Saturday, February 18, 2012

History Repeats Itself?

I seem to be caught in some kind of eerie version of Groundhog Day. Ran a race this morning - we'll get to that later - and once again ended up in the results as 2nd place to some mystery guy who is 58 years old, and who totally kicked by proverbial butt. The difference this time: it was an out-and-back course, and I led the 10 mile race the entire way, so it was even more of a shock to see the results post-race and learn that I somehow came 2nd.

It was pretty obvious that it was some kind of error, to everyone who was standing around looking at the printout. First of all, this 58 year old was running what would be a world-class age group time, almost 5:00 pace for 10 miles. Heck, his time would have beaten my all-time personal best by over two minutes! Hmm.

To be honest, it was probably a bit of a bear to time this event, because they had a 10 mile, 10k, and 5k, race all out on the same roads at the same time, with finishers streaming in and no obvious way to know which race anyone was in. It's possible that the 58 year old was actually in the 10k and got mis-scored, or of course it's possible that he cut the course by turning around before the actual spot to do so. Anyway, as we mulled about chatting, they started the awards ceremony and sure enough, announced me as second place. I hate this experience: now I had to walk up to receive my award and applause, only to bring everything to a pause as I chatted with the organizer, "Um, I think there might be a little error in your results". I feel like I'm being selfish, but, you know, truth is truth. Luckily, the guy who actually got 2nd place came up too, to say so. Luckily for us, the jolly race director accepted our story immediately at face value and made the announcement for all to hear.

The Sweetheart 10 mile race was held in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, which to my recently-moved-here eyes looks to be a suburb of St. Paul. The course had some rolling hills, but the two notable details were the dirt roads (maybe 30% of the race, with no mention of this on the race website) and the 800 meters (or maybe more) of packed snow and ice out on the course (rather slippery!).

The turn-around spot was particularly slick, and I decided not to fall down (some others weren't so lucky) by simply slowing to a complete stop, turning 180 degrees around in place like a dancer in pirouette (I wish), and then resuming my running. Funny.

I'll be honest: there wasn't a lot of competition. I don't want that to sound insulting to anyone. I've said many times over the years: It's a race, and the other people were racing too, it's not like they all forfeited the victory. We all did our best. On this day, I managed to win. But if any young hot shots had shown up, I'd have been soundly thrashed.

Friendly folks, not a big race, but a nice event and a nice venue. I'd do it again. The results now up on the web seem to be corrected (thank you). I'm not sure if the course was exactly 10 miles, and I'm not sure why the time on my watch was about 51 seconds faster than the time they gave me ... but whatever.

The big question: when will this odd string of losses to phantom runners of 58 years of age ever end? It is some sort of odd curse?

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