Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

The Perfect Vacation Run

In case you missed it, June 20th was the longest day of the year. And you know what that means: It’s officially summer!

If you live in the South–or this year, anywhere in the continental United States–you may not have realized that all those May and June days of 90 and 100+ temperatures were actually “Spring”. And you know why? Because there are too many dang ways we identify seasons!

Some people do go by temperature, although that isn’t an internationally reliable standard. For example, here is how temperature correlates to season in 3 different cities I’ve personally lived in:

Weather Feels Season Is
Chicago Cool to Warm Spring
Hot Summer (or Chicago Marathon weekend)
Warm to Cool Fall
Like a wind tunnel in the Arctic Winter
Austin Hot Spring
Like you might die Summer
Hot Fall
Cold Winter
Aachen Cold and Damp Spring
Cold and Damp Summer
Cold and Damp Fall
Cold and Damp, with a hint of spiced wine on the wind Winter

Then of course there’s the clothing store way to tell seasons:

Clothes Available Season Is
Bikinis Spring
Sweaters and courderoy Summer
Parkas Fall
Floral prints Winter

And finally there’s my favorite way to tell seasons: Running magazines.

Any running magazine worth it’s salt will mark the start of a new season with a 25-page shoe review section. This will be followed by certain standard types of articles:

Article Topic
Season Is
How to get less fat for Summer
How not to get fat on summer vacation
How not to get fat over the holidays
How to get less fat after failing to not get fat over the holidays

This whole tremendously long lead-up was to introduce my topic of the day: Running on vacation. 

It’s always a challenge to run on vacation. First off, you’re in a new place and may or may not know how to get around. Secondly, your non-running friends and family may or may not appreciate your taking several hours out of each day in a new city to keep on top of your training. Thirdly, you’re on vacation. In my world, that means drinking lots of fruity cocktails and eating lots of sugary things and telling myself, “It doesn’t count! I’m on vacation!”

As I mentioned in my last post, Handsome J and I spent last week with his family up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The vast majority of our trip was taken up by the Winnipeg Folk Festival, a celebration of folk music, human rights, and the hope for a better tomorrow. (Notably also a celebration of hippies of the real and weekend warrior variety.) 

I make fun, but it’s honestly the best music festival I’ve ever been to. A hundred times better than the overcrowded, overheated, shadeless, hipster-filled fiasco that is Austin’s own ACL. (I just lost 10 readers, didn’t I?)

Unfortunately, the festival went from 11am to midnight every day, and was an hour’s drive from the house. Somewhere along the way, my plans of following my training schedule to a “T” went out the window. I ran 14 miles last week. Total.

That’s right. 3 runs in 6 days. And of those 3, 3 were fabulous and one was the perfect vacation run. 

It was our first morning up north, which happened to be Thursday. Usually Thursday would be an easy day, but having missed Wednesday’s usual quality workout for traveling, I decided to put a little extra effort in. Manitoba doesn’t exactly offer hills, and the small town we were in was distinctly short 1 running track, so I decided on a simple fartlek: Warm up, 1 minute hard/1 minute easy for 25 minutes, and cool-down. 

It was luxurious. 

As I headed out the door, the temperatures were just reaching 70. To my now heat-conditioned body, this felt like a does of EPO. (I’m guessing. I’ve never doped. No really…look at my race stats.)

The hard intervals were tough, but they were a good tough, in the way only athletes can understand. The easy intervals offered the chance to enjoy the surroundings of a completely foreign place. Austin has some of the best running out there, but there comes a point where the idea of one more run down Shoal Creek or Duval makes you want to throw a tantrum. (Psychologists call this “passive-aggressive habituation”. Sometimes your legs AND your head need some time away.)

Towards the end of the run I was overtaken by a biker gang: Handsome J and his brother-in-law on a pair of old Schwinns. In the classic manner of runner/cyclist relations, they circled me a few times and hurled insults, then invited me down to the river for a swim. I declined full immersion (even in summer, Canadian rivers are still, you know, in Canada), but my knee was bugging me a bit, so I agreed to end the run early and come along. 

As I sat on the shore taking pictures of them cannonballing off the dock, it occurred to me that those frigid waters could have value to a Texan like myself. Free ice bath! 

I pulled off my shoe and sock, sunk my leg in up to my thigh, and tried to ignore the floating bug guts. Despite all the great music and great times we had, that became the memory of the week for me. Surrounded by family and nature, having just finished a great run, and for once doing those things you’re always supposed to do after a run that I’m usually too lazy for. 

It almost made me want to swap our usual post-run breakfast tacos for a post-run dip in Barton Springs. 


One comment on “The Perfect Vacation Run

  1. Emily
    July 14, 2012

    I love the part about the cyclist/runner funny!! I'm willing to go to barton springs, but I am not willing to give up the tacos to do so! Perhaps we can manage both sometime 🙂

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2012 by in Canada, vacation.
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