McFly? Hello, McFly???

So much for thinking I’d break 20 minutes at the Icebreaker Indoor 5K on Friday night…

My finish time of 21:23 was good, I guess, but not close to what I expected or hoped.

Coming into the race I knew the track the race was on consisted of *APPROXIMATELY* 11 laps for the 5K distance.


I didn’t know whether that approximate number meant the distance was longer than 11 laps or shorter than 11 laps? Earlier in the day, I calculated out the distance each lap would be if it were EXACTLY 11 laps: 0.28 miles. I also calculated out the time I needed to run each lap in if I wanted to break 20 minutes: 1:49.

Included among my training leading up to the race, I’d been doing quarter mile treadmill sprints at the treadmill’s max speed of 12.4 mph, which, including the treadmill’s build-up to max speed, took me 1:23. Factoring in the extra 0.03 miles per lap, plus the lack of stopping between laps, I conceded a sub-20 time for this 5K might be a little ambitious, but thought I might be able to get close. Either way, I still planned to give it all I had.

The race began at a carpeted starting line taped to the track with wires coming out from it, feeding somewhere off the track. I figured, much like every race I’ve ever run in, that’s where the chips registered when they crossed over.

I was wrong. WAAAAYY wrong.

Apparently that was the starting line only. I discovered only after the race that a set of red tape lines a few clicks past the carpeted line were somehow also a chip marker line. And, as it turned out, after you crossed over the start line, the red tape lines were the only lines that mattered the rest of the race.

The chips were not built into the race bibs. They were anklets you wore. That should’ve been a clue to me. I still don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing there was a sensor of some sort low to the ground off the side of the track at those red lines that tracked laps and whatnot.

At the end of the race — or at least what I thought the end of the race was — I stopped running when I made it to the carpet line following my 11th lap, and walked my way to what was the actual finish line, half confused, and half thinking basically that the race was just poorly organized for how people leave the track when they finished.

I estimate I lost approximately 20 seconds during that last little walk. Theoretically, I should’ve finished around 21:03-ish. Still not as good as I wanted, but more bearable than cool-down walking to the finish line.

It wasn’t until I got to the finish line that I realized what had happened. I WAS PISSED. There was some volunteer lady trying to rush me off the track to remove my anklet chip. Stephanie was waiting off the track near that spot for me. I was yelling in frustration to her. She was trying to calm me down while the finish line volunteers looked at me like I was just some rage-headed prick.

Not my best moment. I feel just as stupid about that as I do not realizing where the finish line was.

During my 10th lap, there were some faster racers who’d already finished and were standing off the track near the starting line while I was running by, so that seemed to corroborate in my mind that the start line was also the finish line.

I seemed to be the only person competing in the entire race who didn’t realize that wasn’t the case, though. Those faster racers who’d finished basically just made their way back by the start line area to relax away from more crowded areas off the track.

Did I miss an announcement before the race? I mean, there were A TON of pre-race announcements. The emcee pretty much wouldn’t shut up! But I was nervous. I couldn’t concentrate on a ton of stuff while trying to get ready to run the best race of my life, right? The track area was cold and I was trying to stay loose and stay focused.

Those red lines made made sense in hindsight, though. While they didn’t look anything like any sort of chip-reader line (they looked like red electrical tape), there was a table with a monitor to the right of them off the track displaying participants names as they passed by, complete with most recent lap time and lap count.

While I was running, it made zero sense to me why my name would show up on the monitor right as I was passing by it. I thought maybe there was a delay built in to the display system based on my pace for after I crossed the carpeted chip line. I thought that seemed a little complex of a system, but didn’t have too much time or energy to dwell on it, as I needed to keep plugging forward.

Regardless of my confusion while running, I did take note of my lap times, especially my 1:38 initial lap. I worried that was a little too fast. I also noticed that my laps got slower each time I passed by, regardless of my efforts to do so or not do so, until around the 5th lap when I stopped paying attention. I resumed looking up around the 9th lap.

To come into a race so excited and then leave so frustrated is a majorly disappointing experience. I thought an indoor race would be something cool, and I thought I’d be able to do well.

Instead, the track ended up being confusing and I wasn’t as well-conditioned as I wanted to be.

I guess I have a year to decide whether I’ll do this again with experience under my belt to help change my fortune.



  1. I had a lot of friends running this weekend. mostly for the marathon and the marathon relay. no distance sounds fun to me to race on the track. I get so bored during the training runs I do there I can’t imagine doing it on purpose for a race. I race for fun… competitively of course but still to enjoy it. sorry you’re experience basically sucked. have you thought about the Vince Lombardi 5K at the zoo… it was really fun last year and pretty easy course. you’ could probably run it as fast as you were hoping to run this race.

    1. I think the Lombardi 5K is the same day as Rock N Sole this year. Unless they have multiple Lombardi 5Ks each year at the zoo??? In any case, I don’t have any 5Ks planned until the Rock N Sole one, actually. I’ve enjoyed running that one the past two years (I even set my PR there last year!) and I’m looking forward to taking it on again. So, for now — unless an intriguing race pops up that I wasn’t aware of — my plan is to work more on base building, cross-training, and continue getting ready for tower racing season (which should help my running, of course).

      1. i think you might be right about the lombardi and the rock ‘n sole. i’m doing the rock ‘n sole 1/2 again this year and i remember there was a reason i couldn’t do the lombardi 5K again so maybe that’s why? in any case, there’s this race ( ) that looks awesome but it conflicts with something else i’m doing this year. they’re giving out a sweet shirt which is half the reason i wish i could do it. lol!

      2. They were actually passing out flyers for the Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K at the Icebreaker. It’s definitely got me curious, and it comes two weeks after my last stair event of the spring. I might have to give it a shot.

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