Well my 5k today ended up being an interesting experience.
The whole thing was terribly disorganized. A new company was organizing the race this year, I guess, and I was pretty disappointed all around with the way they ran things, and very glad I was only running the 5k, not the 10k or the half that were also being held. But more on that in a bit.
I got there about 7:30 this morning, for my 8:15 start. Jesse and I walked around a bit. We decided we really should have brought the dog, since the start and finish lines were at a park and there were tons of other dogs. I was about to wait in line for the port-a-potties when I realized there were actual bathrooms, with a much shorter line (apparently most people didn't realize the real bathrooms were there), so I opted for those instead. ;)
The 10k and half were supposed to begin at 8:00 a.m., but by that time no announcements had been made, and no one seemed sure where the starting line was. A bunch of people lined up in one spot, but that ended up being the wrong one. After several minutes, they announced that the start was going to be pushed back by 10 minutes, and finally told everyone where the starting lines were (there weren't any actual marks to show the start).
I don't think the longer race actually got going until around 8:15, and then they announced that the 5k would begin at 8:30.
There were around 250 people running or walking the 5k, so it was a small race. I tried to find a spot not at the front, but not too far to the back, of the pack, and that worked out pretty well. I passed a bunch of people the first half-mile or so, and I'm pretty sure I went out a little too fast. It was exciting, though--because I was realizing there weren't too terribly many people in front of me!
By about the halfway point, I'd settled in with a few other runners--I passed a couple more women in the last half of the race, I think, but was also passed by two more. There were really only a couple people ahead of me that I could see, although I was pretty sure there was a faster pack that was out of sight.
It was a beautiful day for a run, sunny and clear. I'm glad it didn't start any later than it did, because it was starting to get pretty warm. And the course itself was really nice--almost completely flat (I did speed past someone on one of the very few slight uphills--yay for all the hills I run), with some parts on a nice trail.
Overall, I think I held a reasonably steady pace throughout, although I do think I was a bit fast the first mile and had to slow down a little. I don't have any real way of knowing, because the only mile marker was at mile 3. I did enjoy feeling like I was actually *racing* as opposed to just running in a group of people. I haven't felt like that in all my races, and it was fun trying to pass people ... and trying not to let them pass me!
I ended up finishing in 27:16, which is 4 seconds slower than my PR. It would have been cool to beat my PR, but it's a time I can live with, at least. I'm shooting for under 27 at my 5k next month.
When I crossed the finish line, I asked Jesse how many women had finished in front of me, and he made it sound like it had been quite a few. I didn't think there had been too many, but started to wonder if maybe I'd been further back in the pack than I'd realized. But we waited around for a bit until they posted the results, and I ended up in 3rd place for my age group! So then we decided to wait around for the award ceremony, which was supposed to begin at 9:30 for the 5k runners--like I told Jesse, this may be the only time I ever place, I'm enjoying it. ;) There were a bunch of problems with the timing, so they kept printing out revised times, but I hung onto that 3rd place.
At 10 a.m., they announced the award ceremony wouldn't begin till 11. At this point, Jesse started getting a bit antsy--he'd been wanting to get home and get some homework done. But we decided to go grab some breakfast and come back.
The awards ceremony, when it finally began, started with a long apology. Apparently, in addition to all the disorganization starting times and places, the course markings had been "vandalized," so a bunch of people running the longer races had gone the wrong way and gotten lost. I guess they put the course markings out last night, and apparently no one double-checked to make sure they were there this morning. And they also apparently didn't have race staff at all the turns, so people just ended up going the wrong way.
Oh--and one thing I forgot to mention earlier--when the 10k runners were coming in, so before the half runners were even in, they made an announcement asking people to put back post-race drinks if they'd taken more than 2, because they had run out of drinks. Now ... I only took one, but I did see people with bags full of goodies, so there were definitely some people being greedy. But it seems like there was a serious problem in the planning if they hadn't even provided enough to get through two of the distances.
Anyway, despite all the disorganization, I had a pretty good race, and I think it's pretty cool that I placed. Part of me feels a little weird about it, because I didn't even set a new PR, and against a tougher group of opponents I would have been nowhere near the top. But at the very least, it was a nice little confidence boost.