Cougar Country Classic 5K – Sneaking one in ….

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , , ,

Saturday as 25 women descended on our home for Dawn’s Baby Shower I realized that in addition to being “kicked out” of the house for the afternoon, I was also going to have a free night on my hands.

Now, I don’t know a whole lot about being a new Dad as this will be my first rodeo when it comes to being a Father.  But I’m pretty sure that “free nights” are going to be about as common as a unicorn sighting in Central Texas.  So I thought that I might as well take full advantage of it.

For further proof that my quest to “build speed” this summer has taken over almost all of my spare time, the first thing I thought of was, “I wonder if there is a 5K I can find someplace ….”

I really may need some help.

As I checked the RunTex race calendar not only did I find a 5K race for Saturday evening, I found a great one.

The Cougar Country Classic 5K – put on by Red Licorice Events.

The Event Description hailed the race as:

The Cougar Country Classic where the women are fierce and the men are nervous!  Men get a 30 second head start before the Cougars are unleashed to get their man!

I of course ran this by “Superwife” as having a bunch of women chase after me seems like something I should at least consult her on before I signed up.  The race seemed like it would be a lot of fun and benefited SafePlace, a women’s shelter that is dedicated to end sexual and domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change.

I figured as long as I didn’t get “caught” – everybody wins on this one.

Usually I have a pretty firm goal heading into a race, but this being a last minute decision, I would be racing on tired legs after a really tough week of training.  I was unsure of the course, whether or not it would be flat or hilly – but being hosted at the “Hill Country Galleria” – you have to imagine that the chances of it being a flat course were not very good.

As I drove out to the race for last minute registration and packet pick-up – I felt pretty confident after my last few races, and thought I had a really good chance of besting our 5K PR of 19:28. 

But the more I thought about the 30 miles I had already run this week that included tempo work and hill work, I didn’t want to set my sights too high.  Could I break 19:00 minutes?  Seemed possible.  As I started putting together my race plan  something along the lines of a 6:00, 6:10, 6:15 felt about right.

After picking up my bib which actually had the timing chip built in (Great idea!) – I ran a quick warm-up and then changed shoes into my Brooks T6 Racers.  I scouted out the course and to my surprise it was VERY flat.  There was a slight incline on one of the straightaways, but that was balanced out by an identical decline on the back of the course.  The course looked FAST.  First time I’ve ever been able to say that as I toed the line at a 5K race.  Maybe sub 19:00 was in the cards ….

Bib with Timing Chip Built In - Brilliant

One of the great things about racing is you almost always see something that you have never seen before.  My moment at the Cougar Country Classic was a male runner who had the word “PREY” written in marker on his back with “Cougar Claw” marks drawn down the sides ….. I’m not sure how serious he really was about outrunning the women.  He may have had a different agenda in mind.

"Queen Cougar" At the race start

I went through the usual pre-race ritual of sizing up the competition and trying to find someone to serve as my “rabbit”.  One of the hardest parts of the Honor our Heroes 10K race for me was running out front all by myself.  I much prefer having someone up in front of me to chase and to make me really work hard over the middle portion of the race when my body wants to slow down.

I started chatting up a young man who looked pretty “runnerish” and asked him if he was planning on “going fast”

He said that he was looking to run about a 5:35-5:40 first mile and even though that was a little ambitious based on my race plan I thought to myself – Go Big or Go Home

Let’s see how long we can hang with this guy.

Mile 1:  As the start was announced we shot out over the line and I fell in behind three runners.  The pace was pretty blistering at the start, but my legs felt pretty strong after a rest day on Friday and not having run on Saturday morning.  We took back to back right turns and I was on pace for a 5:40 first mile.  We entered the slight incline and I kept pounding away with my race flats – at the beep at the end of mile one I posted a 5:42.  PR territory for sure if we could hold it together.

Mile 2:  The race advertised that there would be “some surprises along the way”, so far everything seemed pretty normal.  Then we came through a water stop area where race volunteers were holding out hula-hoops.  Seriously.  One of the volunteers shouted:

“Either 30 seconds on the hula hoop or 10 push-ups”.

Proving just how crazy runners are I thought to myself, “man, I suck at the hula hoop …. guess I’ll do the push-ups”. 

Luckily for me the three runners ahead threw the hula hoops to the ground and I was off the hook.  I guess the race organizers were serious about the women catching the men.  At the beep I looked down at my Garmin and I had held it together pretty well posting a 5:48.

Mile 3:  I had lost contact with the two runners out front, but could still see number three.  I pushed hard up the incline on the front side of the course, hit the last water station to dump a cup of water over my now “sizzling” head and took advantage of the slight decline.  At the second to last right turn I glanced back over my shoulder and was firmly in 4th place.  I had opened up a pretty big gap over the fifth place runner.  I had no chance of catching number three up ahead, so it was all about pushing pace for the PR.  I posted another fast mile just :10 seconds slower than mile 2.

Finish:  The final .10 of a mile was over before I knew it – kicked through the chute with a time well under 19:00.  New PR of 18:12:61 – maybe all this speed work this summer really has paid off.  I went through the usual post 5K cooldown.  Lungs burning, chest heaving, feeling like you are going to die …. pretty standard stuff.

I hung around the finishing chute to see all kinds of runners arrive.  Three “Cougars” came through the chute with sub 20:00 minute times – really impressive stuff. 

There was a shirtless male runner wearing a black bow-tie, numerous female runners with Cat Ears, Cat Whiskers, even one in tights and a tail.

Red Licorice Events did a great job with the race with tons of volunteers, great course markings and a lot of cool prizes for the Age Group and overall winners.

1st Place Age Group

For my efforts I scored a very cool 1st place age group high-ball glass and a coupon for a free T-shirt from Mantra Tees.  Mantra Tees specializes in “Slightly Inappropriate Mantra” technical shirts for athletes.  Can’t wait to shop their site at

Was a pretty nice Saturday as Dawn and her family seemed to have a great time at the shower.  Little Landry scored some very cool gear, and upon first glance, not too much “assembly” required for new Dad here. 

A 4th place finish overall which was great, but as I’ve said many times, I’m really only racing myself out there. 

And boy did I ever give myself a firm butt-kicking last night.

For official race results visit:

  1. onelittlejill says:

    Way to go Joe!!! It WAS a good day for racing.

    Oh, and by the way…Friday afternoon, myself and six of my teammates signed up for Warrior Dash in Maryland. Looks like we will both have awesome helmet photos soon enough 🙂 Crazy we are, that is for sure!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – so proud of you and your performance this weekend in the Tri! Sounds like you absolutely crushed it!

      We will most definitely have to compare Warrior Photos …. I’ve already started thinking about race gear that day – going to be a crazy, crazy day! Best from Austin and congrats again!

  2. DP_Turtle says:

    Dude, that … YOU… are friggin’ amazing! 18:12? Getoudddahere!

    Seriously, congrats on this smokin’ hot time. I am in total awe. (Not to mention a bit jealous of your race experience as it sounds like a really fun one.) Love the “Prey” guy. LOL!

    Keep it up, my friend — you’re so close now, you HAVE to set your sights on sub-18 … or you just wouldn’t be a man! 😉 Good luck in your racing … and with the baby.

    • joerunfordom says:


      Thanks so much for the visit an the message. Funny how there is always another barrier to chase after!

      I think that effort last night taught me that I can in fact really take aim at that sub 40:00 10k in October at the IBM. Running multiple sub 6:00 miles was a big confidence builder.

      Sub 18:00? I’m learning to never say never these days … But man, that’s fast for us old guys.

      With only 6 more days before leaving 42 years old behind, it’s nice to go out in style. Best from Austin! J

  3. Kym Klass says:

    Joe — that was an amazing race. I enjoy how you take us through it mile by mile. Fast!! So, no hula-hooping, then? 🙂 Congratulations on a fantastic race. Happy (early) Birthday!


  4. joerunfordom says:

    Hi Kym! So great to hear from you, thanks for the visit! I am so glad I didn’t have to hula hoop – I might just be finishing right now. I can’t skip rope either – something I have as a goal to learn to do.

    Perhaps my little daughter can teach me after a few years.

    Thanks for the Birthday wishes! I’m learning to appreciate every one of them! Best from Austin, Joe

  5. Andy B says:

    Holy cats! Talk about busting thru a barrier. 18:12 is cooking, especially in this heat. Wait until fall and winter. Congrats on that time.

  6. You better slow down Joe or you’re going to combust! Nice finish – congrats! I like the idea behind the race and for a good cause!

    By the way, hula hooping is a great core exercise! (Not that I can do it either, but if you get bored with crunches, you may want to give it a try!)

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