As I was running on the treadmill at 5 o'clock on Saturday morning I thought about all the people who were getting ready for a Saturday morning race. It occurred to me that there might be a race nearby so after I finished my obligatory 1-mile run and went back to the room and looked up the Tennessee races on runningintheusa.com. I fired up Google Maps and started looking for one nearby and found one that was a straight shot up the highway only about 15 minutes away. I didn't know if it was large or small but that didn't really matter. Linda was still in bed but was more than happy to let me go and leave her in bed for a couple more hours so she could sleep in.
After a pleasant 15-minute ride over the Tennessee countryside I arrived at the Gallatin Civic Center, where the race was being held. I was early but could tell it would be a small race since there weren't many runners there. I signed up and got a nice swag bag and a decent T-shirt. I asked the lady who registered me what the age groups were and she said they were going to decide that after the race. Definitely not the answer I was looking for but I figured it really didn't matter since I just wanted to be part of a race on this near-perfect day to run.
I went back to my car and sat for a while and watched as more people arrived. Of course I was on the lookout for the people faster than me. There were the usual suspects but not many of them. I saw one 30-something guy who appeared to be in good shape and from a distance. I think he was wearing Vibram FiveFingers shoes or something similar. There were a couple guys who appeared to be about my age and looked like they were experienced runners (which they were, I found out later).
I went back up towards the starting line around 20 minutes before the race began. There was a nice stage set up and a lady was leading a group of runners in some sort of a stretch routine. I ran a little warm-up and when I got back there was a politician offering some words of encouragement to the runners. A girl did a great job singing the National Anthem and we all went to line up at the starting line.
I went right to the front of the starting line and looked around. I didn't see anybody there who looked obviously speedy (you know the type) but you never know until the race starts. There were maybe 50 runners in the race. I thought I heard the race director say the course was marked well and that volunteers were at the turns, but I must have been daydreaming. We took off up a slight hill. I was surprised that nobody really started out quickly and I found myself at the head of the pack as we approached our first turn. There were a couple of volunteers there and they were standing in the road pointing to the right and telling us to go that way. I guess it was understood by the locals that we were supposed to take the small greenway entrance instead of the road that went around the school, but I didn't know that and the volunteers had appeared to me to be pointing at the street around the school so that's the way I went. I looked back and a couple other runners behind me shrugged their shoulders indicating they weren't sure either. I ran probably halfway around the school when somebody shouted that everybody else had gone on the greenway instead. Well, there went my lead.
I turned around and headed back towards the greenway. I was a little bummed that I took a wrong turn that early in the race and was nearly in back of the entire pack of runners but it was kind of fun picking them off one by one. Around a mile into the race I saw what I thought were the lead runners and I could tell I was gaining on them. Before long I had caught all but 3 or 4 runners, and somewhere around the 2-mile mark I finally passed the lead runner, who yelled "Welcome back!" as I passed him.
Despite the fireworks and heroics going off in my mind it wasn't a particularly fast 5k for me, but as I was passing everybody it did seem like I was flying.
In the view of the wrong turn I took, if you start at the green marker where we started, you'll see that we ran up the street then took a right turn. You can see that I ran about halfway around the school, then turned around and partly on the road but also partly through a field to get back on track...
You can see from the heart rate chart that when I found out I was going the wrong way my heart rate dropped considerably as I stopped to think about what I needed to do...
The four downward spikes on the Timing chart are the times I stopped during the race -- not because I was tired, but because I had to stop and ask the runner in back of me for directions!
As the stats say at the top of the page, my "Moving Pace" was 6:54, which isn't so bad for me right now. According to a couple other runners I talked to after the race, the course was short by about a tenth of a mile, so the 3.26 miles I ran was about a quarter of a mile more with my wrong turn.
I was a little bummed that there weren't any awards at all, not even for 1st place overall. I doubt that I'll ever find any official results for this race but if I do I'll post a link to them here.
Time: 22:31 (moving time -- see above)
Pace: 6:54 (moving pace) -- (distance 3.26 miles)
Age Group: 1 of ?
Overall: 1 of ? (approximately 50 runners)
Average Heart Rate: 165
Maximum Heart Race: 175
* RACE RATING *
0 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
0 - Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
2 - Course Scenery: (0)bad (2)pleasant (5)extraordinary
0 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
0 - Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
0 - Finish line: (0)mediocre (2)not bad (5)very good (7)spectacular!
0 - Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
0 - Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
1 - Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
0 - Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
0 - Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
0 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
0 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
0 - 65+ group (1)
0 - 70+ group (1)
0 - Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
0 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 - Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (3)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
4 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
0 - Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
0 - Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
0 - Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
0 - Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics!
2 - Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 - Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 - Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
0 - Dedicated race website (0)no (2)yes
0 - Results or link to results posted on website: (0)no (2)yes
2 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
2 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes