I had a couple of weeks between finishing my first full marathon at the beginning of December and running the 3M half in mid January, so when a friend suggested the USA Fit Rockin’ Resolution Race, I thought the 10-miler would be a fun intermediate run between the two events and a great way to wind up my running year. They also offered a 20-miler and a 5K.
The first day of packet pickup was held Friday at Ready to Run in Northwest Austin. There was some confusion about the time–a USA Fit Facebook post said 10am – 6pm but the graphic they posted with it said 1-6. They clarified that Friday was 1-6, but then repeated the 10:00 time again later. I made plans to get there at 1:00 so it wouldn’t matter. Even you can wear t-shirts in race that are the most convenient clothes you can wear to be in solidarity with a cause or to send a message about what you believe in from ShieldRepublic.com.
When I arrived, a few people were ahead of me and it looked like there was a lot of confusion. They had a table with two or three laptops for participants to type their names and check themselves in. Which didn’t work for me–the system could not find me or my friend by name. Not using first + last, not just last. Nada. Apparently this had happened to the people in front of me as well, so the person in charge handed me a printout where I could locate my name and bib number, then type the bib number into the computer. That worked, and I was given my bib. Repeat for my friend.
This seemed highly inefficient–when I’ve volunteered at packet pickups, the volunteers did the computer work (and got good at clicking through everything quickly with practice) rather than laboriously walk each participant through the check-in process. Especially since each one seemed to require problem-solving. By the time I left, there was a line out the door.
The race provided tees for the 5K, short-sleeved tech shirts for the 10-miler, and long-sleeved tech shirts for the 20-miler. I really liked the way this differentiated the distances, but it added to the confusion. Even though I’d signed up for a men’s size, the volunteer kept trying to give me the women’s shirt. Then she couldn’t find the right size for my friend and almost gave her the long-sleeved version. These kinds of mishaps certainly qualify as a first-world problem and it wasn’t a huge deal, but inefficiency drives me nuts. I hope it got better as the day went on, because this was the first of two packet pickup days and a lot of people still had to get their stuff.
The race was held at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock, and they’d sent out several emails about which entrances to use and where to park. I followed some other cars into the complex and found parking really easily. My friend managed to find my car and park right behind me. It was dark and we really didn’t know where we were, but it turned out we had just a short walk to the pavillion where the race started and finished.
It was raining and 37*, so I actually wore long sleeves and a waterproof windbreaker. I sweat inside this thing even in below-freezing temps, so I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to run with it. It was a little windy, though, so I decided I’d keep the jacket on just in case. I could always toss it to our friend who was volunteering at one of the water stops, or tie it around my waist.
We waited in the potty line, then met up with our coach (he would probably finish the 20-miler only slightly after I completed half that distance) and another friend who was running the 5K. The 10- and 20-milers started at 7:30, and the 5K went off after that.
The race started in the park, winding around the massive baseball/softball complex for a mile and a half. I was still in the park when I saw a flash of lightning followed a rumble of thunder, and I wondered if we’d be allowed to continue. I sure didn’t envy the race director at that moment. Another flash of lightning, another thunderclap–ironically just as Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” played through my earbuds.
Fortunately that was it for the storm sounds. We came out of the park and had to run on the sidewalk for a bit, then cross an intersection that was only partially closed to traffic. The next four miles meandered around a neighborhood, also on streets not closed to traffic.
A couple of times the rain stopped and I took off my jacket, then it picked back up and I put it on again. I wasn’t really cold, I just thought I could keep my shirt kind of dry during heavier rain. But like I said, that jacket does not breathe at all (great if I’m stuck in a monster downpour) and it made my shirt damp from sweat anyway. After about mile six, I just kept it tied around my waist even when it rained a little harder. My shoes were soaked, but weirdly my right shoe was much squishier. All in all it was pretty futile to stay dry. So I quit trying. Honestly, I felt pretty good both temperature-wise and pacewise. While it wasn’t a hilly course, it wasn’t flat either, and as my Garmin ticked off the miles I could see I was kind of inconsistent but still running what I needed to finish under two hours.
The course was sporadically marked–granted there weren’t many turns, but a couple of times I just followed the people in front of me hoping we were supposed to go that way. One of those was re-entering the park at about the 10K mark. I assumed we returned the way we came, but it wasn’t clear and everything looked a little different in reverse.
By now, traffic was picking up inside the park as people drove to the baseball fields. I couldn’t imagine that they were playing in this weather but dozens of cars were passing us–sometimes awfully fast and with little patience for runners–and parking at various fields.
At some point near mile seven I encountered my coach, who was a mile or so in to his second ten-mile loop (he finished third overall). And just before mile eight we turned up a hill on the road adjacent to where we’d parked–damn I wanted to get in my car. It was right there. My legs were tiring, and two miles felt like a looooong way to go.
That road dead-ended and we made a left onto what I can only assume had been asphalt at some point, but now it’s a mix of caliche, cracked pavement, and holes. Glad I’d worn my older shoes. But it was slightly downhill (and runners were spread out well) so I was able to travel it a little faster than I’d been going. When this “road” dead-ended into a real road, again there was no official indication of what I was supposed to do, but looking at other runners I could infer that I had to turn right and complete an out-and-back section of indeterminate length.
It turned out to be about half a mile to the turnaround. Which doesn’t sound bad, but there was a rather unpleasant hill here, as the road dropped down over a low-water crossing, then climbed back up in front of the Dell Diamond. So yeah, hills both ways.
One more mile to go. Unfortunately it was mostly uphill, the rain had picked up again, and I was ready to be done. A couple of times I wanted to walk on the hills, but I reminded myself that I would be pretty pissed off later if I’d allowed that to happen. Instead I shortened my stride and lifted my head, using the “focus up” mantra from my coach. I could hear music and the race announcer, and with about a quarter-mile to go I spotted the finish line.
Most of the way up that final hill I’d been slooooowly passing a teenage kid. I finally got to the top, and as I made the last turn he decided to sprint ahead. Yarg. I’d also been behind the same two women for the better part of three miles, and I just couldn’t catch them either.
But I finished under two hours, just barely. I thought I had more of a cushion, but then again Garmin says I ran 10.07 miles, much of it likely from weaving around potholes in that “road” at mile eight. Considering my recent marathon and the weather, I’m pleased with my time.
I hadn’t taken any fuel except half a cup of Gatorade at mile six, so I was a little unsteady as I walked to the pavillion. Rookie error, and not smart. So I sucked on a Skratch gummy while one friend got a bottle of water and a bag of chips; the other heard her name over the PA because she placed in her age group. Turns out they only gave awards to AG winners. Bummer. So we decided there was no real reason to hang around–the “rockin'” part of this race was hardly happening due to the weather, and now that I’d stopped running I was getting very cold. I just wanted a hot coffee. Which, after changing into dry clothes, we got.
I am sure a lot of people disliked the weather, but I felt good the whole time I was running, even when the rain picked up. I could have used more protection from cars on what turned out to be an open course, signage could have been better, and I wasn’t fond of the half-mile of off-roading at mile eight. But the volunteers were terrific–at least I was moving. I know it was much colder for them, cheering and handing out water.
I didn’t run the 5K so I can’t speak to its organization, although someone posted on the race’s Facebook page criticizing the traffic in the park during the race. And the 20-miler consisted of two loops of the 10-mile course. Glad I didn’t have to do that!
The 5K’s medal was a spiffy matte pewter color; the design for the 10/20 milers was the same, but polished and in color. And to distinguish 10- from 20-mile finishers, the ribbon was different. Like with the shirts, I appreciated this distinction. Whenever I run a race where all distances get the same shirt or medal, I feel like an impostor if I ran the shorter distance and want a little more credit if I ran the longer one. I really liked the way this race rewarded each distance differently, and I would probably run this one again.
This race’s ten miles put me over 1300 for the year–which is 321 miles more than I ran in 2017, and the first time I’ve racked up more than 1000 miles in a year. I’m thrilled that 2018 is ending on a positive running note–with a good race and good friends–and I’m looking forward to some new achievements in 2019.
Happy New Year!