I had an impromptu race tonight!  Yesterday at our faculty meeting it was announced that a couple spaces had opened up in our school’s team, so I signed up the day before.

We headed down around 5 and it had already been a long day.  I didn’t sleep much last night (couldn’t get my brain to stop going 100 miles an hour – isn’t that the worst?), so I was really tired.  We got there, got our bibs, and met up with our team.  It was really nice to meet more people from work.  Since I teach at a college, there’s still a lot of people I haven’t met yet – even after two years there.  Everybody was really nice and friendly.

It was CROWDED!  There were 8,600-something people running.  I know there are many, many races that are much larger than this, but this was huge for our area.  Apparently it was the biggest year ever.

We all crammed into the starting area.  I was a little way back, but not nearly as far as some people.  Once the gun went off, it took me 30 seconds to get to the starting line.  Other people on our team had to shuffle for FOUR MINUTES just to get to the start.

Once I got across the line, I had to dodge and weave through the crowd to get into some open space.  It took almost a full mile until I really felt like I wasn’t stuck in the crowd any more, and that first mile was all slightly uphill too.

Did I mention it was HOT?  REALLY HOT.  It was at least 85.  I know that’s not super hot for some places, but for here, at this time of the year, that’s hot.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t had enough water during the day and had (stupidly) left my water in the car.  So I started out the race thirsty, and ended up getting pretty dehydrated.  They had two water stations on the course and I stopped at both.  Even still, I was so dehydrated that the tip of my tongue was tingling.  It was kind of weird.

I did alright.  Not what I was aiming for, but between darting through the crowd, the heat, and not getting enough water, I can’t really complain.  When we got to the three mile marker, I picked it up a little.  I was operating under the assumption that this race was a 5k.  But then that last .1 of a mile just kept going, and going, and going…  Guess what?  It turns out it was a 3.5 mile race!  Whoops!  Note to self: make sure you know exactly how long the race is before you start.

So I eventually crossed the finish line.  I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but it wasn’t horrible.  I ended up running the 3.5 miles in 33:41 (9:37/mile).  I wish I had been able to push harder, but I didn’t want to pass out from the heat/dehydration.  I am, however, happy to see that my race pace has been consistently faster than 10:00/mile.  I was stuck at that pace for a long time!

One thing that was really interesting about this race was how the timing was done.  There were no chips, and no one checking bibs at the finish.  You actually report your own time to your team leader.  The team leader then takes the times from everyone on the team and puts together 5 person (I believe) teams, and the team time is the total time from all those people.  I thought it was interesting to report my own time.  I actually did it wrong, I think.  I reported my time as 34:11 because that’s what the clock read when I crossed the finish line.  But I didn’t subtract the 30 seconds it took to get to the start after they started the clock.  So that’s why I’m counting my actual time for my own record as 33:41.  Live and learn!

All in all, a fun evening.  I’m glad I went, and I’ll definitely run it again next year.