Seeing I could sign up for The Derby Run 10K in Fayetteville, North Carolina, up to the start on May 6, 2023, at 8:15 AM, I set my alarm to 5:50 AM and decided to decide then based on how I felt. Following a few hours of sleep, I rolled out of bed just past 6:00 AM and, because I would be running later in the day anyway, convinced myself to make it a race for more fun, shoving down a piece of bread and Gatorade Zero, taking a record-breaking short shower, registering half asleep, and rushing out for a 70-minute drive to the event location, all within 10 minutes. This reckless spontaneity made me worry if I could even make it to the venue with sufficient time in case of traffic or construction.
Several participants, in addition to the official website, spoke of the challenging hills throughout the 10K course, but unsurprisingly, as I did not associate this military town with hills, they felt like babies compared to the ones I regularly train and race on. As usual for a race this small, navigation concerned me most and I ran without music to be more alert. I opened up the first mile just under 8:11 and maintained a steady pace throughout, and I cannot recall recently feeling this strong with no sign of discomfort throughout. Prior to the start, I spoke to a pregnant woman wearing a Boston Marathon shirt pushing her daughter in a stroller, and although she has run a three-hour marathon in the past, I assumed she came to jog, until I saw her blow past me not even a mile in and not slow down one bit, prompting me to comment, “That’s amazing. How are you doing that?” Crossing the finish in an official gun time of 53:00.5, I was momentarily disappointed that I came that close to hitting 52 minutes and would have had the race used chip timing at the starting line. Moreover, in the opening mile presented a left turn with two narrow paths, one cutting through and one around with a sign on each, and though I naturally enter the farther route when uncertain, I followed the person in front of me cutting through, also because a staff member directing us to turn was standing on the other and blocking the way. Thanks to my perfectionism, just in case, I repeatedly zigzagged on roads to make up the distance, if there was any to be made up, which likely added some time.
After confirming my official time with the staff, I saw a finisher seemingly unknowingly dragging his dog who was panting and on the verge of passing out. Many of us rushed to the dog with cold water bottles and poured water all over the dog. A peculiar way to conclude a running event, but I hope the dog is doing okay.