Get Your Feet on the Street!

This year, the Capitol 10K has a new race director, which meant some changes for the 36th year of this iconic Austin race. One, the start time moved up an hour, from 9am to 8am. And two, the starting area was reorganized. Instead of five or six waves of people separated by big fences, everyone lined up in the more traditional self-seeding pace corral system. Maybe it’s because there were fewer runners (17,000 this year, as opposed to more than 22-25,000 in previous years), but I thought it went smoothly overall. I liked the openness of the starting area, and the fact that once the race was under way, everyone just moved forward rather than having to be released by the gates.

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The starting line, with the Texas Capitol in the distance

Temperatures were in the low 60s, which I didn’t find uncomfortable at all, but some people were dressed for a winter race. I knew they’d regret those long sleeves when they hit the hills at mile two.

The first mile of the Cap 10K is my favorite of just about any race. It’s a straight line, north on Congress Avenue–over the bridge and toward the Capitol. My son loves running through each intersection (“We ran a red light!”) along Congress from First up to the right turn on 12th Street. I was mildly annoyed by the walkers who had lined up at the very freaking front of the pack, walking five wide across the bridge, but in a race of this size I expect to dodge people fairly frequently. And I did. But man, considering my average pace, you gotta be going really damn slow for ME to pass you!

The Texas Capitol and 17,000 of my closest friends

The Texas Capitol and 17,000 of my closest friends

Paramount Theater (and yes, that's someone wearing a banana costume)

Paramount Theater (and yes, that’s someone wearing a banana costume)

Another change was the location of water stops. In the past, as we made the turn onto 12th Street, there’s been a water stop on the corner, just before the mile marker. No water stop there. We kept going up 12th and turned left onto San Jacinto. At the bottom of the hill, aha, water stop. Thanks to the early start, it wasn’t hot. But running in 88% humidity is kind of like swimming through Jello, so I took advantage of every one of these breaks!

We turned left on 15th Street and the hardest part of the course was upon us. From here, 15th Street goes uphill twice–one steep, one looooong. We ran-walked our way through this section knowing that after the Mile 3 marker, it was mostly downhill the rest of the way.

This year's shirt has the elevation map printed on the front. The hills don't look so daunting from this perspective.

This year’s shirt has the elevation map printed on the front. The hills don’t look so daunting from this perspective.

As we approached the end of 15th Street under the MoPac overpass, I could hear a high school band finishing a song. And as we passed them, the most epic moment of the race occurred: the first notes of the Rocky theme song echoed under the bridge, and dozens of people simultaneously raised their hands like Rocky when he reached the top of the steps.

Not long after that, the Austin Police Department cadet class ran past us in formation. They had some funny chants, but all I remember is that I was completely backwards when they did the “left, left, left right left” thing. Naturally.

We lost a few minutes at the water stop between miles 3-4 because we got separated and it took some time meeting back up. But by mile four we were all back together, dodging walkers (and can I just ask, how are walkers STILL in front of us? Just how much of a head start did they get??) and trotting along at a steady pace.

At mile 5.5, just before the turn onto the First Street bridge, I saw several medics working on a man who was clearly in serious trouble. He was on his back, with defibrillator pads attached to his chest. A woman who was likely his companion was crying and holding on to some people offering assistance. I found this article later–it seems he’ll be okay. Thank you Austin paramedics!

At the end of the bridge, we made the final turn onto Riverside Drive, crossing the finish line hand-in-hand-in-hand. We didn’t break any records, personal or otherwise, but I’d had a loose finishing goal in my head, and we beat that. The best thing about this year’s Capitol 10K? It’s the first one I’ve not been sick or injured. I consider that a win, no matter what our finishing time.

Until next year, running armadillo!

Until next year, running armadillo!

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