February 19, 2019

Austin 5K, Revisited

In what is becoming an annual tradition, we headed to Austin to visit friends and run the 5K.  On Saturday, we picked up our packets at the same time as the Manzano Mile.

No filter sunset arrival at AUS
What a cool event.  I sincerely enjoyed watching the elites race the mile.  They stage the non-elite milers by age group before the main event of the speedsters, and I think I may try to run it next year.  Improving my mile time is one of my fitness goalsand having a goal race to perform at to see how those efforts have paid off could be fun.

Look at all those fit ladies -- it was fun to watch them take off fast, 
run by on their way back on the outside of the finish,
and return to close the loop to finish the mile
Sunday AM, we woke up in time, and enjoyed the gorgeous sunrise on the drive to the start.  From there, it was a very pleasant 20 minutes to take advantage of the blocked off streets, empty port-a-potties and time between the close of the half/full marathon start line (their start is open from 7 - 7:15), and the 5K start (7:30).

Sunrise in Austin on race day -- gorgeous
Unfortunately, we lined up too far back in the 5K crowd and I spent the first minute or two weaving and jogging in place behind some slower folks -- this was doubly frustrating because this portion of the course is downhill.  Eventually, after much effort, I found some space to run without obstacles and hit mile 1 at 9:59.  Given the congestion and that the first mile contains 75 ft of climb, I couldn't complain.

Texas is Texas and Beef loving is everywhere!
Mile 2 is 2/3 climb (another 75 ft) to the turn around, when, thankfully, you start to drop the altitude you've gained with 20ish ft of lost elevation before the mile marker.  The constant climb in miles 1 and 2 had started to take a toll on my speed, and even with the downhill at the end, I finished mile 2 @ 10:31.

I was glad to see the long downhill in front of me, because I was going to need to push to beat my performance from last year (31:46).  I tried to take advantage of 127 ft drop in this mile, hitting the 3 mile marker and lowest point of the race @ 9:49.  And then, because this course is brutal, I pumped my arms and tried to go as fast as I could, struggling against the 43 feet climb in the last 0.1 mile from the river to the finish line.

The finish photo game was a bit off - this photographer was 
ANGRY!  Yelling at all the finishers to keep moving...
Understood that he had photos to take, but um... 
people just finished a race
if they want to slow down that's kind of okay...

I crossed the line with a time of 31:29 (10:06/mile pace).  A 17 second improvement over last year, and definite confirmation that this course is difficult (only 2 seconds per mile faster than the 10K two weeks ago?  Oh, right, because it had 2.5 times the elevation gain in half the distance and was net neutral instead of net downhill).

Forever Sunset on our trip home.
Overall, I really like this race.  Not a PR course, but it's got a good vibe, and it's a great excuse to combine racing with visiting friends.  Plus,a 5K with the hills really makes it a harder effort than most of the stuff I run these days, so that feels good.

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