For a town its size, Fort Collins still retains an impressive handful of computer technology companies, such as HP, AMD, Intel, and Avago, as well as Broadcomm and LSI Logic. HP, where I work, still maintains a wellness coordinator and a free gym, two things for which I am grateful. Furthermore, HP puts on its own 5k run/1 mile walk twice a year for employees, aided with course layout and timing from Steve and Brad from local running store Runner's Roost. Finally, each participant recieves raffle tickets, entered in a drawing for prizes donated by local sponsors. How cool is that?
The race takes place in the parking lot and trail around the campus. This was my fourth (or fifth?) time doing one of these races. The course is always the same, and I won the last couple of times running it. Both of those times, another runner, Justin, and I pushed each other towards the end, and I had to keep my pace honest to stay ahead of him. Also, my coworker and friend Ray has had quite a fast year -- qualifying for Boston again, and even beat my half marathon PR by a couple seconds.
But Justin wasn't racing today, Ray was thinking 19-something...
And I got lost.
Anyway, the Spring race usually has a fun Hawaiian theme, whereas the Thanksgiving race is a turkey trot. The turkey trot race has a few designated pacer "turkey," who run 20, 24, or 30min paces. Beat your goal turkey, and get another raffle ticket. Last year, I did not run, and nobody beat 20 minutes (including the turkey). This year, I volunteered to be the 20min turkey, as I pride myself on hitting a pace with a standard watch (and often without one). However, the position was already taken.
Crap, I was gonna have to race it.
I did put a little bit of speedwork in the last few weeks, just to tune up and see how the legs were feeling. Plus, this was another perfect tuneup for the Thanksgiving Day Run here in town, so I might as well give it my best. My best, though, is still based on personal time, not interpersonal competition. I do enjoy a bit of friendly, close competition, only because of the extra push, but my main focus is the objective time and distance itself, not comparing myself to others.
It was a bit chilly but sunny, and I just had a singlet and shorts on, with numerous other folks wearing hats, gloves, etc. I just showed up ready to run, without much of a warmup, and we took off. Some kid in jogging pants took off like a bullet, but I quickly caught up with him, and I was alone. My pace was relaxed, and right at my goal: I would aim just under 6-minute miles, so as to hope to do the same in the 4-miler next week. I hit the 1 mile mark right on time, and was feeling great. Nobody was around, and I was determined to focus on pace and not turn my head back.
"Nobody's even close to you! You're making it look easy!" said Brad, cheering me on, as I looped back to the start.
Soon after crossing the start, I hit the 2-mile mark. This is also where I started mingling with the finishing 1-mile walkers...and where the confusion of the 2nd loop began. I remember being confused by this turn in the past. I think the first year I did this, there were 3 of us together, and 2 of us didn't know the right way, until the 3rd pointed us in the right direction. For some reason, I thought I was supposed to make a big loop around the building again. I passed a volunteer at the turn, who was quiet but saying nothing, and I said, "I go that way, right?" she said, "No, I think you go this way", which was correct...but I insisted on going *my* way! I don't why I did this, just that I mentally envisioned going straight for some reason, and I didn't think the mileage made sense if I went the other way.
A minute later, I hit the exit of the wrong turn, and I finally comprehended mistake, so I turned around, losing a couple minutes total. Now, there were 4 people in front of me. I didn't think I'd catch them, but I ended up catching the next two (and felt kind of bad about it), before finishing just under 21 minutes, and around 3.4-3.5 miles total, and I beat neither Ray nor the turkey.
I don't know how or why I made the wrong turn. I've been quite busy and distracted lately, and I even wonder if I sabotaged myself for some reason while running by myself. I have a feeling that if someone were close behind, I would have made dead-sure to go the right way. I seem to make mistakes when I'm lackadaisical about the details, yet stick to a plan meticulously when I take something very seriously. As it was, it was a good training run! Thanks to HP, Runner's Roost, and sponsors like Panera, Old Chicago, and Silver Mine Subs.