REPOST: Everything you need to know about November and December Races in Texas

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of a blog from about a year ago. Lazy? Nope Pertinent? Hell yes!   We are one month from the start of one of the most popular training programs here at Rogue: Texas Half Marathon and Texas Marathon.  Why the name? Virtually all the best marathons and halves in Texas fall into the same two week window and if you want to train for one of these, then you do it here….for Texas Marathon and Half. We’ve analyzed the courses, broken down the pro’s and con’s and much more.  So saddle up with us and lets run these wild west favorites!

Texas Half Marathon and Texas Marathon both begin on July 14th or 15th in Cedar Park, North Austin, South Austin and Down Town. 


THE LONE STARS: A TEXAS MARATHON GUIDE

by Allison Macsas

Here in Texas, we don’t offer much in the way of fall marathons, largely because “fall” typically begins somewhere around mid-November and ends a few days later.

However, we do have plenty of winter racing options and although “winter” can mean many different things, it’s widely considered the time to toe your local starting line.

So, what to choose, and where to start? There are many top-notch Texas events throughout the winter months, but in this guide I want to focus on 2014 races only – the ones that are done before the holidays, and that present the opportunity to end the year with a shiny new PR and extra reasons to celebrate.

So, read on and pick your race. Rogue is going big for Texas races this year – new training groups, awesome custom t-shirts (designed by yours truly) and ENERGY. Be part of it!

622x350THE ROCK N ROLL SAN ANTONIO MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 6, 2015

I won’t lie. San Antonio hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews over the past few years, and I know many a runner who has sworn it off for good. But, nearly all of the negativity surrounding this event has been due to the weather – sweaty, suffocating, blazingly hot weather. No matter that the week leading up is chilly, and that the day after the race brings sleet; for whatever reason, the San Antonio race weekend is always. so. hot.

Well, I’m here with good news. That’s when the race was in November! And now they’ve moved to December! So although winter weather is never a guarantee, as every self-respecting Texan knows knows, there is a much better chance of cool, clear, perfect race conditions and some big PRs on what is actually a pretty fast course. (Editor’s Note: The move to December definitely helped weather-wise is 2014)

Screen shot 2014-05-03 at 9.56.40 AMDespite what looks like a 120 ft. brick wall at mile 5, overall this is FLAT terrain with a quite a bit of gradual downhill to help get the wheels turning. As this is a Rock n Roll Series event, there are bands galore, which fills in some of the quieter spectator areas and keeps energy levels high. The full and half runners take off together and keep each other company for a good ten miles, which results in some amazing crowd energy.

And, best of all, it’s in San Antonio which means that you can feasibly drive down morning-of, and be safely back in Austin in time for happy hour! No flights, no long drives, no waiting at restaurants the night before and no hotel expenses. Though it may be preferred to stay the night before to avoid any race-morning hiccups, this is one of the most budget-friendly out-of-town race choices that an Austinite can make, and one with lots of capitol city representation.

I was lucky enough to run the half marathon in 2010, a rare cool-weather year, and it was a fantastic PR-setting experience for me. With a new December race date, I’m hopeful that San Antonio will regain a spot on the favorites list this year!

website_dallasraceTHE METRO PCS DALLAS MARATHON & HALF  /  DECEMBER 13, 2015

Dallas is another race that has gotten a bad rap over the past few years, again due to everyone’s favorite scapegoat – the weather! In 2011, it rained. Cold, cold rain. It actually led to some big PRs, but also a lot of chafing and miserable spectators. In 2012, it was HOT. San Antonio-style hot. And HUMID. It’s gone down in the history books for many runners that I coach as the worst marathon experience ever. Then, in 2013, there was ICE! So much ice that the race was cancelled! All of that training, all of those race-week nerves, all of those entry fees, down the drain.* Who would possibly want to give this race a fourth chance?

My first marathon - a great Dallas experience!

My first marathon – a great Dallas experience!

Well, I would. Historically, the Dallas Marathon (formerly the White Rock Marathon) has had perfect weather. Like, 40 degrees and sunny-perfect. I grew up in the area, and began running the half marathon at age 14. I ran it every year until I left for college, and then flew back home four days before I graduated to run my first full marathon there (it was also my first ever run over 16 miles, but that’s another story). Every single time, the weather was perfect, the crowds were excited and the experience was top-notch.

The course rolls a bit, but is overall very flat, very fast. It hits a huge variety of neighborhoods and offers a great tour of the city, which makes it very easy to divide the race into sections for a strong race-day strategy. You get city, you get ritzy neighborhoods, you get the lake. It’s far enough away to feel like a “destination race,” yet close enough that you don’t have to take any time off of work. The toughest part of the whole thing is the drive up I35 to get there!

So, yes. I would give Dallas another chance, and you should give Dallas another chance. For an accessible big-city race with PR potential, this is the one.

*Except for those who took a chance on BCS. Details below.

1461471_600650926667129_1745573852_nTHE BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION (BCS) MARATHON & HALF / DECEMBER 13, 2015

Most Austinites had never heard of BCS until December 6, 2013, the day that the Dallas race organizers called off their event in the midst of an ice storm. Some people got angry and some people threw their hands up in despair, but other people immediately looked for another race.

Enter BCS! Held on the same day, in the same state, but far enough south to escape the worst of the ice, this was the golden ticket. Except for one thing – it had long been sold out, full of runners who knew what a secret gem this small event was.

However, the organizers of this race are fantastic human beings. In between setting up for the event, providing excellent communication via social media and fielding emails from desperate Dallas orphans, they went to the trouble of contacting all of the registrants to offer refunds to anyone who wasn’t going to make it to the starting line, and then opened up all of those spots to would-be Dallas runners, even offering a discounted no-race shirt or medal option to allow for more entries.

So, a number of Rogues ended up at BCS, and they ran FAST. You’ll get more on that story and that race later, but I can’t recommend this event enough. Yes, it’s a small town race and the spectator side of things is pretty quiet, but it’s flat, it’s fast, it’s affordable, it’s impeccably organized and it benefits an important cause. Plus, you can park right at the starting line, no hassles or lines or leaving the hotel two hours early. Roll out of bed and run!

Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 5.04.39 PMDECKER CHALLENGE December 6th, 2015

This long-standing Austin favorite offers only a half marathon these days, but 13.1 miles is plenty on that course! Decker has hills on top of hills, and everyone who runs this race earns some serious bragging rights.

This is a true Austin staple, a key component of the Austin Distance Challenge and an event where you’ll see all of your friends and are sure to make new ones. If the half marathon is your distance of choice and you want to keep it local and enjoy your own bed the night before, Decker is for you.

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So, what’s it going to be? All of these races will have huge Rogue representation, but as you well know it takes work to get to that finish line. We kick off training for Texas Half Marathon an Texas Marathon on July 14th, 2015. Commit, then let’s go conquer!

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562699_10100101789924218_815994431_nAllison Macsas wears many hats at Rogue Running; she is a coach, an elite athlete, the graphic designer, the blog manager, the head of Rogue Expeditions and the boss of an extremely important whiteboard calendar.

Spring – yes, spring – is in the air!

RogueFall-38

In the world of sell-out destination races, 6-month training plans and extreme type-A-ness (guilty!) – in other words the world of a Rogue – spring is practically in the air. Yes…. Spring. And yes, I know, its more blasphemous than Macy’s opening at 6:00PM on Thursday for “Black Friday” (I can’t make that s**t up).

Alas, the world of a runner. But, what a great world it is!

Spring races are pretty fantastic. Start training in the winter. Get through the heaviest section before it gets too warm and come into March, April and May ready to rock and roll!

But we know that training can also be confusing. Where do you go? What looks fun? What’s a good fit? We’ll use the next few blogs to cover all that in detail. But, to start, I’ll give you an overview of what the spring looks like. We’ve got four basic options to rock and roll your way through the spring. Join Rogue for one of these options and let us guide you to your best spring ever!

1) SPRING HALF MARATHON: RUNNING RESOLUTIONS & YOUR FIRST HALF

Ready to start the year out right? Good! Because 2015 is YOUR year.

Need a little motivation, accountability and guidance? We’ve got you covered. Our coaches will have you running comfortably through those pesky Austin hills in no time.

Our Spring Half Marathon training is designed for beginner runners looking to tackle their first half. The intensity is low and the volume is just right. Intimidation free, this training will have any runner ready to kick booty at any spring half marathon. We’ll kick this off the first week of January, plenty of times to come out of the holiday fuzz. Over the next 14 weeks we’ll work to get you across that finish line with a smile and some!

2) SPRING MARATHON: TRAIN FAST, RUN FAST

Whether you are coming off a fall or winter race and ready to ramp your training back up  or looking to tackle your first marathon, we’ve got you covered!

Our Spring Marathon program will capitalize on the cooler weather to have you training faster and feeling smoother than ever.

  • Start Date: Week of 12/15
  • Duration: 20 weeks
  • Goal Races: Boston, Big Sur, Martian, and Big D Marathons

This training block starts out a little stronger than our other marathon blocks due to the proximity to the first races. Expect 10 mile long runs for your first. A little nervous? Don’t be. If you’re coming off a half or marathon in the last 4-6 weeks or regularly running 8-mile long runs, you’ll be good to go!

3) CAP10K: A ROGUE INVASION

In ways, the Cap 10K is the granddaddy of the local races. With well over 20,000 runners each year, everyone and their dog has run or walked it. We have a dream at Rogue for 2015 and that is to have more Rogues at Cap 10K than we’ve ever had before. 100, 200, 300?

The Cap 10K is challenging course to say the least but nothing we can’t prepare you for (I ❤ hills!). If you are running or training for the Austin Marathon or Half, use that heavy base of mileage and aerobic training to add some speed work with our Cap 10K program to run a ridiculous, “Is my Garmin right?” Cap 10K!

  • Start Date: February 17th or 18th
  • Duration:  8 weeks
  • Goal Race: Cap10K

The training will have lower mileage, shorter long runs, and the workouts will focus on speed and getting faster! Workouts like this are an awesome change of gear from marathon or half marathon training. Short intervals mean you see everyone in the group a lot no matter what pace you run. The “community” factor is high and the ton will be fun!

Don’t like short races? You aren’t “fast enough” to run a 10K? I think otherwise. In fact, I know otherwise! Just give us a chance.

But hey, if the fun and change doesn’t sell you, do it for your marathon or half marathon. Our bodies thrive on change. Habitual marathon or half marathon training does the opposite. It’s the same stimuli over and over and over… Lets mix things up a little, do a little speed work and you’ll find you are running your marathon or half-marathon goal pace with a new level of ease. Your body will thank you!

4) YOGA + RUNNING: NAMASTE, RUNNING!

Join Yogi, runner, triathlete, core instructor and all-around bad-A Ari Witkin for a program like none other. Ari will be leading a program designed to not only get you or keep you running fit but also lead you in the best yoga you can get for running.

We’ve all done yoga at sometime in the past but, as with any physical activity or cross training, it may not always blend with your running. Really hard yoga session the same day as a really hard running session? Ouch! At Rogue we love yoga and we love running but we want to love them together. Thus, Namaste, Running! This program will seamlessly blend yoga with a periodized running program.

  • Start: Early January
  • Duration: 14 weeks
  • Goal: Cap 10K

Don’t know all the poses? Just like we teach drills and hydration, we’ll spend the first part of the program teaching you yoga. The end result will be a program that not only has you running fast but also feeling amazing, physically and beyond!

This program is also perfect for the runner looking for a little break from just running or to simply mix things up. Get bored with just running? Want a little more? Done and done. You won’t be disappointed here!

Stay tuned for a series of posts outlining specific races mentioned above, and discover the best choice for you!

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congress brJeff Knight is the head of all things training at Rogue Running, and loves to apply his scientific background to this role. He also coaches Team Rogue el Jefe, a year-round training program designed for experienced, driven runners.

The Beast

by Josh Benge

This past weekend, I traveled up to Sioux Falls with a few of my fabulous TRPM teammates to take on the Sioux Falls Half Marathon while they were taking a swing at BQs and PRs in the full edition. After a day of mild shenanigans with the team to take our mind off the race (See the blogs of one Mandy Deen), I headed to the hotel and rested up for the night.   I had what I would consider an ambitious goal, and long story short, it didn’t pan out for me the next day.  That’s not the point of this though.  On the plane home from Sioux Falls post-race, I was re-reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and something struck me (if you know this book, kudos… if you don’t, buy the damn thing or I’ll loan it to you).  In Chapter 19, a reference is made to ultrarunner Lisa Smith-Batchen, one of the most accomplished distance runners of all time.  She speaks of the exhaustion and fatigue of the later parts of races as “The Beast”.  The text from Born to Run is as follows:

Lisa Smith-Batchen, the amazingly sunny and pixie-tailed ultrarunner from Idaho who trained through blizzards to win a six-day race in the Sahara, talks about exhaustion as if it’s a playful pet.  “I love the Beast,” she says.  “I actually look forward to the Beast showing up, because every time he does, I handle him better.  I get him more under control.”  Once the Beast arrives, Lisa knows what she has to deal with and can get down to work.  And isn’t that the reason she’s running through the desert in the first place – to put her training to work?  To have a friendly little tussle with the Beast and show it who’s boss?  You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.
 
I am by no means an ultrarunner or anywhere near the caliber of Lisa, but there is something to be said about the Beast.  If you have raced, you know what the Beast is, and it isn’t necessarily the fatigue or exhaustion.  I think we all have our own Beast(s).  You don’t know your Beast?  It could be the thing that you wrestle with in miles 20 through 26.2 of a Marathon.  Or in every damn bit of a 5K.  Maybe you have several Beasts working on you at once (mind, body, weather, combination)?  Maybe your Beast is a chameleon that can change colors and bite you in the butt when you least expect it.  Don’t know your Beast(s)?  I applaud you, or I challenge you to dig a little deeper to find it. For now, I’ll tell you about the Beasts I met in Sioux Falls.  My mind and my anger.
This wasn’t intended to be much of a progressive race.  That is, unless I was ready and willing to take my pace much lower than intended race pace as I was starting right around my goal pace.  But what could go wrong?  Weather was perfect, course was perfect (mistake number 1: respect the course, don’t assume), and I was confident.  Mile 1 through 5, perfect.  It couldn’t have been better and I was clicking off miles at race pace or slightly under.  I tucked in with a group of Collegiate XC runners from Gillette College in Wyoming and a few locals that were a part of the 605 Running Crew out of Sioux Falls.   I let them lead the way to block the wind and keep the pace as they were right around where I wanted to be (one of the smarter things I did all day).
Then, things went a bit south on me.  Enter mile 6 and enter the Beast called Josh’s mind.  Too much thinking can be a bad thing kids, especially if you aren’t thinking straight. My mind was about to get as crooked as it could.  I wasn’t intending to do a progressive run and the crew I had been latching onto was going to start cranking down significantly.  I had been listening to them discuss this plan and started playing with the idea myself, giving myself a few scenarios.  GREEDY!  Instead of listening to my heart and my race plan, my mind got greedy and way too involved…  here’s a 5 second snapshot what my thought process looked like before things went south….
“You’ve banked a good 40 seconds and are feeling good, so why not go with these guys (Mistake 2: Never bank time, bank energy… Allison Macsas, I could hear you preaching to me) …. you’re past the hard part of the course, why not? (Mistake 3: see mistake number 1 again, always respect the course)… you recovered on those early slow climbs really well… you’ve raced and trained on harder courses (Mistake 4: once again, see 1 and 3, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS respect the damn course)… If you have a bad mile 6, you can always back off the pace above your race goal and recover to make time up later (Mistake 5: now I am thinking way too much and I’ve given myself Plan B if I fuck up mile 6.  There should be no Plan B or out unless I know I am injured)….

Licking my Chops and Being Greedy
So with all of these thoughts looping in my mind throughout mile 6, I started seeing the group pulling away from me.  I then realized that I was on the Sioux Falls equivalent of Austin, Texas’ very own Duval St.  You know? That slow, deceiving climb over about 3 miles? To add to the slow mind misery, I start seeing my time bank fading, my energy going down, legs feeling lead like and worst of all the looping thought process is getting perpetually worse.  This leads to round two of thoughts over a much longer period of time (miles 7 through 8 in the last two miles of my climb)….
“Well so much for a sub-1:30, might as well back the pace off and just PR (Mistake 6: I have COMPLETELY abandoned Plan A and started relying on my watch when I should have said “screw the watch” at this point and stuck with #JFR)…  my legs are feeling tired.  Was it my nutrition?  Was it my hydration?  Did I go out too fast? Why do my legs feel like lead?  How could I be so stupid to put myself in this position?  This is so embarrassing! (Mistake 7: Why are you thinking about the inconsequential at this point, what’s done is done, #JFR)
Those 3 short miles (6 through 8), were nothing more than me over focusing on why my race was going wrong rather than finding a way to embrace the Beast that was my mind. I was convinced I was wasting an opportunity on a race I had flown a 1000 miles for. I was letting the Beast punch me right in the face and I knew it.  I didn’t have to love the Beast at this point, I just needed to find a way to control and tame it.  Racing isn’t fun at times.  In fact it is never really fun, but I had just made it more of a grind than it needed to be.  I’m not going to bore you with the details.  Miles 9 and 10 were no different.  More mind minutia and convincing myself that I had fucked up.
Then, something happened coming down the bike path when mile 10 turned to 11.  I was still convincing myself what a crappy race I was having and how much time I had given up when I got passed by a smiling racer who chirped, “Good Job, only 5K left”.  At the moment, I thought that was the last thing I needed to hear.  It pissed me off beyond belief.  You’re going to pass me and tell me what a good job I am doing?  How dare you?  Retrospectively, however, I wish I could have found her and thanked her after the race, because she had brought out another Beast of mine that I am much more experienced with controlling… anger. Unlike the mind Beast that overtook me mid-race, I embraced my anger Beast and channeled it like it was an old friend.  There was only one thought in my mind that entire last 5K.  Catch her if you can, and anyone else along the way.  Simple thoughts, simple goals, good results in those last 3 miles because I knew my Beast, and used it to my advantage.  My last last 5K just was just over my original intended race pace.  There was no pain, no extra thought, just an end goal.  Did I break 1:30?  Nah.  Did I PR?  Nope.  But I channeled and embraced one of my Beasts.  I’ll call that a win.

Mile 11 Water Stop … From What I Can Remember… I have dropped the mind Beast and Channeled the anger Beast
I still have a lot of work to do to locate my race Beasts and find out what my relationships are with them.  In fact, I don’t have to love them like Lisa Smith-Batchen does. To each their own! I just have to try to understand them, nurture them when I can, and respect them every chance I get.  Love may or may not come in time.  There is no clear answer for any of us trying to take control of the one or many things that haunt us during the race. I think we just need to know that no matter what we do, Beasts are always going to be there.  We just need to find a way to fine tune our relationship with them.

The Rogue Map of Austin

by Mandy Deen

We’ve all seen them, the hilarious google maps of a city, with quirky/snarky descriptive names written over neighborhood locations. Things like “Mall Zombies” and “Ex-Frat High-Rises” and other, much less PC things.

So, I had an idea.

SOUTHWEST AUSTIN:

   swaustinrogue(1)

NORTHWEST AUSTIN:

NW

RUN FROM HELL:

rfh

EASTSIDE:

eastside

Im sure I’ve left out a lot, despite being quite scientific about it. But it’s the best I could do.

Cheers!

-Mandy

Of Running and Travel

IMG_0741by Allison Macsas

It has been one year since the inaugural Rogue Expeditions trip, and as we prepare to depart for trips #3 and #4 this week I couldn’t help but reflect on how swiftly this crazy idea has taken root and grown.

We began with Morocco last March, having no idea whether it would be a one-off, or something bigger.

Apparently, it was to be something bigger.

We followed that adventure with a shorter, closer-to-home Tahoe trip, which drew a wonderful group of women and was the perfect escape from Texas in July. In the meantime, we were making important connections and working behind the scenes to develop new destinations, allowing us to come into 2014 with a slew of offerings: Morocco (two groups!) in March, Tahoe in July, Morocco again in early November, Kenya in mid-November and Patagonia in the early planning stages.

The response has been huge, and though Gabe and I sometimes find it hard to believe that we are really getting the chance make this happen, at closer look I am not surprised at all. Running and travel are a natural pairing with abundant parallels, and I’d like to highlight a few:

IMG_0258FEELING BEING ALIVE

At the risk of sounding like a cheesy marketing campaign, this is a huge element of both running and of travel.  No matter the reasons that you choose to run – for health, for fitness, for friends, for challenges – ultimately you are choosing to go out into the elements, put one foot in front of the other, rely upon yourself and embrace being ALIVE.  The same goes for travel – when you choose to travel, you are choosing to step out into the world, experience sights, sounds and smells and interact with all of those things – real, tangible things. For this reason, runners make natural travelers, and vice versa. Day5_Devon dust

STEPPING OUT OF COMFORT ZONES

Running is not comfortable. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll likely deal with achy knees, sore shins, burning lungs and a heavy dose of frustration. Eventually all of that passes, but the discomfort continues for even the most advanced runners: we deal with early mornings, hot weather, freezing weather, sweat, blisters, chafing, lost toenails, metaphorical brick walls and that terrible feeling at mile 20 that I’m just not going to make it. But, we keep running, and we do make it to the end, and once we get there we forget about every bit of discomfort along the way. All we know is that indescribable feeling of pushing past a limit, and we come away with a new level of confidence and excitement and satisfaction.

Travel is the same way.

1094995_608758295825546_1143697500_nCertainly, there are blatantly uncomfortable ways to travel, typically the result of a shoestring budget and involving lots of crowded public transport and dingy hostels in developing counties. But even comfortable travel is going to take you out of your comfort zone.  You will experience language barriers, strange foods and bizarre currency denominations. You’ll likely find out what it’s like to look different from everyone else, encounter toilets that you may not know how to utilize and find out that “normal” conveniences like big takeaway cups of coffee aren’t available. But then, you find other ways to communicate and connect, you discover new favorite foods and become a master bargainer. You stop worrying about standing out – most people aren’t looking anyway, they are just living their lives – you figure out the toilets and you find that sitting and savoring that tiny cup of espresso is much more fulfilling.  And then, you don’t think about “discomfort” anymore. Instead, you are reveling in the feeling of pushing past barriers and gaining – you guessed it – a new level of confidence. Day1_Troy overlook

SELF-REFLECTION

No matter how many running friends you have, it is inherently a solo sport. Anyone who runs regularly spends time alone with him or herself, thinking thoughts, dreaming dreams and solving problems. You learn a lot about yourself this way. You also learn a lot about yourself during hard workouts, big races and other personal running milestones. How do you respond to challenges? What do you do when things go wrong? How do you react to success, or to disappointment? When running, it’s all you, and most runners are keenly self-aware.

How does this apply to travel? Well, I’ve always been a big believer in the idea that you can’t truly know anything about your culture or your way of doing things until you get outside of it. When you’re immersed in a new culture and exposed to new ways of doing things, it makes you reflect upon your own version of living when maybe you’d never had a reason to do so before. Perhaps you begin to do some things differently, or perhaps you don’t. Either way, travel will make you highly, keenly self-aware. 4 pct group

MEMORIES, AND FRIENDSHIPS.

Describe what you did on the second Tuesday of March last year. Can’t do it? Of course not. Chances are, it was just another Tuesday, stuck in the middle of another week. Not that it wasn’t a good or a worthy day, but it simply wasn’t memorable.

Now, describe the marathon that you ran last year. I bet you can give a play-by-play, from the moment you woke up to the moment you celebrated that evening and every mile in between. I bet you remember every split, the exact temperature and humidity level and precisely how many gels you forced down. You know exactly what you were wearing. Why? Because it was a highly anticipated, physically and mentally intense experience. It was the very definition of memorable.

Day3_breakfast2And travel? Well, I can tell you exactly what I was doing on the second Tuesday in March last year, because I was in Morocco with an amazing group of adventurous runners. I can describe the stunning view from the terrace at breakfast, the chilly breeze at the beginning of our run, the kids who ran along with us and the drum circle that we became part of after dinner at our kasbah-hotel. Like a marathon, or even your first 5K, it was the very definition of memorable.

Day8_GoodbyesAnd friendships. The friendships are directly related to the experiences and the memories. Why are running friendships so strong? Because you take on challenges, you struggle and you succeed, all together. Intense, memorable experiences create lasting bonds, and I’ve overwhelmingly seen this in running, and in travel. Indeed, my closest friendships have developed from one (or both!) of these endeavors.

maasai giraffeSo, perhaps it isn’t so surprising that Rogue Expeditions is off to such a strong start. Running and travel, runners and travelers – it fits.

Please follow us over the coming weeks as we take not one, but two groups to Morocco and also head to Kenya to put the final touches on our November trip, with live updates along the way. Then, once you’re ready to extend your running – and living! – experience further out into the world, check out our upcoming trips, send me your questions and join us on a great adventure!

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UPCOMING TRIPS

Run Tahoe: July 23-27 (3 spots left!)

Run Morocco: October 30-November 8 (10 spots left!)

Run Kenya: November 14-25 (6 spots left!)

Austin Marathon: The Plan

 By coach Chris McClung

For those reading this blog in preparation for the Austin Marathon on Sunday, I applaud your bravery. Since the course was changed from a downhill screamer to the loop course we have today, most locals avoid their local marathon out of fear of those deadly Austin hills. While other locals are running scared to out of town races, you are facing this beast head-on with thousands of poor, naïve out-of-towners, who have no idea what they are getting into.

I have good news for you, though. I think this course, run correctly, can be nearly as fast as a flat course. It’s just damn tricky and requires near perfect execution in your race plan. There are two potential outcomes for you on Sunday. 1.Run smart, following a plan like the below, and you will crush the finish. Or, 2.Start too fast, falling into the booby traps of this race, and you will find yourself at the top of Duval around mile 22 curled up in the fetal position wishing you could roll downhill instead of walk or run. Which outcome will you choose?

If you choose outcome #1, then I suggest following a plan like the one below. It requires supreme patience early, but it’s the only way to take advantage of the generous downhills in the closing 6 miles of the race.

Instead of a mile-by-mile plan, I break the course into 6 sections, each section with its specific mission and pace guidance. Don’t worry so much about hitting a certain pace in each mile, but rather focus on executing an average pace within each section. Here is how I break it down:

Section 1: The Warm-up

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Start to Mile 2.6 on Congress. The goal for this section is to “shorten the race.” By starting slowly, you turn a 26.2-mile race into a 23.6-mile race. Now, this is easier said than done because all of your normal physical and mental cues about pace will fail you in these opening miles.  Adrenaline and the frenetic energy of your fellow racers will tempt you into getting sucked out too fast. Plus, booby trap #1 on the race course – the Guadalupe downhill from Mile 1 to 2 – will make it easy to run faster than you planned.

Don’t. Relax. Start slow and easier than you think you need to, and if you hit your target marathon pace in this stretch, then slow the f**k down.

[One side note on pacers: The Austin Marathon has some of the finest pacers of any marathon in the land. And, it’s no coincidence that most of them are Rogues. They, however, are instructed to run even paces throughout the race, regardless of the hills. They can do that because they are all trained to run marathons 30 minutes or more faster than their selected pace on marathon day. If you want to blow up on the course, start with your target pace group. If you want to run smart, I would suggest that you use them as a tool or reference point, but DO NOT plan to run with your target pace group. Instead, start at least 2 or 3 pace groups back of your target group and plan to progress throughout the race. If all goes according to the plan below, then you won’t reach or pass your target pace group until the final miles of the race. I submit to you that there is no other way to run this course and be successful.]

Section 2: Crushed on Congress?

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Mile 2.6 to Mile 6. Many overlook this section of the course, but do so at their peril. This section of the course has the highest elevation gain per mile than any other section of the course. Those whose goal is to run the last 6 miles of the race at a snail’s pace will take this section too fast. The temptation is to hit your target marathon pace and hold it in spite of the uphill climb. Do so, and your race is done before you even hit mile 6. Instead, stay relaxed, progress to marathon EFFORT, not pace. Let the hills slow you down naturally, holding energy/power in reserve for later. If you do that, then you should be running no faster than 10 to 15 secs/mile slower than marathon pace.

Section 3: Slammin’ South First

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Mile 6 to Mile 9.5. In this section, you drop ~250 feet as you scream down South First back to the river. Most people will run this either too aggressively going too fast, way too early in the race. Or, they will brake the whole way down with their quads, destroying them for later. You should do neither. Instead, stay relaxed, let gravity increase your pace to slightly faster than marathon pace, but do it with proper downhill running form – body over your feet, so that you aren’t braking and destroying your legs.

Section 4: The End of the Beginning

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Mile 9.5 to 13.1. This is the Winsted-Enfield-Exposition section of the course which many of you fear the most. It has rolling hills the whole way and some of the toughest hills on the course. Essentially, you take the challenges of sections 2 and 3 and combine into one section. You have steep ups and downs and no single will be the same pace in this section. The main goal here is to conserve energy on the ups and relax on the downhills, so that you save your energy for later. Treat the hills as a gift reminding you to be conservative. Don’t fight them. Embrace them all the way to the half way point.

Section 5: Still Climbing?

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Mile 13.1 to 19.75. Most people want to breathe a deep sigh of relief at mile 13.1, thinking the hills are behind them. But, they aren’t. These 6+ miles feel like a long, gradual climb, and essentially that’s what it is. Those who make mistakes here will force the pace/effort too early rather than staying in control and relaxed. Your pace should be +/- MGP but you should again let the slight ups and downs adjust your pace accordingly. Stay patient as long as you can, b/c the last 6 will be screaming fast for you, if you play your cards right.

In this section, you will also begin to face your biggest mental demons of the race, potentially on the long, annoying straight-away that is Great Northern. Be prepared for that – have power words or phrases and other mental strategies ready to maintain your focus.

Section 6: Road to Glory

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Mile 19.75-26.2. Road to glory. You reach the northern most part of the course at the same time you reach the highest point on the course. It is literally all downhill from here, including the screaming fast section on Duval. Now, the biggest challenge is getting to this point with cards left to play. If you can avoid the early booby traps or at least outsmart them, then the last 6.45 miles will truly be the road to glory. If you can’t avoid those traps, then you will find yourself on a miserable slog to the finish. Those are the two extremes, and this course allows for very little in the middle.

The last 6 miles should be a progression run to the finish, picking it up each mile as you go and letting the downhills carry you where they can. There is an annoying climb in the final half mile up San Jacinto to the finish, but if you are running progression to that point, then it will be no big deal b/c it’s so close to the line. Your job is to execute the first 5 sections well, so you can close the deal when it counts.

If you’ve done everything right, then your plan should be to run the second half of the course 2-4 minutes faster than the first. Believe that this is possible, and then execute the plan one section at a time. The outcome will then take care of itself.

You are ready to go the distance! What you are doing is important! Remember your training! Be ready to fight! Study the plan! Execute the plan!

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Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 2.46.38 PMChris McClung heads up all things retail at Rogue Running, and currently coaches runners preparing for the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon, followed soon by The Morning Show: Seawheeze 2014.

Summer Half M: Meet the Coaches

So, you’re thinking about joining a Rogue training group. If it’s your first time, chances are that you have questions. Can I do it? What will the workouts be like? Will I be the fastest? The slowest? What are the other runners like? What is the COACH like?

Coach Cameron

Coach Cameron

Coach Jenn

Coach Jenn

Coach Chris

Coach Chris

Coach Michelle

Coach Michelle

Because the coach shapes the program and the experience, it seemed the most important question to address here. We sat down with our four Summer Half Marathon coaches, Cameron Gage, Jenn Howard-Brown, Chris McClung and Michelle Sears, for a some Q&A that will give you an inside look at the how, why and what of their coaching styles:

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When and why did you start running?

Cameron: I used to run as “punishment” in high school and college basketball practices.  It wasn’t until after college that I realized it was fun and so fulfilling.

Jenn: I started running to get in shape a couple of years out of college.  It wasn’t pretty and I did everything wrong in the beginning.  I ran too hard and ran out of steam.  As I got a little smarter, I trained and ran half marathons and marathons, but all within about 5 min. of each other.  I finally found Rogue and started training methodically and have improved every season.

Chris: I started running in college after my sophomore year. I was a soccer player previously and was looking for a way to stay in shape. A friend of mine goaded me into training with him for a local 10K, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

Michelle: 2008. A friend talked me into trying a 5K group at Rogue & I’ve been hooked ever since!

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How did you get into coaching?  

Cameron: I think I first talked to Steve Sisson about coaching when he was still at RunTex. That was a LONG time ago.  I think it took years for me to take the plunge because I take the responsibility so seriously.

Jenn: Initially I started coaching beginners and loved helping people do things they never thought they could do . . . run a mile, run a 5k, run a 10k, etc.  That led to coaching those same athletes on to half marathons and I found my niche.  I love coaching the half marathon.  It’s superhuman, but it’s reasonable to fit the training into a person’s busy lifestyle and juggle along with a family, career, etc.  I’ve enjoyed coaching my athletes to their first halves and personal bests.  I can achieve one or two personal bests in a year myself, but coaching gives me a chance to multiple that by 25-50!

Chris: I am passionate about sports and have always wanted to coach in some way, whether it be soccer, flag football in college, or, now, running. I am passionate about helping people change their life through sport, and there is no better sport than running to drive personal transformation. My first official gig as a run coach came in grad school when I coached a group of 75 classmates for the Capitol 10K. I led several to their first 10K and many others to personal bests for the distance, and I that’s when I fell in love with this.

Michelle: I was invigorated by the power and spirit of Coach James Dodds!

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What is your trademark coaching philosophy and/or style?  

Cameron: As Steve says, “there are type A coaches at Rogue, and then there is me.”  I am all about people having the experience they want.  Whether that is a Boston Qualifying time or a check on a bucket list, if we are aligned as coach and athlete, both will be happy.

Jenn: My coaching style is nurturing with a dash of drill sergeant. My athletes have called me a “Tiger Mom,” “but in a good way.”  I’m supportive, but want to push them to their personal best at the same time.

Chris: I am a big believer in the power of the TEAM. Coaching philosophy matters, yes. But, the group dynamic and community is what helps the group push each other to places no one thought possible. So, I invest a lot of time and energy helping my groups channel the power of the team and find no greater joy than watching them run on the roads or circle the track in small packs, working together.

Michelle: Encouraging. Cowbell. Positivity. More cowbell. Keep it fun!

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Most memorable run?

Cameron: I was running the Greenbelt with another Rogue and I took a spill on some rocks.  I ran the 4-5 miles out with a mild concussion and a broken thumb and elbow.

Jenn: Running the New York Marathon six weeks after 9/11.  Flights had barely resumed. Ground Zero was still smoking.  There were still threats on bridges across the US . . . and the NYC Marathon goes over a lot of bridges.  But, we decided we needed to go and show our support.  Only about 20,000 people ran it that year (vs. 45k) and it was an emotional roller coaster.  I stopped and hugged firemen and policemen and took photos all along the way.  I ran alongside people and listened to their stories . . . and cried.  It was an amazing experience to run that year with no focus on running a personal best, but being part of the healing and recovery post-9/11.

Chris: I’ve done a 2-hour long run on the trails around Crater Lake in Oregon. An easy run alone surrounded by nature’s glory = bliss.

Michelle: The SeaWheeze half marathon last year in Vancouver (amazing scenery with even more amazing running partners)!

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Favorite post-run meal?

Cameron: Breakfast tacos and beer (really).

Jenn: Tacodeli. . . specifically an Otto with Dona sauce.  It’s an addiction.  If I run 16+ miles, I’ll splurge on a Mexican Coke too.

Chris: Kerbey Lane breakfast platter with apple whole wheat pancakes. No question.

Michelle: It used to be breakfast tacos…until Kerbey Lane cinnamon roll pancakes debuted. Gamestopper!

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If you could give one piece of advice to a new runner, what would it be?

Cameron: Think in the big picture.  Rushing to a goal will most likely leave you injured and down on running.

Jenn:  Be patient, consistent with your training, and have a positive attitude.  It will pay off.

Chris: Slow down. Most new runners start too fast. The assumption is that you have to hurt in order to get benefit through exercise, but in running, that’s dangerous. Not only does it lead to sub-optimal aerobic development, but it also usually leads to early injury. You should start slower than you think you need to and keep any early running at easy, conversational paces. If that means you need to walk or run/walk initially, then do it. Keep it easy and your pace or ability to run more continuously will improve as you build consistency.

 Michelle: The body is truly an amazing machine! Stay consistent. Positive self-talk. Smile when it hurts.  (Oops, that’s more than one!)

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What about to an experienced runner?

Cameron: Are you still training, competing, living, eating and thinking like you did as a new runner?

Jenn: Don’t set your own limits. . . . and have a positive attitude.  Most of my experienced runners don’t push their limits enough because they don’t realize their potential and their brains get in the way.  They need to have an open mind, push their limits to see what they are truly capable of.

Chris: Slow down. My athletes have heard this a thousand times: you have to go slow to go faster later. For an experienced athlete this applies in two ways: 1. For recovery. Your easy days should be super easy. I like to call them “active rest,” allowing your body to recover and prepare to get more out of your hard days. Only when you get the right balance of training and recovery will you truly see your potential. And, 2. During workouts. It isn’t always about going as hard as you can. You need to mix up your paces in order to work various parts of your aerobic system depending on the timing of your target race. For some workouts, there is more benefit gained by holding back while staying relaxed and in control at pace, while in others, you might need to press closer to the edge.

Michelle: Trust your training. You are strong, powerful and awesome!

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What do you do when you aren’t running or coaching?

Cameron: I like to take spin classes and do yoga…oh, and I have a wife, kids and a job too.

Jenn: By day, I focus on marketing for an engineering company, National Instruments, to top accounts like General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, etc.  I am passionate about raising awareness and funds to support Girls on the Run of Austin, an after-school program for young girls (8-12) to build self-esteem, teach life skills, acceptance and awareness and culminating in a celebratory 5k.  In my spare time, I love hanging out with the hubby, Scooby, and our pup, Kennedy or spending time out at the latest restaurant with friends.

Chris: I have 3 little kids at home, ages 1, 3, and 5. They keep me on my toes!

Michelle: Cooking, laughing, sipping on cold beer, flossing, watching football or futbol and snuggling with my puppy.

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What is one item that is ALWAYS in your refrigerator?

Cameron: Beer.

Jenn: Sparkling.  I don’t indulge a lot, but I love a glass of Champagne, Prosecco or sparkling rose.  I wish I could say baby carrots or Greek yogurt, which yes, are usually in the fridge.  But it’s not an emergency if they aren’t!

Chris: Crunchy, organic peanut butter. I usually eat it straight from the jar with a spoon!

Michelle: Cheese.

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What is one to-do on your bucket list? 

Cameron: Running Big Sur and Grandma’s Marathons

Jenn: Complete all 6 of the World Major Marathons . . . New York, Chicago, London and Berlin done, only 2 to go — Boston Marathon 2014 and Tokyo 2015.

Chris: Run Patagonia. Coming to a Rogue Expeditions trip soon!

Michelle: Learn to play the guitar.

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Favorite quote? 

Cameron: “For when I run, I am a hunter and the prey is my self, my own truth.” – George Sheehan

Jenn: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  –Maya Angelou

Chris: “If you have a body, then you are an athlete.” – Bill Bowerman. 

No matter your background or current starting point. You are an athlete. The only question is: are you in training or not? You can do more than you currently think possible if you have the courage to go for it.

Michelle: “We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”  ~William James

– “Live happy, joyous and free.”  ~my beautiful mother’s daily advice

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And finally, why Rogue?

Cameron: Community, community, community.

Jenn: There simply is no substitute.  I spent years running on my own or with a friend here or there, but without purpose and without improvement.  I wanted more.  I wanted to be a better runner, run faster times, have running partners.  Once I joined Rogue in 2008, everything changed.  I have continually gotten better, accomplished goals I never thought were possible (like qualifying for Boston) and reset my limits and expectations of myself.  My coaches and teammates are irreplaceable.  They drive me to be better and support me when I’m not.  I try to give my athletes what Rogue gives me.  Rogue is a community, a network, a team, a training philosophy, a family, a support group, and a way of life.  Once you find your way in, you don’t want out.

Chris: Rogue is not about a single person. It’s about the community. And, in this community, you will find a diverse group of people from all backgrounds who are passionate about setting and reaching big goals. You won’t find any pretense or bulls**t, just real people helping each other smash their perceived limits and crush big goals. Once you experience it, it’s contagious, and I can’t get enough!

Michelle: Why not Rogue?! Everyone is a somebody here!

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Whether you want to run your first half marathon, set a new PR or simply become a stronger runner and part of an amazing community, these coaches and this program can get you there. Many day/time/location options available – find details for Cameron, Jenn and Michelle here, and details for Chris’ group here.