The church of the long run

I usually do my long run on Saturday mornings, but yesterday we ran a 5K race instead, so I decided I’d put in a few miles this morning. My family is not particularly religious, so my only church-related concern was the increased traffic along my intended route since the front of the (non-sidewalked) neighborhood connects to one of those huge Texas mega-churches.

It was drizzling and cool as I headed out–another reason I wanted to go this morning rather than waiting until later in the day. I wasn’t moving particularly quickly, but considering I was running on semi-tired legs after yesterday’s race, I felt pretty good.

After 1.25 miles, I crossed a busy road and continued another 1.25 miles to the high school. My Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me podcast caused me to laugh out loud and shout quiz answers periodically (probably startling passerby), and then I turned around and went back the way I’d come, just on the other side of the road. Along this stretch there’s a sidewalk, a parking lane closest to the curb,then a bike lane, and a driving lane. The sidewalk is concrete and somewhat uneven, so when I go this way I tend to run on the asphalt, either in the parking lane if no one’s there (it’s not a residential road, so I’m not sure why, except in front of the park, they’ve sectioned off so much of it) or in the bike lane. But it gave me a wide space to run without worrying a whole lot about traffic, so that’s nice.

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Bluebonnets = Texas rite of spring

I crossed back into my neighborhood where traffic had increased significantly. Fortunately this part of the street has a bike lane (but no sidewalks) so I had room, and a driver on the church’s cut-through street waved me across so I didn’t have to stop.

Closer to home, the road narrowed and the bike lane disappeared. It’s wide enough for two cars to pass each other, but not wide enough for a car to swing wide around a pedestrian while staying on its own side. Most drivers will give me space if no cars are oncoming, but this time of day on a Sunday, lots of folks were coming and going so it got a little dicey, especially on the bridge over the little creek.

Once I turned onto my street, I breathed a little easier. We live on the back side of a loop–the only cars belong to people who live back there (and look out for me, kids on bikes, and neighbors walking dogs) or people who are lost. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me finished just as I turned the corner toward my driveway: five miles even.

I enjoy running with friends who tell stories to distract me and push me to keep running when I want to take a break. Races motivate me to push hard–after all, those times live on the internet forever. But running alone gives me a chance to spend some time inside my own head (which is occasionally crowded with Peter Sagal and the WWDTM panelists, and sometimes Josh and Chuck from Stuff You Should Know as well) and rely on myself to complete the distance. Today’s run wasn’t fast, and as long runs go it wasn’t particularly long. but it felt pretty good.

My kind of rite of spring, I guess.

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