My last race of 2011, the Kevin Reveal Memorial Turkey Trot, turned out to be an utter disaster. I am now trying to calm myself in the wake of the three letters every runner hates and fears: DNF.
I finished 10K of this race in 57:09, but it was supposed to be a 15K for me. This race is actually a series of races: a 5K, a 10K, and a 15K. I was looking forward to this race immensely because I had never done 15K before. I have done 10Ks and plenty of halfs, but the 15K distance is not offered a lot where I live. So I signed up for it. It had the advantage of being close--the small town of Herrin, Illinois is not too far from Carbondale, where I live.
I should have known that today was not going to be my day when I realized I had forgotten my Garmin. I had no timing device so I really didn't have a clue as to my pacing. The race itself was three laps of the initial 5K route. Many runners did the 5K, some did the 10K, but only a handful did the 15K. I finished the 10K portion and was into the final 5K lap when I realized that the surroundings no longer looked familiar. There was no one ahead of me any longer. There were no mile marker signs for this race, so I don't know what mile I was on when this happened. The only course markings were spray-painted on the ground. I missed one set of markings and ended up lost. I knew I was lost when I looked around found myself in what's known colloquially as "the projects." Oh yeah, I thought, I'm a single black woman lost in a town that used to be a sundown town (towns where black folks were forced to leave the city limits by sundown). The projects in this town aren't black or mixed-race populated; they are white. People's dogs were chasing me at this point and I was scared. I decided to bag the race, called my husband nearly in tears, and somehow found my way back to the Herrin Civic Center, where the race was headquartered.
Back at the Civic Center, I got hugs from some runners who listened compassionately to my story, and shrugs from the race officials. Apparently I wasn't the only one who got lost--six other people got lost today. Now if it were only me, I'd chalk it up to my tremendously bad sense of direction. But since six other people got lost, I know it's not just me. If I do this race again, I'll opt to do the 10K. It simply isn't worth it getting lost or hurt for a race.