It was bound to happen, me missing a turn on a course during a small race where I didn’t have lots of people to follow.
The Halloween Hustle 5K – Zombie Gleaux was a small, fun night race where a lot of people dressed up in costume and were taking it all in fun. Me, I wanted to get my 5K PR since I have never beaten my PR of 26:33 set in February 2011.
So the 30-40 or so of us lined up at the start, and when the whistle blew, I shot out of the gate as fast as my little legs could carry me. My husband signed up for the race too, but he hadn’t run very much lately, so I left him behind. As the crowd thinned out I no longer had anyone in front of me, so I just kept my eyes up and ahead and focused on breathing.
During this race, there were people on the course dressed as zombies who would scream and lurch at us as we ran by. Some were better at keeping in character than others. As we passed a street to the right (this whole race was in a residential area), one of the zombies, a young girl, said rather nonchalantly, “Aren’t y’all supposed to turn here?” I was already past the street at that point and looked back, but she didn’t say anything else, I hadn’t seen a sign, and a couple of people behind me passed up the street too and followed me. So I just kept going.
It bothered me for most of the next mile and a half that I had possibly missed the turn because I didn’t want to end up short of a 5K distance and I didn’t want to erroneously win an award or anything, which I knew I had a good chance of doing with such a small race.
I kept running, and it had gotten pretty dark at this point. They had glow-in-the-dark stuff for us to wear, which was definitely needed since the course wasn’t closed to traffic. There were police and firetrucks at certain intersections, but we still had to watch for cars. I focused more on my pace than on how far I had run (no mile markers were on the course) and when I hit 2 miles I focused on keeping an 8:20 pace or so. It was just me and a guy running near each other as we headed back toward the finish line. We went back the same way we had come, and this time I saw the sign on the street where in fact I should have turned. But as we got close to the finish line, my Garmin said I had gone more than 3.3 miles, so i was definitely past the 5K mark. For the last quarter-mile, one of the zombies sprinted with me and was right at my back. I was like “OK dude, that’s enough!” But hey, good motivation.
I crossed the finish line at 28:42 for 3.42 miles – an 8:24 pace. They said I was the first female finisher, so I immediately gave myself up to the race organizer people and told them what I had done on the course and that I had still gone 3.4 miles. They didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. “You’re still the first female!” they said. So I said, OK. It turns out that I pretty much did the same distance as everyone else, because the way I ran was pretty much the same distance as if I had taken the turn correctly, according to my husband.
While I was happy to have done so well with my pace (PR pace was 8:33), I can’t really count this as my PR since it was so much over. I guess I will have to find a 5K that has more people so I won’t get lost and then try again soon.
A couple of minutes passed after I finished before anyone else came up, and then my husband came through the finish line at around 31:something. We had to wait awhile for everyone to finish and then for awards, but we stuck around since we knew I’d gotten something. When they announced awards, they just did 1st and 2nd place in each age group – no overall award. The age groups were like 13-under, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc. Well, turns out there were only 2 people in my husband’s age group and he got first place! It’s his first individual award at a race. I was so happy for him. The 2nd place person finished like 10 minutes behind him. I of course got first place in my age group since I was first girl. We took pictures then headed home!
This was overall a really fun race, in retrospect I wish I had worn a costume or something. If I hadn’t been gunning for a PR I would have stuck with my husband and wouldn’t have missed that turn, but oh well.
The running community is not as strong here as it is in bigger places like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, so the result is that races here are much smaller and not as fancy, but I really appreciate the effort. This was really fun and we had a good time.
EDITED TO ADD:
Today, the day after the race, I went on an 8-mile run and returned to the neighborhood where most of this 5K was. With my Garmin I measured the turn I should have taken and then the way that I actually went, and they were exactly the same – .40 miles. So I was off course for less than half a mile and went the same distance as the race course part that I missed. Also, the reason I was able to so fluidly get back on track was because the turn was only a short detour that headed back to the road that I also got on.
Here is how it was:
So all in all, no harm done. I just did the opposite of that part of the course for the same distance! 😉 This also means that even if I hadn’t gotten lost, my final distance would still be 3.4 so I was never going to realistically get a 5K PR. I know most race courses end up, according to Garmin, a little over thanks to tangents, but usually only 3.15 or 3.2. I believe I would have PR’d with that distance, but there’s no way to know for sure. I will just have to try again soon.