Pinales, Mendez-Cleaver Conquer Hills, Heat and Humidity at Run for the Water 10 Miler

Mark Pinales and Allison Mendez-Cleaver served notice that they’re racing fit at last week’s Run for the Water 10 Miler with convincing wins.

Pinales, the 2017 3M Half Marathon champ, signed up for the race at the last minute without having done much training.

“I was a bit nervous about my strength over the hills because I hadn’t done many runs over nine miles,” said the former Longhorn ace. “I winged it and decided to hang on the front pack and stay as relaxed as possible”

It’s a hilly course, and Pinales took advantage of the terrain with a mid-race move to break away from a pack which included speedy guys Will Nation, Bryan Morton, and David Fuentes.

“Around mile five, I knew that I had to make a move on the hills if I wanted to break away from the field. We were hitting 5:10s or so. I picked it up to 5:00-5:05 and slowly moved away from them,” said Pinales, who added that he’s doing well on a lower mileage training approach.

Pinales broke the tape in a course-record 51:07, with Nation coming in second at 51:54, ahead of Fuentes’ 52:55.

“I think that I’m enjoying my training so much more now. I’m running 3/4th or what I was last year but I feel stronger,” he said. “I’ve worked a lot on my upper body strength with some rock climbing and other activities outside running,” added Pinales, who will be defending his title at the San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon next month, and says he may do so at 3M as well.

Mark Pinales and Allison Mendez-Cleaver (far right) with friends after winning the Run for the Water 10 Miler

In the women’s race, Mendez-Cleaver, a two-time Statesman Capitol 10,000 champ, jumped into the race after moving back to Austin from Houston just two weeks ago.

“I didn’t know I was going to race Run for The Water until about a week before when my coach [Steve Magness] and I decided I was ‘ready for it,’” said Mendez-Cleaver, who won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon last March.

“I just switched coaches this year to the UH Distance Coach/Professional Coach—Steve Magness, he trains me remotely. I also transferred nursing schools so I’m still pursuing my nursing dream!” said  Mendez-Cleaver.

“We [my coach and I] know I’m really fit right now but were really unsure how the race would pan out since I haven’t been training on hills. Since being in Houston, I never got in any kind of hill training.”

But her time in Houston did help her on one account. Conditions on race day were very humid and hot, so coming from Houston Mendez-Cleaver was acclimated.

“With weather like that I always try to go out conservative in races,” said Mendez-Cleaver. “I executed my race plan to a T! I was very confident in my closing speed and took the race in three big chunks: relax, run through the hills; and attack the last bit.”

The strategy worked, because Mendez-Cleaver beat the competition with a 1:01:47 clocking, ahead of Krysten                Tucker’s 1:03:00. Ready to Run store manager and 2017 Cap 10 champ Jennifer Hall grabbed third in 1:03:44.

“Honestly, I was super nervous before this race,” said Mendez-Cleaver, who has not raced since March and admitted to having zero hill training.

“I made sure to conserve a lot of energy for the Scenic Hill which I surprisingly felt really good on!” she said. “After running up Scenic, I made the decision to push the pace a little more since I felt really strong. I knew the last three miles would be a grind, but I trust in my training so much that I could stay mentally focused and get the job done. And it hurt bad! No win is EVER easy, and I truly enjoy running in Austin. I’ve missed the running community and so happy to be back!”

Upcoming races: Saturday, November 18 at 8:00  a.m. at Camp Mabry, Austin- HAE IN-MOTION 5K. : Saturday, November 18 at 9:00 a.m., the Thankful Turkey 5K at the First Baptist Church – McCarty Lane in San Marcos, Texas

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