Race Report: H&M Relay for Life 5k

I’m going to call this race The One That Got Away. It didn’t go at all how I’d hoped, but I still enjoyed myself. I signed up with the sole goal of getting a PR (personal record). My previous best in a 5k race was 33:12, set in March 2010. Recently I’ve been consistently running miles in the 10:30-10:45 range, so I had high hopes that I could beat that 33:12 time, especially since I’d run 3.1 miles the Sunday before in 32:48. In addition, the race was advertised as “flat and fast,” so everything seemed to indicate a PR for me.

The race wasn’t very organized, and the instructions we got at the starting line about where the turn-around was were slightly unclear. I just hoped that there would be people around me I could follow so I would know what I was doing. After several minutes, the race finally started. I let a bunch of people pass me, as is my usual practice, and focused on finding a good pace for me. The first mile was indeed nice and flat, and I finished it in 10:11, which is a new personal best for me. I was feeling good, if not a little warm. There were quite a few runners around me for the first mile, and then slowly some began to fall behind while others raced ahead of me. Before I knew it I was running by myself, which always seems to happen to me in races. It was around this point that I saw spray-painted on the road “5k turn,” and I saw several runners ahead of me turning there. But what I also saw was that someone had written in chalk over that and had drawn arrows up ahead to signal that the turn for this race was still a little bit up the road. So I kept going after trying unsuccessfully to tell the others that they were turning at the wrong place. There was a water station at the turn, and though I wanted to get clarification about the turn, two other women were talking to him and I didn’t want to lose time by stopping, so I turned around and kept going. I didn’t see a mile marker for mile 2 and missed the alarm on my Garmin, so I had no idea when I actually finished 2 miles but knew I had more to go. My pace had slowed considerably because there was more of an incline at this part of the course, but I was still hopeful for a PR as I made my way back to the finish line and tried to pick up my pace. I saw my pace go down to 9:48 at several points, which made me happy.

However, as I approached the finish, I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I had gone 2.8 miles and was already at 30 minutes. I was so disappointed and knew there was no way I would get a PR, and I was also confused because I was still a good distance from the finish line at that point. Still, I kept my pace good and strong and tried to finish as fast as I could. The finish line was actually inside the minor league baseball stadium, which was cool, and I saw Stephen and Charlotte right before the finish and waved and gave a thumbs up.  Finally, I crossed the finish, and someone called out my name over a loudspeaker, which I loved.

(One of the few pics Stephen managed to get while he juggled a squirmy toddler.) 

Stephen also filmed a video as I rounded the bases before the finish line. It’s cute because you can hear Charlotte saying “Mama.”

What I did NOT love was the time I saw on the finish clock and on my Garmin: 34:49. I was even more frustrated when I saw that according to my Garmin I had actually run 3.37 miles and not 3.1. I didn’t know what to make of this, and I still don’t. A friend on Facebook suggested that I didn’t run the tangents of the course, which is definitely possible, but there weren’t all that many curves in the course . It’s also possible that my Garmin gave an inaccurate reading, but it’s never been off by such a wide margin before, and the sky was completely clear and unobstructed during the whole race. If there had been mile markers along the course I could have had a better idea of how my Garmin was matching up to the course.  Only mile 1 was marked (and my Garmin was right on track with it), and then they marked every kilometer, which wasn’t at all helpful.

Average pace if indeed I ran 3.1 miles: 11:13
Average pace for 3.37 miles according to my Garmin: 10:19

Placement:
6/16 in my age group
13/36 females
33/61 overall

Even though I was pretty disappointed after it was over, I still did well and didn’t walk at all. I also finished in the middle of the pack in each category, whereas I normally rank near the bottom. Plus, I got a technical shirt and water bottle with my registration, and I do love some good swag! 🙂

Now I need to find another race to sign up for so I can get that new PR!

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2 thoughts on “Race Report: H&M Relay for Life 5k

  1. And and race that can tell you what the course really is! This is pretty unacceptable. I would email the Race Director and complain about the discrepancy. He/she need to know… I've been a RD for a 5k for 2 years, and this is a NECESSITY! I don't know if your course says it, but if was USTF certified, this should NOT have happened. If it wasn't certified, it is more undertandable, but still not good… You might also want to look for the USTF certification on the races you run. It makes a HUGE difference in things like this (although it can make the entry fee a little higher b/c you have to pay someone to certify your course).

    Still a good job. I say you go with your splits from your GARMIN, then you DID PR!

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