Cold. It was damn cold when I set off this morning on what would be my longest run in Texas. I dropped down the hill towards the river, doing my best to warm up in the chilly morning air.
With a loose course in mind, I wove into some urban wilderness before meandering through my little East Austin neighborhood of dreams. I ran up and down the streets, ogling at the houses and vacant lots, new construction and rundown shacks. And I started to wonder if all my time in real estate had led up to this moment, to this little slice of Texas.
Perhaps its been on the cusp for years, but it strikes me that with the river on one side, 6th Street on the other and downtown just a few blocks away, fast forward a decade and the neighborhood would be almost unrecognizable from what it is today.
10 miles I ran here, following the grid in my mind, exploring the nooks and crannies of this diverse, suburban hamlet of hipsterdom meets working class Latino. Such is the story in so many cities around the country struggling with the G word.
Nature calling, I glanced back towards the bathroom and found a bathroom. Relief, but after washing my hands and hitting the river trail, my fingers froze and it was all I could do to keep warm, gliding along the banks. I passed some Chinese fisherman with quite a haul. It was strangely out of place, like Chinese river fisherman now grow in every corner of the globe.
Warmed up, I focused on my run. In my mind I figured I'd hit about 20 -- ostensibly my goal for the morning -- and having meandered most of the first part of the run, I started pushing it. I wanted to get my average pace down below 7:30, ideally closer to 7. Which would mean I ran these next 7 or 8 miles pretty fast.
I started passing people before I hit the bridge, as the crowds swelled and the air warmed up. The gentle path seemed downhill the whole way. I ran smooth and easy, but fast. The crowds thinned again around the other side as the trail petered out and I was once again back on the city streets. I carved the route away from the river and back through urban Austin, a weird mix of commercial, industrial and large-scale residential, mixes we just don't have here in the Bay Area: Not enough land.
I felt strong. Really strong like I could have kept going for miles and miles. I had barely touched my water and had brought limited food, just a few mini-candy bars which, while tough to open with frozen fingers, were amazing little boosts of energy -- something to remember for future runs.
I coasted home and drifted to a stop, breathing hard but feeling great. It was barely 11am with 20 miles in the bag. Not a bad morning.