I didn’t run on Saturday morning, but I still managed to rack up more than 17,000 steps for the day by walking around the Texas State Fair and attending the Texas-OU game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Even though kickoff wasn’t until 2:30, we arrived at Fair Park pretty early in the day because my friend had never been there and she needed to experience everything that is the Texas State Fair.
The Cotton Bowl is inside Fair Park, so game tickets come with tickets to enter the fair itself. We got to skip the main entrance line and go through a “game ticket” entrance that was a lot faster, too.
We visited (new) Big Tex, where we ran into B’s kindergarten teacher. Which is hilarious because the joke is that you never make plans to meet up with someone at Big Tex–it’s so crowded that you’ll never actually find the person.
Tragically, Big Tex burned up in a fire in 2012, and in typical everything-is-bigger-in-Texas fashion, the new version is larger than the old one. But his “Howdy Folks!” greeting is familiar as ever.
We also tried to find the weirdest fair food. Some standouts: fried Frito Pie, fried Froot Loops, fried cheesecake, and bacon funnel cakes. Sensing a theme? We also saw a huge butter sculpture shaped like Mount Rushmore. I didn’t eat any fair food, though, unless you count the nachos (complete with cheese that’s a color not found in nature) I had at halftime of the game. Lest you think I’m some kind of healthy eater…. dinner the night before was fro-yo, queso, and margaritas. So I wasn’t quite feeling the fair food early in the day.
Around 1:30 we headed into the stadium, which has been renovated and expanded since the last time I came to one of these games. It now holds somewhere around 92,000 and hosts just a handful of games a year. They no longer even play THE Cotton Bowl game here–its main event is Texas-OU on the second Saturday in October, which is like nothing else in college football.
The stadium is divided equally between the two factions–Dallas is roughly halfway between Austin and Norman–along the 50-yard line. And I mean it literally when I say factions. The gloves are off, and the hatred flies back and forth all game. The end of Texas’ fight song changes to “OU SUCKS!” and the band stops mid-Grandioso to shout “Beat the hell out of OU!” The booing is expert-level.
Texas fans sit on the north side, facing south toward Austin, while OU fans face north toward Norman. This means the south end zone (not the sideline) is extremely inhospitable when Texas is moving that direction, and vice versa. The tunnel is on the OU end, and in recent years the stadium erected fences around it because OU fans tossed stuff on Texas players entering the field. The teams alternate who wears home jerseys–this year, we were the “home” team.
Fun facts: this year was the hottest game-day in more than two decades–it was 90-something at kickoff–and for the first time since 1947, both teams had first-year coaches.
Fortunately, by the end of the first quarter, our side of the stadium was in the shade from the upper deck. The score was … less in our favor. But after halftime we showed some life, both on the field and in the stands. By late in the fourth quarter, we’d engineered something of a comeback and took the lead by one point. Which we quickly surrendered with like two minutes to play. We had a couple of shots at the end zone as time ran out, but our true freshman QB and his patchwork O-line just couldn’t quite make it happen. It was a nail-biter, and in the end a disappointing one.
I hate losing, and I REALLY hate losing to them. The walk to the car was long, and the drive home even longer. We finally rolled in to my driveway about 12:30 in the morning. But hey, I got a jump on my Sunday step count before I even went to sleep Saturday night.
The family (and dog) let me sleep late, and by the time I got up a cool front had moved through. It was cloudy and breezy, maybe 68*, so I decided to try to run. I’d seen my sports doc earlier in the week–he warned me that there’s a small chance I could have a stress fracture, but he felt like it probably wasn’t. He’s going to work on it a few times, and if it doesn’t improve, we’ll look in to that possibility a little more closely, but he’s hopeful it’s a soft tissue problem that will respond quickly to treatment.
I wrapped it tightly–compression seems to help–but even with extra support, for the first quarter-mile or so it felt like it wasn’t going to go well. Yesterday’s 17,000+ steps (then four-plus hours in the car) hadn’t helped. Not only that, my training has been so limited the last two months, I feel I’ve lost a ton of fitness, so I’ve been running 2:30 to :30 run-walk intervals, and that helps a little.
Fortunately after half a mile it felt pretty okay, so I kept going. I made it the whole 4.25-mile route sticking to the intervals, stopping twice for water, twice for a traffic light, once when I guy asked me if I’d seen his dog (I hadn’t), and once because a bench overlooking the lake called my name.
I could feel some minor twinges, but it wasn’t painful and did not affect my gait at all. I think more of my discomfort came from feeling slow and out of shape. But I am slightly optimistic because even without the pharmaceutical assistance of Aleve, I didn’t have real pain and I was able to hold a relatively consistent (albeit slow) pace over 4.2 miles. Two weeks ago I was only able to run about two miles before it went all to hell, so perhaps I’m making progress.
I hope my football team is too, because we have another tough one this coming Saturday.