Monday, March 2, 2009

The Windy City

It occurred to me running the 22nd Annual ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run into the teeth of a stiff wind that this event has become the extreme weather running event of Houston. I did some research from past runs and sure enough, there have been some tough conditions the last few years. The weather and the fact that the course, which includes an out and back over the Elysian Viaduct, is not run in typically flat Houston terrain adds up to a fairly challenging endeavor. A recap of the last Rodeo Runs.

2009: 55°F, winds at 10mph, gusting to 25 mph-it seemed much worse going through the buildings downtown. Mile 1 through 4 was directly into the wind. I looked forward turning around, but it seemed to just get hot, though ultimately, I think running with the wind at my back helped more than hurt.

2008: 70°F, 79% humidity winds SE 6 mph-- I did not run this. Jay Hendrickson, Rob Walter and I ran the Conroe hills that morning. We finished a 20 mile run about the time the race started. We all agreed we were happy not to be running the Rodeo Run.

2007: 70°F, 100% humidity, intermittent rain-- This was like a sauna. I remember struggling through the first mile with the humidity. It started to rain, which at first seemed like a relief, but ultimately, the conditions just became steamier!! The viaduct was like a death march!

2006: 54°, 100% humidity, some rain, winds NW9 gusting-- Even though the temperature was comparable to 2009, I remember being miserable. It was cold, wet and windy- not a good combination. The viaduct was torture. Besides having to wait around in the cold for an hour. I remember going directly to my car and not participating in the post race party.

2005: 49°F, 90% humidity, no wind-- Probably the best conditions in the last five years.

Other comments:
To me, 10K is a tough distance. It is easy to go out too fast and not be able to hold on. I was able to run a 'negative' split which means that I managed the pacing fairly well.

This race is getting big, maybe too big.

I only saw a handful of people from BCRR. I saw Clayton Smith and Mark Fraser at the start. Avi Moss joined as a bandit and I felt like I had my own personal cheerleader in Lara Allen and Deborah Touchy, who greated me at the start and again as I was running up the first hill on the return trip up the viaduct. I think they may have propelled me to a stronger finish.


  1. Bob- I totally agree with your assessment of the race. It is historically the coldest/wettest/windiest race of the year! It always takes me almost 2 minutes longer to finish this 10K than any other done around the same time, so I have been convinced that the course is long despite its certification!! Thus I was stunned when I finished just 3 seconds off my 10K PR!! I think it helped that on the way out the wind was more from the side than a straight headwind, and I did feel the boost of the tailwind on the way back. Must have been strong as usually I can't really detect any performance enhancement from a tail wind. I guess this race makes up for my mediocre race times so far this year!

    The field seemed definitely larger this year. I started pretty close to the front, yet was still dodging around people at mile 4. Did everyone see the purple/blue goat or was I hallucinating?

    One recurrent problem with a large race with both 5 and 10K options is that some people register for the 10K and then opt for the 5K en route, yet still cross over the 10K timing mat at the finish. This leads to all kinds of problems with the results. This year, the age group winner in F50-54 category ran a 40 minute 10K, starting 8 minutes back from the gun. She did not have a 5k split and her half marathon time in January was over 3 hours (as it has been in other half marathons)!! The race directors should have some way to police this or at least review the results for dubious performances before finalizing the results. Same thing happened last year in the the F45 category as I recall. Otherwise, the Rodeo Run is always very well organized and managed. The post race party would be great if it wasn't always so freakin' cold!!

    K. Mahon

  2. It was a goat. Since it was purple maybe it can be our new mascot. One thing they always seem to have are tylenol handouts. Did anybody think that they started race early. No anthem or prayer? It was just get ready, go!