My first half marathon, I trained for the whole race with one thought in my mind. Beat the van. You know, the sweeper van. It morphed shapes in my head throughout the training, but most of the time it look like this in my head.
Yep, I pictured an old timey dog catcher car chasing me down the streets of Indianapolis, Indiana. Every training run I had came down to... did I beat the cutoff? That's all I wanted to do. When I started the race I had worked myself into such a frenzy about the sweeper van I imagined I could hear it creeping up behind me. It wasn't, but the image helped move me along which was kind of a good thing I suppose.
Now I look at races and if the time cutoff is not within reason for me, I say, meh forget it, I guess I just wasn't invited to that race. I respect a race director's choice. It's not a job I would want, because man we runners can be a bit gripey. But if you don't invite us non-fasties, aren't you just throwing money away? OR, if the race directors aren't inviting us average runners but that's only in fine print on the advertising for the race... do those directors feel bad when our names don't get listed as finishers? I suppose it's really a case of buyer beware. I try to make sure to run fun races with fun people. But it's my job to know if I can "beat the clock"... or the van.