Last Sunday Tony, our colleague Will from the IE RSS team, and I ran the Toys for Tots Trot 5K. This was presented by the local KBSG radio station and benefits the US Marine Corps' Toys for Tots Foundation.
Tony and I drove over from the Eastside together and hung out for a while in his car, freezing before the race. I had futzed around trying to figure out what to wear, and it turned out that I had not worn quite enough to keep me warm for the 34 degree morning. Luckily, the Marines were handing out some nice long sleeve, heavyweight "activewear" T-shirts. I put that on and I wasn't quite so cold, and during the race I was fine.
The run itself was decidedly mixed for me. Will and I ran the first mile together; after that I was all by myself. The course had some gentle but long climbs - the kind that tend to sap your strength slowly rather than kill you outright - but I managed to power through. Overall, it was a well marked and straightforward course. I was running along, feeling strong the entire way. After the mile 2 signpost, I was keeping up with a trainer and his client, listening to him tell her things like "you're 18 minutes into it, 6 minutes to go, doing great", etc. I felt pretty good about that, and I was running great with no pain or problems, but then I screwed up.
You'd think that of the many difficulties inherent in running 5K, running the correct distance would be the easy part. Nope, at least not for me.
There was loop at the end around Seattle Center, and as I passed it I heard the Marine manning that point say "first time, go straight, second time, go straight, third time, turn". So I figured it was two loops. Silly me, I didn't count the start of the race as the first time I passed that point (yet it was) and thus only one loop not two.
The trainer and his client turned, yet somehow I thought "oh, they must have been a lot faster than me earlier" and I kept going. Duh, I was keeping up with them for the last mile, exactly when did they run so fast to be that much - a nearly mile long loop - ahead of me?
It was super-obvious that I was doing an extra loop just a little way into it, as I weaved through a bunch of slower runners. Duh duh duh duh ..... I must admit I was (am) pretty peeved at myself for this one. Two of the three 5Ks I have ran have been the wrong distance - the first was too short due to course official errors, and now this one was too long due to, shall we say, "operator error".
Will and Tony were both waiting for me when I finished, more than a little amused by my error yet still sympathetic. Nobody wants to run longer than they need to - it's just such a dumb mistake. I heard about a few other people who made the same mistake, but that doesn't make me feel much better.
You can bet I've learned a lesson - pay close attention to the number of turns, don't make any dumb assumptions followed by justifying rationalizations, and ask fellow runners if in doubt.