Thursday, November 5, 2015

Race (!!) Report: Southwest Center City 5K Run

Last week I visited Brother and his family in Philadelphia for Halloween festivities. Mostly, I wanted to see my adorable nephew’s costume, but Brother said there was a local 5K that morning and it might be fun to jump in.

It was a last minute decision; I hadn’t planned on racing for a few more weeks. But it was a low-key race with zero expectations. Brother warned me the course had lots of turns and wasn’t a PR course. I figured that was a good thing; the pressure was off. I’d wear Halloween colors—not my official GRC gear—and holiday socks to remind myself of that. Have fun and just do what I can.

The course. We did the bottom right loop once
(incorrectly) and the top left loop twice. 
But, the night before the race, our cousin told us about the prizes—top prize was a $500 Puma gift certificate. $500! That seemed way too generous for such a low-key race. Now I wanted to win.

As per always, people looked intimidating on the start line, but soon enough we were off and I was trailing a group of ten or so guys. I was in first for the women but had no idea where the other ladies were. Also, I was running too fast. Geez, relax, Teal.

The guys ahead—and everyone behind—missed an early turn. I had Brother, the local, beside me to realize the mistake. “Uhhh I think we missed a turn… Yeah, we’re definitely not on the course anymore.” As soon as he was sure, he started screaming directions to the guys ahead to get us back to the route. “Go left!! Turn here!! Take another left!” (Once again Brother was a huge help. When he’s not trying to beat me, he’s a stand up guy.)

It seemed everyone had followed us, so I was still leading the women. The course misstep had been jarring, but now we were on the out and backs I had run in the warm-up and I felt like I knew where we were going. My first mile split was right around where I thought it would be, and I just tried to keep it up. I didn’t know if there was a girl on my tail and I want that gift card, gosh darn it!

We did two loops of part of the course, and as we headed into the second loop, I was thankful it avoided the section we had messed up before. Mile 2 was super slow, but I didn’t beat myself up over it. Eh, my watch is probably wrong. Although I do run faster in workouts all by myself, maybe I should pick it up. Or maybe it’s all these turns. And suddenly, in classic Teal-runs-a-5K style, I realized with a shock I had only one mile left. Sheesh these things are short!

At the end of my second loop I caught up to the people finishing their first. I was dodging strollers, weaving around, and leaping onto the sidewalk. All the elements gave me another reason why it wouldn’t be a fast time and took any pressure off. Just relax, the time doesn’t matter. Just win.

Turn for home, stop the watch, catch my breath, look down. 18:48. WHAT?!

Here’s the first thing about that watch revelation: that’s technically a PR... Or it’s technically not, depending on your definition. It’s not, because I’ve run a faster pace for ten miles and the same pace for 13.1. It is, because my previous PR on an actual 5K course is 18:52. And it’s not because it turned out we didn’t run the actual 5K course…

And here’s the other thing the watch told me: it said I ran 2.98 miles. Right, right, right. So that’s why it’s so fast. I didn’t run far enough. But wait, didn’t we go farther by going off the course? All logic would say we did. And Garmins aren’t accurate on city streets with lots of turns.

Curiosity got the best of me and when I got home I mapped the route we ran online. It came out as over 3.2 miles, and my Garmin did skip a bunch of turns. So it really seems I ran at least a 5K. Not-really-a-PR-or-not, I know the time isn’t Olympic Trials worthy, but I’m happy with it none-the-less. I had fun, I enjoyed wearing my silly holiday socks, and I won that gift card. Not bad for a last minute Halloween race.

I spent the card in one fell swoop—the biggest shopping spree of my life by a landslide—and it was glorious. Now, to buy some more crazy socks for the next one…

Dream big,


  1. Congrats on an exciting toe-dip in the water of racing (and winning!) Each year your brother lures more runners onto that crazy course and they promptly go out fast and take a few wrong turns. You almost have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.

    1. Well if you need to be Sherlock Holmes, I guess we know who he'll try to convince next year! ;-)

  2. Congrats on the win (what did you end up getting with that fantastic shopping spree?!) and also awesome to see you getting back out there. I know it's not your normal distance, not your normal speed, yadda yadda but still great to see you getting back into the groove of training and racing. Training going well lately?

    1. Thanks, Laura! I got so many winter clothes, I am set for cold weather :) Training has been going surprisingly well, it feels great to be back out there!

  3. Congratulations on your win! Even if you're not 100%, this was a really promising race and you can't beat a $500 gift card. That's a TON of new running clothes!

    I would definitely consider it a PR if the course was certified and that is what you ran, because Garmin and phone apps can be off. It does look like a confusing course. I hope you had a good recovery and the rest of your training is going well.

    1. Thanks, Amy! It was a TON of running clothes, so awesome! Looking to run another 5K in a few weeks, and hopefully that will erase all 5K PR discrepancies!!