20:13 4th overall, 1st AG 59 people
Sunny, 55 degrees
The course was the same as last year. There were a few folks at the start that looked like they were going to run a 17 minute 5k. The race started and I quickly settled into a rhythm. I couldn't hang with the lead pack (three people), but paid no attention as they pulled away. As I approached one of the few turns on the course, I realized the lead group had missed the turn. I didn't see them, an began to doubt my understanding of the course. I stuck with my gut, and as I approached 131st Street, realized I was correct. The lead group was heading my way to then turn around at a point 100m or more behind me. They were not happy, and running very fast. It wasn't long before they caught me again and opened the lead to 100m. As they almost missed the next turn, I yelled ahead for them to turn. The course markings were more clear at this point. As I approached a section that goes through the woods, a guy passed me wearing Vibram "shoes"; these are the newest rage in barefoot or minimalist running. This put four people in front of me. Looking at my watch, I saw my heart rate was too low. I wasn't pushing hard enough. Without having someone in front to catch, or behind pushing, it's harder to push at the highest level. Last year I was at my redline at the end of this race. This year I wasn't pushing as hard, since I was basically running alone. So, as I approached the finish and saw the clock, I knew the course had to be a little short. I finished in 20:13; my effort level felt more like a 21+. I figure it was just about 3 miles.
The odd thing is I finished 4th overall, which means one of the people ahead of me was a bandit runner. I can see someone being a bandit on a huge or restricted entry race (though still wrong), but this was small race (59 people) which is a fundraiser for a cancer group. And an entry fee of $20, with chip timing and a t-shirt. Cheapskate.