Sunday Funday

What’s a person to do to recover from a miserable long run?

Why, kayak on the lake, of course.

Sunday morning B went to hang out at a friend’s house. We originally thought we’d go biking, but I thought maybe that would bother my back, not to mention my tired legs. So we decided to go with an upper-body exercise instead.

Growing up in Austin, there weren’t many opportunities to actually get into the water of Town Lake, the part of the Highland Lakes chain that runs through downtown. Lake Austin was for waterskiing and Lake Travis was for sailing. But Town Lake (now officially renamed Lady Bird Lake but no one from here calls it that) is a major part of Austin’s drinking water supply, so swimming and boats with motors are banned. In the old Aquafest days, once a year folks would build homemade rafts and float them in front of Auditorium Shores for the K98 Raft Race, but my friends and I were more spectators than participants. You could rent a canoe from Zilker Park and paddle down Barton Creek to the lake, but that was it.

Only recently have stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking become popular, and wow–yesterday ours was not an original idea. But with three major rental operations (SUP paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes) plus the original Zilker canoes, there’s no shortage of boats.

We went to Texas Rowing Center on the north side of the lake, accessible from Austin High’s parking lot. We waited in a short line, paid for 2+ hours, left our car keys for collateral, then selected our life jackets and paddles and we were on our way in a two-person kayak. Stand-up paddleboards seemed like more work than I wanted to put in and I thought maybe rowing a canoe would be hard on my back. So kayak it was.

I’m 5’2″, and the front space was perfect for me. I could completely extend my legs and lean back on the seat back. M is 6′ and was slightly less comfortable. It also took a while to synchronize our paddling so we didn’t smack each other.

We first went west under the Mopac bridge, then turned around and let the current carry us east, under the Lamar bridge, the pedestrian bridge, the train bridge, First Street bridge, and the Congress Avenue bridge. That last one, we didn’t dillydally–we could hear the famous Congress bats squeaking and it reeked of bat guano.


We floated around for a while, then eventually turned back. The wind had shifted, so not only were we paddling upstream, we were also traveling into the wind. My arms were jelly by the time we returned to the dock.

In hindsight, two hours was probably an hour too long. But our rental choice was one hour or unlimited, so we went with unlimited because I didn’t want to have to worry about time. But unlimited meant I wanted to get my money’s worth, dammit. 😉

For the second time in three weeks, my sunscreen was more sun and less screen (even though I was diligent about applying and re-applying) and now my chest and shoulders are a tad pink red. So far my arms feel okay, but often that muscle soreness is delayed–tomorrow I might have trouble washing my hair. Or I might not. We shall see.

Still, it gave my legs a rest and was way more fun than my miserable run the day before. And it beats flopping around in a homemade raft from 1980-something.