AM: So, I had a 15k today, the second race in a series of 4. I thought it was at 10:00am, but... I was wrong. I got there "early" at 9am and thought it was funny that the lot was packed and so many people were not only early, but gathered together outside. Figured it was a nice day, so didn't think twice. Went to park in the back corner, since all the other spots were taken, and started grabbing my belongings and threw my coat and sweatshirt on, hoping to stop at the restroom before I checked in for the race series. As I step out of my car, I saw a sea of people running out of the far lot about 200 meters away. It took me about 15-20 seconds to process that, holy cow, is there another race starting? How unlikely that there would be two in the same location. Maybe it's a different distance? No. I remember he only set up one. Maybe it's my race? No that starts at 10. Is it possible the race started early? Hmm... What time is it right now? My watch said 9:07. Well, that's weird... but very close to 9:00am. He was a couple of minutes late starting the last race. Oh. Oh no. This is MY race! My race has started! I should ask a bystander to be sure- but they are so far away. By the time I got there and back I would waste so much time. I am wasting time now! Just grab your stuff and run!
Getting ready: So I fished out the old bib from two weeks ago from the back seat- thank goodness I remembered where it was. I threw my coat into my car, threw off my giant hoody, and grabbed my running long sleeve just in case- since it was 30 degrees outside and I was in a sleeveless warmup jersey. Next I snagged my keychain and ripped off my car key and threw those back in the car, plopped my hat to put on, and shut/locked the door.
So here I am- bib in my hand, hat halfway on, running jacket in my other hand with my key, and all meanwhile with a race that now started at least a couple of minutes ago. I had no idea how much actual time had passed, but this wasn't a marathon, a couple of minutes is death when talking about placing. I remembered I still had my trainers on and I did momentarily think about switching to my racing shoes, but I knew that would be a pain to find, put on, tie, etc. so I figured- forget it, just go. And so I went.
The race: I have never started in last place before. I've never had to actively catch up to EVERYONE. This was weird, by the time I had caught the walk/runners at the end of the driveway/back of the race I thought about asking them if they were part of my race, but it was pretty evident this had to be my race at this point. I was feeling a mix of adrenaline, anxiousness, anger, and disappointment. By the time I caught the first group of "runners" (read as eventually walkers) I was slowing a bit wanting to just quit and go back to my car. This race was so far from my house though that to quit and go home would have just been awful. I would have resented myself immensely for that choice. So I pressed on down the hill. What a massive downhill. My watch read 7:30/mile pace, but there is absolutely no way the GPS was working correctly. There must be no service in that area, as by the end of the 15k, but watch had only totaled about 7.4 miles at the end. Not even close.
I finally reached the back of the peloton as the decline increased and I just absolutely smoked by everyone. It felt like in Mario kart where they're all running 50cc and I have some type of advantage. I did feel bad about it, but I was determined to just see what happened at this point. I hadn't totally committed to the race until right after the first mile where I passed a group that whispered something in regards to me I didn't even register. At that point I had stuffed my bib in my pocket and was careening down this downhill, weaving through everyone and heard a light "clunk" of something hitting the pavement. I looked back and saw a blob. I had accidentally dropped my bib... about 25 meters back up a hill.
...So I had to physically stop on the downhill, run back uphill past people running down, stop, snatch it up, and return to running with it scrunched in my angry fist. I figured if there was ever a moment I was going to quit, that would be the one. I heard a couple of whispers from the people running next to me, but I was kind of disconnected from my own body at this point and did not take it in.
I threw my jacket which was in a death grip in my left hand since my leaving my car to the side of the road, and committed. I was worried. It was cold, and all I had was a winter hat, but it wasn't a long race, so I would be taking my chances. I weaved through everyone, and little by little the pace of the runners started to pick up, eventually I got to the front of the group and there were just three runners separated by about 50 meters each. I passed each one with authority until I reached the front one. I wondered if he was the leader, but judging by his body type... there was just no way. I sat on him through an uphill and passed him at about mile 3. Then... no one. Maybe I was at the front already? No way, two weeks ago was so much more competitively. I hit the only water stop at 5k, and preceded to what I assumed was a turnaround at 4.66 which I learned was up a massively long hill. Then I saw them- one, two, three, and four. I was not at the front. They were going 5:30s at the time that I saw them but all looked great, two were even having a conversation as they passed me going the other way. Nuts.
The finish: It took another minute and a half to hit the halfway turnaround and about three total minutes to hit the spot where I saw the group of leaders. I decided to drop the pace the next mile to see if I could catch a sight of them, but I did not see a single one. From then on, every once in a while I would catch a glance of someone about a minute up the road, but I never reeled a single one of them in. I resigned to just finishing the race, slowed my pace, and thought about the abysmal trip home I would have. I rolled into the finish and explained to the director I missed the start line, but actually ran extra motioning to where my car was parked. He said it was cool, the race is on gun time only, and the mat only catches the time when you cross over it at the end.
After the race thoughts: I disconnected from the race at about mile 7.5-8 mentally. I usually do that when my fitness isn't up to par, but this was just a mixture of everything. Disappointment in myself being the foremost thought, but really just everything coming to a head and just so happening to *pop* when this race started earlier than expected. I would like to say I am over it, but the bitterness of seeing the results and knowing what I should have ran really stings. Certainly is my own fault, however.
Below are the gun times.