I’ve posted the comments of Zooma and everyone else who’s commented on this post. I can admit when I’m wrong.
Apparently, I “read” 4 hours for the cut off when it was truly 3.5? Ok, I can’t believe I’d do that, but fine. I bit off more than I could chew no matter what.
And by changing my time to a DNF, and offering sincere apologies, Brae at Zooma has done her utmost to make this up to me. She acknowledges that it was wrong for race organizers to detour runners down an unsafe route, and has been open to critique and suggestions for improvement. I think that pulling racers from the route would be both safer and kinder than letting us trudge on without support or safety measures, and letting us get times for incorrect distances.
To the anonymous poster who said I blew this out of proportion, I can only say this: Yep. I did. You know as well as I do that running is emotional, and I was still emotional even after I got home that night. (Notice the dates on these posts).
Yes, I blew it out of proportion, but frankly, I don’t fool myself into thinking that I have such a burgeoning web presence as to make a dent in anyone’s reputation.
And honestly, I’m still pretty bummed that I didn’t really have a chance to prove to myself that this was something I could do.
****** Original Post Below*******
As you all know, in addition to my duathlons this summer with the exquisite Tri the Parks series, a few centuries, and so on, I’ve been trying to get longer runs into my repertoire.
So, to get a timed half marathon, I signed up for the ZOOMA Atlanta race at Chateau Elan.
I’ve been training for today’s half marathon for months. I’m slow, so the 4 hour time limit was a big deal to me, but I felt ready. I knew I could do it. I paid my $60 entry fee and committed to this.
This morning it was below freezing, and the freeze warning didn’t lift until 9 AM, a cold day to start my run. I was decked out in lots of wicking layers, I had my fuel belt… I had Brett’s GPS (the one that got him through the ironman in the nick of time) set to pace the course at 3 hours and 55 minutes. As long as I stayed ahead of the pacer in the watch, I’d finish in time.
I was nervous, but confident. Excited, but unsure.
We started the race late. The organizers had mentioned in pre-race information to arrive at 6 aM to ensure parking in time. They were still parking people at 7:30 when the race was supposed to start. The racers were freezing, and just needed to get moving, but they delayed the start time by 15 minutes.
What they failed to communicate, and failed to consider is that that crucial (for me) 4-hour time limit included the public road access, police support, etc. If, at this point, they had made an announcment that the time allowed was different, I probably could have changed the GPS to track a faster course. I might not have made it, and I might have hurt myself to pace that much faster, but I could have tried, at least.
By mile 5, I was tracking about 6 minutes ahead of the the 3:55 course time on my watch. I’d gotten over all of the big hills, it was just a matter of driving the vehicle I’d built with all of my training the rest of the way.
I was at the back. Not the last person, but close to it. It was hard for me to see where people ahead of me were going, so I relied on volunteers to point me on the route.
It was a little annoying being followed by the truck full of guys picking up cones as we passed them. It felt like they were breathing down our necks!
When I got to the mile 5 water stop, one of the volunteers said “turn left here, and go up to 53” then he mumbled something like “running behind, had to shorten the course” I said “WHAT?” But I was still moving, and he didn’t clarify.
I turned left onto highway 53, and found myself on a 55 mph road with a ton of traffic, no signage, no cones, no police, no traffic control and NO SHOULDER!
I could see others in front of me, so I kept going even when my GPS lost the course (the map was loaded into it – but it doesn’t have the ability to tell me how to get back onto the course) and said it would take me a while to get back to it.
Then, ahead, I could see a police officer, and racers who had passed me early on in the run crossing 53 from right to left. When my GPS beeped that it had found the course, it was easy to see what had happened.
I’d been forced on a detour, and it shaved 0.76 miles off my run. Suddenly, I was running a 12.24 mile race, not a 13.1… My pacer jumped to being 25 minutes ahead of the clock.
At this point, I spent the following 6 miles on sheer anger management. I cried. A lot. I wanted to smash things. And I said “screw it”, and I walked. My average of 16 minute miles dropped to 20 minute miles, and I stopped caring.
Now, had I had someone level-headed with me to keep me running and pacing ahead, I would have probably doubled back and done another 0.76 miles on my own to get my real time. But by the time I thought of that I’d walked so much that the time was shot anyway.
Instead, I was unable to run off the snit that this caused. I felt like the race organizers who made this decision didn’t think I mattered enough to give me a choice, I felt like they didn’t care about the integrity of the race times for everyone else who had run the full course, (I came in with other racers, whom I might have beaten, had I chosen to, but it would have been cheating!)
I walked it in, because my “race” had suddenly been demoted to a very expensive training run, and it wasn’t worth the bleeping blisters.
I didn’t buy a 13.1 sticker at the expo, because I still haven’t done one yet.
I beat the 4 hour time limit by 15 minutes, even with walking most of the last half. And that’s with getting to all of the water stops after they shut them down (because I’m at the back, and clearly don’t matter.)