This year's shirt - love all of the symbols of Austin in the logo!
On Sunday, I ran the Statesman Cap10K race in Austin, Texas for the second year in a row. Now, I have to say that this race is a really tough course - there are steep hills right away, and for over 3.5 miles you are going up and down and that just thrashes my legs...we all know that I'm NOT a fan of hills, and this race wipes me out in the first half so that by the time we hit the more level miles, I'm toast. But. The race is a lot of fun, it's a huge community event, there are runners and walkers of all ages, sizes, and abilities, and there is a such good vibe going on that somehow it makes me want to do it again, even with the crazy hills. You might think I'm exaggerating, but seriously - look at the screenshot of the elevation from my Garmin:
I'm getting ahead of myself - first, I need to tell you about the race expo. We drove into Austin the day before, and intended to just zip into the expo to pick up our race packets and shirts and then get on with my planned shopping trip at the big-city mall (hey, I have to take advantage of this whenever I can). We got our bibs and I also bought a cute pink race shirt:
Front and back - at one point during the race, I was running behind a woman wearing this shirt and I was looking at the map, trying to place where I was on the course!
We were headed out when we came across the Statesman booth where 2012 Olympic silver medal winner (in the 1500 meter race) Leo Manzano was sitting - he was the official ambassador for this year's Cap10K race, and had been on the Cap10K Facebook page quite a bit, so I was pretty thrilled to see him in person. There were only a couple people in line waiting to meet him, and we got in line. He was so nice! I took my race bib out of my bag, ready to have him sign it, when a man who was standing nearby got all excited - apparently I was the first person to ask Leo to sign a bib, so the man, who turned out to be race director Jeff Simecek, asked if he could take my picture and post it to their Instagram page. Could he? Why of course - you know this blogger is not adverse to having her picture taken:
Top left picture was on Instagram; I saw the top right picture on my new pal Leo's FB page which made me laugh as I'm totally looking like a fangurl there; you can see his signature on my bib in the bottom left shot, and there's another shot of me with Olympian Leo Manzano, who also just happens to be sponsored by Hoka One One - same shoes I wear!
Race director Jeff Simecek - (my) Jeff and I had a great time talking with him; he's funny and vibrant and enthusiastic about the race, all of which are great traits for a race director.
Eventually we left the expo and went on our merry way. We met up with Cary, Brian, Cristy, and Laura for dinner at Maudie's Hacienda - yes, Mexican food before a race - and then Jeff and I headed to our hotel, way on the north side of Austin, because everything was booked up when we tried to get a reservation several months ago. As it turned out, the hotel was a brand new La Quinta, decorated in a cool modern theme, and even though we were about 20 miles from the race start it wasn't a problem because we prefer to arrive early at races and not get tangled up with traffic and parking issues. We left our hotel just after 5:30 am and then took a little nap in the car once we were parked.
The weather was much better than last year, which can only be described as "wet fog" - this year, it was cloudy and 66 degrees, with a breeze. For April in Texas, I'll take it. We posed for our group shot, in the exact same spot as last year:
Jeff, me, Cary, Brian, Laura, and Cristy. Brian separated his shoulder diving for a catch during a softball game, so he had to run in a sling. Spoiler alert: even with the sling, he had a great run!
We did not do well with coordinating our running outfits - this was a total clash! Good thing we weren't running together.
Cary and I were going to run together, although I was a little worried because she's been KILLING it with her running lately...no joke, she's hit her stride with running and has been on fire! She did run a 5K race the day before, so she was ready to take it easier for the 10K, but I was prepared to send her ahead if I wasn't keeping up. This race has grown tremendously from last year, from around 14,000 participants then to over 20,000 on Sunday. It's almost as big as the Houston marathon/half marathon, and yet we were all in one long corral. We crossed the start line about 23 minutes after the elites started, which wasn't bad. The announcer did a great job of keeping up the patter and excitement the entire time; a helicopter was hovering above and it felt like a huge deal when we started - here's an overhead shot that was on the Stateman's website:
Just a few runners...
With the clearer weather this year, we actually got to see the Capitol building as we ran toward it:
If you click on this picture, you can see a massive wall of runners all the way to the Capitol - and there were still a lot of runners behind us!
Closer still to the Capitol.
We were running intervals, but those hills, OMG. My calves started to tighten up and burn - it was rough going. At some point I started walking up the hills, no matter what the interval was saying to do, but we were running more when it was downhill and flat. Although it had been breezy before we started running, we were surrounded by buildings and the air was heavy and still. We passed up the first water stop because it felt like it was too soon for water, but a little later we both agreed that was a mistake. By the time we got to the second water stop, I was really hot. I grabbed two cups - one to drink, and one to pour on the back of my neck. That helped, but I was still not feeling great. I think we were just past the two mile mark, and had come down a long hill when we heard a very loud, terrible-sounding splat behind us. We turned around to see a woman had fallen, hard, and had hit her face and/or head - it looked like she was out cold. It was awful to see - we started to go to her but there were already 25 or 30 people surrounding her, calling out to the police officer who we'd just passed for help, so we kept going, but dang, that was just bad. In almost every big race I've run, I've seen someone fall, but never as hard as this woman did. I hope she's OK.
Soon after that, I encouraged Cary to run on ahead - my calves were killing me, and I was wanting to walk more at that point. I was fine with finishing the race solo; she wouldn't leave me until I insisted that I was good, and I was, so off she went. I changed my intervals from 2:1 to 1:1 for a while, and that seemed to help; by the time I hit mile 4.5, I was getting into the groove and at mile 5, I felt pretty decent again. This race is hard because it just beats you up in the first half, but the second half is really very pleasant, plus there were a lot of bands and people cheering along the route, along with some people cooking and passing out bacon - yes, bacon! There was a line waiting to get their piece when I ran by; much as I like bacon, I wasn't tempted to eat any during the race.
I hit the long finisher's chute and was looking for my peeps - I saw everyone, and Cary had her phone out, so I have some finisher's pictures to show you, thanks to her:
The moment I saw my friends!
It was a long finisher's chute - you can just make out the actual finish line way up there. My back wasn't that sweaty; I'd poured water on my neck several times during the race.
Once I crossed the finish line, I went in search of water. My only complaint (and it's a small one, really) about this race is that they make you walk quite a long way for water, and it's not really clear where it is located. With a race this size, they probably should take a page from Houston's book and have people handing out water and bananas right after you finish - they have a similar set up in place already where you are herded along before being released into the post-race party area, so they probably could make the water handout happen pretty easily right there. I met up with my peeps before I ever found the water, but Jeff and Cary had extra bottles, so I was taken care of. There is a huge after party with music, kid activities and all kinds of food, but we wanted to continue our tradition of eating breakfast at Kerbey Lane Cafe, so we walked back to our cars and headed out.
While we were driving there, the arch of my left foot started cramping up big time. I've never had cramps quite like that; it hurt so bad! Plus I felt like I was one cramp away from it moving up to a Charley horse in my calf, so I was trying to massage it and stretch it out. I didn't bring my running bag with me, so I didn't have any Nuun, but the restaurant was located near where Cristy lives, and we had over an hour wait, so she ran home and grabbed a tube, and once I had a glass of that, I felt better. We were all starving by the time we were seated, but the food was so good and absolutely worth the wait:
Eggs Francisco - English muffin, scrambled eggs, roma tomatoes, sliced avocado, bacon...covered with queso. My once a year treat, and it's amazing.
Did I mention it comes with a side of pancakes? One gingerbread, one raspberry/lemon. I had some at the restaurant and brought the rest home for dinner.
The Cap10K is a fun race; you know I don't like hills but I keep coming back, so that says a lot about it. Plus, it's a mini racecation with my running buddies; how can I not go?