"... somewhere on the spectrum between Jerk and Saint!" says Nathan, describing a response to a stressful situation as we cross North Spring St on the W&OD Trail. (OK, he used a different word than "Saint", but the author of these run reports, like the Congressional Record, reserves the right to extend and amend remarks, and to edit for artistic impact.) Discussion topics today include grad school exams, toilet seat protocols, existential theology, and the fine distinctions between chivalry and chauvinism, belief and bigotry, tolerance and resignation, etc. We spy a gap in the fence and divert to run a lap around the track at George Mason High School, then pause for photos in front of the bronze rearing mustang statue. Twinginess moves from groin into right hip adductor. "Oooh, let's run on the gravel path next time!" one of us suggests, as a young lady cruises by. Movie recommendations: the classic Chariots of Fire, the inspirational Without Limits, and the eye-opening Personal Best.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-09-02
"And near here is where ...", say I, repeatedly, during this morning's ramble around the 'hood with DD Gray. She politely tolerates my nonstop reminisce plus historical monologue about the origins of Ireland Dr, Rock Creek Trail, the Audubon Naturalist Society, the spring where George Washington drank, the Capital Crescent Trail, etc. As usual my distance estimate, "... about 3 miles ...", is more than 25% low. Sorry about that!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-31
"Jalapeño cheddar poppers and onion rings," I observe, "are not the optimal bedtime meal!" But acid reflux recedes, and at sunrise I explore neighborhood trails before temperatures in Austin Texas rise to the 104°F that they reached yesterday and are aiming for again today. Two jackrabbits race into the brush at a playground. Limestone and tree roots along the creek make for gnarly slow trekking. Dragonflies dance about my ears and quail flutter away from my ankles. The front-yard tree trunk carved into a giant "Hook 'em Horns!" statue is tempting, but the light isn't good enough to make a selfie stop worthwhile.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-29
"Kicks just keep getting harder to find," says Barry at mile ~5, when I suggest that Emaad and Ken start their sprints to the finish line. Earlier another runner asks us to check our watches. "Does anybody really know what time it is?" I ask. "Does anybody really care?"
Crude banter abounds on the Capital Crescent Trail as the Boys compare injuries and feign sympathy. Fast runners pull us along, then leave us in their wake. The Nike logo is fetchingly displayed on one young passer-by. Speed Coach Evan catches us during a walk break and mocks accordingly. Conversational topics include beer carbonation, Oxford colleges, and superhero movies.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-27
"Teenage boys watched The Richard Simmons Show for other reasons!" I confess to Kerry. She remembers getting up at 4am to finish her high school homework, when his exercise program was the only thing on TV, and how he taught her to say "Thank you!" in response to compliments. I quote mindfulness essays that similarly counsel, "Let others be generous" (cf. Let Others Be Right). We spy a rabbit scampering away at a Route 7 Beltway offramp, and debate whether a front porch statue of a loincloth-clad torch-bearer is African or Roman. My right quad tightens up about mile 6, after too-brisk downhill sprints. Kerry's son's birthday was yesterday, and her husband's is today. She plans to give him a salt bagel with sausage and bacon for breakfast. Happy Birthday! (^_^).
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-25
"We must join them!" I tell Kerry and Kristin, as we climb the hill and see three runners slowly circling the track behind Cooper Middle School. Fog hangs low over the soccer field and our shoes crunch on the gravel. Kristin spots 2 rabbits; her ITB twinges at the right knee. Kerry is cruising on ~4 hours of sleep; her flight home last night was delayed. I'm still kvetching about my pulled groin muscle. The duck-shaped tree is collapsed under the weight of climbing vines.
Outbound we meet the most popular guy of the local school system: the fellow who announces snow closures. Two big brown dogs with feather-duster-fluffy tails are taking their owner out for a walk near Churchill St. We pick up the pace on the return trip to get Kerry back in time for morning meetings.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-23
"Thank you for your good work!" I tell the fellow pushing a wheelbarrow of rocks along the path through Great Hills Park in northwest Austin. "Thank you for using the trail!" he replies. Texas heat and humidity are already significant in mid-morning. After delivering Mom's Sunday newspaper, take West Cow Path to revisit the cacti and limestone of Yett Creek Park. A small cottontail rabbit races ahead, then dives into the scrub brush. Dragonflies dart by, the same type seen at the "Ran It With Janet" Manassas Battlefield Park 50k on D-Day.
John Darnielle's song "Woke Up New" spins on heavy mental rotation, along with Tara Brach's mantra, "Let Go and Let Be". Zig-zag across streets to optimize the mix of shade plus sidewalk. Work on a scoring system for aesthetics, incorporating four funny Pulchritude Parameters and five silly Sweetness Stats. Pause for selfies in front of "Ö Zen" salon and spa. Discover a Little Free Library (#6309) one street over from Shakespearean Way.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-21
|"Shaving your legs doesn't save you much in air resistance," my brother the cyclist says, "but it hurts less when you fall and eventually have to yank off the bandages!" Weather in northwest Austin is already warm and humid at sunrise. Dogs bark at deer feeding on front yard foliage. A fork, found in the the road near the corner of Deer Track and West Cow Path, mandates a pause for silly selfie shooting.|
Yett Creek Neighborhood Park trails are tricky with gnarly cedar roots and eroded limestone. Three Texas-sized cottontail rabbits scurry out of my way. Prickly pear cacti, railroad tracks, and NO TRESPASSING signs block exits to side streets until I've finished an entire circuit. A local resident jogger greets me as I emerge and says she never has dated venture inside. The return trip leads through Great Hills Park and past bright graffiti art on a retaining wall.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-19
"How's your groin?" someone asks at Mile 8, then adds, "Hmmm, in another context that question might seem a bit, uh, unprofessional!" Dawn Patrol today is warm and humid in the wake of violent early-morning thunderstorms. Nathan practices his explanations of grad-school statistics in preparation for his oral exams next month. Kerry and Kristin laugh as I play the obnoxious professor, asking Nathan to define elementary terms and clarify pathological cases. An undergrad class in Real Analysis taken 40 years ago comes in handy at last!
Between discussion of advanced math we review raunchy rap song lyrics, play games at the W&OD Trail water fountain, discuss current cinema, and applaud Kerry's daughter's basketball team that so far is doing great in the playoffs. Kristin spies the only rabbit of the day, a patriotic bunny fearlessly munching grass next to a front yard flag by the sidewalk. For half an hour I strive to remember the name of an exotic topological theorem that tells how to cut a ball into pieces, throw some away, and reassemble the rest into the whole ball again. (Hint: some chunks are fractal-dusty.) Finally at mile 9 I stop thinking and start going through the alphabet. At "B" comes epiphany: "Banach-Tarski Paradox"!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-17
"Tai Cheetos!" I explain to Ken Swab and Barry Smith, during a swerve off the Matthew Henson Trail to pick up an empty bag of chips that litters the park. A group of elderly Asians warms up for morning exercises. We do an out-and-back of banter, including disquisitions on Fourier analysis and the Gibbs overshoot phenomenon, cricket match Required Run Rate and how Ken correspondingly computes his progress toward monthly mileage goals, Barry's upcoming insane race schedule, and anecdotes re Hilary (Swab) v. Hillary (Clinton) v. Hillary (Sir Edmund).
Barry and I decorate the trackfile with hillwork pre-Ken and distance post-Ken, including an orbit around the ballfield that brings back Barry's memories of youthful spring training. Groin twinges are tolerable, but get worse upon attempting a cool-down pull-up and a platform leap in the Ken-Gar playground. Ouch!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-08-15