After some investigating by the runner's club members, I learned that the course on Saturday is probably short by the distance between four light poles. The certification of the course expired, and a more recent certification of a 5K West River Drive course has us going further down the Drive before the turnaround than we did on Saturday. But the race timers did not bother to look up the current certification and set up the wrong turnaround point, and they are uncharacteristically and irritatingly unconcerned about this. The difference was around .05 miles, or 20+ seconds at the pace I was going. It is significant. Sure, we all ran the same course, so our places are valid, but our times were not official. We ran a random distance.
Perhaps I should be happy that the adjusted time of 19:25 is still a 2 minute PR (post-high school) for me. It is still a great time, and it is much better than I ever thought I'd done without doing any 5K-specific training. But the whole thing is still hanging over my head today. I feel unsettled and fraudulent. And I feel terrible for bringing down the mood of the running group -- maybe they'd rather not know. Though it was nice to find out there's a whole community of people who cared so much about getting their times and distances right. I know on some level that this is nit-picky and the wrong course doesn't matter. But when I register for a race, I want it to count, it should be legit. That's why we race rather than just project times on some result predictor. This race was fun, but I am not counting it.
I like having this space to obsess over this.