Two years ago, I ran 10 miles around downtown on a Saturday morning during Austin’s South by Southwest Film and Music Festival. It was the first day I was planning on meeting the Twenty-Six Two Marathon Club for training, but I showed up at the wrong place and approached the congregating group. I knew it was the wrong group when the coach said, “Today, we’ll start off walking the three mile loop, and we might run for about three minutes.” I raised my hand and said, “Uh, I’m supposed to run 10 miles today. Is this the marathon group?” No, he said. I’d missed them.
So I set out by myself to carry on with training for my first marathon, the Pacific Crest Marathon, that would have been in Sunriver, Ore. But about four weeks before the race, I slipped and fell off my friend’s boat and sprained my right knee’s MCL. I was out of the race according to three doctors in two states, which was devastating. The only way I could describe this to my mother, who has never trained for a foot race in her life, was imagine you’re pregnant and you have spent all this time preparing for the baby and being safe and eating and drinking the right things and staying healthy and then you miscarry. I said, “OK, that scenario is MUCH worse, but it’s still devastating.”
Running downtown on 6th Street in the morning during SXSW is a completely different experience than bar-hopping at night in four-inch heels. The early morning hours yield different smells and different people roaming around. The roadies are just beginning to set up. The waste management people are still cleaning up trash. Homeless souls begin their daily wander. I dodged and weaved through the downtown streets and got in my 10 miles without a group.
This year, I decided to run downtown again. While it had a similar effect, I started my run later in the morning around brunch time and bands were already playing their first songs. Emos who’d traveled from all corners of the globe were walking around with their tight hipster jeans and black spiked hair looking for the next venue on their personalized schedules. Welcome to Austin!
(NOTE: This blog post originally appeared on www.aworkoutaday.com, an archived blog I maintained for more than two years to chronicle consecutive daily workouts during that time.)