I normally like to look for the positives in a race, but this morning's St. Patty's Day "Lucky" 7K made it very difficult. What started out as a promising morning slowly, but surely, spiraled out of control into a full fledged fiasco.
I thought things were off to a good start when I walked up to the pre-registration table and they actually had my entry. I wasn't expecting that because I registered late last night (about 10:00) on Active.com. Anyway, this small miracle was the highlight of the organization's efforts. The student behind the table gave me my bib and, in a barely audible tone, said "we don't have any more safety pins." No big deal, I thought, since I have a whole bag full in my car. I stood there for another 10 seconds waiting for my schwag bag, observing there were dozens lined up on tables behind him. Seeing me standing there he asked if I needed anything else. I asked about the bag, and he informed me they were all out. Again, no big deal. I don't expect anything for registering so late. However, it would have been helpful if he'd offered that information without having to be asked. Strike 1.
Kym, Duane and I headed out to warm up. We ran for maybe a mile, and at the tail end it started raining. Not enough to ruin the race, but there was a chill in the air and it didn't make things any more comfortable. We still had about 15 minutes until the advertised start of 8:00, so we found cover under an awning near the start line. While passing the time and chatting I bent over to stretch my hamstring. At the same time the guy next to me also started stretching something, and managed to knee me in the head. It didn't hurt or anything, but it did seem to be foreboding. :P
A couple of minutes before race time everyone started crowing around the start line. After 8:00 came and went I walked over to a student with a stopwatch and who the race director was. He said he was, so I asked what was going on. He informed me the 1-Mile Clover Trot would be starting at 8:15, and the 7K at 8:30. I asked why, since the registration information said 8:00, and he replied "no, that's when we stopped taking registrations." Clearly this hadn't been shared with the runners. I informed Kym of the new schedule and she took off to find her daughter, Jenna, since she wasn't expecting to race until after the 7K had been completed. No races around here do this, you see. While she was gone I wandered through the crowd and passed on the news of the "schedule." There was, understandably, lots of grumbling because a) people want to start at the advertised time and b) it was cold and rainy. Strike 2.
The 1-mile started unceremoniously at around 8:00 and a few of us joined in. Jenna started out strong, and despite a couple of short slowdowns in the first half, turned it on the second half-mile and never stopped running. She's run in a few other 1-mile races, but in this one she really persevered. I remembered to time her, and she turned a 10:29 over 1.03 miles. Most impressive!
Between the end of the 1-mile and the beginning of the 7K Kym decided to quickly run to the bathroom. Since I planned on pacing her I stayed where she left me so she could find me when she got back. A couple of minutes later the race started and she was nowhere to be found! I looked around, expecting her to run out from between the buildings, but she never came. I gave it about a minute and a half, and then figured she must have started. Looking back at my Garmin splits, I ran a 6:40 first mile trying to catch up to her. Along the way I asked people if she was at the start, and finally found someone - Kathy - who said she did make it. At about the 1.3 mile mark I finally caught up with her.
The rest of the race itself went very well. Well, except Strike 3. At the 3.2 mile mark as we were getting ready to cross a fairly busy street, Fairview Avenue, we noticed there was no traffic control. The woman just ahead of us even came to a stop not knowing what to do. I had to sprint ahead a little and put some of my basic training "road guard" skills to use, stopping traffic. Argh!!!
Without droning on about the inadequate post-race refreshments or general lack of communication, it's fair to say I wouldn't attend this race again in the future. The batter's out!!!
Despite everything that went wrong there were some positives to take away from the morning. Jenna's outstanding 1-mile performance, of course, rates high. And Kym ran a great as well, achieving her goal for the day. Finally, it was nice to stand around, chat and shiver with good friends. So, in all it wasn't a total loss! :)