I participated in my first race of 2015 last Sunday when despite the icky weather I showed up for the Rogue Distance Festival early on Sunday morning. I left my house shortly after 6AM to avoid having to find overflow parking after the lot closed at 6:45 and hoped that my Google maps verbal directions wouldn’t get me lost on the way to Cedar Park HS. In the dark, wet morning driving to an unfamiliar location was absolutely brutal, and I felt immense relief when I finally pulled into a parking spot and could wander to the Cedar Park HS cafeteria to await start time. One wonderful side effect of having access to the high school involved real bathrooms for the runners! Unfortunately, the women’s rooms had long lines, ran out of toilet paper in some stalls, and experienced mild flooding in one case…yuck! It was still nicer than porto potties though.
Most of the sponsors didn’t show up until after race start (the 30K and half marathon were supposed to start at 7AM, and the 10K start should have been at 7:15), so most of the runners just meandered around the cafeteria and stretched or tried to get into race mindset. It was fairly easy to guess who was a 30K/half marathoner vs us 10Kers based on clothing (most of the 10K runners were bundled up, but I saw some 30Kers in tank tops and shorts despite the mist and chill) and body build, but I was surprised that a few youngsters were tackling the half marathon. Way to go!
Unfortunately, a major rule about races, especially through neighborhoods, is that whatever can go wrong will. The race start was delayed about half an hour by a medical emergency along the route, which blocked the beginning of the route. Ultimately, portions of the race were re-routed although we cheerily rubbernecked at the emergency vehicles as we ran past. Fortunately, the neighborhood’s residents seemed fine with the minor delays, and some people even waved at us as we ran past.
Thanks to the respiratory crud I’d been dealing with all week I started with breathing issues, but I was determined to run every step the 10K. I discovered rather quickly that my iPod measures distances differently than many races, and the 10K didn’t have any mile markers, which would have been nice. I knew that there were water stations at the 2 mile and 4.5 mile points on the course, but I hit the 2 mile one before my iPod thought I’d hit 3K. When I reached the alleged 4.5 mile one I was already flagging, but I wanted to power through the run since I can definitely do a 10K, and there were only 1.7 miles left. I had been pacing off a man in front of me for the earlier portion of the course, but I had to back off for the last bit as I became more tired. I kept hoping that every turn would take us back to the Cedar Park HS parking lot, and by the time I finally did my lungs burned. A lot of runners said that the course was slightly short, but I’m not complaining about a 9.71K course versus 10K. Besides my 58.50 finish time was a personal best (that extra .29K probably wouldn’t have added much, maybe turned it to a 59.30 or so).
The sponsors had set up in the cafeteria while we were out on the course, and the 10Kers had first dibs since most of us were back ahead of the longer distance runners. The various energy/hydration drinks were nice (I still do not like coconut water, but I did drink my entire sample), but pizza struck me as an odd post-race food. I generally avoid dairy, but I did eat a couple of pieces of veggie pizza after my stomach settled. I hung out for results and the awards even though I was solidly in the middle of the pack, but as it got more and more delayed I became a little bored. I did snag a water bottle (the lid doesn’t work quite properly) and a free shoulder bag for running, which will be useful in future races, from the sponsors though.
All participants received a finishers medal, and the results and photos are posted online. The photos are free for download, which is a nice change from the incredibly expensive ones from other races. The ones of me are pretty awful (they’re from the end of the race), so I will not share here.
Overall, participating in the Rogue Distance Festival was a good experience, but it could use a few tweaks to run more smoothly. Hopefully, they’ll continue to offer the event though, so North Austin/Cedar Park/Leander runners have one event that doesn’t involve driving downtown!