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.


Hit the trails: review of the Adidas XT

by “Aussie” Scott Rantall, retail manager at Rogue Cedar Park

I don’t consider myself a trail runner, but since coming to Austin I’ve found myself  running more and more on technical trails (such as the Greenbelt). Before my time in Austin, I didn’t have much to do with rocky trails and didn’t have a need for a shoe to protect my foot. It all started in February this year when the well-known Austin runner, Scott Cap10 MacPherson, asked if I was interested in racing mountain bikers up and down a hill on a 2 mile course out at Reveille Ranch near Burnet. Of course I said yes without even asking logical questions like “How steep is the hill?” “How rocky is the surface?” “Where is it?” I was new to Austin and excited to get a race under my belt with Rogue. Anyway, Scott didn’t know many details either but at least he packed trail shoes with him as we made the journey to the race. I was planning on running in my current racing flat (Saucony A4, very light, no protection road racer).

Scott and I ran the 2 mile course as a warm-up. With him being the stronger runner, we decided to have him run the uphill. Little did we know that the uphill was a dirt road that you could easily drive Mom’s car up and the downhill was very technical, so bad that only someone like Erik Stanley or those guys who compete in the X-games would race down. Once we got back to the Jeep, I was scared I was going to break every bone in my foot. I only have 1 speed over a mile, and that is all out until I pass-out. Lucky for me, Scotty Mac had a shoe for me that I didn’t realize existed, the New Balance 101 with a Rock plate. This 7.2oz shoe was amazing if you like a firm fast ride. Long story short, we beat the Mountain Bikers, Scotty Mac attributed it to me and I attributed it to the shoes that made me fearless in the face of rocks! The downhill biker claimed it was his first time, but I’m a rider myself and I know he was on a $3000 specialized downhill bike and also had a helmet camera.

After this I was hooked and started looking for trail shoes of my own as I never wanted to go back to road shoes on trails. In my first week after the race I was introduced to many shoes, including the Brooks Cascadia, Inov8 F-Lite & RocLite series, Saucony Peregrine, Montrail, the list goes on. What I was looking for was more of an all-around shoe, something that would still feel like a shoe on all surfaces and not just at home on a trail race. I disregarded a few straight away just based on the feel. It’s hard to talk about a shoe without comparing it to others and obviously everyone is different and looking for something different, e.g. weight, waterproofing, heel to toe drop, cost, neutral vs. supportive, rock plate, reliability.

I have a wide foot and I not really interested in lots of cushion or a normal shoe that was turned into a trail option so my options were narrowed down to the below. As a stats man, let me explain why these made the list.

Adidas XT 10.2oz 16.5 – 10.5 = 6mm $95
Saucony Peregrine 9.7oz 24 – 20 = 4mm $90
Brooks Cascadia 12.2oz 28 – 16 = 12mm $110
New Balance 101 7.2oz 26 – 16 = 10mm $75

Lucky for me, I work in a shoe store and and was able to pick up all 4 as they all had different reasons for me to like them. My favorite all-around trail shoe has become the Adidas XT and I’m going to tell you why. Looking at the table above you might have guessed that the 101 would be the outright winner, but that’s where numbers can’t explain everything.

As you will see, it is a medium shoe on all accounts – weight, drop and price – whereas the XT excels in running long over trails. I found once I get over 10miles I found issues with the other 3. The Brooks Cascadia weighs in 2 ounces heavier then the next so, as much as I love this shoe for shorter runs or standing on my feet all day, it ends up wearing me out faster. The Saucony Peregrine feels like it has a little posting which hurts my knees as I run over 10miles, but I do like what they are doing with a 4 millimetre drop from heel to toe. The New Balance 101 is just too damn light and firm for anything but racing, but if and when I race trails again, it’s my shoe of choice.

Adidas did things right with their shoe by getting Continental (they make bike tires) to make the rubber outsole – “it supplies superior grip in all underfoot conditions” is what I was told by the reps. I agree with that so far, but since it has not rained in Austin since I’ve gotten here, I can’t say they have been truly tested yet. It is disappointing that it only comes in 1 unisex color (black/gray with lime Adidas strips), but the next one in 2012 with be black/metallic silver/prime blue which I think will be a hit.

I have just over 200 miles on my current pair. They still look and feel the same as the day I got them. The XT is a specific shoe made for trails. Quite a few brands are making trail versions of their best sellers which aren’t bad options, but I like a trail-specific shoe for the extra protection.

Get yours and hit a trail near you, I know you won’t be disappointed!!

Cheers, Aussie