Yesterday, I ran my first Statesman Capitol 10,000, which is an annual staple in Austin racing. It’s billed as being the biggest 10k in Texas with almost 12,000 finishers, and it was a great experience. I hadn’t done a 10k since the IBM Uptown Classic in October, so I was really interested to see how my fitness had progressed at that distance.
I started out the day with a bagel, coffee, and some Nuun Energy. I woke up to the sound of rain and thunder and a chilly morning, but the weather map indicated it would let up before start time. My team met at Rogue Running at 6:30 for some pre-race socializing and warm-ups. We jogged the 2 miles to the startline on the Congress Avenue bridge and did a few strides. I’m not used to having an elite entry to races, so this was an interesting experience. It was good to see some friends from other teams, including Scott MacPherson (eventual champion for the 3rd time), Devin Monson, Erik Stanley, Rio Reina, Jared Carson, Megan Betts, Amy Shackelford, Lauren Smith, and many others.
We got set and the horn went off at 8am. I stayed with my teammate, Nora Colligan (eventual 3rd place overall female), through the first mile as we let the emotions of the start rush over our competitors. Cap10k starts with a gradual uphill with a steep incline at the end of the first mile. We hit the split in a conservative 6:04, perfect for preparing us for what was to come. The course does a little loop around the Capitol grounds and turns west onto 15th street. This section is about 2 miles of steep rolling hills, so I turned to Nora and said “Okay. Let’s do some work.” Many of the runners who had blasted out of the gate in the first mile started to really labor in this section, while we settled into a steady rhythm of hill running. At this point, I was extremely thankful for all of the workouts that Coach Steve Sisson had us doing on hilly courses. I was also glad I had chosen the Skechers GoMeb Speed 2 flats for the race, as the responsive, yet cushioned ride helped me endure all of those fast downhills. Miles 2 & 3 clicked off at 5:56 and 5:55, respectively. Nora had let off just a little bit and continued to run a smart race. Once we turned onto Winstead, I was starting to feel pretty tired but kept pushing through, really trying to incorporate some of the mental training that I’ve been working on lately. I slammed Mile 4 in 5:37, but it may have been too much too soon, as I started feeling pretty gassed as we turned down Veteran’s and merged onto Cesar Chavez. Nora blasted past me in pursuit of Amy Shackelford (eventual 2nd place overall female), and Mark Heerensperger (another Team Rogue teammate and very strong runner) eased by with about a mile to go. I struggled to hold onto Mark’s shoulder, but he opened a slight gap on me going into one of the last turns onto the 1st street bridge. At this point, I really started pumping my arms, opening my stride, and leaving it all on the course. We turned onto Riverside and the homstretch with Mark about 5 meters in front of me. I kicked with all I had, and briefly caught him and pulled in front, only for him to also kick and beat me across the finish line by about 2 seconds. I finished in 36:26, about 2 minutes and 20 seconds faster than my previous PR.
After the race, I congratulated Mark on the kick that led to him beating me, and he told me that he needed someone to help push him. This really made me start thinking about what we’re really doing when we race each other. As runners, it could be confused as a quest to beat the guy next to us, and maybe it is for some people. But when we go out and race our fellow runners and teammates, we’re really setting up an accountability system that can’t be realized in any other way. I am forced to be the best that I can be on the day of a race because the people next to me are seeking the same. By chasing after Mark in the last mile, I was forced to pull as much out of myself as I could and I can walk away from that race knowing that I left it all out there.
Thanks is due to Skechers Performance, Coach Steve Sisson, and Rogue Running for all the support.