Attempting my first 10K double this weekend. Logistically easy with Saturday and Sunday races in Lacey, close to home. I was even able to pick up my packet for both races on Friday. The Puddle Jump is a first time event sponsored by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Work Well, the "healthy workplace program". The 5K and 10K races start and finish at the Horizons Elementary school and follow the same course as the Run for Luck. Flat and fast on the Chehalis Western (paved) Trail.
Since I already have my race number there is no need to get there early. I do arrive in plenty of time. Nice temperature and the rain is holding off, humid and a little misty but great running weather. Before going for my warm up run I decide to walk through the school cafeteria where runners are waiting and picking up their numbers. Good thing I took that detour because I hear an announcer say that after getting a number you have to go outside and get your timing chip. There was no chip or mention of a chip at packet pick up. They do have one waiting for me though so it is not a big deal. Outside though I find out that the start will be at the trailhead about a quarter mile away from the school and where the Run For Luck start takes place. I wonder if this course will be short by 0.4 miles. I jog down to the trail and turn left onto the trail. 0.2 miles later there is a sign that states it is mile 0.6 of the race. That confirms for me that the course will be short. I also wonder why they would make a nice sign for mile 0.6. That is about one kilometer, so maybe there will be a sign every Km. Whoever put it there should know that it is not nearly in the right place, a mere 0.2 miles from the start.
Have a good warm up, learn that the race will start ten minutes late. No problem I expected that as I saw the lines still registering when I was back at the school. I also hear that we will turn around at the Chambers Lake Trailhead. Now that seems too far. To be accurate we should turn around somewhere past the Run For Luck turn around, but well before Chambers Lake. O well, I'll just run until instructed to turn around.
Start - 10K will start first, 5K a few minutes later. We line up but no one wants to toe the line up front. A couple of people look fast, but you can never tell. I do not see anyone that I recognize and I start to think about the slim chance of actually winning. Then we are off. 30 feet down to the turn at the wide trail. One person, a woman, ahead of me, then a guy zooms out and quickly is out of reach.
Mile 1 - Feeling good. Sure that I am going too fast. I can see the guy way ahead and the woman is pulling away too. Loud footsteps right behind me. They continue for some time and eventually I am passed by a guy. He does not get far ahead of me though. I am concerned that I am going too fast and will slow but I am in a good groove. About a 7:15 per mile pace. My PR pace is 7:09.mile and I expect to be around 7:30/mile, hopefully a little faster than that.
Mile 2 - I pull even with guy who was just in front of me and decide to just run even with him for a while. If it is not too hard I can pass him later, and it sure would be great to finish as 3rd overall. He pulls ahead again but just by a few feet.
Mile 3 - The first place runner has not come back to me yet, confirming that the course will be long. Finally at mile 3.35 I see a medical tent and another tent/aid station. A volunteer is about 30 feet before them and he says that this is the turn around. I had seen the first woman go all the way to the tents before turning around and I think that is what I need to do, plus I would like a little water. I take a drink and look back and see people turning around where the volunteer is, two people get ahead of me that way. I ditch my cup in the garbage and zoom off to regain my position. The guy who was in third does not zoom out and I would not see him again. I am able to catch the two fast turners and am now in third place. But there is a large group right on my tail and I doubt that I will hold this pace much longer.
Mile 4.1 - I know that it is mile 4.1 because there is one of the random race markers here. Since it is the Puddle Jump race I jump over the one small puddle as I had on the way out too. They should have called it the leaf jump. Lots of patches of Acer macrophyllum leaves. I have to be a little careful running through those in case of any hidden trip hazards and use caution on the two short slick wooden bridges, but most of the course is clear and I try to pick up the pace on the non leafy sections. I am passed by a younger guy and then another guy.
Mile 6 - Overall pace now at 7:20. I can not hear anyone behind me. I start to think about tomorrow and whether I should save some energy for that race. But I would love to finish 5th here and I keep up pace as best I can. 10Ks can be very tough mentally and physically, trying to hold such a pace for so long, but I have done well today. Legs feel good and I am happy to be out here running. Passing some 5K walkers and joggers and I cruise on in the the finish.
Finish - Cheer on more finishers and get in over a mile cool down jog. Results are posted at the finish area and I see that two 5K females were listed as running the 10K in very fast times. That bumps me down to 7th overall, but they will fix that right? Men's results look right. Everyone gets a finishers medal and at the awards ceremony they have trophies for 1st-3rd in all the age groups. Overall male is usually bumped from the division awards so I will be getting a large first in age group trophy. After I get my award, the guy who won the race comes over and asks if I am going to give him my trophy. "Why would I do that?" I ask. He replies that he is in my age group and he was not announced for anything. I had seen his name on the results page and also recognized him as the overall winner, so I suggest that we go sort it out after the ceremony which is just about over anyway. There is also confusion because the overall female winner was given a second place in age group award (one of the 5K female results was not removed from the 10K list). At the award table we see that there are trophies for overall winners 1-3, but not for both male and female. I suggest that the woman's winner, who was second overall, take the second overall trophy as it is rightfully hers. I also point to the 10K overall trophy and suggest that the winner take that. The race director likes that idea, but also somewhere it is mentioned that the overall winners were not bumped from age group divisions like they are at most races. The overall winner wants my 1st in age group trophy, so I give it to him and he walks off with two trophies. I guess that I was second in my age group, "so can I have a second place in age group trophy?" There are many trophies on and under the table and each was listed for what age group it is for. The RD looks around a bit, but it is not there. That award had already been given out and the runner had left. So I get nothing, and I really do not need a cheesy trophy. It is more of an interesting story than something that bothers me. The RD insisted on taking my name and number so they can award me properly. I really do not need that. In my opinion chip timing is not needed for races of under 200 runners. Also inaugural events should stick to one distance as it is easier to manage.
I have often said that the only two things I really require from a race are accurate distance and timing. This race had neither, but I still had a fun time. Great to be feeling good and running near my best times. I give it four stars and hope I have as much fun tomorrow.
5th overall of 126
2nd in age group (40-49) of 7
Race #215 10K# 28