My Third Go: Cap 10K
By: Bryan Morton
Last week’s 10K experience on the track at the Victor Lopez Classic was teh first of a handful of races I have in-store over the upcoming weeks. Today I raced in my third Cap 10K, arguably Austin’s largest and most competitive 10K and almost 12K finishers attracting speeedsters both locally and nationally. This past week I was out in San Francisco for my company’s annual global sales conference. Training was a bit more difficult to fit in with sessions starting at 8:30am Monday through Thursday and events each night. Outside of a late afternoon medium long run to the Golden Gate Bridge and back all my runs were done on the treadmill at 5am. In prep for the Cap 10K, I needed to get a workout in. Would’ve rather been outside but it was absolutely pouring that morning and quite frigid. The workout was 8x800m with every 200m in progression; :38, :36, :34, :32. Not ideal but lemme tell you that was quite hysterical to do on the treadmill and drew some looks from others in the hotel gym that morning. Luckily their treadmills went up to 14mpg so I was able to get a workout like this in. For what it’s worth, most tend to only go up to 12mph.
Going into the race that morning I sorta knew what to expect on the course; where to conserve, where to push, go out slow and make it up later, yada, yada, yada. What I wasn’t prepared for was the torrential downpour as I walked out the door at 6:30am coupled with pellets of hail. I won’t life, I sat in my car looking at the forecast and for a brief moment I thought, ‘yeah, it’d be nice to just slide back into bed and bed and race some other 10K next week.’ But this wasn’t any ole 10K. This was the one 10K most everyone looks forward to throughout the Spring season leading up to Boston.
Prior to the race my training group, Team Rogue, met over at the Rogue Running store to stretch, shake-out and yog on over to the start line together. Steve Sisson (our coach) gave a brief overview of the course and reminded us all to be patient. The first mile on Congress is straight uphill followed by plenty of rollers on 15th and Winsted. After racing on this course for the past two years and training on these very roads almost weekly I sorta already knew this would be my game plan. But the reminder cemented it all; go out easy-ish at 10-15sec+ 10K pace (5:25’s),then run the next two miles through the hills comfortably hard, and by the time I hit the Rock (Mopac pedestrian bridge along the Town Lake trail) I should be wired into an uncomfortable but sustainable pace. Negative splitting the race was the goal. Just like in 2013. Which was somewhere around 17min for the first 5K and 16:45 for the second.
Luckily the rain completely subsided by the time the race was set to go off. After 10min of drills at the start line and couple strides I was ready to go. Before I knew it the gun was going off and we were heading up Congress Avenue. As we gradually climbed up Congress, my goal was to keep a buddy of mine in sight (Jared Carson) in order to key off him. However, after the first 200m or so 15 guys darted well out ahead. I consciously allowed the break to happen just in front of me. I kept telling myself, ‘calm down. easy breathing. you got this. let ’em all go and you’ll catch on the backside.’ So that’s what I did. Moments later when I realized I was sucking in a pretty gnarly headwind I regretted the original decision to let them all go, but it was manageable. I knew I was saving more energy by decreasing the pace and taking in wind than increasing the pace early and drafting. Just as this was all playing out in my head I could hear foot steps behind me come around to my side. It was a guy from Mizuno who looked to be feeling pretty good. Immediately, I thought why not let him take the lead and just tuck right in behind him? Thankfully, he was going just at about the pace I wanted to so it worked out perfectly.
As we made the turn onto 11th, the first mile marker clicked by, 5:25. Right where I wanna be. At that point, the gradient of the incline increased and all of a sudden the Mizuno guy started to slow. Whelp, so much for that plan.
I went around and never saw him again. At that point I was sitting somewhere around 13th-14th and started to look up at the next couple of guys in front of me. They couldn’t have been any further than 20-30 seconds up. Which I thought was manageable to make-up later in the race. Around mile two on 15th I saw my coach (Steve) and he asked how I was doing. Without hesitation I shot back a thumbs up and said I was feeling great. His advice….start working. Before I was too far he yelled that the guys in front were already looking a lil hairy with their early efforts. That was all I needed to start closing the gap.
On 15th it sorta rolls up and down the whole way. Locking into a specific pace is impossible so it’s all about efforts here. I took the uphills comfortably hard; up straight, off the toes, elbows back and swinging the arms to create forward momentum. It helped and they went by quickly. For the downhills I decided to charge. I wouldn’t normally do this in a longer race as you’d pay for the pounding on your quads but in a race as short as this and with my training miles spent on undulating roads I knew I could handle it. It worked. I made up significant time here. As well as ensuring I was looking up the road and cutting the tangents (straight shot to the apex of the next turn).
The first 5k split came just as we were turning South on Winsted and heading home. 16:33. Hmmm, solid. And the reason I say ‘solid’ is that I felt amazing at this point. I still had a ton left in the tank. So in that fourth mile I started to drop the hammer. The guys in front of me started to come back on that long stretch. As we made the chicane onto Lake Austin Blvd and then down to the Rock my watch clicked off the 4th mile split…4:55. Dayyyyummm, alrighty then. Legs are feeling great. I’m not breathing all that hard. All I could think was lets keep this going. I know this final stretch incredibly well and it’s mainly flat with some slight bumps. I know I can continue to push it here. That fifth mile is where the two guys in front of me started to come back. I clicked off another great split, 5 flat. As we headed home on Cesar Chavez I saw Steve again. He asked again how I was feeling. I couldn’t lie this time…I was feeling great. His immediate response, ‘well alright. start working. surge and catch the guy in front of you and then move onto Jared.’ Jared, at that point, was a lil out of reach but the two guys in front of me were easily catchable. Within a matter of 15-20 seconds I had caught the first guy. 30 seconds later I was on the heels of the next. He surged. I matched. He surged again. I tried. The turnover just isn’t quite there yet.
As I made that turn into the home stretch he had made up just enough on me coming down the 1st St bridge that he was out of reach. I wasn’t going to catch him. At that point I started to wonder what my time was going to be. While I’d peaked at some mile splits I hadn’t seen my overall time since the first 5k split. I thought in my head, ‘gosh, it’d be nice to be below 33minutes. was i really going that much faster than last year?’ As I was having that thought I came around the last little bend. Now with the finish line and clock in sight I sorta had to wipe my eyes to ensure I was reading it correctly. The clock was counting up 31:55, 31:56, 31:57…..wait, WHAT?!? I was shocked. Really?? Did I really just run around the same time I had a week prior in my first track 10k? In the end I crossed the line in 32:07. Only six seconds slower than the week prior. I was stunned. Some quick math in my head and I realized I ran a near full minute negative split from the first 5k; 16:33 for the first 5k and 15:34 for the second. That second 5k was 2seconds off my 5k PR from a month earlier. Ha! I’m still a bit dumbfounded by it all. In the end I finished in 12th place overall against a solid field of runners. This was the first year in the race’s history that the top 10 all went sub 32minutes. A true testament to the Austin running community overall pushing each other to greatness. For me, this was an almost two minute improvement from my 2013 Cap10k (previously 33:45).
After the race I cheered on the rest of my Rogue Running team and other friends within the Austin running community. It was pretty incredible seeing everyone surge for the finish lane. After that I ran into Sarah (my girlfriend) and gave her the biggest, sweatiest bear hug. It was a solid day!
So what’s next? I’m still deciding whether or not to race again this upcoming weekend. If I do it’ll either be the UT Longhorn Run (2mile or 10k) or the Austin 10/20 (10miler). From there I’ll head to Boston for the marathon. Not racing this year but I’ll put in a solid long run workout effort. The following weekend I’ll either come back to the track at Rice to race the 5k or do the 5k at the Silicon Labs Sunshine Run. Then, this long block of racing will be capped off by the Chuy’s 5k.
A big thanks as always to my sponsors who enable all the training that go into races like this; SKECHERS Performance, Rogue Running and Strava. For anyone interested in seeing my splits and pace throughout the race here’s a link to my Strava activity. If you’re ever interested in following along with my training progress simply follow me on Strava. I post every day.