For those keeping score at home, today’s Austin 10/20 ten-mile race was my third of three races, three distances, in three weeks. I’d run PRs at the 5K and 10K, and I hoped to hit the trifecta today. But my left calf had been bothering me since Wednesday (didn’t I have this same injury last year for this race? What’s up with that?) and I didn’t know how it would feel over ten miles.
Earlier weather forecasts predicted rain and thunderstorms, but race-day updates pushed the rain to the afternoon. I was relieved at that, but really? The humid air was so thick and heavy, it might as well have been raining. It was overcast and in the high 60s (and yet, some runners wore long sleeves??) when I met up with a bunch of Rogues before the race. Several of us had been assigned the same corral, so we made our way over there a few minutes before 8am. As the corrals began to move, we picked up a few more Rogues, and just like that, it was time to run.
The corrals had not been laid out in a straight line this year (something to do with construction at The Domain), so we had to make a left turn, and people started running waaaaay before the official start. I didn’t want to cause a traffic jam, so this was the best picture I could get. But I managed to lose every single one of my friends, again.
M and B were waiting right at the start line, so I got high fives, then hit my Garmin and was off and running.
I think I said this last year too: I appreciate the bands along the way, but honestly I don’t spend a lot of time listening to them as I run by their stages. So I wear my headphones, then pause my music as I approach each new musician. But I have to say, the kid playing at the second stage was impressive. I could hear a Beatles song a block or so away, and I thought it sounded pretty good. Turns out, the entire “band” was this one 12-year old kid, singing and nailing a guitar solo.
I saw the woman recording this video, so I’m in that crowd somewhere!
The first half of the course runs down Burnet Road, then loops back up to The Domain. We made the turn south on Burnet Road, and about the time I hit mile two, the leaders were approaching from the other direction, almost to mile five. Yowza.
This part of the course isn’t terribly scenic, but one section of fenced-in field was full of bluebonnets and other wildflowers. The road here deteriorated quite a bit–more construction–and I ran in the center turn lane for a while.
At the water stop near mile three, I saw one of my current students, and at the next one I passed two former students who are seniors in high school this year. At a couple of other points, I encountered the cheerleaders and mascot for the high school my students eventually attend–a couple of those were kids I’d taught too. I saw one of my coaches twice and my family three times the first half of the race.
I like the second half of this race more than the first. Yeah, I’m tired, but the strong crowd support–and knowing I’m nearer to the finish–pushes me along. Mile seven wound through the heart of The Domain, and then we ran for a while along the MoPac access road. This stretch was longer than I remembered from last year, but it’s a bit downhill most of the way so I got through it okay, made the turnaround, and headed back up the access road on the other side. Which of course goes back up that incline. My Garmin data shows a much slower pace for this segment, not surprisingly. But I knew I was still on pace to meet my goal and didn’t worry too much. The mile nine marker waited under the bridge, and then it was just one. mile. to. go.
I saw M and B one more time as I wound through the parking lot–more high fives to power me through the last half-mile. Lots of folks wearing finishers’ medals wandered the sidewalks, and a huge cheering crowd waited at the corner of the last turn toward the finish. There’s a bit of a hill here–cruel, race organizers, cruel–and while I didn’t exactly charge up it, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. The road flattened out and spectators lined the route. One woman saw my shirt and yelled “JFR!” I got free high fives from kids holding a sign that said “Free High Fives!” and then I spotted B in the crowd. I couldn’t get to him, but I waved and he knew I’d seen him.
I crossed the timing mats having knocked seven minutes off my previous ten-mile PR. Got my medal, a bottle of water, and a cold washcloth, then found some of my Rogue friends and my family at about the same time. The humidity had added a degree of difficulty today–my ponytail was completely wet and I hoped I looked better than I smelled. But my calf had held up surprisingly well, and overall I was pleased with my performance and my finishing time.
The bling is pretty nice too!