Couch to 5K and One Hour Runners


Race time discrepancy (Read 169 times)

    Hi everyone, I am trying not to get all worked up over things like 'time' in my first 5K. But as a 'newbie', maybe I'm not fully understanding things. First of all, this was just a small, community Junior Women's Club sponsored race, so it's not like we had timing chips or anything like that. There were 226 participants total. My time, according to my Garmin, was 33:46. That puts my average pace at about 11:00. Every time I checked my watch, I was ranging between 9:50 to 11:50 for pace. This race was by far my biggest running effort since I started in July. I am still feeling it today a little! I have run the distance twice in my 'training'. The first time I did 3.1, I finished at 36 minutes. The second time, a little over 34 minutes. I ran a little harder both times, but definitely not all out like I did Saturday. So how is it then that my 'official' results posted today is four whole minutes slower? I'm listed at 37:50, with an average pace of 12:12. I never even RAN 12 mph during the race, so how can I average that? I only have a couple of 'guesses', and unfortunately, the finish line was so chaotic and I was so 'out of it' I frankly did not see the time clock other than 'thirty something'. So I went by my trusty Garmin time. Or is it 'trusty'? Confused Is it possible it's not calibrated correctly for me? I never did manually calibrate it....there are some instructions to do that but it was 'optional', and the device was ready to use out of the box basically. Is it possible that I started the timing at the wrong place? Again, not a fancy pants race....since I started way at the back, I have no idea now if I started my watch at the 'true' starting line. And also, I have no idea how long it took me to get to the starting line ...I'm guessing about 2 minutes, if that. So, I don't know what to use now for my PR to start from. That's really all I want is that number to beat next time. Is it 33:46? Is it 37:50? Do I just average the two and use that as a 'time to beat'. The time itself doesn't matter as much as having the right time to try to do better next time I guess. I'm sort of anal that way. I'm open to ideas and suggestions here....I'm thinking of logging the 37:50 in my book, with 33:46 in parentheses and then just see what happens next race (Turkey Trot!). Thoughts?
    Cyndi One Hour Running, Finishing by Jan 3rd!

      Hi Cyndi, Great result for a start, well done. Smile As for the time I would go by your Garmin as you presumably started the clock as you went over the start line? I don't know how things work over there but here in the UK we have officials from the amateur athletics association who keep time but that would be for larger races than yours by the sound of it. (However having looked back at my results here at 97: from a race I did in 1989 Shocked there were only 157 finishers but we had good organisation). Were there marshals with a lead car with a clock on top? When entering a race here there is an additional fee which is reduced or dropped if you belong to a club, so that pays for the timekeepers. As you have done a measured route and timed that it would be as accurate as anything, but as for the official results you can only use that as the record I guess. Sorry that I cannot relate to the situation in the US but that is how things work in the UK. There maybe races that have this more formal support in which case it would give a more trustworthy result. I am sure your own timings are accurate. I've very much enjoyed reading your postings on here as well as the 'broken scale' blog which I am still reading.
      Complete C25K Done on 11/16/08!
      Keep running regularly 3 times a week
      Weight loss
      Plan a 5k race Do a 10k
      Get weekly mileage up to 20
        Hey, Cyndi! Congratulations on finishing your first 5K!!! I don't have a Garmin, so I'm not super-familiar with them, but I'd find it hard to believe that the stopwatch feature could be off by 4 minutes in a 5K race. That leads me to ask if your Garmin time of 33:46 is what it said you ran to complete 3.1 miles or if you were using it as a stopwatch, starting timer at the sound of the gun and stopping said timer as you crossed the finish line. If you started a timer at the start of the gun and stopped it as you were crossing the finish line, I'd not expect there to be more than a few seconds difference. I ran a small 5K not too long ago... well, it was advertised as a 5K. My Garmin-weilding friend said that it was 5.5K. I know my time was significantly slower than it "should" have been for how hard I was running. That could have easily added on, say, 4 or 5 minutes. In other words, the course was long so it only made sense that I had a slower time. It's possible that it took you several minutes to get to the starting line. I almost always start at the very back, and 3-5-ish minutes is not unusual for me to get to the starting line in a bigger race. It's also possible someone messed up your timing. It's even theoretically possible their start and stop clocks weren't synchronized if it was a point-to-point race. If it was me, I'd take the 37:50. That way you can be sure you'll PR next time you race. Evil grin (Oh. And don't start at the front just to get a more accurate gun time - ya get trampled that way unless you're planning on running the race in something well under 18 minutes!!!)

        Roads were made for journeys...

          Thanks guys...I think it is a combination of 'all of the above'. I probably didn't start my watch at the 'true' start line, which was not marked in a dramatic way ha ha. Between that, and starting way at the back, that takes care of maybe 2-3 minutes. I agree, I should take the 37:50 (which is still under my original goal of sub 40 ha ha). Maybe next race I'll be able to sort of 'think' through these things instead of being all nervous and such! I am going to calibrate my Garmin to my foot pod tonight though on the treadmill. I'm 'resting' until tomorrow, but I can at least run a 400 on my treadmill to make sure my foot pod matches my stride individually. And don't worry - I don't think I will EVER be starting at the front of the pack! Shocked thanks, but no thanks!
          Cyndi One Hour Running, Finishing by Jan 3rd!
            Congrats on your first 5K! I don't have a Garmin yet, so I don't know about the calibration, but I'd think that the time would be the same no matter what it's calibrated for. Other than that, I have no idea what to think of it. You did great, though. Wink
              I can't imagine calibration would have anything to do with the timing... it might affect the measured distance, but not the simple stopwatch feature. If you're pretty sure you started it and stopped it at the appropriate times, I'd go with the Garmin. It's not unusual for a race clock to be off by a couple of minutes, you'll see lots of people with chip-clock discrepancies (although 4 mins in a 5k seems like a lot). For distance measurements however, I'd trust the race officials over the Garmin. GPS positioning always has a margin of error for each of it's measurements, and over lots of measurements (e.g., throughout a race) those errors can add up pretty substantially.

              "Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn.  Climb that goddamn mountain."

              Jack Kerouac