Field Trip

Because Rogues are masochists hard-core, this Saturday’s long run moved from our usual location to a slightly more torturous scenic route west of Austin.

A lot of people think Texas is a flat desert, and while some parts of the state fit that description, the Austin area does not. We are part of the Hill Country–which, as its name implies, involves hills. Many of them. Steep ones, long ones, and steep long ones. As evidenced by today’s elevation map:


Alps? Himalayas? No, just River Place.

This route presented a definite challenge, but I figured it would be a good practice run for next Sunday’s Run for the Water ten-miler, the middle of which includes hills like this. So at 7am we met up with a bunch of other intrepid Rogues for our Saturday long run. Because I raced ten miles last weekend, I figured I’d only run five or six miles today. Turns out the route was six, so that worked for me.

It was dark when we started, but the main streets were decently lit. I wore my light-up hat just in case, but it was humid out and pretty quickly I wished I’d left it.

The road started flat, but most of the first 1.5 miles headed straight downhill. Then we took a water break, went downhill some more, and then started a long, steep ascent to the turnaround.

Hint: it's a steep hill when  the road disappears.

Hint: it’s a steep hill when the road disappears.

The main roads had a wide bike lane, but these twisty, hilly roads were narrow and left us just a thin strip of asphalt, no sidewalks. Even though the sun was up, I turned on my hat’s lights to help drivers see me. Lots of expensive cars raced past us, but most of them gave us space. On one stretch of road, though, four cars in a row actually drifted toward me. One driver looked right at me–made eye contact–and steered closer. I could have reached out and touched her fender. What’s up with THAT?

The hills were steep and long. The first hill I ran to the top, but the rest I got about 3/4 of the way before I had to walk a bit. The four of us who were running (more or less) together tag-teamed each other up and down the hills. And some of the houses we passed were just incredible–the small ones must have been 5000 square feet, and each sat on an acre or more. Some of these places probably cost $2 million. Except the one at the top of the ridge–that thing looked kind of like Tony Stark’s house, the one that fell into the Pacific in the last movie. Thinking about living in houses like these kept my mind occupied for a while.

The last mile, I had to go back up that long, steep monster from the first mile. I ran most of it, and when I (thought I) got to the top I realized there was more hill. Gah. This road ended at the park where we started, so around every curve, I expected to see that intersection. It seemed to take forever! But I ran the rest of the way back and didn’t feel like dying after I finished six miles.

It’s funny–back in September I felt out of shape and slow. I worried that my stupid IT band injury cost me the progress I made all spring. But sometime over the last couple of weeks, things started to click for me again. I struggled less, I ran longer and farther, and I felt stronger. And even though today’s hills were challenging, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and pushed on. I didn’t feel that “this suuuuuuuucks, when can I quiiiiiiiiit?” misery that plagued me all summer.

When I got back to the park I saw that someone had parked behind me, completely blocking me in. I decided to drop off my hat and grab a towel, then hang around for a bit–Rogue had mimosas and a raffle–and as I popped open the trunk, a guy from the group of basketball players ran over and apologetically moved his truck. I see so much rudeness on the roads most days–this was a refreshing change. Thanks, dude, whoever you are!

All in all, it was a successful Rogue field trip. And now: coffee and tacos.