The Connection Runners + [training]

What do bats, Stevie Ray Vaughan and indecent exposure have in common?

They were all a part of our run on Sunday.

Those of you that have been paying attention know that I have been struggling with running the last few weeks. I'm dealing with some nerve pain in my left heel. After seeing the specialist on Friday it seems to definitely be the sural nerve that is acting up. I will go in this Friday to start a series of nerve blocks.Fun fun.

While I have been hitting the cross training hard, I have been VERY conservative in running lately. I wasn't sure how that was going to effect yesterdays long run, but I was hoping all the extra hours in the gym would pay off.

Trail running:
Some of the trails we had been running were washed out in a flood last month so we decided to run on Austins famous Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail. It is an amazing trail system that runs around Town Lake (recently renamed Lady Bird Lake). Depending on which bridge you take there are looped routes that range from 3-10 miles.

The terrain is mostly shaded with water views. Occasionally we would run up and over a bridge which afforded us gorgeous views of the Austin skyline. It was an overcast day, but I wasn't complaining, the lack of sun kept the temperatures down.

Lots and lots of bats:
A couple of times we passed under the Congress Bridge.This bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, they estimate there are 1.5 million Mexican free tail bats living there. Of course they were sleeping as we ran under it, but we could definitely SMELL their presence. Hello bat guana. Here is a picture of what it looks like when they fly off at night in search of food. If your in Austin between March-November its definately worth checking out.

Bat statue at the base of the bridge:

The nature views are amazing, but what really makes it a fun place to run is the people watching. Everyone from a handful of what was very likely the UT Mens Track Team, to 80 year old grandmother runners were out running yesterday. Along with the runners were walkers and cyclists in every shape and size.

Outside of those of us exercising there were also people lounging on the banks, feeding ducks, letting their dogs play in the water, homeless people asleep on benches and a random guy playing the guitar at the top of a stone wall.

It felt like all of Austin was out. There was a man that had to be at least 70 years old, running shirtless. His man boobs were bouncing as he passed me and I grinned as I noticed that he had TWO nipple piercings. Crazy.

Indecent Exposure:
There was a VERY ummm... errrr... .voluptuous lady wearing what had to be some sort of bathing suit bottom, riding a bike. Problem was it was easily several sizes to small and she hopped off her bike and bent over right in front of us and we got treated to a show we weren't expecting. (ok... "treated" isn't the best word... ) Part of me was "EEK!put some clothes on " and part of me was "You go girl, be confident." But... I'm thinking since it more than bordered on obscene I will just stick with "I can't believe I saw a butt hole on my run". (and NO I don't have any pics of that)

I was so excited to see so many shapes and sizes out exercising. I swear I wanted to high five so many of them who were out, plodding along. Hopefully my encouraging smile as we passed them was enough.

Cheering on a race:One of the other great things about our run was that there was a relay race going on parallel to where we were running. We stuck to a route that had us running next to them so that we became part of the cheering crowd. Yelling, "Looking good, keep it up" over and over hopefully helped them AND it kept us motivated.

Free drinks:
This was the first time we had ran the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail. One of the things I always worry about is hydration along the way. My husband ran with a hydration belt, but we knew with two of us we would need more along the way. Well, one of the BEST things about this trail is that a local running store has water stations set up under two of the bridges along the way. They had cold water and NUUN in coolers set out for the runners. High Fives to RunTex for that!

I fueled with two GU Chomps at miles 4,8 and 12. (are you supposed to have more at a time?)That was my first time trying the Chomps and I'm not sure how I feel about them. The flavor was good, but I got tired of picking sticky stuff out from between my teeth with my tongue. And I'm not sure I like chewing while I'm running. I'll give them another shot though.

Miles 0-12 were surprisingly easy, and by "easy" I mean... I didn't want to die :). The trails combination of small rolling hills, scenic pedestrian bridges and larger commuter bridges kept it interesting enough that I ran without music the entire time.

(obligatory super sweaty pics)

By mile 12 my right hip started aching and I was ready to wrap it up. Those last 4 miles were a huge mental and physical barrier to me. I had to pull out all the "suck it up and do it" I could find. At mile 14 my calf muscles started cramping and I had to take a quick walk break to stretch them out a bit, but managed to pick it back up to a run and finish out the 16. Afterwards we took a stroll around the lake to cool down.

Couple of random pictures:

Need a running partner? Borrow a four legged one!

Stevie Ray Vaughan watching over us

Dirty legs=great trail run

“You see, we are here, as far as I can tell, to help each other; our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our enemies. That is to help each other and not hurt each other. And sometimes to help them we have got to help ourselves.” Stevie Ray Vaughan