Linking up today with Mar on the Run, et. al. for Friday Five. Today's theme is Race Day Surprises.
Like most people, I'm always hoping to NOT be surprised on race day! You've dedicated a lot of time to training, set a goal, and hope that it works out according to plan. However, occasionally you'll get thrown a curveball no matter what.
1. Forgetting something. At the first First Run I did, I brought my garmin with me - but left it in my car. I was parked at one of the garages downtown, it was probably technically possible to go back and get it in the time left when I realized it, but just barely and it would worn me out before the race even started. I had a smartphone, but it wasn't cooperating so I couldn't get an app to work on it, and instead had to run the race blind - resulting in a new PR!
2. A short course. We know the course will never equal exactly the advertised distance; even on a certified course it's rare to run the tangents, you'll be going around people, etc. However, that should, naturally, record longer than intended. Still counts as a time for the official distance. But what about when it records shorter? A couple years ago I did a 5k run by NW Veg, a great organization. It was, granted, just a "fun run" to support the cause, but even a run for fun should live up to its promises. Albeit a hilly course so I knew it wouldn't be a PR regardless, but it measured 2.83 per my garmin! Others also measured short, so it wasn't just a technical malfunction on my end. A quarter mile is way too short.
3. Trains. Races that are in downtown Portland are typically good courses - reasonably flat and views of the river. However, since it's downtown, there are train tracks running through it. Both public transportation and commercial. It's not unheard of to have a train running through the course; that same First Run, my friend Karey got stuck behind a train for 5 minutes! (Fortunately, they changed the course for subsequent years to avoid that.) I've also had near misses - at the Shamrock 5k this year, after passing through the course of an earlier section of the event while riding in on the MAX, I saw a MAX train crossing about a block up - I just used the excuse to slow down for just a quick bit so I'd reach the cross street after it was through.
4. Unlikely weather. We know what winter is like on the wets side of the mountains in OR and WA - 30s - 40s and rainy. Pretty much every Thanksgiving I can remember is like that - with the exception of last year when I did the Seattle half in what turned out to be a ridiculous cold spell with starting temps in the low 20s. I know plenty of places have that weather all winter, but we don't have it here. We don't know how to deal with it! I had multiple layers of clothing, plus throwaway scarf and hat that I didn't end up throwing away until very near the end. I don't think it was even above freezing by the time I finished - though the pleasant compensation to the cold was a very clear, beautiful day with wonderful views across the water.
5. Likely weather. Even worse than getting unexpected weather is getting the stereotypical weather that couldn't possibly actually be exactly what you get. What is December like in Portland? 30s, windy, and rainy. And that's precisely what it was like on the last Holiday Half that I've run. It was particularly brutal while running along the top of the bluff by UP, with nothing to block the wind. Since then I've vowed to only do the 5k with that race - all the amenities of the larger event without the crowd or prolonged misery.