On Friday I had to travel to Albany for a work meeting. Since my parents live in the area, I decided to use the opportunity to bring Peanut for a short visit to her grandparents – I dropped her off at their house on the way to the meeting, then we spent Friday night and Saturday morning there before heading back to Buffalo. For a short visit I managed to cram a lot of fun in – aside from work, I was able to see my high school BFF twice; on Friday night for a ladies only tea date and on Saturday for a lunchtime playdate with our little ones. And I also got to run a relatively impromptu race with my dad: when I told them that I’d be visiting in a couple of days, he suggested that I register for the Schenectady Strawberry Fest 5K, which he was planning to run. I’m always up for a spontaneous 5K, so I signed up.
The race started and finished on Upper Union Street. I’m sure I’ve been in this part of Schenectady before, but I don’t remember it. It was a really cute area and there was a lovely looking tea shop that I’m now itching to go back and visit. But anyway – to the business at hand.
We picked up our packets and then stood around for about fifteen minutes. This was – I think – the smallest race I’ve ever done. I only registered two days before the race and I had bib number 81.
With two minutes to go before gun time (told you it was a small race) we all meandered out through the finish line and milled about in the street. Dad and I lined up close to the back of the pack, which put us in the unaccustomed position of passing bunches of runners early in the race. That never happens to me.
To quote one of Peanut’s favorite expressions, “Ready, Freddie!” Annnnnnnd, we were off. Neither Dad nor I had looked at a course map so we had no idea what part of Schenectady we’d be touring. Dad thought perhaps we’d get to run through Central Park, but instead we turned in the opposite direction and ran through some beautiful neighborhoods I’d never seen before.
I spent most of the run checking out the houses. After all the time hubby and I have spent looking at houses (still in vain) I feel like I’m living and breathing real estate. I was trying to work out housing values in my head and thinking about what I’d do with each house. Not that we’re planning to live in Schenectady. That would be a five hour commute to work.
We were a little confused about the mileage, starting early on in the race. We spotted the 1.5 mile marker before the 1 mile marker, but then looped around and saw the 1.5 mile again on our second pass. The 2 mile marker came up right around the appropriate point (neither of us had a Garmin on – my dad just has a regular watch, and my Garmin was dead – but we estimated that we had done about two miles, based on our pace). Just about 100 feet later, though, we rounded a corner and saw Upper Union Street ahead. “Something’s wrong,” I said. “We’re not a mile from the finish line.” We wondered aloud whether we’d be making another loop around the neighborhood, but the volunteers directed us onward. As we rounded the corner onto Upper Union Street and saw the finish line just ahead, I shouted “Is this it?” and a volunteer called back that it was. Confused, we sprinted through the finish line.
The clock read 22:10 or thereabouts. Baffled, because we knew there was no way we had run 3.1 miles, we grabbed water bottles and sat down to scratch our heads some more. Next to me, I heard two men saying that the course was short – only about 2.3 or 2.4 miles. Dad and I frowned. We both knew that we had been maintaining a strong pace and if we only had 0.7 miles or so to run to get to a full 5K, there was a good chance we could have broken 30 minutes. I’ve never done that before, and I was really disappointed to have missed the chance because of a short course.
I have no idea what happened. I knew that something was wrong, but I don’t know what. I don’t believe we missed a turn anywhere, because the course was staffed with plenty of volunteers who were directing traffic, and I have to think they’d have told us if we were shorting the course. And of course, there was plenty of talk at the finish line about the short course – so I know it wasn’t us. I can only conclude that the race volunteers forgot to mark a part of the course that we were supposed to run.
I’m a little bummed about missing out on a PR – because I really think we would have broken 30 minutes; we were pushing hard on pace – and I hope the race works out the kinks next year. (I don’t know if I’ll run it again, because this was sort of an impromptu thing, and I was only in town because I happened to have a meeting there.) Really, though, I just did the run for fun and didn’t even know this race existed until two days before, so I can’t get too worked up. One thing did come out of this race: a new goal. As I told my dad, I’ve never had much interest in PRing in the 5K. I prefer a moderate effort sustained over more miles (say, 13.1 or so) to an all-out 3.1 mile pukefest. But after knowing that we had a real chance to finish in a time I would never have believed I could do, well, now I want to go for it. I have so many longer races on the schedule for the summer and fall that I don’t think that 5K PR will be happening anytime soon. But it’s on my radar, in any event.
What shenanigans did you get up to this weekend? Any 5Ks-that-weren’t-really-5Ks? Any actual 5Ks?