The Interval, 4/11/18

Cap10K finishers received a medal for the first time. The classic running armadillo. Photo courtesy of Cap10K and High Five Events.

Cap10K runners benefited from  unseasonable cool weather for the biggest 10K in Texas.  Over 23,000 people registered for the 41st edition of Cap10K, held on the traditional course in downtown Austin and circling the State Capitol building.

The women’s and men’s winners both have close ties to Austin.  Rachel Baptista won the women’s race in 34:06.  Baptista graduated from Austin High and excelled on the track and cross country teams.  She had a few injury-marred years as a college runner at Colorado, but is now back in Austin and trains with Steve Sisson of Rogue.  Allison Mendez-Cleaver was just 19 seconds back, with Sarah Lancaster in third at 34:36.  Coverage from the Statesman.

The men’s winner was UT alum Joe Stilin, in a fast 30:03.  Stilin and David Fuentes ran the first half of the race together, but then Stilin pulled away to win by 42 seconds.  Ryan Miller was third in 31:26.  Coverage from the Statesman.

A friend and former training pal, Karen Saenz, was the women’s masters winner, in 42:06.  Karen has done well at Cap10K in the past and now, just a few months after giving birth and turning 40, she’s within a few minutes of her best times.  She and I emailed about her race:

Armadillo Running:  I know myself that nothing eases the sting of hitting a new decade like winning your age group in a big race.  How does it feel to be the Masters winner at Cap10K?

Karen Saenz:  Oh my gosh, it’s amazing!!!  Coming back I had no idea how it would go.  During and after being pregnant it can feel like you don’t even know your body anymore.  I signed up for Cap 10K after our baby was born so I would make training happen and just to celebrate being able to run again. During the race I reminded myself (thank you Mike!) to just have fun, do my best (thanks Gilbert ️) and run with gratitude (I love you Molly!!).  It must have worked because my parents called and told me I won 1st Masters and I literally did not believe them.  I am beyond grateful.

AR:  You’ve done this race several times.  What do you like/hate about the course?  Did the weather help or hurt you?

Karen Saenz:  I actually love this course.  I love getting to run straight up the middle of Congress Avenue.  It reminds me of old Austin when we could roam all over town with no traffic!  And I love that the 5K mark is right after all the hills are over.  You can trick yourself into feeling like the rest will be easy (I was only fooled for about a mile, haha)!  And the weather was PERFECT for me- get ready for 6 months straight of me whining about the heat 🙂

AR:  6:45 pace for a hilly 10K is a great performance.  Your third child was born just a few months ago and you’re already within a couple minutes of your best times.  Amazing.  What advice do you have for runners who are pregnant or are new moms?

Karen Saenz:  As runners I feel like we are always working on that magic balance between “listen to your body” and “it’s all in your mind!”  But when you are pregnant that balance gets even more elusive.   You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror and your body that you’ve always had such control over is now host to another life.  Let’s face it, you’ve been abducted by a benevolent dictator!  With all these massive changes in your body and in your life, try to be patient as you make little steps forward.   All that new joy and love and energy you feel towards your new baby will only make you a stronger runner.  Just carve out time for yourself to run and take it easy coming back. It won’t feel like it at first, but you will come back stronger than ever.

Thanks and congratulations to Karen!  Full results for Cap10K are here.

Karen Saenz running at Cap10K. Photo by Gilbert Tuhabonye.

The other race I followed this past weekend was the Tejas Trails Hells Hills event near Smithville, with the option of 4 distances from 10K to 50 miles.  The weather on Saturday started cold and stayed that way.  Runners had to deal with the familiar Hells Hills course with many turns and short climbs along with multiple creek crossings and mud.  I talked to a couple 50 mile runners who said their feet were wet within 50 feet of the start line and never got a chance to dry.  Everyone I heard from had a great time, enjoying the challenge and the hospitality of Tejas Trails.

One of the many creek crossings at Hells Hills. Photo courtesy of Tejas Trails.

Race Director Chris McWatters emailed me his thoughts on the race:

Hells Hills 2018 was as exciting as ever!  I setup the course in beautiful 80 degrees all week, increasing my first sunburn of the year a little more each day.  Then the runners got to enjoy a wind chill in the 30s on Saturday.  It was nuts!  But the thing that I love about Hells Hills is all those creek bed crossings!  Everyone seemed to have a blast out there.  Some of the crossings got knee deep on some folks.  Also I must say, I’m so impressed with all the volunteers and their unending joy!  They were cold, but made the event what it is.  They took a handful of runners in the 50K and 50 miler way beyond what they thought they were capable of and I heard a few stories of people who were ready to quit, but made it to the finish line because of the volunteers!  I love that!  All in all, it was another awesome day in Tejas Trails Land!  Can’t wait for the next one.

I’ll summarize the results below.  It looked like the most closest competition came in the women’s 25K, won by Carol Ortiz, with the top 3 all within about 5 minutes.  I was glad to see Dana Munari in the results, placing third in the 50 mile at age 53.

My TrailRoots running buddies did well.  Eli, Dennis, Patrick.  I emailed with Melissa Simmons, who completed the 50K in 6:52 for her first ultra.  Melissa is coached by our TrailRoots leader, Erik Stanley.  She and I emailed about Hells Hills.

Armadillo Running:  What inspired you to start training for an ultra?

Melissa Simmons:  I wanted a challenging physical goal as a gift to myself for my 40th birthday (April 2018).  I’ve been thinking about what it would be for the past two years and decided I wanted to run an ultra for two reasons: 1) to see if I can; and 2) to show gratitude for my ability to move

AR:  Why did you pick Hells Hills?

Melissa Simmons:  I actually didn’t pick Hells Hills!  I signed up for Pandora’s Box of Rox 52.4 mile race as my birthday goal.  When I started working with Erik as my coach he encouraged me to sign up for Hells Hills as a “practice race” for Pandora.  The funny thing is that I didn’t have any problem committing to a double marathon but when asked to register for a 50K, I started to doubt myself and initially did not want to do it.  In the end, I am extremely thankful to Erik and glad I trusted his wisdom – I now feel much more confident and prepared for the big one next month.

AR:  What did you think of the course and conditions at Hells Hills?

Melissa Simmons:  It was unseasonably cold, which was a bit of a surprise.  I had some last minute doubts about my choice of attire, but luckily my boyfriend was there to remind me it wasn’t really THAT cold and that I was prepared for the race.  The course was muddy and wet in parts but overall the terrain was easier than the rocky trails I’ve been training on throughout Austin and at Lake Georgetown.  The race staff and volunteers did an amazing job with marking the course and providing support.

AR:  How did the experience compare to what you had expected?

Melissa Simmons:  Overall it went better than I expected.  I thought it would take me about eight hours to complete the course and I came in under seven.  I was a little freaked out when I had some slow miles around 19-22 but was able to pick up my pace again for the finish.

AR:  Will you do anything differently for Pandora?

Melissa Simmons:  I expect Pandora to be hot so I plan to wear a hat and drink lots of water.  From my training thus far, I realize I need to consume much more fluid when the temperatures go up.  I will also expect to walk some.  In Hells Hills I tried to run the whole time, even up the hills, but for Pandora I will go into it giving myself permission to walk as necessary.  I don’t have a specific goal time – my objective is to finish!

Congratulations to Melissa.  I’ll see her at Pandora’s Box of Rox on May 5…

Here are the race winners.  Full results are here.

10K:  women
Dani Lybrand 52:17
Brigid Russell 1:00:47
Esther Beachy 1:02:42
10K:  women masters
Wendy Lance 1:03:13
10K:  men
Jonathan Garner 41:16
Andy Bitner 45:28
Bryan Hailey 46:53
10K: men masters
Wade Lance 1:02:37
25K: women
Carol Ortiz 2:41:30
Aubrey Lindberg-Buchhorn 2:45:21
Claudia Weaver 2:46:39
25K: women masters
Nancy Koch 2:57:59
25K: men
Colin Hagen 1:50:08
Brandon Ostrander 1:59:47
Tyler Mathews 2:04:16
25K: men masters
Steve Grant 2:44:52
50K: women
Anna Hailey 5:06:16
Anne Hughes 5:47:08
Ana Baron 5:52:17
50K: women masters
Vickie Herndon-Betts 7:01:21
50K: men
Wade Barrett 4:38:52
Robert Smith 4:46:16
Joel Stevens 4:52:37
50K: men masters
Arturo Sanchez 6:36:01
50M: women
Dena Carr 11:32:11
Randi Schooley 12:15:44
Marie Timm 12:42:48
50M: men
Chad Lasater 8:09:08
Scott Rabb 8:42:49
Dana Munari 8:48:11
50M: men masters
Gerald Godoy 11:08:43
The piney woods near Smithville, part of the Hells Hills course. Photo courtesy of Tejas Trails.

Interesting Articles

The Boston Marathon is on Monday.  Unlike last year, I know only a few people running.  I’ll try to get some interviews for next week.  If you are running Boston, listen to the latest Running Rogue podcast for some tips.

As a fan, I’ll be watching the Americans in Boston (Galen and Abdi for the men, Shalane, Jordan, Desiree, and Molly for the women).  I didn’t realize until today that American record holder Deena Kastor is also running, her first marathon in several years after retiring as a pro.  From Runner’s World.

Three ultra runners go to Ireland, the latest from Dakota Jones, in Trail Runner.

A new FKT on a remote 55 mile route, The Lost Coast of northern California.  I’ve been in this area before and avoiding the high tide is important.

Byron Powell, the owner of iRunFar, ran the White Mountains 100, a winter 100 miler in Alaska.  A great race report with beautiful photos.

Upcoming Races

The Vern’s No Frills 5K monthly series has it’s 9th anniversary on April 21.

The Austin Runner’s Club is hosting the Daisy 5K on Saturday, May 19 at Camp Mabry. You can get a 10% discount by using the code MK18.

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