January 3, 2015
I saw this opportunity for a 10K for $10 (no shirt, but chip-timed). My sister had mentioned to me that Dallas Running Club (DRC) is one of the largest clubs in the country with 5000+ members (which is how they can put on a race inexpensively and have enough volunteers that don’t want to run).
I wasn’t exactly sure where I was headed (though I can use the GPS in my folks’ car to figure out the location). From their website, it showed that there were a half dozen places to park for this race (how many people will there be anyway?), including the “DRC Clubhouse.” I guess if you have enough club money, you can afford to buy some property!
I took the freeway about 10 miles from my folks’ house, drove a bunch of random city streets (including a Rupley Street (gives me hope there is a Rahl Avenue somewhere in the world)) and then turned on some road towards a ballfield. Even though it was not yet sunrise, there were 4-5 volunteers directing traffic. I managed to get a plum parking spot within 200 yards of the registration spot (not the clubhouse, but a park building).
It was still super cold out and I had my sleeves on under my long-sleeved shirt and gloves (hoped to be able to button my shorts by myself today, though). I hustled up the hill to the registration (inside), filled out a form (Clydesdale) and paid my $10. They handed me a number and a D-tag for my shoe. Since the race was not starting for another 45 minutes, I headed back to the car, read Julie & Julia for a bit and napped for a bit, too.
With about 10 minutes to go before the start, I thought I should head over to the line. It was down a dirt hill from the registration “cabin,” and along the White Rock Lake bike path (a large inflatable arch and people milling around gave me a good idea where the start line was). I recognized some folks (but not enough to actually know a name or have an in-depth conversation) though I shot the breeze with a few folks, as I often do before a race.
There are two races run simultaneously, a 5K and a 10K, with (obviously) an earlier turnaround for the 5K. i stationed myself somewhat near the front as I don’t want to get stuck behind any stroller or walker folks.
There were a couple hundred people at the start and after a few announcements, we started basically on time. Some skinny Hispanic guys in tank tops as well as some “kids” sped off at a pace I could never hope to match (so this will be a bit more competitive than the Carrollton run). The first mile or so is very gentle rolling hills (just slight undulations in the path, mostly flat) and I get my first mile in 7:43. If I can finish in under 49:48 (8:00/mile), I will be pretty happy, since I usually don’t run that fast nowadays.
The course continues to hug the lake, with a few minor bridge crossings (over side inlets) and then goes up a minor uphill (but enough that I would normally walk up it) and cruises down the other side. The lake has devolved into some waterfalls (really scenic). Mile 2 takes me 7:45.
Now that I have passed the 5K turnaround, the course heads up a lengthy uphill (I DEFINITELY would walk up this.) and I carefully pace myself to the top and manage a 7:59 mile and take the extra tenth to the 10K turnaround. As folks are coming back towards the finish, I try and size up if any (or all) of them are also Clydesdales. One “big” guy has on a Rocky Raccoon 100M tech shirt (2012, I think) and a red-headed guy also looks to be maybe 200+ pounds. Don’t know if I can catch either of them.
From the turnaround, I know there is a sizable downhill (but then 2+ miles to the end, so I can’t fly down it too much). Another mile, 7:41. There is now even a possibility to finish under 48 minutes. My last 10K was 49:18 (in July) so finishing under 48 would be my best time in a while (finishing under 49 would be my best time).
I passed the red-headed big guy just before the downhill, but he re-caught me on the uphill by the waterfalls on Mile 5, where I slowed to 7:54. I kept him in my sight; maybe he might stand between me and getting a Top 3 Clydesdale finish…
For the final 1.2, I began trying to visualize in my mind how the course would be backwards, how far the little bridges were from the end, etc., to figure out when to accelerate and if I would be able to catch either of the big guys ahead of me. Just past Mile 6, I caught the red-head and began accelerating to the finish. My last 1.2 was 7:41 (my best mile, and it was 1.2M! (~6:40)) and I finished in 48:09.
I chatted for a bit with the guy in the Rocky Raccoon shirt – he had done RR100 in 2011 as his first (same as me); also, his daughter (aged 14) had run her first 5K race today. I was trying to think how he had a 14-year old daughter… and then I saw his age (because I thought we were about the same, but he was 35 (!!), but this is Texas after all). I also chatted with the redhead. He is 33, lives in Texas, but grew up in Modesto. Small world.
I went inside to see how I did, but could not find my results on the printed out sheet. When I was just about to go and complain, I realized for some reason, races are putting Clydesdale runners in a “separate” race. Probably too confusing to place them separately and they want to make sure Clydesdales don’t double-place. This is why at the Plano race I was shown as the winner of the race (because I was the fastest Clydesdale there).
I was still a bit annoyed with the results because even though I beat the redhead, he started 15 seconds behind me. True, he ran a faster race, but had we started together, I may have been able to gauge my pace better. I prefer that awards be based on gun time. Still I did manage to place third in my division (and there were at least 15 competitors) and both of the guys that beat me were at least 8 years younger than me.
The award ceremony was nice and fairly efficient and they read off each name and presented a Dynotaped medal (somewhat generic, but did have “DRC” on it) with the race name, division and division place on it. I grabbed a few bananas (to get my money’s worth) and also took the opportunity to let the race volunteer coordinator know that the volunteers at the aid stations were great. It’s always important to do this because positive reinforcement begets more volunteers, and good volunteers always make a race that much better.
I walked back to the car and I was parked in a puddle (I was when I arrived, but hoped that it might dry out a bit by the time I got back). This made it difficult to change into dry clothing, but I was able to clean off my shoes a little bit.
This will be my last race in Texas until I am back for another family visit. I spent $62, ran 5 races, and won a medal, Gatorade recovery drink, and a champagne flute (I should have received another award but the ceremony took too long in Plano.), plus a New Year’s Day tech shirt and some mimosas.