Monday, February 20

Austin Weirdness

"Keep Austin Weird" is the unofficial motto of the Texas capital. This past weekend, the city lived up to its name--or at least, its weather did. In town for the Freescale Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, I had packed for the predicted weather: moderate temperatures ranging between the high-forties and the low-sixties. When I arrived at the airport, it was downright hot: in the mid-eighties. By the next morning a cold front had pushed temperatures down into the thirties--and they just kept on falling. The morning of the race we were faced with temperatures in the twenties with sleet and freezing rain.

And that was just the beginning of the weirdness. The race organizers decided to delay the start by almost forty-five minutes because there were more than a hundred wrecks on the freeways involving participants of the 10,000-member race field. Needless to say, everything was terribly confused and messy. So, those of us who had arrived on time got to stand around in the cold, wet pre-dawn conditions waiting for the start. In the end, I didn't actually cross the start-line until almost an hour after the advertised time.

I've raced in colder conditions. But, I've never felt more frozen. I couldn't even feel my feet until around mile-three. And my hands didn't start to tingle with warmth until mile-five. Alas, it was only a momentary thaw: at mile-eleven the race route was hit with a bitter crosswind that chilled me to my bones. Two years ago at the Army-Navy game, I came about as close as I'd even been to really being amongst the "frozen chosen." This weekend in Austin, I made it all the way.

And as if all that were not enough, the Texas Department of Safety spread gravel all along the roads to keep us from slipping and sliding--but much of that gravel wound up in my shoes rather than just on the asphalt. I had to stop three times just to empty them.

So, did all this weirdness make the trip miserable? Not in the least. From the moment Karen and I arrived we were thrilled to be back home--if only for a weekend. We ate TexMex, BBQ, a little more TexMex, a little more BBQ, and just to top it all off, we had yet more TexMex and BBQ. We hit all our favorite spots: Rudy's, Run Tex, Book People, Salt Lick, Serano's, Redeemer Pres, and Z-Tejas. We even got a chance to enjoy long visits over great meals with dear friends.

Oh yeah, and then there was the half-marathon race itself. Well, my chip time was really, really lousy--averaging just under ten-minute miles. But, I knew it was going to be a zombie-lunge given my terribly inconsistent training over the last two months. I hadn't even had a good long run since the first week of December. But, I finished.

Today I am a tiny bit sore. But, satisfied and as close to de-stressed as I have been since the St. Jude's Marathon last year. Now that really is weird.