Monday, September 18, 2006

Race Story #1, or... Pass the Chips, please!

Most of you know that I got this idea in my head that I should run a 5K. It's not like I was a runner but stopped and am trying to get back to it -- I've never done this before. I've never even BEEN to a race before.

I found the registration form online, printed it out, and mailed it in. The form said I could pick up my race packet the day before the race at the Holiday Inn, so I did. I went there early and they gave me a goody bag with my number (32) and a T-shirt and a bunch of advertisements and stuff and said I was good to go.

The morning of the race, my daughter and I watched the kids' race (cute!). We saw the marathon people warm up. I pointed out the microchips on all their shoes and explained to her how they worked -- they clock you as you pass the starting line, the mid-point, and the finish line for an accurate time and so you cannot cheat. Once the marathon started, they called for the 5K to line up.

I left my daughter and walked to the back of the pack, knowing where I fell in the pecking order. While waiting, I noticed some of the people had microchips on their shoes. 'Cool', I thought, 'These people are hardcore.' Then I noticed that EVERYONE had microchips on their shoes. CRAP! Panic set in. I asked some nice ladies in the back of the pack with me about them. Apparently, I wasn't good to go yesterday morning. Apparently, I was supposed to check in that morning and pick up my chip so I could be timed.

'Great', I thought. 'There's no time to get a chip now. I'd miss the start of the race. I worked all summer for this race and now it isn't going to count. I won't even know how fast I ran'. I underwent a quick attitude adjustment and reminded myself that I was only running for personal satisfaction and that I wasn't really competing and decided to run anyway.

The buzzer sounded, we started running, and the 3.1 miles were..... well, .... 3.1 miles long. Emphasis on the long. There may be a story in there somewhere, but that would be another post. As I rounded the corner toward the finish line, I started looking for a time clock, just to give me an idea of how long I took. My goal was to run under 46.5 minutes (that's a 15 min/mile pace). I saw my daughter as the finish line, then I saw the clock. It said 38 mins +. I mouthed to my daughter, 'I beat 40!' and broke the finish line (beating 40 minutes was my 'I can die happy' goal).

Immediately, a jerk man came up to me with a pair of pliers saying, 'I need your chip'.

My attitude un-adjusted at that point. 'I didn't get a chip,' and kept walking.

'What do you mean you didn't get a chip?' a second idiot man asked.

'It wasn't in my packet when I picked it up yesterday,' still walking.

A witch lady said, 'We didn't have them yesterday. You were supposed to pick it up this morning.'

I kept walking and a lady sweetheart asked for my chip again as I was leaving the roped-off area. I started explaining, 'I never got one. I didn't know.'

She looked horrified, like it was the saddest thing she ever heard. I felt so bad for her. I put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her and said, 'It's OK. My goal was to finish and I did.' She replied, 'Yes, you did, and you did great!'

I got out of there and found my daughter. I was bummed that I wouldn't be ranked and my time wouldn't be in the paper, but my daughter took a photo of me and the time clock. I was a few feet from the finish line and the clock said 38:50. We figured 3 seconds to get to the finish line.

Today was I reading the newspaper articles online. I wanted to see where I would be in the results if I had been timed. 351 people ran, and the time I chose put me between 336 and 337 (hey -- I wasn't last!). Then I noticed my name at 340. I have a common name, but they also listed my age and the town I live in. How did that happen?

My best guess is that the sweetheart lady took down my number and noted the time. She made sure I got a result published. How nice of her! I have some not-so-nice thoughts about some people working at the race, but my sweetheart made up for it. I wish I had an accurate time, but this will definitely do.

Now, there's this 5-mile bridge race on October 8. The paper doesn't say anything about a chip.....


EileenKNY said...

I still think you did great, chip or not. And, by the way, I don't think the Amish run these races, so your identity crisis is over.

Syn said...

I like the way you tell your stories. :-)

And thanks for the comment to my blog and the encouragement. I'm still taking baby steps back, but at least it's forward movement.