I recently ran a free local race and surprisingly found myself at the front. They were nice enough to have a lead cyclist to support the racers in the front. I was going pretty hard as it was a 5k and it was nice to just be able to follow the lead biker trying to keep my first place status. Now I had never won a race outright before and this was looking to be my chance. 2 miles in to the 5k race I started to fade. I was holding on but I lost my first place status and there was no one in sight behind me. It was here where I knew if I played my cards right I still had a shot at the overall.
As we came across the final turnaround we were both running on E, we passed by the finish line and we were told we only had to do one more loop. The problem is we were running so fast that the volunteer hadn't gotten to that turn yet and the sign had been blown away by the wind. Now I was wearing my Garmin and I had an idea where I thought the turn was but the lead biker kept going, and I followed. It turns out that if I followed my instinct and made that turn I would have won, however I ended up running an extra 3 miles or so for a 6 mile race. There was no bibs, no results, and there would be no record, but in my head I knew I missed my chance at crossing that line first. If I was absolutely sure I would have turned and there would have been no one near me to contest me since I kept going I finished in the middle of the pack, largely unnoticed.
The good news that came out of it is that I PR'd both my 5k and 5 mile times during the race and it gave me extra motivation for 2012. Lesson learned, know your course before you race, you never know what it might cost you! Happy New Year to all!