18 October 2011

the emotional roller coaster that is elite athletics

Or not. Whatever. Here is my story.

Last Saturday I ran the Leavenworth Half Marathon. As I crossed the line I was on freaking cloud nine as my time was awesome!

After much celebration and even after posting on this blog that I had won my age division I got a couple of wakeup calls.

first my friend and co-worker that had run with me pointed out that when you click on the results link by your name it takes you to the list RIGHT AT YOUR NAME. Of course there were people below AND above me but I was too out of my mind with my time that I assumed I had won and never even bothered to scroll up. Oh well, I can live with 3rd place. I still had a kick-ass time and a PR by no less than nine minutes. I was walking on air.

Then my friend and I got an email from the event.

Turns out the race organizer had hired some 'professional traffic control company' to direct the runners and because of some fiasco the dude who was stationed at the dogleg about three miles from the finish was asleep at the wheel and did not tell the early runners (read: most everyone) to head down the dogleg thus shortening the course by .8 miles for the majority of the field. Here is a portion of the message.

As you may know, we had a problem on the course and the early finishers missed a turn, shortening the course by approximately 0.8 for some of them.  We have directed dozens of events over ten years and have never had such an issue.  In fact our greatest pride over the years has been the quality of the course and making a safe and enjoyable run for our participants.  As you can imagine, we have lost a lot of sleep over the last two nights because of this.   If you were one of these runners, we are very sorry.  There is no excuse, but as an explanation, we hired a professional traffic control company for the first time this year.  This was our first event working with this group.  They apparently had a last minute ?no show? on their crew and had to replace the planned person on this corner.  The replacement person was obviously not clear on the course route.  I also understand that our markings were obscured by the traffic control, water station, and spectators.  Again, no excuse, but this is why it happened.  We can assure you that our course markings and marshals will be stellar next October.


Suddenly I was falling from the sky like Icarus.

So instead of my completely outrageous time and pace of:


I'm probably looking at something more like this:


This is still a PR by over three minutes and I still got a legitimate 3rd place because all of the other top placers shortened the course just like me but dang it, I can't get over that initial euphoria. I suppose it's only natural.

my super secret goal going into this race was to go under 1:30. Could I have done that? I don't know. I was checking my watch pretty religiously until about four miles to go at which point I still had - I thought - 30 seconds in the bank to make my goal. And I don't think I slowed down. Somewhere between three and four miles to go we were supposed to turn left off of Icicle Creek and run that dogleg.

I did reply to the race organizer asking what turn was missed in the hopes that perhaps it was not the dog leg and I had indeed run all 13.1 miles but they never got back to me. I suspect they are swamped with complaints and I suspect it IS that damn dogleg.

Why didn't I just turn left knowing that the dogleg was coming up?

  1. Mostly because no one else did…
  2. The course could have changed at the last minute.
  3. Lots of other excuses.

By now (three days after the run) I'm okay with my time. It just means I will need to run another half marathon at some point and try to get under 1:30. :) Shit happens at events and it could be a broken shoelace in a run or broken spokes on a ride or any number of things. That's just me trying to talk myself off the roller coaster.


  1. awesome job! You are pretty speedy on the legs ;).

  2. @Bosalyn - thanks! I like running more and more. It might be time to look for some events that involve both running and cycling...? :)


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