Run Review: Run for the Water 5k, Austin, Texas

I’m back! OK, what did I miss? I mean, Kim and Kris are still happy young newlyweds, right? And Jessica Simpson is totally not preggers, right? And Rick Perry gave an amazingly awesome speech in New Hampshire that’s going to help him regain the top of the polls, right?

Oh, so…..none of those things are accurate?

Well, I wouldn’t know, because I was eating and shopping my way through Austin. Yee-haw!

Also: I ran a race. So let’s start with that.

I’m right up there in the front somewheres. Not.

I ran the 2011 Run for the Water 5k, which helps the Gazelle Foundation secure access to clean water in the small African country of Burundi. There was also a 10-miler and a kids run. There were about 3,000 participants between the 10-miler and the 5k. They also had barefoot divisions in both categories, to which I say, hell to the no thanks. I don’t know if they cap the number of race participants, but they seemed pretty pleased with the numbers. I registered kinda late, September 13 and the fee was just $17.

The race took place at 7 am on Sunday, October 30 and it started and ended on the First Street bridge right in front of RunTex, a popular Austin running store. It was cold and dark when we started (I think the temp was around 50 degrees), but it was nice to watch the sun coming up as you ran back to the bridge at 7:30 am.

We were staying at the W Hotel on Lavaca and 2nd, so I had a short walk over to the start. Interesting note: the course went past the (fairly sparse) Occupy Austin folks who are camped out at the City Hall, but there were no comments or heckling or anything like I might have expected. The police had cracked down the night before and arrested 38 of the occupiers, so maybe that had something to do with the silent treatment.

Bag and tag pickup was pretty easy. You could pick up bags at RunTex beginning on Friday. I went on Saturday and there was no line or anything. The swag bag had the assorted promos for upcoming races, a voucher for a free Whataburger with purchase of sides, a pretty nice 2012 calendar featuring water projects in Burundi, and a sweet bright blue tech shirt. As we all know, I only care about the tech shirt.

Tech shirt
I did not wear my shirt at the race. That’s kind of lame. But I did wear it to the gym last night. So, here you go.

The race was supposed to start with the 10 mile runners at 7, but I don’t think it actually started until about 7:08. After both the Burundi and U.S. national anthems, the race started. Then the 5k participants were called to the start line. We started a tad bit late as well, but I don’t remember the time. There were no corrals or pacers, you just kinda started wherever.

Which brings me to another important point: The main thing to remember if you are planning on running in an Austin race is that folks are way more chill about this whole racing biz. Some folks were running, some were walking, some just wanted to show their support for their running buddies by bringing their kids in a red wagon onto the course. Nobody seemed very competitive or like they were going for a personal record. So, you might have to bob and weave around some pretty laid back folks, their kids, their dogs, their grandparents. It almost seemed more like a parade than a race at times. It was definitely a less “runner” vibe than I get at a lot of the DC races. Don’t get me wrong: everybody’s very nice, they’re just not in a big hurry to get this race thing going.

The course was an out-and-back. I would not call it a flat course: there was a long uphill portion near the halfway point, but I’ve seen worse. The course support was provided by Keller Williams Realty and was pretty good. Lots of folks were out there to direct, which became pretty important when the two races split. I think there was one water station that you hit on the way out and back, and I saw Porta Potties at one point. No VIP potties though, so I didn’t stop.

My goal in all races is generally the same: don’t walk. I always try to run the whole race. This was a good race for me. I did not walk, and I finished in 30 minutes, 21 seconds, which is respectable. I came in 147th among the 5k women; 322 overall place in a field of 813; and 55th within my age group.

There were 493 women in the 5k and the average women’s pace was 37 minutes, so I did better than the average, which is great. Hell, I even did better than the average man, who came in at 31 minutes. Of course, the first place women’s finisher came in at 20 minutes, 38 seconds; and the first place man crossed at 16 minutes, 41 seconds. But, who’s counting.

The after party was pretty great as well. Whataburger was giving out breakfast taquitos and I saw several local businesses giving away breakfast tacos and coffee as well. No Juan in a Million though.

I almost never hang out after a race and this one was no exception. I grabbed a banana, a granola bar and a water and left since I was (a) cold; and (b) I planned on being back to the hotel by 8 am. By the way, I did not bring my camera and take any pictures, which I know is kinda lame, but I was just focused on getting the race done. Sorry. I’ll try not to be so lame in the future. Also: race pictures still aren’t available.

Oh, by the way, the first place finisher for the 10 mile race was Scott MacPherson from Cedar Park, TX. And he was hitting the finish line as I was walking back to the W. Turns out, he finished the whole race in 48 minutes, 49 seconds. That is INSANE. Much props to that dude. I take longer than that just getting ready to go for a run.

This guy is kinda fast. But I’m sweatier, so I think that means I’m working harder.

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