40th Anniversary Capitol 10K

Saturday morning, my BRF Sara and I headed down to the Cap 10K expo at the Palmer Events Center. Not ones to wait in line and pay for the privilege to park in the garage, we found free parking a few blocks away and walked across to the venue. After all, we’re picking up stuff to run 6.2 miles–a few blocks won’t kill us.

Armadillos were everywhere

We got in line based on bib numbers–I was allowed to pick up packets for others as long as I had their ID, so that was convenient. Then we walked a few steps to pick up shirts. They’re cute with 40 caricature armadillos–the race’s icon created by Statesman cartoonist Ben Sargent for the first Cap 10K in 1978.

My teenager said this looks like Space Invaders.

We wandered around the expo for a while–picked up t-shirts from the Covert table, got a Reebok shirt for trying on shoes. Oh and we signed up for 3M 2018 at a discounted rate. It took forever–their lone registration ipad moved slooooowly. But I got this year’s shirt for free, since I registered on-site. I missed running 3M this year–a work event conflicted and I had to switch to the Austin half. And of course both the shirts and medal were awesome. Anyway, now I have a shirt and I don’t care that I didn’t run that specific year since I’ve done it four previous years.

After collecting chapstick, pens, and all manner of promotional goodies, we were done. Ready for the race!

Sunday morning, six of us–Sara, John, Andria, plus the three of us–piled into two cars and headed down to find street parking. Temps were a lot cooler than for the Austin 10/20 two weeks ago, and the mile-ish walk to the starting area started out a little chilly. But the sun was out and it was an absolutely gorgeous morning to run.

I think we got to the starting area around 8:00, and it took a while for our turn. While we waited, someone (or, more likely, several promotional someones) starting tossing little red and white beach balls in the air like I’ve seen at football games. At one point there were dozens of them bopping around. This amused us, with the added bonus that it distracted my teenager from his grumpiness.

He actually kept one and ran the whole race with it.

We were in Corral D, so it was 8:25 before we started. They did a pretty good job of spreading people out so I wasn’t dodging too many walkers or slower folks, but a few times I passed people who were wearing bibs for the faster Corral B and wondered how that happened.

Running north on Congress Avenue to the Capitol is one of my favorite views in road running. And like I said, the weather was unseasonably cool–in the 50s–and while I didn’t intend to RACE race it due to the hills and the crowds, I was hoping for a decent performance.

The first mile is kind of the easy part–up Congress, right on 11th Street, left on San Jacinto. The course was slightly different this year, taking another right on 12th for one block to Trinity, then left on 15th.

Now the fun began. Fifteenth to Guadalupe wasn’t too bad, but from San Antonio up to West Avenue we climbed a beastly hill–I ran it, but my quads weren’t happy. From there we dropped downhill over Lamar, and for the better part of a mile the course followed a steady, exhausting uphill. I walked some.

By now I’d gotten separated from Sara, John, and Andria, and the guys were nowhere to be seen either. I wasn’t sure if they were ahead of me or behind. Neither of them really trains for races–they just show up and run about three every year. So they tend to run-walk; even so, they’re often faster than I am. Don’t think this doesn’t frustrate me…..

Anyway, I kept plugging along up Enfield, taking occasional walk breaks and ignoring my watch. Under MoPac–no high school band playing the Rocky theme song on repeat this time, I guess because of the construction in that area–then left on Winsted. The sun negated some of the cool temps, so it was nice to run along this shaded road for a while.

Once I got to Lake Austin Blvd, I knew the worst was behind me. A downhill at Veterans, flat behind Austin High along the lake (I was on the wrong side of the road to sample from the cheese table under the MoPac bridge, sadly), then mostly flat on Cesar Chavez to the First Street Bridge. Still, everything after mile four, my quads hurt and pace wasn’t great.

Under Lamar and up the last little hill, I made myself run the rest of the way in. I saw a Rogue friend just before the turn on to the bridge, and another one as I came down the bridge right before the last turn. Always so motivational! It helped me run my fastest pace the last .3 miles.

Runners were unusually crowded here, despite having half the bridge. It felt like I was weaving a whole lot more than I’d been doing a block earlier on Cesar Chavez. I didn’t think it was because I had picked up the pace, either. People were just more densely-packed. Ready to be done, I guess.

After I crossed the finish line, not only did I manage to meet back up with everyone I’d come with, we ran into a dozen other friends too. It’s kind of fun being someone who knows people at races. 😉

Anyway, I finished about three minutes behind my best Cap 10K time, which tells me I have a lot of work to do in the next two months before my goal race. But I managed to beat the guys by a minute or so–maybe it was because my kid carried that beach ball the whole way.

Melissa

About Melissa

About the Author: Melissa Cooper started running in 2011 with Couch to 5K. In the summer of 2012, in what seemed like a leap, she joined Rogue Running and completed her first half-marathon–San Antonio Rock and Roll–later that year. Finishing San Antonio was supposed to be a one-time bucket list thing, but these days her half-marathon total is at double digits (and climbing). She completed her first full marathon in December 2018 but has no plans to run another one. Her favorite race distance is probably the ten-miler. By day, she is a middle school teacher who juggles work and life and running—sometimes even successfully.

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