When the gun went off, I took off (way too fast of course) down the road. 'Tony' was left in the dust. Wow, that was easy. I thought she might hang with me for a while. I followed the crowd as we made our way down River Ave. My music was going and I settled in to a nice pace. I didn't wear the Garmin for the race, I just wore my watch. This would later come back to haunt me. I wore a lighter pair of running shoes and I was feeling good. The course is nice and flat so I'm thinking about the possibility of a 5k PR today.
I get about a mile in and turn to find 'Tony' is not in sight. My work was done early. But up ahead I see a new one. She was dressed in pink and I was gaining on her. I could smell the blood in the water now! I make my way closer without really changing my pace. As I pull up along side her, she maybe comes up just past my waist. I ask her how old she is and she tells me she's 7. On the outside I put on a smile and cheer her on, but on the inside all I can think about is crushing the hopes and dreams of a 7 year old. What can I say, I'm competitive. I want to retain what little dignity I have left!
She has an interesting strategy. She runs hard and then walks. I always encourage her as I pass her walking or when she runs past me. On the inside I'm saying stuff like "you're going down little girl!" I was concerned that her run/walk may keep her ahead of me at the end. But I noticed something odd. Around 18 minutes in, I see a bunch of people from the race walking ahead of me. How on earth did they get ahead of me at that pace? There was even a guy being pushed in a wheelchair ahead of me. I'm slow, but not that slow! What's going on here?
I keep plugging away and figured as walkers they had a shorter course to follow. Or did they? I kept my focus on "pretty in pink" as I did not want to let her get too far away. I looked down at my watch again and it said 28:13. Hmm, where's the finish line? I have no concept of where I am on this course. There are people still around me so I know I am in the right place, but I should be on the street that we started on by now. At this point I have no idea how much more running I have to do or how much I have really done. There was no one out there giving splits. The good news is my new little Tony is slowing down. When I pass over a bridge she's walking and looking tired. The long race is getting to her. I am now energized and getting my second wind. I left her in the dust. The beatdown is complete. King Kong ain't got nothing on me!
We finally make it back onto River Ave and I look at my watch. I know the course was long at this point but I have no idea. As I sprint towards the finish, I see a racer on the side of the road with a Garmin. I ask him the mileage and he says the course was 4.1 miles. What?!?! That's 6.6k, not 5k. I cross the finish line a stop my watch. Looks like I smoked the course and when I average out the distance, I set a 4 mile PR, not the 5k I was hoping for. I found another runner with a Garmin and they also have the same mileage. I found out the lead police car didn't stay on course like he should have and wound up adding a mile to the race. They caught it in time for the walkers to stay on course. That is how they got ahead of the runners.
During my cooldown I could see the little girl flying towards the finish. I'm glad I passed her earlier because there is no way I could even come close to her furious finish. She had flames coming out of her shoes! I was going to talk to the race people about testing her for PED's. I gave her a high 5 and told her she ran great. Honestly, she looked great out there. She had such nice form when she was running.
Next up is the Ridley 5k in Riverhead. I know that course will be accurate. If anyone is up for a fun race, they should come down and check it out.