AFMDC Race #4: Rogue Distance Festival and the
A participant's look at December's Rogue Distance Festival.
My husband saved me on Sunday.
I woke up at 5 a.m., shuffled in to the kitchen to take a look at our thermometer, and grumbled, “Fifty-six degrees? You have GOT to be kidding me.” More grumble, grumble; I hate muggy weather, and I began to revamp my race-day outfit to shorts and short-sleeved shirt. James walked up with his iPad and said, “Honey, I think you may want to take a look at the hourly forecast for Cedar Park.”
Thanks to his warning, I was properly (if not completely warmly) dressed for the Rogue Distance Festival’s windy, cold temperatures. Thank goodness for the option to hang out inside before race start. I tried to stay in the mid-zone, near the doors to outside, where it wasn’t completely toasty but it wasn’t entirely frigid. I know from trail running that I don’t want to get too comfortable. But it was nice having indoor, warm bathrooms to use; I spoke with Candice Combs, who had been out at Decker (“a lovely course”) and was also at Cedar Park High School for the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge’s half track 10K option; I ran into Kim Hanford who was doing the 10K for fun on the way to the start line. Though Hanford is a multiple Ironman-distance triathlete who works out with Tri Zones Training, she scoffed at the idea of running longer than the 6.2 miles we’d be covering that morning. “Running a marathon at the end of an Ironman is a whole different thing,” she explained. “You won’t find me doing a 30K for fun.”
While I love distance running, I must confess that I was quite glad to not be doing either the 30K or the half marathon. The two longer races set out a bit late, which delayed the 10K start by some five minutes or so. When we lined up, I was pleased to recognize several of the people I’d met at the Decker Challenge Half Marathon in December; there was Maya Lin (who would continually play leap frog with me—she’s a faster runner but takes some planned breaks), and I chatted briefly with AFM readers Margo and Ed Harmatuk (they ran the whole way together!). Then the gun sounded and we were off.
I love running in the cold but I hate running in the wind. I like to joke that my marathon PR was the day I beat the Kenyans; it was a windy and cold ’03 Motorola Austin Marathon, and the Kenyan runners all bailed when we hit a late mile out-and-back section on Lake Austin Boulevard. People underestimate wind, and I remember looking at the elite runners’ times in the results, realizing that, proportionally, they had all slowed much more than I as we ran into the wind. My mistake was that I hadn’t relented enough in order to come back faster when the wind was at my back. Instead, I’d simply beaten myself up working against a force of nature.
I tried to keep this lesson in mind as we struggled on Sunday.
There was no sweet spot to be found. As we turned into the wind, I was cold; with the wind at my back, I was hot. The jacket came off about midway and I opted to run cold into the wind rather than deal with putting my outer layer back on after each turn (and there were a lot). To be honest, my time was not important enough to me to work on drafting, though I did consider it at times. However warm I got from effort, the muscles in my legs and butt really never felt like they were firing. Was it the weather or was it leftover holiday sloth that made me feel like a sack of flab? Well, probably a mix.
Here are the folks who passed me along the way, in order from Mile 1 to the finish:
343 John Salazar
68 Cami Miller
237 Esther Ortiz
60 Casey Bernard
110 Harold Babbit (I have to laugh, because Harold came up and said, “I’ve been trying to pass you, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Babbit is running his first AFMDC; he trains with ARC and Al’s Ship of Fools, and he had just recently done a half marathon in Oklahoma City, which he described as “very moving.” Dude, you so passed me.)
49 Candice Combs (yes, we’d chatted in the bathroom before the race start. She actually asked me about my Twitter handle and got the story.)
320 Michelle Carlin (amazing race walker—“I practice a lot.” As I watched her glide by, I thought that perhaps I should try race walking; the difference between running and race walking is that both feet leave the ground when you run. That, and a little matter of technique.)
235/117 Almina Orbach/Jacqueline Avila (these two young ladies train with Rogue’s Marathon High, and I was so impressed by their team work as they set goals to move from one point on the course to the next.)
234 David Corna
385 Rachel Silva
(Silva and I had been running in the same vicinity for most of the race; I’d noticed her #7 John Elway jersey several times.)
3336 Searching results in any of the distances didn’t give me this woman’s name, but she was wearing a shirt that said, “You were just passed by a survivor.” Yes!
2261 Again, no search revealed a name but I suspect that this man was one of the longer distance fast guys.
421 Kat Willis (I found Kat at the finish area to tell her how much I admired her helpful encouragement to two young men who were struggling. I had thought she was their coach, but it turns out they were middle schoolers she didn’t know; in the final miles, I heard her say to them, “OK, when you get into the final stretch, I want to see you racing in. Not now; it’s too soon, but you can do this.” Kat finished strong.)
AFM writer Jasmin Castanon chats as she hands out the new January 2014 “Best of” issue; this runner was signed up for the 10K but said he got on the scale after Christmas and wrote Rogue a note, “Please help me,” so they moved him to the half distance.
403 John Archibeque (Archibeque was my favorite passer. As we were coming through the parking lot up to the finish, I actually caught and passed him. I could practically feel the “Oh, hell, NO, she is NOT going to finish ahead of me” energy as Archibeque surged around in the home stretch to cross the line before me. We talked at the end, and it turns out he has a really amazing story that AFM readers need to hear.)
2135 Patricia Russell-Vargas (one of the best things about being slow is getting to see the winners of longer races finish. Russell-Vargas came in at 1:26:43, the first woman in the half marathon. She said it was “not my best time, but I’m happy.” Turns out she was racing with her arm in a cast—she’d broken it just before Decker, which threw her out of the AFMDC.)
Spectators. Believe it or not, there were a few spectators at the finish line. A group of friends were stationed outside, waiting for runner Jessica Schneider, who was out doing her third half marathon. Two of the guys had been there since 6:45 a.m., sitting in their camp chairs. Now THAT’S friendship.
I hung around the Austin Fit Magazine table as the longer races finished (you can always catch me there after I’ve run), and I chatted with Gordon Alexander. He shared that he and several others at the lead of the 10K wound up adding an extra mile due to problems with course marking. The AFMDC organizers, Rogue, and the timing company conferred on this matter and later addressed it via email with participants; while credit will be given for completing the 10K, which is required as part of the half track option, the 10K times will not be added into the cumulative ranking.
Steven Moore, an amazing ultra runner who is volunteering as one of the 3:10 pace group leaders for the 2014 Austin Marathon, was there practicing and laughed to say that the wind broke his partner’s sign. The wind and cold didn’t really faze Moore, who loves bringing folks in for that BQ (men 39 and under need a 3:10 or faster time to qualify for the Boston Marathon). He also relayed his personal outlook on “hilly” courses: “There are no hills if you can see the top.” Ergo, there are no hilly races in the AFMDC. People running with Moore's 3:10 pace group, you've been warned.
I had a brief chat with Danny Spoonts, who was out there for the 30K. We mused a bit about running tangents (come on, folks—don’t take the long way around the curve), and he did point out that, while the 30K course was certified, the 10K and half marathon routes were not. So perhaps your Garmin is a little right and it’s not just failing to run tangents that is giving a longer reading in this particular instance.
Rogue co-founder and owner Ruth England and San Marcos Street store manager Chuck Duvall handed out some really nice looking age group awards. There was Dunkin Donuts coffee to warm up with, massages to be had, and breakfast tacos to be eaten, thanks to the AFMDC. While I didn’t better my IBM Uptown Classic time, I’ll take the finish—at least I showed up on a day that, no matter what the distance, provided a worthy test.