This past weekend was Twin Cities Marathon weekend! While I wasn’t running the marathon, I at least got to join in the fun by doing the TC 10k on Saturday.
Preparing for this race was a bit different than some of my other recent races because the temperature was much cooler in the morning. I’m not used to cold weather running yet, so I had to strategize about what to wear. I went with tights, a t-shirt and arm warmers – my usual spring/fall race outfit.
I got to the race about 30 minutes before it started and sat in the car for about 10 minutes to stay warm. I was parked close, so I hoped out at 7:10 and headed to the start. There aren’t pacers for this race, so people just line up in the corral. I wanted to try and limit the amount of weaving I had to do at the beginning, so I attempted to work my way up to the middle of the corral.
It was chilly and my hands were pretty cold standing there, but it was a gorgeous morning for running in St. Paul!
At 7:30 the horn sounded and we were off. The course is a little more narrow at the beginning, especially with so many people, so I still had to do a lot of weaving around people as we got going. You also start this course on some uphills, so the first 1/2 mile was a little slow, but it was probably good so I could get warmed up. I tried to keep a moderate pace through the first mile. My watched beeped right as I passed the mile 1 mile marker and showed 9:27.
After that, I was off. I wasn’t just running this one, I was racing. I wanted to see how much time I could shave off of my 10k PR since it had actually been about 2 years since I’d done a 10k race.
Miles 2 and 3 continued down Summit Ave. the road has some small rolling hills on it, so you have some slight inclines and then are met with a nice downhill to help you along. I kept up my pace with a 9:14 and 9:09.
Pretty soon, I saw the turnaround point. I felt like I was loosing a little steam just before that point, but once I turned the corner I found a second wind. That often happens to me with an out and back route. Miles 4 and 5 were 9:08 and 9:11. I remember my watch beeping at mile 5 and I noted my time. A little later, I saw one of the mile marker flags. I couldn’t read the mile number clearly at first because the wind was blowing the flag, but I thought it was odd that mile 6 was coming up so soon. But it was actually the mile 5 marker. That was also weird because my watch had beeped way before the flag. I kept chugging a long hoping that things would even out as I got to the end.
The adrenaline and the help of some nice downhills leading into the finish line helped me clock an 8:58 for mile 6! I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. As I looked down at it, I was surprised and confused by what I saw. I had measured the course as 6.5 miles.
Now, some variation is to be expected on your GPS watch in a race if you do some weaving and aren’t running the tangents, but .3 miles was pretty significant for that to be why it was long. I also saw that my total time was 59:04, which was only about 25 faster than my previous 10k PR. That’s great that it was a PR, but given how fast I was running (note the avg. pace of 9:06), that time should’ve been much faster.
It was getting chilly once I stopped running, so I headed back to my car fairly quickly feeling confused and honestly a bit disappointed even though I had actually run a really strong race. I was going for a big PR and that final time just didn’t sit well with me.
I took to Twitter to ask if anyone else had measured the course as long and scoured through the #tc10k hashtag to see if people were saying anything about the course. I wasn’t seeing much right away, but some people replied a bit later saying they measured the course as long, too. Then Twin Cities in Motion (they put on the race) replied to my tweet and confirmed that there had been an error in race set up and that they’d send some post-race communication confirming the exact distance. I haven’t received that communication yet, but at least I know I’m not crazy and my watch wasn’t way off.
Once I had some answers, I tried to reset my mental state. The fact is, I ran fast — faster than I even thought I was going to run. The work I’ve put in this year is clear given that I still managed to get a 10k PR on a long course (my official time was 59:03). I can’t be mad at that!
I’ve got two weeks until the Vancouver Half, and I’ve got my sights set on a PR there as well.
Have you ever run a race where there was an error in the course?