So, I ran the Raider Run 5K in Wylie two weekends ago. I didn’t write about it right away, because I am still a little miffed at how things turned out. This was to be a time trial – a test to see whether I’ll be able to make the time goal that I’ve set for myself for the Allen Eagle 5K. So, the race is tiny, but the people in charge seemed to be on top of things, so they had a gun start and off we went.

It was a pretty little course. Lots of young people running. Some 9-year-old kid, who’s going to be an awesome runner one day, is tailing me. I’m going along – my pace isn’t awesome but it’s enough for a PR – when I notice that my Garmin reads 3.15 and we’re nowhere near the finish line. I look around, sure that I missed a sign somewhere. Nothing. I keep going in the general direction that I remember the finish line to be in, all the while my Garmin ticks to 3.2, 3.5, 3.6 …

At this point I started to slow down, because I purposely paced myself for a 3.1-mile run and now we’re nearing 4 miles and I’m running out of steam. Finally, the finish line arrives. I kid you not, the Garmin says THREE POINT NINE MILES. Now, I’ve run 5Ks that have been 3.0 and ones that have been about 3.3, but this is ridiculous. The timing clock at the finish says something close to 31 minutes. So, I probably should have stopped the Garmin back at 3.1 and used that time, but all of the blood was in my legs, I guess, and I wasn’t thinking. I asked several runners afterward if their watches clocked a long race. They did.

Now, after all that, the timing company (It’s Your Race) seemed to be having trouble figuring out who the winners were. I sidled up to the truck they were working out of and asked them my time. It was 30:57 or something like that, and I’m the second female over the line, a minute or so behind a 12-year-old with a ton of youthful energy on her side. So I grabbed a cup of Starbucks from the refreshments table and settled in to wait for the awards.

We waited two and a half hours. Lots of people left because it was so freaking cold. But I stood there, making conversations with some other runners, because I figured I was surely getting a medal, being the second female over. Right? Wrong. Apparently, the age group awards weren’t divided by gender for this race, so my 36-50 age group was completely taken up by men, who were, of course, several minutes faster than me.

I was so disgusted. With myself, for not gunning it and running as quickly as I could when I saw the race was getting long. With the organizers and the timing company for making so many missteps. I didn’t take any pictures. I threw my bib away.

But, as it always seems to go, the running universe sort of righted itself for me the following weekend. Late Thursday night, I was able to snag a bib for the Hot Chocolate 15K from an awesome lady who got sick and couldn’t run it. I do not run gimmicky races like Hot Chocolate and Rock N’ Roll very much, precisely because they feel too gimmicky and seem all about the money, with large displays of merchandise shoved in your face at every turn. Even though I’m way too young to remember the days before running became a “hot” sport, I still prefer those old-school races for local schools and charities. But anyhow, the bib was up for grabs and I got it. Called up my running buddy and made plans to meet her ass-early in the morning to drive to Dallas that Saturday.

Now, my first instinct was to run that damn race as fast as I could, as a sort of revenge for the terrible, horrible, awful 5K from the previous weekend. But somewhere along the drive to Dallas, I decided that I was going to make this FUN. It was going to be something enjoyable for once. I immediately felt a sense of relief, rather than those butterflies that I normally get as I approach a race site.

I didn’t take any pics before the start of the race, because I was fiddling around with my Nike armband and whatnot. But this was a big race, with about 13,000 people lining up. And – like me – most of them were in it to have fun. People were dressed up, and everyone was excited:

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(Thanks to the Morning News for the pic above, which I believe is of the 5K. I didn’t see these ladies, but they sure were in the right spirit!)

The gun went off and they began to release runners in waves. I decided to stick with my friend, who was going to be running it by herself otherwise, and when it was our turn we bounded out doing about 10:00.

There weren’t as many spectators as with the Dallas Marathon, but those that were there were enthusiastic. Absolute best part of the race? This booze station that was set up somewhere around mile 5. (Yes, I had some. Didn’t pay too much attention to what they were pouring. I think it was rum.)

I barely looked at my Garmin the whole race. I did notice at one point we were going about 10:30 – fast enough to where we weren’t spending the whole day on the course, but slow enough for me to keep from getting winded. At mile 8, I started to get antsy, and my friend graciously allowed me to charge ahead and finish. I ran an 8:00 pace for the last mile of the race, coming in at a time of 1:37 something. It was about 20 minutes slower than I’d normally finish on my own, but I didn’t care. I wanted to have fun, and I did.

The party continued at the post-race, where the runners were treated to (plastic) mugs filled with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and plenty of stuff to dip it in. I took a pic of my mug but it had a bruised banana in it that looks sort of gross, so I’m going to use RAM Racing’s stock photo:

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Finally, here’s a pic of us at the finish line. (I’m on the right; my post-race pics are never good. And my metal went all wonky. It’s supposed to be a candy bar)

The takeaway? Not every race needs to be run at breakneck speed. That’s a good way to burn out, get injured or just plain take all the fun out of running. I’m not Kara Goucher, and I never will be. So I can run races just for fun. And this one surely was.

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