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Friday, March 18, 2011

Under The Influence

Over the last 24 hours, I have officially fallen in love with Austin, Texas.

First, let me say that Chicago remains my favorite city in the world. It would take some kind of incredible experience elsewhere for that to change.

Still, the city does have its drawbacks, and many of those were factors in our decision to head south. I've liked Austin for quite some time, and I like-liked it when we decided to move down here. Now, however, I think I'm in love with the city, and it was a very subtle process.

Yesterday, of course, was St. Patrick's Day, one of those great holidays that once had an important and reverent meaning but now is mostly an excuse for people to be drunk in the middle of the day. I'm a little past the point in my life where I can hit the bar at 11 in the morning, but I got into the spirit(s) at the end of the day, and we decided to go out to a walkable bar.

We really didn't want to be in all the craziness of downtown, what with the combination of St. Patty's, Spring Break, and SXSW. It seemed like the perfect storm of not having a good time, so we went to a place sufficiently south to have elbow room, but still close enough that we didn't feel like we were out of town. This was the first bar I have ever enjoyed on St. Patrick's Day. People were into the fun, but not out of their heads. Drinking, but not drunk (yet), or at least not sloppy drunk. The few random people I spoke to all had cheerful personalities, and not one member of the staff seemed stressed or irritated, but all were helpful, pleasant, and efficient. As such, I feel the need for a shout-out to Baker Street Pub on South Lamar.

And what made the experience even greater was that we left kind of early. I knew that I had to go for a run and work this morning, and after a certain point, there was just nothing left to do. I went to bed thinking about how much fun I'd had to still be in bed at a reasonable hour.

Then the alarm went off this morning, and I was out of bed like a shot. Before anything in my system could take a bad turn on me, I wanted to get outside and move around and sweat out any and all of the toxins that might still be in my system. I hit the road well before dawn and turned onto the Town Lake Trail. For about three minutes, I felt like a hardcore runner. The trail is incredibly dark at that hour, and I couldn't see anyone else. When I passed the first other runner, I made a note in my head to count them for this post.

To my surprise, as I neared the footbridge under Mopac, more and more runners and walkers showed up, and it was barely 6:30. I stopped counting at 20. It thoroughly impressed me how many people were up at that hour on that trail. People who are just as crazy as I am, and probably more so, because most of them are likely better at keeping to their routine. It made me so happy to see so many people dedicated to fitness in the same town where someone can have a great night of drinking on St. Patty's.

Thinking about all of this, I realized just how much I've come to love Austin in the last six months. We haven't even done all that much "Austin stuff," but what we have done has been unilaterally great. I think I'm beginning to settle in, and it feels great.

One of my only complaints about town is how incredibly long some of the streetlights take to change. I got stopped with about 1.8 to go and waited at the light. When I restarted, my right leg decided it wasn't getting enough attention and started acting up. I ran through it, but there's still some tenderness when I shift. I'll have to remember to stretch that out thoroughly before hitting the pavement tomorrow, when I've got an 11-miler. This could be a problem, what with the 9-er I skipped two weeks ago, but I think I'll be fine if I don't stop, keep my head up and make sure that I don't go out too fast at the start. Also, I'm going to try to come up with a new route than the one I used to do for long runs, because I want to see even more of this city.

I'm totally under its influence.

Friday's Run:
65 Degrees / Dark, Cloudy
6.01 Miles
41 Minutes, 32 Seconds

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