Saturday, March 9, 2013

Does size matter?

After the St Pat 5K in Providence this a.m. I posted a picture of the medal.  Yes, yes, a medal for a 5K, it is actually pretty nifty.

Back to the story, I posted a picture of the medal with a caption of "A nice jog with 7,000 people".   Side bar:  I spazed and didn't stop the Garmin so I think my time is about 28:30.  Feh, I'll take it.  Back to the story, this got me thinking -  7,000 people you question - well I don't know for sure it was 7,000 but it was well over 5,000 and I am pretty sure I saw bib numbers in the 6,000 range.  Seriously, can I tell this story here?  Stop with all these questions.  This is getting to be like talking to my hubb or one of my ex-bosses who wanted the punchline BEFORE the joke!!!  OK so this got me to thinking about the number of people in a race and the fun of the race and what makes a race fun or people want to participate.

Stick with me here as I eventually get to a point or a question.  Having been accused of telling to many tangential stories and not tying them all up with a pretty ribbon (right Jimmy?) I am really focusing on being more organized.  Oh stop laughing.

So, about my Walkman.   No wait that is a different, completely unrelated story....

Starting out the race was a glom of people.  I hear a woman behind me say, well there is the gun and now we wait.  The runners go out first then the rest of us.  That got me thinking, how many people am I going to have to pass on this up hill start.  I thought I was pretty close to the front.  Oh bother, never mind, remember you told Brian you were going to attempt to run so hard you felt like puking, focus on that.   But I won't be able to run hard if there are people in my way.  Huh...  The crowd started moving.  You know that huge rush forward to a gigantic stop and everyone realized they needed to funnel down to cross the start line.  Yeah, that one.  Giggle.

The race started on an up hill it was an out and back, which meant it ended on a downhill!  Perfect opportunity to pick up some speed and work towards that puking goal.  And if I puked possibly I could get out of that big glom of people that always seems to hold up any forward progress towards getting away from the finish line and into some open air to breathe and keep moving.  I just ran I don't want to stop I want to walk really fast and find a bottle of water, not chit chat, in the famous words of  Sweet Brown "Ain't nobody got time for dat."  My niece just introduced me to this gem last weekend.  Why yes, yes I do live under a rock.

Weaving in and out of people wastes energy. I tried best as I could to find a wide enough spot and squeeze through on a forward angle rather than side to side.  This got me to thinking what is the best way to pass through people, some were walking some were running slower than me, some were faster and I watched as they wove their way through the crowd.  I wasn't seeing them have any more luck than I was having.  There should be some unwritten rules of courtesy on a road race with a large number of entrants.  The slower stay to the right, much like how the roads are supposed to be managed.  Yeah, good point, no one obeys those rules on the road what makes me think they would stay right and go left for active passing?  Well at least the walkers should stay to the right?  Thoughts anyone?

Then this thought led me down another path, if my intent was to be competitive and get a PR (my current 5K PR is 27:27) shouldn't I find a smaller race, one where my energy can be focused on forward movement and not on trying to pick the best line through a crowd of people?  So was it fair for me to even consider racing a race of this size?  Clearly there were people racing this race, they lined up at the starting line. I'm not that fast, I am a middle of the pack runner, not the leader of the pack.  Maybe I needed to line up further towards the front?  In a glom of 7,000 people is there really a point?  The race was chip timed so it started when I crossed the start and ended when I crossed the finish.

I reviewed the races I've run in the last year, ranging from a few hundred  to a few thousand to Marine Corps Marathon of 25,000 runners.  MCM was crowded you were always around people, thing was you seemed to be around people going your own pace and those going slower did tend to stay to the right when they felt like they were getting passed, or at least that is what it seemed like to me.  The only time I felt like I was about to trip on people was the last 3 miles of that race.  I had gas in the tank and was hell bent on burning it and wasted some weaving around walker walking 2, 3 or 4 astride.  They called it quits and I wasn't going to do that I was running that whole race, period.

Perhaps I will focus on the smaller local 5Ks for achieving my goal PR (25) and sign up for large 5Ks only if I like the shirt.  Which is WHY I signed up for this one.  It is cool, no?  Can't wait to wear it Monday's recovery run!!

Where I've ended up, large races have their purpose, the pomp and circumstance and small races have their purpose competition.  When one signs up for a race they need to figure out WHY they are signing up and WHAT they intend to GET out of the race.  Thoughts?

As I made my way back to my car, after losing my trail of bread crumbs I ran into two guys who asked:  "Did you win?"  I smiled and said "Hell yeah! The only thing I lost was my car!"  we all laughed.

Win or lose, as long as you can laugh you won!

Beth, off to take Lord Giz of the Mo for a hike and pick up her race bib for tomorrows 1/2 marathon


  1. I love small races. Nike, which had 25,000 runners was just too much for me. I think really slow and definitely walkers should stay to the right.

    I will be at bib pickup right at 4 today. I am not sure if I will see you at the start or not. Don't' think I will be there before 10. However, I will be wearing black capri pants with a purple stripe on the sides and a purple long sleeve shirt. My number is 411. I hope I can meet you. If I don't see you, good luck and enjoy it. This is my absolute favorite race. Have fun!

    1. I'm bin 247. I'll have a red and black top, black capri with a red skirt. Baseball cap, probably white. Hope we can meet up! I am looking forward to this!

    2. I looked for you Nicole! How did you do? Nice race, definitely on next years list.

  2. Boy! It sure was a fun race but yes, SUPER crowded at the start! I did well at my nice slow pace; I finished in 35 min and I had fun. What's better then that?

    1. It was on all accounts fun and crowded. Glad you had fun and 35 is nothing to sneeze at!!! I looked at the official results, 14:38 for the top male and 17:59 for top female. Holy crow that is fast. Absolutely amazing.