Friday, March 17, 2006

The retro Austin motel on South Congress, whose sign (quite penile-looking) reads: No additives, No preservatives, Corporate Free since 1938.

Holy cow. E. and I are flying to Miami today for a wedding, and I got up an hour earlier than I planned: 3:45 a.m. instead of 4:45 a.m.. No wonder I am so exhausted. My eyes feel like sandpaper.

However, the silver lining is that I actually have the time to tell you how my 10K last Saturday went.

On to the race: With 15 minutes before the race start, I jogged a 3-block loop twice, stopping to stretch. It was a neighborhood of overgrown lots, small, dark houses, and rusty cars.

Boy, was it hot. The temperature crept up, and soon it was 82 degrees. It was the first time I'd worn shorts in months. I was grateful for the hot weather, but wondered if it was too much of a good thing. Going from chilly and windy in Washington to hot and sultry in Tejas suddenly can make one feel off-kilter.

As I jogged one last loop, the kids, all in orange t-shirts for the 5K, were cheering. They were in a school fitness program that encouraged them to walk and run more. All were Latino, who have a higher rate of obesity than other Americans.

With five minutes to go, E. and I lined up at the back of the pack. A horn blasted, and we were off. I crossed the mats after 42 seconds, and I was caught in the midst of a big pack of folks who seemed to be jogging and chatting. Aargh! This is a race, people! (Unfortunately, I brought my big-city ways to this laid-back town).

The hills: I skirted the perimeter and sped past them, up a first small hill. Two more hills materialized in the first two miles of the course, and these two were big, the kind you had to lean into and pump your arms, lest you fall backwards. I passed a lot of people on the hills, and I overheard one woman say, "Oh my God, I'm exhausted."

I was feeling pretty good, but I knew I was going too fast
(foreshadowing!). I averaged about 7:48/mile those first three miles. I flew down the hills, and I almost fell once. I was just so impatient. So I tried to slow a bit, down to 7:55/mile in miles 3-5.

Spectators were scarce. I saw one man in his front yard, but he was busy watering the lawn, and didn't look at us. Huh.

Here's where it becomes a cautionary tale, folks. I wasn't following my race strategy, which was even pacing at 7:55, and I had the ominous feeling that I was going to pay for it.

I was still passing people, but I was starting to tire quickly, even though the course was now mostly flat. The heat was also making me wilt, and though I slowed once to grab a cup of water at one of the aid stations, I poured it over my head instead of drinking it. Dumb move.

I was also starting to pass a lot of the orange-shirted 5K kids, many of whom were walking. Walking! When I reached the mile 5 sign, I realized that I had slowed down way too much, to an 8:12/mile average pace.

The back stretch: One i-Pod-wearing dude that I had passed earlier cruised by me, and he looked back twice to see if I was gaining on him. I dearly wanted to pass his lycra-clad ass. But by this time, I was exhausted. Going out too fast cost me. My legs and arms felt leaden, and my breathing was labored.

With a tremendous effort, I picked up my pace again
. As I rounded the second to last corner, a kind soul who had already finished looked at me and said, "Way to go! The finish line is 60 yards ahead!" I tried to quicken my sadly-shortened stride, and crossed the finishing mats at 50:33, with an overall avg pace of 8:08/mile. Definitely not a PR.

I heard the announcer call my name, but I couldn't even raise my head, I was so tired. And disgusted with myself. E. came in soon after me, with an overall avg pace of 8:23/mile.

We milled around the race area afterwards, eating excellent breakfast soft tacos gratis of the race organizers, and listened to a mariachi band serenade us and the other racers. Then we headed to a more substantial breakfast at Magnolia's Cafe, which you must dine at if you're ever in Austin.

There, I consoled myself with really good gingerbread pancakes. Now, I've got to catch a plane. More from Miami .....


  1. What a story. And I know it's all relative, but of course, i know several people who would kill for that time! (or who I would kill for that time?)

    Lesson learned. At least you didn't hurt anything! Or anyone!

  2. It's good to get the mistakes out of your system before the marathon. It still sounds like a great race. Good job! And nice pictures.

  3. Well at least you know why you finished the way you did. Or maybe you just jacked up the pace to push for all six miles next time.
    Good for racing though. Good going.

  4. Sorry the race wasn't what you wanted, Bex, but it sounds like you gave it a damn good effort. Hills just kill me in races. And racing in 82 degrees? You've got alot more stamina that I have. Sounds like that lycra-clad guy was a little worried you were going to stomp him, so you probably looked strong even though you were tired.

    Gingerbread pancakes?