Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 Miles & 20 Bands - Well Let's call it 19...

Last month I ran in the inaugural running of the Austin 10/20. The 10/20 is a 10-mile road race with 20 bands set up every half-mile or so. Sounds like fun...well it was!

The race was scheduled to start at 8:30 am so my wife and I arose around 6:30, prepped and we were out the door at 7:15. Warm morning about 50 degrees, a little mist in the air, but weather man said it will burn off early. For once he was right. The start was only a quick 10 minute drive from the house. Parking was a breeze, plenty of spaces in multiple lots around both the start and finish lines, which were about 1/3-mile apart. We opt for parking closer to the finish, figuring we didn't want to walk any farther than we had to after the race. So a five minute walk and we are entering the start area. Music already pumping through the PA. This is going to be a good day.

I'm not really prepared for the huge crowd of racers. Turns out that there are about 10,000 participants. Wow! I figured the 10-mile distance would limit attendance a bit. Guess I'm wrong. Good news is that the organizers are prepared. Ten corrals for ten groups. Corrals numbered to match bibs, easy-peasy. I'm in corral #2, which is actually the third group, since the elite runners start up front.

I stretch and walk nervously around a bit, tighten the laces on the Merrel Bare Access shoes, then loosen them, just to tighten them again. Then with 3 minutes to the start I enter corral #2, set Runkeeper Live so my wife can follow me and I'm ready.

The start is a coordinated start, meaning everyone starts at once. I'm a little worried that a start like this will mean a lot of crowding, but the groups stay pretty loose until the gun, which means that the crowding is minimal and by the 1/2-mile mark there is plenty of room.

The route is relatively flat, with a total climb of 547' and plenty of turns, which I personally like since it breaks up the monotony a bit. This area of town isn't the prettiest, so the scenery is somewhat limited. Very commercial/industrial, thankfully there is the music.

And the music doesn't disappoint. Although as I approach the first band I am very skeptical. They are awful. I think I am listing to dogs and cats trying to sing and fight simultaneously, in a burlap sack, while being water-boarded. It's not pretty, not setting the stage well for what's to come. Thankfully as I approach mile-1 and the second band, they are much more pleasing to the senses...and this continues throughout the race. All of the bands are good and entertaining. This being my first run with live music along the way, I am surprised how energized I become as I pass each stage. What a great feeling, now I know why so many people travel for the Rock N Roll marathons.

Plenty of water stations along the way, more than usual it seems. As I approach the mile-6 station I am 
treated to a ice-cold, wet towel. WOW. What a treat! every race should offer these nuggets of delight. A quick squeeze on the back of the neck and then I place it on my bald bead for about 30 paces. Lovely.

I'm having fun, chatting up some of the other runners. It's always interesting how you fall into a group for a bit, meet some new people and then at some point that group just dissolves and you find yourself alone for a spell, only to realize a new, different group has formed.

At mile-8.5 I am cruising north along the frontage road of Mopac and I am glad the end in near, I'm starting to tire a bit and the temp is rising.....I realize that the 9 mile marker is just the other side of the highway and I am looking forward to the water station there, but then I realize that the southbound service road is one long hill. The last mile and a half of the course turns out to be about 200 feet of the elevation gain. Tough way to end a race.

I make the final turn and the last 300 yards is packed with spectators, always a nice way to bring it home. My favorite part of the finish though was another ice-cold towel. I might consider bringing a cooler to future events filled with small towels bathed in ice-water.

This was a fun race! Well organized and entertaining. I enjoyed the Austin 10/20 so much that I entered the 2014 event as soon as I got notification that registration had opened, which was about 2 weeks after the race ended. Looking forward to next year!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice review Steve! We'll do better with stage number 1 next year!