Sunday, February 15, 2015

An Austin Weekend

Things I should be doing: preparing for school tomorrow.
Things I'm not doing: preparing for school tomorrow.

I realize that I did very little school work this weekend, but sometimes that it's very necessary to take a step back and enjoy the moment you're in. And that's just what I did. I headed to Austin immediately after school on Friday. Seriously, I was in the parking lot by 3:20pm. Can you tell that it had been a long week? In order to avoid Friday afternoon traffic, or at least some of it, I took the Westpark Tollway all the way to the Grand Parkway, which then took me to IH-10. Once I got on IH-10, it was smooth sailing all the way to Austin. I even made it with just enough time to pick up my packet before enjoying a three hour dinner at one of my favorite Austin restaurants with one of my closest friends, who just happened to be my prom date our senior year of high school.

Prom 2010, no regrets, ya know?
We went to Mandola's Italian Market, where I enjoyed my usual Mista Salad with chicken, we split a bottle of red (yes, red!) wine, and of course, indulged in some gelato for dessert. How can you go to Mandola's without a scoop or two of gelato? You just can't.

We had fun catching up and reminiscing, and it's nice to know that some things just never change.

I didn't go to sleep until almost midnight on Friday, which for me, is really out of the ordinary. So I let myself sleep in until 9:00am before getting up and heading over to the relatively new Town Lake Trail Boardwalk for a pre-race run. I felt like such a tourist when I had to ask how to get down to the boardwalk, but once I got there, I had a great 2.35 mile run. The weather was just about as perfect as you could ask for, and my run was quick and easy.

After my run, and before heading back to the hotel to shower, I made a quick stop over at JuiceLand for a green smoothie for breakfast. I forgot how much I love that place, and smoothies in general, as I no longer have a smoothie place really anywhere close to my house.

After a shower and gathering up some of my school work (see, I did some!!), I drove over to campus with the intent of sitting on the BOGA (Big Ol' Grassy Area) in front of the Tower in order to get some grading done. I didn't get much done, as I was joined by Dylan not shortly after setting up shop. Yes, this was planned, and no, the irony of it being Valentine's Day was not lost on us. It was really, really good to see him and catch up with him and just talk to him. I hate how in our society when a couple breaks up it often means cutting off any and all communication with one another. That really stinks because often that other person is your best friend. I know Dylan was mine, and he was the first person I turned to for so many things. It's hard to lose that person in your life, and while some people might have warned me against seeing him so soon, nobody but us knew the relationship that we had, forgetting that we were friends way before we ever even thought about dating. And it was comforting to confirm that we are right where we need to be - as friends - but that we were able to pick up right where we left off, if that makes any sense at all. Maybe it doesn't, and that's perfectly okay, because it works well for us. Like I said, it was nice to see him, and I also managed to get a little bit of color into my pale skin. A win-win. And an extra win for being reunited with this beauty for a couple of hours.

We even grabbed a quick lunch together at Vert's (we each paid for our own meal, so it wasn't even a Valentine's date), before parting ways. I headed to my favorite spot in all of Austin - Mount Bonnell, where I was, of course, joined by many other people on such a beautiful day. I spent some time writing and thinking and enjoying a most beautiful view.

It was getting close to 5:30pm by this time, so I decided to head back to my hotel to just relax and do a little bit of work (yeah, that last part didn't happen), and get everything together for the race the next morning. I turned off the lights just before 9:00pm, and I was out within seconds. The sunshine really does take it out of you!

The Race

Oh, the race. I knew something was up when I didn't pop right out of bed when my alarm went off, opting to sleep for just a few minutes more. Because I had gotten about eight hours of sleep, so it's not as though I was lacking in that department. But I was so comfortable in bed, and it took me a couple of minutes to get going. However, once I got up, I was good to go. I got ready quickly, I ate my usual breakfast of peanut butter and sliced banana on whole wheat bread, and I headed downtown to secure a parking spot near the starting line. I thought I would hit traffic, but it took me about 10 minutes to get to my parking garage. I had plenty of time before the start of the race - I used the bathroom, walked out the pre-race jitters (I don't really have those, but I do like to keep moving), and I staked out a pretty good spot at the starting line.

Now, I was feeling a little bit thirsty before the race even began. I knew that wasn't a good sign, but it wasn't dire enough that I felt as though I needed water. I also messed up. It was much warmer than I thought it would be, but I still wore a long-sleeve Nike Dri-Fit top with my Lululemon shorts, as opposed to a short-sleeve shirt. So I was feeling very warm very early on. Combine that with hills that I most definitely wasn't prepared for - it's been just seven months since I moved back to Houston, and now hills are a foreign concept - the fact that I did not drink enough water nor eat enough calories yesterday, and I had a rough race. Well, not the entire race, as the first eight miles were great. I started feeling dehydrated around mile seven, so I was stopping to get water and Gatorade any chance I got. My pace was a little bit slower than usual from the get-go, but only by about five to 10 seconds per mile. Around mile 10, I started slowing down to running 10 minute miles. Every part of my body wanted me to stop - my legs were aching in a way that they had never felt before. I knew it wasn't just that I was tired, it was that I simply didn't have enough water in my system. I thought about stopping to walk, and I would have had I really started feeling bad, but I told myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow I was moving. That's what I love so much about running, that it is such a mental sport. I saw this sign at the perfect time, "When your legs can't run anymore, run with your heart." And that's exactly what I did, because my legs were not happy with me. And I think I could have crawled up the hills faster than I "ran" them.

All of that being said, I fought the fought and I finished the race. And I absolutely loved running through one of the absolute greatest cities in the world. I got chills when, at the start of the race, the announcer said, "Let's get ready to run Austin, Texas." I didn't have my best race, though to be fair, it certainly wasn't awful, but I proved to myself that I can push through physical exhaustion and rely on what I've got inside me. And half marathon number seven is officially in the books. I still love running, I still love Austin, Texas, and I'm still half crazy. And because I saw quite a few great signs whilst running, I have to share them with you. I wasn't smiling quite as much throughout this race, but every now and then a clever sign brought the smile back to my face.

  • Chuck Norris never ran a marathon
  • I pushed for 4 hours, so you can do it too
  • I'm proud of you, random stranger!
  • Run like someone stole your tacos (In Austin, this would truly be a tragedy)
  • Chafing the dream
  • It could be worse, you could be doing burpees (A M E N)
  • Remember, you paid $$ to do this!
  • Short cut -->
  • It's all downhill from here! (Lies)
  • You run better than the government
  • Even Kanye thinks you're a winner
  • Your butt looks better than Kim K's
  • I run, left shark dances
  • My last marathon was on NETFLIX
  • You feel like crap, but you look good like crap
  • Half marathon game on fleek tho (my students would have appreciated this one)

Texas Forever
Austin, you did me good this weekend. It felt so good to be back in my other "home" city, and I'm ready to tackle the school week ahead of me. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

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