I’m not one for theme races–the color runs and electric runs and foam runs don’t appeal to me at all–but the ’80s 8K became part of the Austin Distance Challenge a couple of years ago after another race backed out at the last minute, and in doing so became popular with runners in the area. This year a couple of my friends are doing the Distance Challenge (I managed to avoid the peer pressure, instead focusing on redemption from last year) and Rogue is a major sponsor, so I figured that since it’s two weeks (!) before the Army Ten-Miler, it would be a good tune-up race for me. Plus I’ve never run an 8K before, so after a year of disappointing, injury-plagued race times, I was set for an automatic PR. Great Scott!
Good news: after two night games, Texas played an afternoon game Saturday, so I was home by 7:30 and got to bed early-ish.
Bad news: I woke up about 3 A.M., pissed off at the ending of said Texas game, and I couldn’t go back to sleep.
Good news: the race starts at the high school stadium just over a mile away from Rogue, so I’ve run pretty much every street on the race route at one time or another during training.
Bad news: it’s hilly. The devil you know is still the devil.
So, having already been awake for three hours, I headed out. It was still dark, and the full moon glowed faintly orange just above the trees as I drove.
The benefit to starting at a high school football stadium? Lots of parking, and lots of restrooms. I appreciated not having to worry about either one.
Race organizers had
built a time machine out of brought in a couple of DeLoreans–I kept hoping one belonged to Ernest Cline and I could be a fangirl, but alas, it was not to be.
I had a lot of time to mill around and catch up with some friends. And flash back to high school thanks to the music. Not that I didn’t have plenty of my own ’80s music on my playlist or anything…
At 7:30, the announcer shouted “Go!” I kind of expected an air horn or a cannon or something. But no. So we made like a tree and got outta there.
I pressed the start button on my Garmin as I crossed the timing mat, and we headed out of the parking lot onto the street. As I made the left turn, my watch beeped… and restarted itself. Agh! I got it going again, but it was off by whatever the distance from the start to that corner.
The first mile went by pretty quickly. Flat, then a slight downhill, then uphill. After Garmin beeped the pace for my the first mile, I chastised myself for starting off too fast. But I felt okay, so I just cranked up my music and kept going. I saw a bunch of friends cheering on the corner as I made the right turn and headed up the big hill. Up, then flat, then slight incline. Left turn, saw another cheering friend, then downhill, uphill, and a long downhill. I think I banked a lot of time going down that one!
Just after the mile three marker, we turned left uphill, then another left and more uphill. Some kids stood in their driveway with cute signs. Even so, this stretch was tough–we were more than halfway through the race, going up a(nother) fairly steep incline, and even though I’d not looked at my watch a whole lot, by now I knew I had a chance to finish under an hour, assuming my rudimentary calculations to adjust what my Garmin said vs. how long I really had to go were correct. I’d brought my own water and had skipped the water stops, so I felt like I was doing well. And I also knew that as soon as I got to the top of this hill, I would be at mile four and could cruise a long downhill to stay ahead of the clock.
I turned left then right, and then I let gravity do its thing down the hill. My pace was ridiculous, my stride too long, but I felt strong so I just rode it out. At the bottom, I saw some more friends (yay!) and then … the dreaded Last Hill.
Over the last three years, I’ve run this hill more times than I can count. Sara wouldn’t let me get away with walking it this summer at the end of double-digit runs when it was eleventy billion degrees and I was tired, and as I tackled it this morning, a couple of Rogues yelled, “You’ve done this a million times–you got this hill!” And I did. Thanks for not letting me slack, y’all. You see what happens to slackers, McFly?
I made it to the top and turned the corner. Almost there. I could see the driveway to the stadium and finish line just ahead. I managed to speed up, and as I turned that final corner toward the finish, I felt myself sprinting. Sprinting. At the end of a race!
Then I saw the first number on the race timer. Remember, it’s based on gun time (or “Go!” time) and I was probably thirty seconds back at the start.
Chip time results? 57:02.
I don’t talk about my race times a whole lot–I’m slow and I know it. But I averaged about 11:30/mile. I haven’t come anywhere near that pace since a 5K in the spring of 2014, pre-injury. I can’t do that for ten miles two weeks from now, but running that for five miles today gave me a shot of confidence. This morning was in the high 60s and sunny, and the course was very hilly. So… cooler and more flat, but twice the distance? If my calculations are correct,
when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit this could be interesting!
Suddenly, the future’s looking a whole lot better.