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Race Report: Run Free Texas ‘80s 8K

I signed up for this race knowing it was the week before a bigger race on my calendar. I figured five-ish miles was a good week-before-the-race distance, I just wouldn’t push too hard. To be sure, I enlisted my running buddies to keep me in check and because it’s always more fun to run a race with friends.

Packet pickup was at Rogue downtown on Saturday morning starting at 10:00, so rather than a bunch of us driving separately, I volunteered to go. Rogue’s parking lot was full, side street parking was full, and cars continued to file in. I eventually found a space, then headed inside. Well, sort of. The line was out the door, probably 50 people in front of me. It was 10:15.

Fortunately, the large group of volunteers worked efficiently, and I don’t think I waited more than 15 minutes in line. I heard that people had begun lining up before they officially opened, like they were waiting for concert tickets or something! I slowed things down a bit by picking up materials for four people, but I still think it made more sense than each of us making a trip.

Last year’s technical shirt is one of my favorites—the sizing was right, and it’s super comfortable. I love the graphics on this year’s shirt, but I’m kind of disappointed that it’s not a tech shirt. It’s that soft cotton, which is comfortable to wear around but isn’t something I want to run in. Glad I have last year’s for that.

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But there’s a lot to love about this race. It starts and finishes at Gupton Stadium in Cedar Park, with its huge parking lot and access to stadium restrooms. And I’ve run every street on the course a hundred times, including my weekly Thursday hill workouts.

Best of all, the temp was about 60* as I got out of my car.

 

I met up with my friends and chatted with several others I hadn’t seen in a while. Quite a few people had dressed in ’80s costumes–lots of neon and leg warmers, side ponytails and lace gloves. I think the guy dressed as Richard Simmons won the costume contest, and rightly so.

Finally, as the sun peeked over the trees and “Jump” blasted from the sound system, it was time to run.

My friends and I lined up sort of in the middle of the pack, but we’d barely cleared the start and turned onto Vista Ridge when we ran (almost literally) into people who were walking. I’m all for walkers (after all, they ensure I’m not last) but I don’t understand why some of them choose to start so close to the front. Fortunately this is a small race and we had plenty of room to pass, but I still had to do more weaving around than I really wanted.

Early on, someone running near us carried a speaker (unfortunately not a la John Cusack in Say Anything, but still fun) and played ’80s music as we ran. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 99 Luftballoons, and something from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack accompanied us for a while.

Several Rogues cheered along the early parts of the course, but other than the course marshals, police officers, and one family holding signs, spectators were few and far between.

Next we headed up the steep Park Street hill I’ve incorporated into my Thursday workouts the last few weeks. It sucked today too. As we reached the top, about 2.5 miles in, we met the leaders who’d already made the loop and were headed back the other way to the finish, just one mile to go. It’s exciting to see the fast racers–and I found out later that the guy I saw in the lead eventually got passed by my former coach Jen, who took the overall winner title again this year. Run like a girl, indeed.

We slowed for the water stop, then soldiered on. We rounded the traffic circle at Lynnwood, then enjoyed a brief downhill respite before going up, then down again. There was some confusion as to which side of the road we were supposed to run—we’d been on the right side of Park, but that side was closed for us; on Lynnwood, the occasional vehicle passed in each direction. Many runners had continued along the right side, but after the close calls we’ve had on the roads recently, we didn’t feel comfortable with that if the whole road was open to traffic, so we continued on the left.

At the bottom of Lynnwood, we turned left and uphill at Trail Ridge and left/uphill again at Water Oak. At this point, I was feeling worse than I had expected, and the run felt more difficult. I lagged ten yards behind my friends.

We slowed again for the water stop at the top of the hill, and I got a second wind. We hit the big downhill on Park Street and picked up some time. Oddly, the final uphill gave me no trouble, and then we made the last turn. Another (faster) friend who’d already finished ran out to meet me and run the last few yards accompanied by “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Volunteers handed out water and snacks (the salted caramel puffed corn rocked) and I sat down to catch my breath. My friends went to exchange their shirts—the women’s sizes ran really small, which has been a problem at a lot of races recently. A year or so I gave up and now I order men’s sizes because there’s a lot less variation. A medium is a medium. Anyway, they were finally successful (although one had to wait until someone else traded in the size she wanted) and it was time to hit the coffee shop to, as Frankie says, Relax.

John Tuggle

About John Tuggle

John "The Tri Doc" Tuggle is a sports chiropractor in Cedar Park, Texas. He began triathlons locally and has branched out into more endurance type events. He loves most things that involve swimming, biking and running with a special emphasis on trail running.