With moderate loneliness and feeling of purposelessness creeping in and out, I spontaneously considered, to distract myself, participating in a 48-hour event, this time with the objective of running the entire race instead of ending at a specific distance like in April 2017. This plan was unsurprisingly thwarted after prayers, but I was still eager to run a race this weekend to make the most of this rare cool weather in Georgia this time of year. I registered for the Halloween-themed Running Scared 13K, taking place on October 17, 2020, in Dawsonville, only the day before, justifying, “I would run tomorrow anyway. Why not make it a race?”

Individual starts due to COVID-19!

Getting lost has recently become my primary concern in smaller races in which I normally spend a large portion of running alone; therefore, I repeatedly attempted to study the organizer’s course map, which did not help due to the missing of arrows, play option, and any details. Prior to the start, I spoke to multiple people who have been lost here in the past, which worried me even more. This nightmare materialized during the first loop of two, which became especially frustrating because I had been maintaining a swift pace, for me, with an 8:13 first mile. In the middle of mile 3, following the completion of the two extra legs that 13K runners had to complete for each lap, I correctly turned left toward the way I came out to complete these legs. However, when I saw two sets of cones dividing that area and many runners on the other side, I wondered if I was supposed to turn earlier. One lady beside me also running in the 13K did not know either, and I proceeded to ask those nearby, none of whom were signed up for the 13K. Although I was going the right way, I, with the lady, turned around and returned to where the confusion began and asked the young volunteers, who gave different answers. Misinterpreting one of them, I ended up moving likely an additional quarter of a mile, even having to stop for a few seconds, before deciding I had no choice but to return to the route I initially went; the lady wisely did this much sooner than I. Only when approaching the end of the first loop a mile and a half later did I realize I had been running on course the entire time and the puzzlement really stemmed from the lack of 13K participants and the discrepancy in speed among the few of us. Coincidentally, I had a dream a few days earlier of getting lost and frustrated in a running event, almost in this exact scenario.

Other than this mishap costing my race two or three minutes, with my official finish time reading 1:11:42, nothing consequential occurred as a result; the runner who finished one place ahead of me would have easily finished before I regardless, and I caught up to and passed every runner who had passed me while I was panicking and even cussing. One older gentleman and the lady temporarily lost with me both expressed their surprise in my not slowing down in spite of this debacle. Who knows? Maybe this fiasco pumped up my adrenaline and made me run faster than I would have for the remaining miles. How fitting of the event name, as I was quite literally running scared in the short period I thought I could have blown the race. Furthermore, thanks to the unusually cool morning, I had no issue lasting all of ~8.2 miles without a single sip of fluid, thanks to no aid station. I will not brag about my gold in my age group of 30-34 considering I was the sole runner in the category, but nobody needs to know that. 😉