Saturday, October 27, 2012

ARMY ROTC 10K: Why mess with a good thing?

Today I ran the Army ROTC 10K on the campus of Southern IL University in Carbondale. I finished the race, but don't really know my finishing time.  My Garmin (old model: 301) said I ran 48:51, which would be ultra impressive for a 10K. But my Garmin also said that the course I ran this morning was only 5.45 miles!

Okay, let me backtrack.  This is the fourth year for this race, which is sponsored and put on by the ROTC unit at my university.  I ran this last year--it was hard, but I won my age group.  So I was looking forward to running it again.  I knew the organization and the swag would be good (and it was--tote bag, technical T-shirt with the names of last year's winners on the back, plastic drinking cup).

I arrived early, got my bib on, and danced to warm up in the cold.  First difference from last year was that the 5Kers and 10Kers started at the same time in one big group. Last year they separated the 5Kers and 10kers with a bit of space.  This struck me as odd. Because of the combined start, I ran faster than I would have normally. One man running the 5K next to me asked me "Are you a 9-minute runner?" I said "no!," since I usually run 9:30 to 9:45 min miles when I'm running my fastest in practice runs.  I ran past him and followed the signs that showed the 10K route (blue signs for 10K).

Several times, I lost sight of the few runners who were doing the 10K (there weren't all that many). I found myself pacing myself using a man in an orange shirt.  We crossed over one of the campus's pedestrian bridges twice and then found our way back to ROTC headquarters. I looked down to see the 5 mile mark on my Garmin and steeled myself for the last mile. But the finish line came much quicker than I expected. I went through and hit stop on the Garmin. It read 5.45.

Now was this a case of me not seeing all the blue signs or of the course being measured wrong. I don't know--I heard rumblings later of the 5K course being too long, so it's possible that the 10K course could have been measured incorrectly as well. No matter. The money raised from this race goes to the Anna Illinois Veterans' Home, so I don't really care what my time was.

The awards ceremony was a mess though. I won my age group (might have been the only woman in my age group) and was initially given the second overall place. I knew this was wrong. Two women came in before me.  We got together, figured out our true placement, and made sure the cadets in charge of the race knew that placement. I was the third overall woman, but I think there were maybe four women running the 10K overall. I'm not sure, because the timing was all scrambled. Somehow some 5K results got entered as 10K results (I don't think any woman there was capable of running a 27 minute 10K!)

Later, the older gentleman told me I ran that first mile at 8:45. But it doesn't really matter. I will still tell anyone that asks that my 10K PR is 54:03 . The course I ran last year was true to length, so I have to wonder why the organizers felt that they had to mess with a good thing.

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