A Beautiful 10K

This morning was my second visit to the Austin Capitol 10K race. Last year’s run represented my first real race, then two months into my new fitness regime, and I only met my third goal (“Finish without getting hurt“) while missing the first two (“Run the whole way“, and “Finish in 56 minutes“). Last year, I finished in 1:07:38.

This year, I set out with the same goals and achieved all three: I ran without stopping, finishing in 52:25 (8:27/mile), just over 15 minutes faster than last year. I beat not only my 56 minute goal, but also my unstated “It’d be really nice to beat 54 minutes” goal, and while it wasn’t exactly easy, I think I could’ve gone harder and faster. Last year I beat at 66% of my gender/age group, while this year I beat 88%. I had some advantages: This year, I got six hours’ sleep (awoken early by an errant notification at 05:30), had a productive trip to the bathroom, and benefitted from being 20 pounds lighter and having run ~900 miles over the last year.

The weather was absolutely perfect: in the high 50s, a light breeze with clear skies and dry ground. We left the house at 6:50 or so and managed to snag one of the last five parking spots in my preferred lot in the park near the start of the race. Supposedly there were 17000 registrations, although the scoreboard shows 22058 finishers?

The start of the race was the hardest part, with a few significant hills. But none were as steep or as nearly long as I’d remembered from last year, and I had no trouble running them. Having started with a faster group, I didn’t have to dodge walkers on the hill, and I was inspired by the truly hardcore folks around me (a younger mom next to me was doing everything I was doing, faster, while pushing a stroller).

Still, the start felt slow, and avoided looking at my watch until the halfway point, figuring that I’d wait until then to assess the hole I was in and figure out how to react. I was delighted to discover that I hit the 5K mark at almost exactly 27 minutes (27 minutes on my watch, 26:37 on the “chip time”), exactly on track for my “secret” goal of 54 minutes. But now I was excited– could I run a negative split with the second half faster than the first?

Fortunately, running in the “A” group this time yielded two benefits: first, less weaving and dodging at the start of the race (although there were definitely some folks who were not running at a pace that would qualify for the A group) and second, it gave me a whole group of runners at a solid pace to try to meet and beat. Toward the end of the race, as my enthusiasm started to wane, this was especially important– I’d focus on someone thirty or forty feet away and think “I’ll just catch up and go finish with them.” This repeated a half dozen times over the last two miles.

I had three caffeinated Gu energy blocks throughout the race: One at the start, one somewhere around mile 2, and one at mile 5– the last I hadn’t finished by the sprint at the end and I regretted having put it in my mouth at all. I barely drew on my little water bottle and finished the race with more than half of it left. I brought my Amazon Fire phone for music, but discovered that my “fully charged” cheapo Bluetooth headphone was completely dead. I suspect it’s broken. While I was slightly bummed, I figured running for less than an hour without music wouldn’t be bad, and it wasn’t.

My heart rate was under control for almost the entire race, peaking at 176 beats per minute but mostly hovering comfortably just below 160:

My fancy new Hoka Clifton 9 running shoes were amazing, and provide the right amount of cushion for real-world running (they feel almost too cushy on the treadmill):

I was a bit worried because I had tied them too tight before a 9 mile treadmill run earlier in the week and bruised just below my left ankle, but that tenderness didn’t bother me much on the run. My knees felt great.

My first kilometer was my slowest and the last my fastest:

I started running harder as I crossed the bridge near the finish line and poured on even more speed as I turned the last corner with a tenth of a mile left to go. I heard my older son shout out “Go, Dad, Go!” and started looking for him. I then heard my younger son chime in, hollering “Go, Dad!” and I was so happy — he’s usually quiet and it was so motivational to hear that he was so into it.

After cruising through the finish line (pain free, unlike my hobbling sprint at the end of the Galveston half) while thinking “I could’ve gone a bit faster, and a bit sooner”, I collected my finisher’s medal and headed back to where my kids were waiting.

Except, they weren’t there. When we did finally met up, I learned that they never were (due to an ill-timed bathroom break), and I’d hallucinated my whole cheering section. 🤣

We all waited for my housemate to finish his run and I loudly cheered on all of the other runners, (unintentionally) egged on by my 9yo who endlessly whined “Dad, be quiet! You don’t know any of these people! You’re embarrassing me!” 🤣

This is my final race before Kilimanjaro at the end of June. After summers’ end, I’ll again run the “Run for the Water” 10 miler in November, then do my second Austin 3M Half in January 2024. Then, I’ll be doing this race again on April 7, 2024.


Published by ericlaw

Impatient optimist. Dad. Author/speaker. Created Fiddler & SlickRun. PM @ Microsoft 2001-2012, and 2018-2022, working on Office, IE, and Edge. Now a SWE on Microsoft Defender Web Protection. My words are my own, I do not speak for any other entity.

2 thoughts on “A Beautiful 10K

  1. Congratulations on the solid, consistent pace with a strong finish. I love that race.

  2. Congrats Eric! It’s great to see you improve your running skills in this quite short amount of time. Keep on going and running!

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