Degree of difficulty

When we go to the lake house for the weekend, I usually run at least once. The road around the lake is three miles, door to door, but running three (or six) miles out here is very different from running on neighborhood streets.

On my Garmin map, the elevation only shows a 70-foot difference. But most of that comes in two short, steep hills–no matter which way I go, I have to go up one of them and down the other. But honestly, even a road that looks flat from the comfort of the car (or in pictures) can feel much more uphill on foot, right?

One-lane bridge

One-lane bridge leading up the first hill. YES THAT’S A HILL!

The road is caliche (unpaved gravel roadbase, basically) so I have to pay attention to every step on the uneven surface made up of bigger rocks, smaller pebbles, and tire ruts. Erosion (especially during the recent rains) has carved erratic channels where the road has been washed away. So I try to run on the flat spots created by vehicle tires, but sometimes those are rutted and deep and I have to stick more to the middle of the road to avoid twisting my ankle. But that creates a different problem– the road is generally one car wide with a lot of blind corners, a cattle guard, and a one-lane bridge, so I simultaneously have to watch my feet and look out for vehicles (cars, trucks, golf carts, UTVs of several varieties that are often driven by ten-year-olds) and be ready to move aside. Then try to avoid the dust cloud left behind.

Anyone else have to trip-trap over a cattle guard to run?

Anyone else have to trip-trap over a cattle guard to run?

Central Texas has received a year’s worth of rain in six months, so while the road itself is clear, lots of weeds and vegetation have sprouted on either side, right up to the edge. I’ve seen rabbits, deer, spiders, grasshoppers, and snakes (only one or two of which isn’t terrifying when it leaps in front of me) and carcasses of turtles and small mammals, so I’m not excited to run all that close to weeds that are sometimes taller than I am. This isn’t the city–all manner of venomous, stinging, biting creatures could be lying in wait just feet away.

So let’s review. Uneven surface. Hills. Run in the tire tracks unless it’s eroded or rocky (which is about half the time). When a vehicle approaches, get out of the way but watch out for surprise wildlife. Oh and it’s July, so factor in the summer sun and heat.

Who wants to join me?

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3 thoughts on “Degree of difficulty

  1. I would join you. I normally run in flat Houston but we are in the hill country for a week, and I changed my run schedule so I could run at least 3 times on this trip. Those hills are hard, but such an enjoyable and different challenge.

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