Opting out of the afternoon's activities, I knew I had to make the run count. Texas is big, we were in the boonies and all the routes I found were way too long. But I managed to find one that seemed about right, 18 miles that would get me home just before dark.
Out on the highway, tiny shoulder, cars whizzing by me like I was the first runner they'd ever seen on this road (I may have been), I began to question the wisdom of the run. But I was out there and I would finish.
Rolling through the Texas hill country, my legs felt strong. I have come to the conclusion that 2014 will be there year I figure out how to run up hills. And by figure out, I mean everything from form and technique to strength and conditioning and even tactics. KJ says just lose 10 pounds. Sounds like the easy way out -- but maybe not.
I finally hit my turn and found myself off the highway but onto a road with an even tinier shoulder. No shoulder actually, and I danced along the white line keeping my fingers crossed that cars would offer me a wide berth. They did, thankfully.
Another turn and I mentally checked my map and actually checked my watch, knowing that I'd have to hustle around this loop and back up again to make it back by dark.
Now I was really in the sticks. Fancy houses by the lake are all fine and good, but get off the shoreline and you were just in rural Texas, nothing more, nothing less. I kept my eyes and ears peeled for shotgun blasts, the city slicker out of his element.
The road ended abruptly into a large gate that could have either been the entrance to a house or to a swanky neighborhood. Only at seven miles, I knew that turning around would mean not hitting my 18. But discretion turned out to be the better part of valor, and I quickly modified my expectations, decided not to test the No Tresspassing signs, flipped around and picked up the pace.
I'd get home early, relax and maybe even beat the family home. Having forgotten any gels or blocks, I snacked on Grape Nuts and honey, which turned out to be a delicious mid-run snack. Netting some down on the way home, I pushed it down the rollers and back up the other side. My legs felt tight, probably a combination of the chilly air and my lackluster stretching.
When I pulled into the house, I was wiped. Not a lot of flat so while my pace wasn't terribly impressive,but I ran hard and felt satisfied. Missing out on laser tag, rock climbing and the like turned out to be worth it, after all.