Writing and running in Austin, TX.
I have to admit, I’ve been procrastinating writing this post. The problem: A good, old-fashioned case of writer’s block.
It’s not that I have no idea what to write about. The problem is quite the opposite. I have a ton of ideas and thoughts and memories from the weekend tumbling around in my head, and I can’t decide which ones actually apply to running. I guess I’ll just start with the facts.
I completed two runs in Charlottesville (the long run and the recovery run) and missed one (the medium-long run). That part was expected. My typical schedule is medium-long on Thursday, off Friday, long run Saturday, recovery run on Sunday. However, this past weekend I had to work around the competing schedule of air travel Thursday, pedicures/rehearsal/rehearsal dinner Saturday, wedding Sunday. My solution was to give up on Thursday all together, move the long run to Friday, take Saturday off, and do the recovery run Sunday (the better to make room for wedding cake).
I arrived in Charlottesville armed with my running shorts, running shirt, running socks, running shoes, running hat, water bottle, Garmin watch, and, as you all know, a semi-sketchy running route. (It probably says something about the extent of my running obsession that I even remembered the charger for my Garmin, but not the charger for my cell phone.) The bride–a valued and avid reader of this very blog–had even forwarded my last post to her running friends to ask for opinions on good routes. Needless to say, the fact that her email to them ended with, “I have no idea what river she’s talking about,” did not exactly enhance my confidence in my Google-provided plans.
Still, the long run must go on, and I headed out the door bright and early Friday morning. And I do mean bright. I guess in my running-induced departure from reality, I’ve forgotten that normal people have no idea what time sunrise is. I really should have been suspicious when the response to, “What time is sunrise?” was “around 7.” FYI: In June, the sun starts coming up around 5:45.
Oh well, the long run must go on. I took off down Main Street toward the UVA campus. And I do mean down. It turns out Charlottesville is ridiculously hilly. A week ago I had been cursing Rogue for sending us on a “hilly” run through east Austin. This time I was thanking the running gods that I at least had some small amount of preparation for the task at hand. At one particularly depressing point, the Garmin flipped over to a new lap–thus resetting the average pace–just as I was starting up a big hill. I glanced at the pace: 14:01. This had to be a mistake. Clearly just a glitch with the watch. I was still running after all. I looked again. 14:17.
Holy crap. I am the slowest runner that has ever lived.
Oh well, the long run must go on. I slogged up yet another hill toward a bridge. From a distance, I could see some flowers and a big banner hanging off the bridge. “Ahh, college,” I thought, “everyone’s an activist.” But as I got closer, I saw that this was no Peace Corps/University Democrats/Young Republicans banner. Nope. This one said “Find Meagan. Missing since 2009.” Over a nearby poster, someone had spray-painted “murdered” in bright red. Umm, that whole thing about not getting attacked on my sketchy run was supposed to be a joke… Creepy.
Oh well, the long run must go on. I continued across campus, which was in a state of disarray rarely seen on the postcards. The previous day, a brief but intense storm (which may or may not have included a tornado) had ripped through town. It uprooted trees, several of which landed on cars, houses, and power lines. Like the one right in the middle of the road I was running down. Now I’m an educated person, and I know that it’s not the smartest thing in the world to duck under a perilously hanging wire. But when you’re in a strange city with a potentially murdered girl still in your thoughts, you don’t exactly feel inclined to depart from your planned route. So I ducked under the wire, climbed over some tree roots, and decided these acrobatics might even constitute a decent excuse for the slowness of my run.
To sum up my long run in Charlottesville: Did I make it 14 miles? Yes. (Not in small part because I knew if I didn’t make it I’d have to come back and blog about my failure.) But it was unbelievably slow. More a slog then a run. Frankly, I’m appalled at how poorly I ran. And, in my typical extremist thinking, I’m nervous that this means all my good runs here in Austin have somehow given me a false idea of where my fitness is actually at. What if Chicago ends up just like San Antonio? Am I destined to limp home the last 5 miles to another time I’m embarrassed to claim?
So, for the test of travel mid-term, I give myself a C+. I did complete the distance, even running alone in a strange city and under unusually adverse conditions. And the run wasn’t all bad. Those downed evergreens made the whole run smell like Christmas morning!
But fitness-wise, the wheels fell off. All I can do now is hope for redemption in Travel Test Part II: 16 miles in DC.
P.S.-For those of you wondering about the wedding, it was beautiful, with just the right mix of fun and crisis to make it a memory that will last forever. Congratulations to the happy couple!
I think you're probably being far too critical of yourself, dear cousin. Thank you for not getting stabbed or electrocuted by downed power lines on your run.
Shrug off the bad ones – you are only getting them out of the way NOW before your marathon! In fact, hope and pray for at least two horrible runs before the marathon. Then, you'll be safe as you'll be LONG overdue for a great run. Trust me – I had a month of tears. Now I am back to ok. PLUS, you did it and that is what counts. There is no way in hell that Chicago can turn into anything remotely close to San Antonio. It'll be flat, check, nicer weather, check and with all the Rogue running we have scheduled, it'll feel like a breeze (ok, not a breeze, but it'll be a PR, that's for sure). GOOD JOB and thanks for not getting murdered – we would've missed you in these parts!!!
Chris — I once ran endless loops around a 2 mile stretch of road bc I couldn't find a suitable route for a long run on vacation, on the TX coast, in the middle of summer. I was in a wedding once in Charlotsville and I also remember how surprisingly hilly it was for me as well when we were on and around campus. And for what it's worth, I've always chalked the bad training runs up to helping me understand those moments in races that demand me to dig deeper and push harder. Kudos on going under the power line. I am pretty sure I would have found some way around it.
Thank you everyone for your words of support! And also for the perspective. My Charlottesville run was tough, but I think 2-mile loops would have been worse =)