I’ve never run this race before–I figured it was all fast college students and I am neither of those things. But I was persuaded to run it this year, despite its proximity to the Cap 10K, because supposedly a lot of those fast college students start too fast and burn out on the hills. I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but I was not last.
I knew the first half would be kind of hilly–I went to school here, and one look at the course map told me this is a challenging race. Especially six days after the (also hilly) Cap 10K and 36 hours after a crappy Thursday night workout. But the weather gods smiled on me and gave me 55* temps as we made our way to the steps of Gregory Gym to meet up with some other Rogues.
The 10K started at 8:00, after the national anthem and “The Eyes of Texas.” The band was in the middle of “Wabash Cannonball” as I crossed the starting line. It was an uphill start–in fact the first half-mile was a roller coaster. Up 21st to University, down and up to MLK, down to San Jacinto.
It was difficult to miss the two water polo players running in their Speedos. They looked very … athletic.
The second mile wound around the football stadium (hello happy place!) and Bass Concert Hall (see you May 3rd for Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!), down to 26th and north on Speedway. Even though some Rogue friends were cheering just before the turn, for me the toughest part of the course began here. Not only did it have a couple of steep hills, most of Speedway was out-and-back so the faster runners were coming back toward me as I was trudging my way out. This always makes me feel slow. But after I turned around at 45th Street, my outlook improved. More than halfway done, I faced more downhills than uphills, and I was able to pick up my pace a little each mile.
My Rogue friends waited at the top of the hill just before Mile 5, and that helped. This section made a little loop kind of around Kinsolving, and from there, we had a sweet descent on 26th to San Jacinto. I know this stretch pretty well from 3M–the Mustangs, the art building–then we looped around the traffic circle below the East Mall fountain. I passed a bunch of 5K walkers, including one group that was seven-wide.
Just after we turned back on to San Jacinto, in front of the football stadium and Ex-Students, I passed the 11:30 pacer. He was not running 11:30, but I still felt good about leaving him behind. Then we had one final turn–up 21st Street to the finish.
I knew this was coming–this stretch of 21st is my route to and from every home football game. I’d taken it easy on some of the earlier hills so I’d have a little left for this one, so I turned the corner and charged up, passing a friend and dodging a few people that last .2.
Several Rogues stood at the corner of Speedway and 21st and cheered for me, which carried me through to the finish. I wasn’t sure how far back my friend was, but I didn’t want to relinquish my lead. And it turns out, even with the hill my last mile was my fastest. It wasn’t a PR, but I finished two minutes faster than last week’s Cap 10K time.
The finishers’ area steered us straight up the South Mall to the Tower, where every college student on the 40 Acres posed for pictures.
We cut through the crowd and headed to Kerbey Lane for breakfast. Priorities.