The Interval, 3/28/17

Cate Barrett racing at The Maze.  Photo courtesy of Rogue Running and AzulOx Visuals.

For Austin trail runners spring truly arrives with The Maze, the first race in the Rogue Trail Series.  This is the 14th straight year for the 3-race series.  The Maze is a twisty 10K loop packed into the confines of Walnut Creek park in north Austin.

The 30K runners started their first loop at 7am, still in darkness.  That didn’t prevent Moses Luevano and Mike Kurvach from running the 2 fastest 10K loops of the day, both of them faster than the 10K race winning time and they still had 2 loops to go.  Luevano ended up winning by a couple minutes over Kurvach.  Josh Beckham was third.  The masters winner was Brandon Batiansila and the grand masters winner was Thomas Lane.

Marking a strong comeback to racing after time off with an injury, Amy Baker won the women’s 30K.  Sam Godbold was second and Taylor Clark third.  Sky Canaves won the masters division and Laura Nye won the grand masters.

The 10K races were very close: the men’s top 3 were within 7 seconds of each other and the women’s top 2 were separated by just 4 seconds.  The last 0.5 mile of the course has a short, but steep, uphill and a few tricky turns.  There must have been some good racing action as these fast runners dueled for the win.

Joey Przybyla held off Mike Threadgould to win the men’s 10K by just 2 seconds.  Paul Rademacher was another 5 seconds back. Andy Bitner was the masters winner.  I won the grand masters.

Cate Barrett led throughout the women’s race and was able to hold off the fast-closing Krysten Tucker to win by 4 seconds.  Katie Gwynn was a strong third.  The masters winner was Sunday Patterson and the grand masters winner was Susan Fegelman.

10K winner Cate Barrett kindly agreed to answer a few questions by email.  She ran track and cross country at Baylor before moving to Austin to run with Rogue AC. She’s been running more trail races over the past year.

1. This race started fast and you were pushing the pace at the front. Was that your plan from knowing the course or just how you reacted to the situation?

I don’t really know how to do slow starts. I used to get in trouble for that in my college races, but on Sunday I didn’t know what to expect out of my body, figuring I’d start hurting pretty early on regardless of strategy. I did also want to establish a lead, separate myself from the competition, and do it before the trail got too narrow. I was pretty sure a fast, semi- crash and burn start was going to happen regardless of whether or not I tried to stop it, so I just let it roll. Besides, it always feels so easy starting out…

2. Did you continue to be aggressive once you hit the technical sections in miles 2 and 3?

I tried to stay aggressive! It just didn’t feel easy or smooth like the first mile. We hit the first water crossing, and our first quick up-down sections. I knew from my effort that this was going to suck from here on out, so I tried to not think as much as I could, while never taking my foot off the gas.

3. Krysten Tucker finished just a few seconds behind you. She passed me at about mile 3 and I expect she came up to you quite late. Describe the last part of the race.

I could see Krysten close behind me since the second or third mile. One of the fun things about this course is the way that it turns frequently and bends around itself. I didn’t let myself look back, but I caught many quick glimpses of Krysten on my heels. She’s a friend, and frankly tough as nails, and I knew that if she caught me it would be game over. Keeping the lead was imperative and was the only thing that kept me mentally engaged in the tough parts of the race. Around mile 4, I started feeling that the finish was close enough that I could probably keep this pace up. I had to intentionally throw in surges on any flat or non-technical parts of the trail to keep the lead, but I guess it worked!

4. What other races are you planning on for this spring?

I’ll be out of town for the next Rogue trail race doing the MS150 bike ride, but I’ll probably be back for the last one at Reveille Peak in May. I love racing Cap 10K because I grew up here, and I’ve done it 12 or 13 times! I got second there last year, so it’s going to take some humility for me to show up and just race it knowing I’m not in stellar shape. It’s not fun to race like that, but Sunday’s race was encouraging considering I’ve been running less than half of my normal volume. I’m trying to keep things open ended, and I didn’t even plan on doing the Maze until last week, when I found out it was a meetup for our local Oiselle Volee club.

5. You’ve also been cycling. Will you be racing on wheels?

I’ve been training for my first BP MS150, which is a two day charity bike ride that goes from Houston to Austin. I’ve dabbled in bike racing before, but it’s really hard and running is still more fun for me. The bike training is a blast though, just pedaling through Austin’s pretty weather and scenery, meeting new friends, and being reminding that there’s more to life than running. Fundraising for the National MS Society is the whole point of the MS150, and that’s actually been really cool. I’ve never done fundraising before for a sporting event, but it’s awesome to see how my friends have rallied around me and the cause by donating and sharing their own stories. It genuinely makes me believe in the power of individuals and communities to effect change.

Good luck to Cate on the MS150.  Her fundraising goals are dedicated to her dad, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  You can donate directly to her efforts at this site.  I’ll remember to talk with her in the next few weeks about MS150 and Cap 10K.

The Boston Marathon is just a few weeks away and most people who have been training hard are now happily into the “taper.”  This week I have an interview with Bonnie Yesian, who is training to run in her 10th consecutive and 11th total Boston Marathon.  Bonnie is another Gazelle veteran.  She generally runs a fall marathon as well and we trained together a few years ago for the St. George Marathon.  Bonnie answered a few questions by email:

1. What got you into running and what keeps you running?

I honestly started running to prove to my co workers that I wasn’t going to gain the inevitable freshman 15. I started running laps around the track and was happy to get in a mile or two 3 days a week. I don’t think I kept time or even wore a watch. I just ran. It wasn’t easy or fun for me until I signed up for my first race as part of the Beach to Bay relay team. They gave me the bridge leg and it was FUN! That started it all. I’ve been running 23 years and now it’s a part of who I am. I run because I love the way that it makes me feel. I love that I’ve found friends over the years that enjoy it as much as I do. I can take a break from it for a week or two, but my body and mind don’t feel in sync or happy if I break from it for too long.

2. Do you remember when you first heard about the Boston Marathon?

I read about Boston in the Runners World magazine and through my run group when I was training for my 2nd marathon. Sounded cool but didn’t know the history involved with it. All I knew was that I had a goal to reach to get there and and that was a challenge in itself.

3. How did you go about getting your first qualifier?

I joined AustinFit for my 2nd marathon and missed my BQ by 2 minutes. Trained for my 3rd marathon and hit it right at 3:39 and some change (my BQ was 3:40). That was back in 2003 when you could finish to the second and still get into Boston.

4. You are renowned among the Gazelles for your ability to hit and maintain a given pace. Is that a skill that you’ve practiced or a talent?

I’ve been told this before, but no, I’ve never practiced this skill. I’ve never been a sprinter and like the steady even pace of the marathon. I’ve just always been aware of my body’s effort when running and can feel when it’s too fast or too slow. I just try to stay steady when it counts and not get too caught up in someone else’s pace. It’s my run, my pace, my race. That gets me to the finish line.

5. You keep going back to Boston. Why? What is the continuing attraction?

It’s the BOSTON MARATHON! The history in itself is impressive. The every day Olympics for the every day man. I love the city, the race, and the people who welcome us with open arms every year. It’s a feeling you can’t describe unless you’ve actually experienced it. I love the training…Texas winter is just about the most perfect weather to run. Boston training isn’t like other races…lots of hills and more hills. I like the variation and being challenged by our Boston group with lots of type A personalities and very strong runners. I feel if the good Lord allows me to keep going, I’ll keep it up until He tells me to stop.

6. Any race strategy advice for new Boston runners?

Don’t run too fast the first 5 miles, hold back while others pass you. If you don’t, it’ll kill your quads and they’ll be toast by the time you hit the Newton hills at 16. Wear your name big and clear on your shirt so you can have the crowd cheer for you the whole way home to Boylston St.

7. Besides the race, what else do you like about Boston on Patriot’s Day?

Boston is a great city to visit! I love the food in the North End and visiting Fenway Park for a Red Sox game. And of course you can’t ever pass up seafood and clam chowda after the race.

8. I know you organize some items for the Gazelle herd training for Boston and once you are all there. What do you do for the group?

I typically coordinate pre-race lunch and post-race dinner because who better to celebrate the race with than those that train together? I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now. This year we’ve managed a group happy hour and post run breakfast in the last two months. We’ve also compiled a small handbook typically emailed out a week before the race of Do’s and Don’ts of marathon weekend.

9. You ran Boston in 2013. Describe your experience with that race and the bombing.

It’s one I’ll never forget. My hotel sits on the finish line and 2 doors down from the first bomb. I was about 5 minutes of walking into my hotel when I heard and felt the first blast. After hearing the second in the distance, I knew it wasn’t good. Two hours later after being evacuated from the area, I walked into my friend’s hotel room and saw what everyone else knew about and sat for an hour in shock and silence. My hotel was considered a crime scene and found myself with literally just the running clothes on my back and completely displaced.  I sat at the Red Cross with 2 other Gazelles waiting for news.  Thanks to my Gazelle family and an outpouring of love and support, I stayed with a friend and borrowed clothes and money.  It was a surreal experience to be on that side of things. There were so many details that played out in the day and days to follow. The most impacted memory of the whole event was the amount of love and support shown to me and others alike. There was so much hate and pain given in those 10 seconds of time on that Patriot’s Day, but the out pouring of love in people surpassed it all in countless ways.

10. How was the race different in 2014?

I didn’t really know what to expect. It was reflective and emotional to stand at the memorials set up for those victims at the spot of the bombings. Aside from that the excitement and adrenaline were palpable among the runners, more than ever before. It was such a great feeling to be back! I’ve always claimed Boston as my own on Patriot’s weekend but that year just reinforced what I had felt all along. I belonged there and there was no other place I’d rather be…it was home. My healing was there with the people of Boston and the race. I was so ready to help take back what they tried to destroy the year before. They estimated there were over a million spectators along the course and you could hear and feel their excitement the whole 26.2 miles. Typically the last 5 miles of the race the spectators are several people deep…that year the masses started at mile 1. It was truly amazing and a blessing to be a part of it all!

I’ve been writing about Boston the past few weeks and reading great stories like Bonnie’s.  I might have to reconsider my retirement from road marathons.

Interesting Articles

Both the women’s and men’s world records for the indoor marathon were broken over the weekend in New York.  The race was on an indoor 200 meter track, which required runners to complete 211 laps for the 26.2 miles.  Laura Manninen reset the women’s record with a time of 2:42.  Christopher Zablocki ran 2:21 for the men’s record.  Coverage by Runners World.

I mentioned results from the Chuckanutt 50K in last weeks’ The Interval.  Here are great interviews with the winners:  Ladia Albertson-Junkans in Trail Runner Magazine and Max King on iRunFar.

Check out this video from the recent Way To Cool 50K.  Crazy fast runners on some beautiful Sierra Nevada foothill trails.

Upcoming Races

The 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays start on Wednesday this week at UT and go through Saturday.  Elite pro, college, and high school athletes will be competing in all of the track and field events.  Check this article for a description of the meet.  Schedule, tickets, and other details are here.

The next Tejas Trails race is this weekend with the Hells Hills Endurance Run.  There are 50M, 50K, 25K, and 10K events at the Rocky Hills Ranch near Smithville.