Yesterday evening, Eric, Pete, and I were chatting and our conversation as most conversations for runners do they ventured in to the area of PRs or Personal Records.
Pete was talking about one of his PRs and made the statement about it being on a legit course.
For some unknown reason, this statement sent me wondering about my own PRs. Since I started racing in ’83, I kept track of every one of my races: the time, date, race, awards won, etc. During this time, I have run some decent race times that I am very proud to talk about.
Again, going back to Pete’s statement, I was left wondering.
When I ran my first road race in ’83, I wasn’t even wearing watch. I depended on the race organizers to record and tell me my time. I don’t remember exactly but it was probably a year or two later that I began using a stop watch – mostly for capturing my mile splits during a race.
For the next 22 to 25 years, I ran numerous races using only a stop watch. Only in the late 2000s did I make the move to using a Garmin.
My first encounter with GPS watch came at the Greekfest 5k. This guy behind me had this massive looking watch strapped to his wrist. It had to weigh 2 pounds so of course; I had to ask him about it. These days, I wear a Garmin around, albeit not as big, without thinking about it.
In all those years running without a Garmin, most races I never questioned the race distance. If I ran 10 to 15 seconds faster, I had a good day. If I ran slower, I had a bad day. As with anything there are some caveats. On a hot day or hilly course, I expected to run slower times.
As a runner after a couple of 5k races, we have a pretty good feeling for our level of conditioning. If we suddenly ran 1 minute faster, we don’t know for sure but we will often suspect the course of being short.
I am still left wondering how many of my races were on legit courses. I mean it was the ‘80s. How many race directors just drove the course with their cars to mark it off?
Should I put an “*” beside those races and say these were the advertised distances. The actual distance was not verified.
Then, again, does it matter to any other than me. In any one of those races I ran the course the same as everyone else. A time was recorded for my effort. The awards were given out based on our finisher times. The rest is just a part of history.
Races display the hard work for the rest of your running,
The Cool Down Runner