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2013-01-18 - Lady Bird Lake Loops

~23 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Austin_2013-01-18_Lady_Bird_Lake_Loops.jpgSomething happens to the brain chemistry after ~16 miles, and for the rest of the run today 50% of the people who pass me on the trail, or whom I catch up with, are amazingly callipygian. Yep, the female half. The first to gain my attention wears an amethyst colored shirt; I play leapfrog with her when she takes walk breaks. A pack of five easy-on-the-eyes ladies walks north on the Congress Av bridge at my mile 19. Alas, after mile 20 I'm at the eastern end of the circuit and there are hardly any other folks out today.

In Austin Texas I'm visiting family for the extended Inauguration Day weekend. Early Friday morning I decide to atone in advance for all the Tex-Mex food that I'm likely to eat. Nike "Free" minimalistic slipper-shoes are all that I bring along — they're ultra-light in the luggage compared to the usual cushioned trainers. I strive to run gently along the sidewalks and gravel-sand-dirt paths around Lady Bird Lake. Nevertheless, after ~7 miles the left metatarsals begin to ache. Thankfully they don't get too bad, and I practice mindfully observing the pain non-judgmentally and without attachment. At least, so I try!

At 7am it's still dark (official sunrise isn't until 7:28 today) and Venus glows low in the southeast. Crossing Longhorn Dam a scruffy bearded runner in black shirt and black shorts, a younger mirror image, returns my salute as we pass. I deliberately take walk breaks and slow the pace for the first loop, hoping to keep good reserves. My fantasy of doing three laps is downscoped to two, but to add some mileage I decide to make the second a zig-zag braid, crossing every bridge over the river. Some head-scratching and topological visualization — not my strong suit, especially while running — confirms that this will let me see all the trail segments on both banks, provided I don't miss any crossings. As it turns out, there are four pedestrian bridges between the end-connectors: Interstate-35, Congress Avenue, First Street, and the new Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge that parallels Lamar Blvd. The Congress Avenue crossing provides excellent views of the pink granite Texas state capitol building framed by modern high-rise construction.

Temperatures are near freezing at the start, with frost visible on open meadows or ballfields until after 8am. I retract my hands into the long sleeves and try to keep them from going numb. All the water fountains are turned off around the lake, and bear paper signs explaining that they've been shut down for the season. Municipal health regulations, according to the local newspaper, have recently been interpreted to stop running clubs from leaving big jugs of water. By the end of my first lap at mile ~10.4 I'm sucking fumes from a 20 oz. bottle. At my Mom's car I refill it from a liter of water, then carry that big bottle in hand for sipping for the next three miles until it's emptied. My fuel today is a Luna Bar for the first lap and most of a Clif Bar for the second, longer orbit.

At the Zilker Botanical Garden near the west end of my path a huge hot-air balloon is inflating when I first approach about 8am; by the next time I get there, it's gone. Three young crewcut men, running with massive backpacks, play leapfrog with me as they finish what they describe as an 8-mile adventure. GPS-based mile splits: 11:36 + 12:49 + 10:48 + 11:19 + 11:50 + 11:22 + 13:10 (phone calls from DW) + 11:55 + 10:58 + 11:33 + 13:03 (refueling at car) + 11:03 + 11:46 + 12:05 + 11:15 + 11:47 + 11:10 + 10:22 + 11:38 + 11:28 + 11:31 + 11:33 + 9:57 — that last fastest mile the result of pushing hard up the final hills. Runkeeper and Garmin agree on the distance and pace.

(cf. 2011-05-27 - Two Austin Town Lake Loops, 2012-01-14 - Lady Bird Lake Loops, 2012-09-05 - Double Lady Bird Lake Loop - Austin Texas, 2012-09-07 - Zig-Zag Lady Bird Lake Loop - Austin Texas, ...) - ^z - 2013-01-29

I like this!