Weekend Double: Park City Trail Series “10K” and A “Long” Run

The first time I raced with a Garmin (I borrowed one from a friend), I was trying to PR a 5K. It was early October 2012, my time to beat was 30:32. Between my previous PR and this attempt, I tore my ACL, had knee surgery, gained 10 pounds, started running again, got injured, changed my running form, ran a lot, and lost 20 pounds. I was in the best running shape I had ever been in and was looking forward to seeing what I could do in the 5K. I’m not normally a person who gets nervous or antsy during a race, but I was nervous and antsy before this one because I had a PR in mind.

I don’t remember much about the race itself, but I ran my heart out. When I crossed the finish, I looked at my Garmin for my time, 27:52! I was elated! Then I looked at my Garmin a little more closely, the distance read 2.94 miles..ugh. To this day I still don’t count that time as my 5K PR. I know that pace would have been a PR for me at 3.1 miles, but somehow saying that my 5K PR is 27:52 seems wrong. Not to mention that time would also set the bar pretty high for a future PR!

Me after the Great Pumpkin Run of 2012
Me after the Great Pumpkin Run of 2012

I’m sure we’ve all been there, at the starting line of a race with a goal mind, only to have the race not be exactly the distance we thought it would, for better or worse. I think with the popularity of Garmins and other GPS watches, this is a fairly common occurrence. Since getting my own Garmin, I’ve been pretty forgiving of races. I know not to expect any race to be exactly the distance it claims.

That being said, this past weekend’s trail 10K did throw me for a loop. More on that soon.

Last week was another great running week for me. I hit my weekly mileage goal (and then some), and all the runs felt great!

Tuesday: 3 miles, pace 11:58. I woke up early to take Troy to the airport, then stopped at the park on my way to work for a short run. I even had time after the run to enjoy breakfast on the grass.

I should do this more often!
I should do this more often!

Thursday: 3 mile trail run, pace ~13:20. I had some technical difficulties with my Garmin at the start.

Saturday: The Park City Trail Series “10K”. Before the start of the race, the organizers had announced that the course was a little over 6.2 miles. I didn’t think too much of it. I wasn’t going for a specific time, just getting miles in the legs. I ran what felt like a pretty good pace for me, and was feeling good about my race. At some point near the finish, I looked at my watch, my elapsed time was 1:20 and change. I was surprised, I felt like I was running a good pace, but this time plus a few minutes to get to the finish seemed slow to me. As I ran to the finishing chute, I looked more closely at my Garmin and saw the distance, 6.72 miles. That explained a lot! My official time was 1:25:44 (1:25:00 by Garmin, this race is not chip timed), my pace was 12:46. Not bad considering there was ~700ft of gain. I ran this race a minute per mile slower than the 5K, but that race had only 240ft of gain and was less than half the distance. I didn’t mind running an extra half a mile in this race, it was just more trail miles for my legs! Two other things I loved about this race, 1) I won an awesome raffle prize, and 2) we got free race photos!

Struggling up this hill. Photo courtesy of Skipstone Photography.
Struggling up this hill. Photo courtesy of Skipstone Photography.
Feeling good on the downhill. Photo courtesy of Skipstone Photography
My awesome raffle prize! I've been in the market for a backpacking wine container! :)
My awesome raffle prize! I’ve been in the market for a backpacking wine container. 🙂
Post-race breakfast: protein shake, nuun, avocado, and an english muffin with avocado spread and muhammara. So delicious!
Post-race breakfast: protein shake, nuun, avocado, and an english muffin with avocado spread and muhammara. So delicious!
This stuff is amazing!
This stuff is amazing!

Sunday: Right back at it with my “long” run. 9 miles, pace 13:16. This week was a stepback week in my training, hence the shorter long run. I ran this one from my house, and as I’ve mentioned before, my neighborhood is quite hilly. This run had a gain of 1,060ft. So while this week’s long run was shorter than last week’s, it was at a higher elevation with a lot more gain, and I still managed to run it faster than last week’s pace. I’m feeling good, and am looking forward to having an awesome long run in cooler temps (i.e. early morning), on a flat course soon! Here are some pictures from the run, Park City sure is pretty!

I don't know what these are, but I thought they looked neat.
I don’t know what these are, but I thought they looked neat.
The Hi Ute Ranch

My mileage for last week was 21.72 miles. This week I’m running 29 miles, and I’m doing my longest run in many years, 14 miles!

What say you, does a 5K PR “count” if you only ran 2.94 miles? 

How much variation have you seen in advertised race distance vs Garmin distance?



6 thoughts on “Weekend Double: Park City Trail Series “10K” and A “Long” Run

  1. I had something similar happen during my 5k PR..I think my watch read 3.05 and so did my husbands. I still count it as my PR. You never know if there is something weird going on with the satellites that cause the garmin to not track the full distance. Did you look at the map to see if it matched where you actually ran?
    Both those races seem pretty far off from the actual distance they were supposed to be!

    • You make a good point! For the 5K, the map did match the route, and that race wasn’t chip timed. For the 10K, the map also matched, and they later confirmed it was half a mile longer than a 10K. I didn’t mind the 10K being long, but I also didn’t have a time goal.

  2. I agree with Lisa–satellites can be off. And if a race is chip timed, it is more likely to be an accurate one since they are essentially paying for and advertising it as such. It is far more likely that you will have your garmin measure longer, because of tangents, and official, certified races are measured with a steel tape.

  3. Holy moly that is one long 10K! Nice job on your time though! Trail running is HARD. 🙂

    If I’m racing, as long as it is chip timed, I go by that time and not my Garmin for the reason that everyone else stated. Satellites can be off. The race where I ran my PR, the distance was a little short on my Garmin, but I also had to run through a parking garage at one point which would have accounted for that distance. I trusted the chip in that case. 🙂

    I love your pics as per usual!

  4. That extra half mile in the 10K was a definite surprise! And as usual, your race photos look great! I don’t think I’ve run a race that was shorter than advertised but I’d probably not count it if it was under (unless I’d noticed an obvious Garmin problem).

  5. Congrats on your race(s)! Here’s my advice – never trust a GPS watch for a race. They will NEVER match the race planned distance. Here’s why – 1) It can lose the sattellite signal from time to time – and when it picks it back up, it will make a straight line from where it lost it – this will affect the distance for sure! 2) assuming the race was certified – it was measured at the at the shortest possible distance (i.e. inside lanes) to assure that nobody could run shorter than the minimum distance. I hope that helps.
    PS, I want those english muffins!

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