 5k runners, then 5k walkers.
I lined up near the front, but maybe second row, among the 5k runners. I didn't want to get behind people who were jogging or walking and I could tell by looking around me (I'm not being judgmental here, I'm saying ladies carrying cross-body Coach bags and wear pea coats over their yoga pants probably aren't racing, amiright?) that I was going to be zig-zagging a bit regardless.
The course map was on the race's website. It was to go under the street past the golf course, around the "lake" and back again. 3.1-ish miles. I checked this before I lined up so I wouldn't have to follow anyone. I knew from running to the race that it was well-marked (I ran past this "lake" myself), but there was a point where I wasn't sure what some of the signs meant. When I lined up, I knew 100% what the course was supposed to be.
After the 5-ker's were off, we lined up at the starting mat, counted down from 5 and we were off. We passed under the street and the next thing we knew we were being directed INTO A GOLF COURSE instead of past the golf course toward the lake. I immediately thought this was probably incorrect because I have run by said golf course no less than 100 times and pedestrians aren't allowed. Ever. But there was an actual warm body holding the sign and pointing us in that direction, so I thought maybe we had to go this way to make the course long enough or something and then thought, well that's cool they're letting us do this because people don't ever get to do this.
I wanted to hit around 8:45 for my first mile and then speed up. I hit 8:30 and felt great.
I became increasingly aware this was not the intended course when my watch beeped one mile and there wasn't a mile marker. Or any sign at all. Or a cone. Or an arrow drawn on the path. My first thought was that this was going to be a long course and that after we went around the golf course we would still be directed to go around the lake. I kept my 8:37 pace just in case. When we turned INTO THE GOLF COURSE PARKING LOT there were no signs, and I officially knew we had been failed. Luckily there was a volunteer on hand. As I was approaching said volunteer, I heard a golf cart drive up behind me. It was a golf course manager of sorts asking the volunteer who was in charge because we weren't supposed to be running through the golf course. Ya think?
After the girl in front of me asks the volunteer "Is this the right way??" the volunteer responds with "yes, take a right" and points us BACK TO THE START LINE. This was it. This was all the racing I was going to get today. I picked up the pace and passed a couple people who were in front of me... I was super pissed we were literally racing 2 miles. Then I thought, maybe it's farther than I thought.
No, it was not farther than I thought.
I sprinted under the street again. I ran by I-think-the-photographer who was walking and he says "you make me look slow." I thought that was like the stupidest thing I had ever heard someone say.
I crossed the mat, but I wasn't fast enough. The girl I had passed must have started before me because I ended up third female, but first in my age group. Offical time: 19:08. Obvously I could never run a 5k in 19:08. That's a pace of 8:08 which might still be a bit faster than I could run an actual 5k. Of course, had I known the course was only 2.35 miles I would have ran faster. And I would have won the freakin' thing. Whatever.
Feel free to stop reading now... the rest is just a vent about how the situation was handled.
I turned down a medal because I was going to request a refund on the race. The race was advertised as a chip-timed 5k run. Not a "fun run" and not a charity event. I paid to run a 5k. No one expects a perfect 3.1 miles, but anywhere between 2.9 and 3.3 would have been acceptable. 2.35 miles is not acceptable.
This was a weekend I took off my training calendar to race a 5k. Part of my plan (and most plans) involves racing along the way, that means (for me) a 5k, a half marathon, and a 10k. I don't just have another weekend I can race that 5k, that was it. And I was robbed of that.
As for what happened out there? No one had any idea what was going on. My husband met me at the finish and said they were all talking about it and no one had any clue. When I ran by the volunteer again that had pointed us in that direction she told the golf course manager she was "following directions." I find that hard to believe. I think she was misunderstanding directions.
And then... we got an email.
To our fabulous runners and walkers!
"The park had a last minute emergency..." Obviously this is not true for a couple reasons. The 10k was also supposed to run through the park and they were not addressed in the email. Also, they would not jeopardize their ability to run at that park (ie get a permit) in the future by rerouting through a golf course where pedestrians are not allowed. Also, if they knew of a situation requiring a reroute before we started (there was only about 30 second between the time we started and the time we got to the turn-off) then they could have/would have/should have just let us go the same way the 10k-ers went and had us turn around at 1.5 miles!!! DUH!!!!!!!!
So obviously they are trying to just brush over that mistake. Also, this email mentions twice how much money they raised for cancer, which is clearly done to deter folks from requesting refunds. It is definitely going to work. It even made ME reconsider until I realized I PAID FOR A RACE, and that just because you are a non-profit organization doesn't mean you can put on a half-assed event and take people's money. Also, just because you are a non-profit doesn't mean I want to encourage you to not do a good job next time. People who do not request their money back are saying "oh that's totally ok" and it's not totally ok. If you are trying to solicit donations then you ask for donations. I would not donate but I am not going into the microeconomics of donating here. You could have also potentially sold the race as "in exchange for your donation, you will receive entry into our 5k" but you didn't do that either. You held a RACE, you charged a REGISTRATION FEE, you should know what you are doing. If you do not know how to put on a race, you should not put on a race, you should do something else.
Ok, I'm done now. I know it sounds silly to get bent out of shape of a 40-dollar 5k, but it's so much more than that. It was all the prep I put into it, and the weekend of training I devoted to it, and the 5:40 AM wake-up call, and the asking my husband to come out, and the getting-excited-to-race and it all went to crap.
I'm glad I ran to the race and got in 5 miles for the day. Lesson learned: I won't do this event again, obviously. And this isn't the first event at this park that went badly, so maybe I will look around a bit more before I register for that 10k. In fact, that last time I ran "Victory for Victims" it was short.. I don't remember by how much, but how's this little screen shot for an assumption that race was also short?
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How to Volunteer at a Race
Running in NYC Part I
All my recaps
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