How to Place or AG for the first time

by Mandy Deen

Some of you who have been running with Rogue for a long time might be sick and tired of hearing your teammates/pacefriends/longrunningacquaintances/people you vaguely recognize only in pre-dawn gloom, go on and on about their verified running achievements (Placing in races! Winning age-group awards! Winning races!!!). I mean, honestly. Some of you who are new to Rogue might be highly intimidated by hearing all the victory stories and reading all the blogs. I personally was not told that either placing or age-grouping at some point was a requirement when I signed up. Don’t worry! I myself, a life-long hobbyjogger, have figured out a fool-proof way to place at races; please follow and apply as needed:

FIRST: You should probably decide that it’s something you want to try and do. That’s a good first step for any endeavor, but I thought I’d mention it in case it was news to anyone (some of you may be Aggies).

SECOND: Know what you’re up against and be realistic. If you’re a 25 year old guy, maybe try and pick a race that’s geared exclusively towards women. OR, try to be born with superior endurance genes and have developed these over the course of your life until you’re an elite and finely tuned athletic specimen.

For the rest of us, you can probably manage by picking a small or dangerous or far away race where the least amount of competition will dare to show up. This is probably the single most important step in this process; I can’t highlight this fact enough. This is also the most advantageous time to actually employ all your serious hipster tendencies you’ve been willfully restraining all these years. Go for the off-beat, indie, previously unheard of races. The handcrafted, artisan races, if you will.

Personally, I picked the Rogue Trail Series for a number of reasons. A 10k trail race is enough of a butt-kicker with just a smattering of fear-of-faceplanting to be a fun challenge, but not enough of a serious race that you’d have to actually train for it. Or so I thought. Also, far fewer women run trail races, so just by showing up I’m already top 30. You see?

THIRD: Show up. I firmly believe that approximately 80% of life is just showing up. Really, it’s how I got myself through school. The Rogue Trail Series is a SERIES, requiring participants to show up to not only a single event, but a SERIES of races! This is when it is really advantageous to either a) be a professional runner and therefore have the time and inclination to devote your life specifically to races, b) an athletically-deluded 30ish unattached person without any pets who can’t even be trusted to keep a rosemary plant alive. You’re probably going to be free all of those weekends, is what I’m saying.

FOURTH: Talk about it a lot. Like, obnoxiously. Mention that you’re in race-prep every chance you get until your family and teammates want to strangle you. Plot elaborate methods for further limiting your competition by giving faster people the wrong directions or misinformation about race times. Attempt to manipulate Rogue organizers into joining your plot.

As you talk about your wish to actually place at a running thing for ONCE in your life, you will feel a tightness in your chest and throat begin to develop. Don’t panic, this is just fear and anxiety, brought on by your life-long fear of public failure and history of under-performing when you know people are watching you. This is how you know you’re probably ready. As the race date approaches this feeling will intensify, and you will find yourself dismissing thoughts of the race out of hand. Focus on the fun logistics of the race, what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to eat after, how many beers are ok the day before. You probably won’t have even thought about the actual race until it’s 5:30AM and you’re on a dark highway headed towards Reveille Ranch. That’s the appropriate time for your Come-To-Jesus.

FIFTH: Rope a teammate into driving you out there to the race. Spend the entire hour and ten minute car ride chattering about life, your job, NPR stories, and what is the socially appropriate number of beers and breakfast tacos post-race (probably around 2 each for a 10k. Sneak a third if you can). Fall silent only when you have the your crushing realization that everyone you know knows you’re trying to place at this race. Remind yourself the 10ks are supposed to hurt, then try and make peace with it.

SIXTH: Arrive just as the 30k is starting. Spend 24 out of the next 30 minutes standing in line at the port-a-potty because you got impatient and switched lines when you should have stayed in the one you were in.

Screen shot 2014-07-04 at 3.57.01 PMSEVENTH: Spend the last 6 minutes prior to the start standing awkwardly off to the side, hyperventilating, looking around for your competition, and pretending like you’re not trying to elbow your way to the front. When the start sounds, go out WAY too hard, uphill. All your hyperventilation and adrenaline shoots through your bloodstream and you’re pretty much exhausted by the top of the hill (seriously? An UPHILL start?). Remind yourself that based on the tiredness and instability in your hill-running butt muscles that you probably should have tried and warmed up prior to the start. You saw other people doing that. Remember? They’re probably doing a lot better on this hill than you are. Spend the next 2 miles charging up hills and aggressively pushing forward, trying to pass people. Be sure that most of the other women got out ahead of you at the start.

EIGHTH: At mile 2 your breathing becomes unsustainable. Inwardly accept defeat. Of the paltry 5 people you managed to pass, only one was a girl, and the other 4 guys have already passed you back. Also, you never passed that little 8 year old kid. Slow down, spend the next 2 miles tucked in behind a guy with a “serious trail beard,” recovering. Convince yourself that you just lost all chance at placing for the race AND the series. Console yourself with the thoughts of beer and breakfast tacos. They get you, they don’t care how fast you can run. They’re your only friends.

NINTH: Experience a rebirth during the final 2 miles (this is completely unrelated to the fact that a) the main climbs are over, it’s generally downhill, and b) your body has finally warmed up and kicked over.). Respectfully pass Serious Trail Beard, charge on towards the finish and your friend the beer.

10386379_1435286356725055_1808594032217830950_nTENTH: When you have sufficiently recovered, follow the smell of bacon to where the excellent Rogue organizers are cooking breakfast for an army. Find the beer, and your other 10k friends. Find out how their races went, drink some cold water, watch the 30ks come through. Note how the 30kers are all in much better shape than you. Be happy to be finished and holding a beer, as there are some serious painfaces happening and the clouds have burned off. Discuss the course in detail with the other 10kers. Eventually wander over to the live-results tent. Disinterestedly find your finishing time and placement. Feel very relieved to see that you ACTUALLY finished in the Top 5!!!!! Wait anxiously for the awards ceremony. Make your teammate take lots of pictures of you with your award, and post it to Facebook immediately. Enjoy the rest of the 30k race by hanging out with other people and talking incessantly about your award. When you get home, sleep the sleep of the victorious for the rest of the Sunday.

There you have it. Ten easy steps.


Lost and Found

by Chris McClung

I lost something in February. On Sunday, after just over 8 weeks of searching, I found it again… somewhere at Walnut Creek park, perhaps near the bottom of the 2nd creek crossing in the middle of the woods. This is the story of my search or maybe how it found me again…

I ran the Austin Marathon on February 19th. I didn’t write a race report then because, well, there was nothing to report. That day, I started with confidence on a day tailor-made for marathoning. After ~6 months of race specific training and 1,000+ miles run, I was fit and ready to PR again. Somewhere between miles 15 and 17, however, the wheels started to come off, and I would fight home to a time about 8 minutes slower than my goal. It was another marathon finish and another marathon where I didn’t run as planned. That happens in marathoning. That is why the race is so intriguing. Sometimes, failure motivates you to push harder and continue training with renewed energy…. other times it makes you question why you do this and makes running again seem like a chore. This time, I was in the latter place. I had lost my desire and will to run.

Usually after a marathon, I take 7 days or so almost completely off (with 1-2 easy walks or runs) and then 4 weeks of extremely mellow, but normal-volume training. This time, one week of almost no running turned into 3-4 weeks. I could feel my fitness fading and could see the post-race pounds packing on, but I couldn’t find the motivation to kickstart the early morning runs again. After 4 weeks or so, I decided it was time to change and even showed up for a few training runs with Team Rogue. At that time, I remember managing to get in a stretch of 4 runs in five days. For a moment, I thought I was back, but I was ultimately just going through the motions. It was “time” to start training again so I did, but I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I didn’t have the passion again. So, it didn’t stick. Another 3-4 weeks passed, each week I could only manage 2-3 runs with no real purpose or enjoyment.

This past week started similarly to the prior 3-4. I managed to run on Tuesday and Wednesday, but with no real passion or direction, I didn’t again until Saturday. On Saturday, things began to change, and Sunday, everything changed…

On Saturday, I ran just over 16 miles… the longest since the marathon. I hadn’t planned on running 16. I started at 6 am and planned to do 1 hour with my normal training partners and then loop back for the 7 am start to run a few miles with the group I coach. No offense to my Team Rogue training buddies, but the first hour wasn’t fun. Again, I was going through the motions, following a group at a pace that felt labored and hard when it shouldn’t have. Circling back, I met my group and ended up running an hour and 20 minutes with them, about an hour longer than planned. What changed? The pace was nice and mellow as it should be on most long days, but more importantly, the conversation was good and fun. Mary, Joe, Sarah, Dana, Richard, Sandra, and Keith entertained me as we talked about everything from their upcoming 5ks to the amazing weather and view of downtown from St Edwards. It reminded of one of the reasons why I do this… because the people and community are so great and their stories so inspiring.

On Sunday, fate took me to the first race of the Rogue Trail Series at Walnut Creek Park. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I got a call from Ruth on Saturday. She needed me to pick up some extra tables and bring them to the race start. And, as hard she works to put these races together, I wasn’t going to let her down. Arriving there at just after 5:30 am on Sunday, I delivered the tables and proceeded to help with pre-race set-up and packet pick-up. Since I was already there, I decided to jump into the 30k race for a couple of 10k loops as my run for the morning with no real goals or plans. Several Team Rogue training partners were racing or doing this as a training run, so I planned to do a few loops with them and call it a day.

At 7:00 am, the gun went off. Initially, I hung back while the lead pack took off like antelope. I noticed Asia – one of my training buddies – up ahead in the 2nd mini-group behind the leaders with one other female (the speedy Desiree Ficker) in front of her and 2 following close behind. Kamran – her husband and another training buddy – was running next to me. I looked over at him, and said, “She is going for it, huh?” He said, “yep” with a smile and that is all I needed to hear. Instincts kicked in, and I shifted gears to catch her. Desiree, the great Austin triathlete and former winner of the Cap10k and Austin Marathon, was up-front, and Asia would need all the help she could get to catch her. I quickly caught up to Asia and we fell into rhythm while Desiree pulled further away following the men’s leaders. Asia and I quickly chatted back and forth to sync into a comfortable rhythm and decided to stay patient early hoping Desiree would come back to us.

Then, we just ran. The beauty of trail racing is that your watch doesn’t matter. There are no mile markers, and your pace is essentially irrelevant. All that matters is your effort and how you are doing relative to your other competitors. It is racing in its purest form but in a weird,  kum-ba-ya sort of way. You are racing, and its competitive, but your competitors are more likely to give you a high-five on the trail than kick your ass. And, it is zen-beautiful out there.  Between the trees, the water crossings, and beautiful scenes of sun rays shining through the leaves, you are surrounded by nature at its finest. And, you aren’t just running. You are leaping, ducking, bounding, skipping, plunging, and occasionally walking (yes, walking!) over the hills, between the trees, and straight through the creeks from lovely, well-stocked aid station (read: gummy bears) to aid station.

In support of Asia, I was running with purpose, and we were having fun. Desiree wasn’t having her best day and clearly the fast early pace took its toll. We managed to catch her just before the 5k point and move ahead. But, we didn’t know how close she was following, and we certainly didn’t know how the other women were doing behind us. So, we were running like we stole something, and Asia was no doubt going for the win. We would alternate the pace making in a relatively smooth rhythm and managed to hit nearly even splits on the first, two 10k loops. At that point, I gave Asia my final tips and encouragement, and she disappeared into the woods to close the deal. She would go on to win the women’s overall by just over 12 minutes. My job was done, and it felt good to play a role in her victory.

From there, I joined the finish line party as the growing number of 10k finishers chowed down on burgers and downed a beer or two or three. I chatted to a few folks, checking to see how their 10k races went. But mostly I just watched, soaking in the smiles and laughter from a band of sweaty, but satisfied runners, who were loving ever minute with each other, wet shoes and all. There was no pretense to be found for miles, just an overwhelmingly aura of joy. I quietly slipped on my warm-ups, grabbed my keys, and headed off. I drove home with nothing but a smile on my face. I found it again or it found me. The passion is back, and I missed it desperately.

Trail Teaser

Everyone who has registered for the entire Rogue Trail Series or just The MAZE will receive a detailed information packet via email tomorrow morning, but these course previews are for anyone who may curious as to why we are so excited about these awesome Rogue events!

The ROGUE Trail Series:
Three separate trail races, three separate parks, each with its own unique atmosphere. In order to allow everyone a taste of trail running, all three events will host both 30K and 10K races. The final race will be a joint event: one part championship race, where the combined time of all three races determines overall placement, as well as a stand alone event with its own awards.

#1: The MAZE @ Walnut Creek:
It ain’t flat, dry, or straight. But it is FUN. The biggest danger is the other runners; beware the veterans! They will run full speed through the streams, splash through the mud, and count your face plants. Walnut Creek offers you the opportunity to beat ‘The Maze,’ a course that winds through a challenging mess of trees, crosses a few creeks and climbs a few hills, but mostly follows a well worn, very confusing labyrinth of trails. The course will be well-marked, but if you ever decide to run this park on your own you’ll probably want to bring food, plenty of water and leave a trail of crumbs…a map can’t save you here.

#2: The LOOP @ Emma Long
It still ain’t flat or straight. By now you know who the veteran trail runners are and how to stay out of their way! This time there are no creek crossings, and probably not much mud either, as this baby is mostly rock. It has some very fast sections that tantalize you until the next twisted rock ledge. The climbs are short but occur at regular intervals. The Loop is exactly what its name implies: a loop. It’s packed full of ups and downs, rocks and stumps. It’ll challenge your technical ability, but keep you motivated with its exciting turns and unique layout. This may be your one chance to run where only motorbikes and mountain bikes are allowed!

#3: The BEND @ Pace Bend

Yup, still ain’t flat or straight. Now YOU are the veteran trail runner and the others avoid you. You can make your own mud as you see fit – your option! Plenty of bends, lots of rocks, a few flats, rugged uphills and screaming downhills. The BEND happens at Pace Bend Park on a brand new set of trails. Afterward, enjoy a long soak in the lake then kick back with beer, food and battle stories. Everyone is invited to camp in a special Rogue trail race area for $15 per car – bring the family and make a weekend of it!

Our Intention:
To provide a trail running opportunity right here in Austin in a format that offers manageable distances, well marked courses and aid station support so that you can run the trails without worrying about a map or carrying fuel.

The MAZE @ Walnut Creek: March 28
The LOOP @ Emma Long: April 18th
The BEND @ Pace Bend Park: May 16th

All races:
Start time: 30K at 7:00a & 10K 7:30a
Individual race awards: Top 5 Overall M&F, Top 3 Masters M&F
Series championship awards: Top 5 Overall M&F
Packet pickup: Thursday: 6-8p, Friday: 12-7p, Saturday: 10-5p @ Rogue Equipment
Race day packet pickup: Beginning at 6am, for out-of-towners only!

Ready to jump in? You’ve got a few short days left to get in on the fun – register here!

Get Dirty!

Trail running is generally considered a special category, reserved for the mileage extremists with an astute sense of direction, an immunity to the elements and a case of borderline insanity. To the pavement-pounders out there, it can often seem an exclusive club: you’re a trail runner, or you aren’t.

This is a shame, since trail running is the perfect complement to road running, giving your legs a break from the hard pounding, your ears a break from the sound of traffic and your mind a break from the daily grind. It’s a chance to ramble through the woods, paying attention to nothing but the scenery and your footing. Trail running will help you become a more nimble, balanced runner (you will quickly lose the shuffle-stride!) and builds strength, physically and mentally, like no other type of running. In short, it’s running as nature intended.

Lucky for you, Rogue has a trail series – the Rogue Trail Series – with something for everyone. This is accessible trail racing, something that doesn’t require you to prepare with months of 30 mile offroad runs. The races, which will take place on March 28, April 18 and May 16, all offer a 10K distance that anyone can join in addition to a 30K race for those ready to push their limits. All of the courses are well marked and supported, meaning that it’s okay if you weren’t born with an internal compass and you don’t need to worry about carrying water if you don’t want to. This is trail racing for everyone, and everyone should try it – it’s an entirely different side of running that many people, unfortunately, never experience (Town Lake Trail doesn’t count!).

More information on the Rogue Trail Series and registration can be found here – you can take on the whole challenge with all three races, or sign up for them individually. If you aren’t yet sure about hitting the trail, or want to find out more about the sport, check out this great article from Trail Runner Magazine: So you want to be a trail runner. Read it, get excited and get ready to get dirty!