Ten random things from the past week

This summer has gone by too damn fast. It’s already the last day of July??

  1. Wednesday was the Ironman day of my week. I sweated through a difficult-as-usual (outdoor) Fit to Run class at 5:30am, ran a couple of miles with S afterwards, then went up to school to finish the moving job I started on Monday. Thanks to a couple of custodians, all my stuff has been relocated to my new classroom. They moved seven bookshelves, four file cabinets, a couple of tables, and a gazillion boxes and bins. After our workout+run, my Vivofit showed 8,000-ish steps; when I got home from work after five hours of pushing carts/moving/boxing/unboxing, I had more than 18,000. 
  2. Rogue CP has a new home! It will be a training-only facility adjacent to my sports doctor’s office. It’s closer to home but slightly more difficult to get to because of traffic, and the parking lot is small, but I’m excited that my fears of the whole thing falling apart will not be realized. Training moves there September 1st. Kudos to Rogue and the Tri Doc for making this happen!
  3. I ran four miles on Thursday evening–a weirdly cool breeze joined me for the first mile or so, but unfortunately it didn’t hang around. Not only that, when I got to the park, I discovered the water fountain wasn’t working. I had brought one bottle of water, but in the summer I can easily go through more than that and appreciate being able to fill it up at 1.25 and again at 3.75 miles. Alas, I had to make do with the water I’d brought. 
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    RIP

  4. Saturday’s long run–eight miles–was another slog through thick humidity. The cloud cover helped keep the temperature down but prevented the haze from burning off, so the soupy air added a degree of difficulty to the kinda hilly route. We started mile seven at the bottom of a long, gradual incline and finished it at the top. My legs were tired and every inch of my body was drenched in sweat. I didn’t want to, but I made myself run the whole thing. I’m thinking of running that hill once a week between now and the first week in October as mental prep for the bridge at the end of the Army Ten-Miler. Maybe get some use out of my playlist titled, “ATM bridge, you asshole.”
  5. They say pets begin to resemble their owners, but I didn’t think that meant my cat would get asthma. He’s been having several wheezing attacks per day, which has now resulted in a $235 prescription and a $65 feline inhaler system. Dude.
  6. B went straight from our South Padre trip to a week with Grandma. After ten days with his cousin, he’s in his room having some quiet time. I’d imagine she’s doing the same thing. 😉
  7. Summer vacation is winding down. Monday through Wednesday of this week and next week, I’m working at my school’s Transition Camp to teach incoming students about campus and help them make new friends. B is earning some NJHS service hours by (in)volunteering, so tomorrow we start the familiar detested morning drive to school. I may also be pressed into service on Thursday to help interview candidates for an open Language Arts position. Adulting is kind of a bummer.cat
  8. Thinking ahead to fall races, I’m trying to decide on a couple. The ’80s 8K (which I loved last year) is the week before the Army Ten-Miler. It was a great tuneup race two weeks before ATM last year, but I’m not sure if I want to race just a week out. I don’t have a PR goal for ATM, but I still want that thirty seconds back from last year. And the Run for the Water 10-miler is 13 days before the Shiner 5K. It’s RFTW’s 10-year anniversary and I think it’s a great race, but I’ve already committed to Shiner and I don’t know if they’re too close together.
  9. My car is still on its second tank of gas since June 6. I can’t decide if I’m doing summer vacation right or if I need to get out more.
  10. And I’ll leave you with this: “When any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”

Rainbows and silver linings

Right before we left for South Padre, I got a call from school. I was given a choice of three classrooms–none of which was the one I’ve occupied since 2006–and needed to move my stuff ASAP. Since I was gone the rest of last week, it had to be Monday. I was not looking forward to it.

I recruited some NJHS volunteers, and in about two hours we had almost everything packed. It looks much worse than when we started, but that’s because the contents of nine bookshelves and a cabinet filled up about 25 boxes scattered around the room, in addition to everything I’d packed up for summer. I have a lot of stuff.

I’m dreading the work involved, but in the end, it will be a good move–I’ll have a newer classroom with a lot more technology, and I’ll be right across the hall from the other two 7th grade Language Arts teachers. So… silver lining.

Like last Monday’s post-core class run. The one where we felt like we were running in an oven with a hair dryer blowing on us. I started dreading this week’s version around 2PM yesterday.

I’d just walked in the door for core class when the skies opened up and dropped a monsoon-like rain on Central Texas. It rained on and off for the next hour, but when S and I walked outside to run, we both groaned. Humidity, emerging sun, ugh. But really, it wasn’t that bad. Temps had dropped 15 or 20 degrees, and it was still drizzling a little.

I’m slow in the summer–I generally run by effort, not pace. But most of my weekday runs have averaged in the high 11-minute miles (not including multiple water breaks) so it was a nice surprise when we ran three miles straight through, with our last mile in the high 10s.

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We only stopped once the whole run–to take this picture.

These little summer showers and brief respites from the heat always remind me that running will get easier in the fall.

More silver linings.

Hot hot hot

Aside from my Thursday morning run, the only exercise I got was wrestling the pop-up beach tent back into its cover. Condo swimming pool, fruity drinks, beach with a book.

Friday, I planned to run seven miles (since we’d be driving much of the day Saturday) but I wanted to wait until evening. So we spent the afternoon on a pirate ship.


It was interactive with the kids–pirates, cannons, and treasure!–and I think everyone had fun. Definitely find the Black Dragon at Port Isabel if you’re ever in South Padre!

Everyone needed some chill time when we got back–I finished my book while B and his cousin played Minecraft and Papa napped. By 6:00 I was restless so I headed out for my run, even though it was probably too early.

I headed north on Gulf Blvd, which dead-ended at a gated condo complex after a half-mile. I turned back around and ran south, so conveniently I got my first mile out of the way before leaving the immediate neighborhood. The pedestrian lane was still mostly in the sun, so at least for a while I ran on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. I took water breaks every half-mile or so, and after about 2.5 miles I stopped at one of the beach access points and stood under the shower for a minute.

Eventually Gulf ended–I think it’s only about three miles, end to end. SPI is narrow and not all that long, so I kept running out of road. I turned west all the way to Laguna, which is basically the Gulf Blvd of the other side of the island, but quieter. It also has fewer high-rise condos, so more of the breeze made it through. Lots of palm trees provided more shade than I found on the Gulf side too.

I continued stopping every half-mile or so for water, which allowed me to maintain a slightly faster pace between breaks. Definitely faster than my long runs have been recently, which was a nice surprise. Especially since I was alone and headphone-free!

When I reached the park next to the water tower (with almost five miles behind me) I was relieved to see a water fountain next to the restrooms. Warm water, although by then I didn’t really care. But I truly thought I might die in the bathroom–it was basically an oven. Windows bolted shut, zero ventilation. It had to be 120 degrees in there. I thought that if the door lock jammed and I couldn’t get back out, I was toast. Literally. It was so hot in there, I decided to re-tie my shorts and reorganize my gear outside. And for a moment the 90-degree air felt cool and refreshing, comparatively.


I only saw one other runner the whole way up Laguna, and traffic was light. I felt pretty safe, but one place–a swamp next to a self-storage facility–looked like SPI’s most likely place to find a dead body. Other than that, the scenery was gorgeous, the sun slowly dropping behind the palm trees.

When I ran out of road, I turned right and crossed back over to the east side of the island. I took a detour onto the beach–I love the sky at dusk–and then I had to run a creative loop around a couple of blocks to make an even seven miles. I even managed to run my last two miles faster than 1-5. I guess that’s not too surprising considering the baking heat of those earlier miles, but I’m generally not good at sucking it up at the end of a long run. Another pleasant surprise.

Thanks, South Padre. We had a great trip.

Life’s a beach: South Padre Island edition

Wednesday started under the early morning sky at my 5:30am Fit to Run class and ended 375 miles later on the beach, the moon rising above the Gulf of Mexico. 

FTR was outdoors on the middle school track and involved sets of core exercises mixed with laps around the track. Then S and I ran two miles after class for a total of 3.5 miles. By 8:15 B and I were on the road for points south, picking up my dad and niece along the way, and we rolled in to South Padre Island around 4:00. I think we spent twelve whole minutes in the condo before heading to the beach a half-block away. 


Three hours and one YouTube video (How to Collapse Pop-Up Beach Tent?) later, we sat, the only patrons at an Italian restaurant called Paulino’s. No idea why the place wasn’t jam-packed, because the food was amazing. Not one of us left a bite on our plates–and coming from founding members of Picky Eaters’ Society, that’s saying something. 

We took a walk on the beach after dinner, probably a mile or so. 


It had been a long day, and we all crashed early. 

I probably could have slept later, but I really wanted to see the sunrise over the beach. So when I sort of half-woke at about 6:30, I talked myself in to heading out for a short run. 

I started out running on the beach, but the tide was high so I either had to run in swampy sand or fluffy dry sand. So after a half-mile or so I detoured onto Gulf Boulevard, which runs parallel to the beach. The sunrise was beautiful, but there wasn’t much breeze and it was already hot. Switching to the road meant the high-rise condo buildings blocked the direct sun. Gulf is one lane each direction with parking on the southbound side and a bike/pedestrian lane going northbound. At least one of the beach access points had restrooms and water fountains, and a couple of condo complexes had sprinklers I could “accidentally” run through. Very runner-friendly. 


I’d seen a few runners on the beach during my foray there, but mostly it was casual walkers and a few families playing in the surf. One group broke the peaceful drone of waves with crappy, distorted music blaring from a tinny speaker, and a Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead briefly, but for the most part I just heard the waves and the birds.

I turned around after a mile and a half, finishing the rest of my run on the road. Just over three miles before the rest of my family was awake. 

This does not suck. 

What’s cooking?

The other day I ran across a tool that calculates how much slower you can expect to run, depending on the heat index. It told me that for four miles in 100*, I should expect to take three minutes longer than if it were 60*.

I don’t know who the hell came up with that algorithm, but I’d wager it was someone whose idea of hot is a little different from mine.

Sunday evening, I ran my 4.25-mile route. I left at 7pm–the sun was dropping, but it was still in the upper 90s. I must have stopped eight times for water. A few of those times I just needed to cool my body temperature a little–which is difficult to do when the breeze is as hot as the surrounding air. It sort of feels like running in front of a hair dryer while standing in an oven.

kitchen

I promise it took me a lot longer than three additional minutes to complete that sucker. Hell, I spent more than three minutes standing on the sidewalk in front of the sprinklers in some random person’s yard.

Then Monday night after core class, S and I went out for three miles. By my count, we stopped four times, although by the last stop I was out of water. My legs felt okay and I didn’t have trouble breathing, but I just got so damn hot. S, who’s normally quite stoic and doesn’t stop for much, needed these breaks as much as I did. We even stopped with a half-mile to go, just to be able to run the rest of the way.

Yes, I’ve lived here most of my life, and yes I’m used to being outside when it’s hot. But I heat up fast when I run, and even with warm-climate cred, I struggle in the summer.

So naturally, I’m going to the beach.

Catching up

Over ten days, we drove through nine states, stopped in twelve cities, stayed in five hotel rooms and at a friend’s house, and put not quite 3000 miles on the rental Nissan. Vacation level: expert.

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But we’re back, which means unpacking, catching up on laundry, and sorting through the mail while two cats (who clearly missed us) stay close by, underfoot and in my lap. Oh, and getting back into my exercise and running routine.

I ran seven of the ten days we were gone, plus racked up from 12,000 steps to 27,000 depending on the day, so it’s not like I was sedentary. But I already missed those cool(er) morning runs and kinda dreaded getting out there in the Austin heat again.

Wednesday morning meant 5:30 AM Fit to Run class, made slightly more difficult due to the still-ridiculous bruise on my left knee. The hopscotch and one-legged jumping presented a particular challenge. I kind of limped through it and our subsequent two-mile run.

By Thursday my knee felt better, so I did the 45-minute Fit to Run homework, a combination of short runs mixed with squats and pushups. Then Friday morning I met some friends at BCT for our long run a day early. We had worked out a seven-mile route–two miles one direction, then five the other way. In my mind, if we ran the five-mile stretch first, it would be extremely difficult to pass our cars and keep going for that additional distance, so we went that way first.

It was still somewhat dark on that first leg, but much of the path followed the road and was reasonably well-lit. On the way back through the parking lot we dropped off our lights and topped off water bottles. My legs already felt fatigued, but since the seven-miler was my idea, I couldn’t very well bail out at two. So we forged ahead.

A nice breeze helped a little, but I still needed to stop for water every mile or so. I also walked some of the hilly sections–the incline bothered my knee a bit, plus if I’m being honest, I didn’t have much energy for it–so it took kind of forever. The last half-mile, my legs were toast and I lagged behind the others but I eventually managed to drag myself the final distance.

Saturday morning, I got to sleep in since I’d done my long run the day before. If  you can call it “sleeping in” when my giant Maine Coon cat persistently walks over me every thirty minutes like clockwork, yowling and bumping my face with his nose until I get up.

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Eventually I mustered the energy to complete another round of the FTR homework. This workout would be a lot easier if I started before 10am, considering the three increasingly-longer rounds of running between sets of exercises. The sun was almost directly overhead by the time I finished the last one. Yarg.

But I finished, and I think I’m caught up now.

 

 

We had a good run

I joined Rogue Running in early July 2012. I think I ran three miles that first day.

My plan back then was to train for the San Antonio Rock and Roll half marathon in November–it was a bucket list thing–then go back to running shorter distances on my own, like I’d been doing the previous year and a half.

Except that I didn’t.

Two months after San Antonio, I ran Austin’s 3M half, improving my time by about 12 minutes. I ran two more half marathons that year, plus two ten-milers and half a dozen 5K/10K races. Clearly, the running bug had gotten me.

And I stayed with Rogue, signing up for consecutive training programs that essentially made Tuesday evening and Saturday morning runs a permanent part of my life. This was new for me–I’ve never been good at sticking with things for very long. As a kid, I tried gymnastics, then ballet, and later, jazz dance. I spent three summers on a diving team and four school years playing the flute, plus a couple of years taking horseback riding lessons. During my teen years, any marathon involved hours of MTV, not exercise. In college I was too busy. And after college, I was too tired. Then came the kid. Definitely too tired.

Running became my midlife crisis hobby.

With Rogue, I made new friends and training partners. I got faster. I bought more running clothes than work clothes. My trips became run-cations. I was healthier than I’d been in years. I found myself thinking a 10K was “only” six miles.

Some days, it was hard. Really hard. On Tuesdays during the school year, I got home from work and had to leave again an hour later for Rogue training runs. Sometimes the workouts took two or more hours (including the warmup, plus stretching and rolling afterward) and I didn’t get home until 8:30 or 9PM. Then, after my weekday 5:30 alarms, I got up at six on Saturday morning for my long runs. For someone who’s chronically short on sleep, one day a week of sleeping in is insufficient.

But I stuck with it. I became a regular at Monday night’s core class. I joined the optional Thursday running group. I signed up for the Fit to Run summer classes. It was a rare training day that I missed–usually because of a work event or kid conflict, never because I just didn’t feel like it.

My pace dropped. I ran a string of PR races. Then after recovering from an injury, I ran some of the worst races of my life. I bounced back again, running more PRs.

The common thread? Rogue Cedar Park, and my Rogue friends and coaches. They pushed me when I needed it, and sent me home early the few times I needed that too. They cheered my successes and sympathized with those personal worsts. They ran in the early morning/dark/heat/rain/blazing sun/ice with me. I was a Rogue.

And I’m still a Rogue, but the parameters are changing. Rogue Running is closing its Cedar Park retail store–our meeting place, our home base–at the end of next week. Training groups will still meet there through September, but after that? We don’t know.

Rogue CP has always been the smaller sibling to the downtown Austin location, and I guess it’s no longer economical to maintain two retail stores. It’s not the first time a running store in Austin has overextended itself and failed. But damn. It’s my Cheers, where everyone knows your name.

I’m not sure I believe in the whole “when one door closes, another door opens” thing, but I’m hoping that like me, Rogue CP bounces back stronger than before. Maybe that’s just the denial stage talking, I don’t know.

We’ve been told the training side will carry on, that they’re trying to find a business to partner with, to lend/lease us space to meet. But even if that pans out, so much will change. No more routes that start out the back door behind HEB (and its stinky dumpster). No more exactly-one-mile-at-the-top-of-the-hill water stop. No more familiarity. Rogue CP is all I’ve ever known, runningwise, and no matter what solutions they find, it will be different.

Right now, I have a lot of unanswered questions, so that makes acceptance more difficult. Will they still hold supported Saturday runs with cold water/gatorade coolers every two miles or so? What about bathrooms, safe places to store our stuff, space for post-run foam rolling and weekly core class? I suppose these questions will answer themselves in time.

It’s been a good run. Four years, almost exactly. The end of one era, and the start of a new one.