Finally! After a week out of town, a full weekend that included a senatorial district convention, and a day of work – I have time to report on my experience with the O’Daly’s Green Dress 5K in Mobile. This was my first out-of-state race this year, and my latest attempt to blithely ignore my persistent IT band syndrome by doing short races, instead of manning up and going to my ortho and getting a script for PT. Isn’t denial wonderful?

On to the race! The day actually started in New Orleans, where we had flown into the night before. The original plan was to go straight to the sister-in-law’s house from the airport, but we were just too darn tired and ended up booking a hotel from the front seat of the rental car, not realizing that it was right in the middle of the most obnoxious part of the city, the part where you can carry around those stupid hurricanes and wait hours in line for doughnuts. We had a brief breakfast the next morning, then headed eastward to Mobile. Mark had promised me that he would come to see me finish the race, but we stopped at his grandpa’s first and random relatives started showing up, so that was scrapped and I ended up going by myself.

I got there and had a ton of time before the race start, so I amused myself with that great pastime of the mid-2010s: the selfie.

jenniferprerace2014About 15 minutes before the race started, I went inside the bar sponsoring the race to use the potty and get a glass of water. While waiting in line for the restroom, I ran into a high-school friend I hadn’t seen in about 6 years. He was happy to see me, but our interaction was brief, as he seemed really, really eager to get in line for packet pickup. Around that time, I started to notice that the line for packets was getting really, really long. About 5 minutes before the start, I went into the street and took my place a few paces behind the fastest runners.

And I waited there. For a really long time. Then it started to rain. People went under the awnings. Then it started to rain more. Everyone went under the awnings.

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Wet, impatient runners.

After stubbornly standing in the rain for a few minutes, I decided that it wouldn’t be so good to run a race soaking wet (and thus, heavier) and I joined everyone else under the awnings. At this point, it was 10 minutes past the start time, people were still lining up for packets, and the cops blocking the street were starting to ask when this show was going to get on the road. Finally, the race director came out, blew the horn, and we were off.

The weather was significantly cooler than it had been at last year’s edition of this race, so that was good. The rain had mostly stopped, too. Again, I found myself at a 7:30 pace right out of the start line, so I reeled myself in and settled into an 8:00 pace. Things were going well – until we got to the halfway mark. This particular course has runners do a complete 180-degree turn to shift directions and go back the same way they came. Can I say how much I hate out-and-back courses like this? The sharp turn slowed me way, way down. I lost speed in the turn that I never got back, and by the last half mile, I found myself going at about 8:30. My high-school friend, who was originally several minutes behind me, ended up finishing only 20 seconds after me.

Concessions at the end included water and pizza (yay free pizza!). My race entry included a ticket to the St. Patrick’s Day post-party and 2 free green beers, but I didn’t feel like drinking. I waited around for results to be posted, but the race timers seemed content to just leave them in a stack sitting on top of their portable printer. The race ads had also mentioned a “special Green Dress gift for every finisher,” but that never materialized, either. Finally, after 45 minutes, I gave up and went back to sister-in-law’s for a hot shower. I don’t think I’ll be doing this one again.

Lessons: Good organizing can make or break a race, and just giving a race a fun name doesn’t mean that it really will be.

Gratuitous post-race photo of me with my high school buddy (no, I am a party pooper and didn’t wear green):

greendressrun

Next up: the Stonebriar Spring Sprint.

O’Daly’s Green Dress Run 5K
March 15, 2014
Time: 26:26
Avg pace: 8:30

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